•  20
    Self-reflexive cognitive bias
    with Joshua Mugg
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3): 1-21. 2021.
    Cognitive scientists claim to have discovered a large number of cognitive biases, which have a tendency to mislead reasoners. Might cognitive scientists themselves be subject to the very biases they purport to discover? And how should this alter the way they evaluate their research as evidence for the existence of these biases? In this paper, we posit a new paradox, which bears a striking resemblance to some classical logical paradoxes. Suppose that research R appears to be good evidence for the…Read more
  •  288
    Disagreement about the kind law
    Jurisprudence 12 (1): 1-16. 2020.
    This paper argues that the disagreement between positivists and nonpositivists about law is substantive rather than merely verbal, but that the depth and persistence of the disagreement about law, unlike for the case of morality, threatens skepticism about law. The range of considerations that can be brought to bear to help resolve moral disagreements is broader than is the case for law, thus improving the prospects of reconciliation in morality. But the central argument of the paper is that law…Read more
  •  203
    Etiological Kinds
    Philosophy of Science 88 (1): 1-21. 2021.
    Kinds that share historical properties are dubbed “historical kinds” or “etiological kinds,” and they have some distinctive features. I will try to characterize etiological kinds in general terms a...
  •  435
    Are sexes natural kinds?
    In Shamik Dasgupta, Ravit Dotan & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science, Routledge. pp. 163-176. 2021.
    Asking whether the sexes are natural kinds amounts to asking whether the categories, female and male, identify real divisions in nature, like the distinctions between biological species, or whether they mark merely artificial or arbitrary distinctions. The distinction between females and males in the animal kingdom is based on the relative size of the gametes they produce, with females producing larger gametes (ova) and males producing smaller gametes (sperm). This chapter argues that the prop…Read more
  •  138
    Innate cognitive capacities
    Mind and Language 22 (1): 92-115. 2007.
    This paper attempts to articulate a dispositional account of innateness that applies to cognitive capacities. After criticizing an alternative account of innateness proposed by Cowie (1999) and Samuels (2002), the dispositional account of innateness is explicated and defended against a number of objections. The dispositional account states that an innate cognitive capacity (output) is one that has a tendency to be triggered as a result of impoverished environmental conditions (input). Hence, the…Read more
  •  13
    Book Reviews-Historical Ontology (review)
    Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 449-451. 2003.
  •  198
    Natural Kinds and Crosscutting Categories
    Journal of Philosophy 95 (1): 33. 1998.
    There are many ways of construing the claim that some categories are more “natural" than others. One can ask whether a system of categories is innate or acquired by learning, whether it pertains to a natural phenomenon or to a social institution, whether it is lexicalized in natural language or requires a compound linguistic expression. This renders suspect any univocal answer to this question in any particular case. Yet another question one can ask, which some authors take to have a bearing on …Read more
  •  75
    Mind-Dependent Kinds
    Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2): 223-246. 2016.
    Many philosophers take mind-independence to be criterial for realism about kinds. This is problematic when it comes to psychological and social kinds, which are unavoidably mind-dependent. But reflection on the case of artificial or synthetic kinds shows that the criterion of mind-independence needs to be qualified in certain ways. However, I argue that none of the usual variants on the criterion of mind-dependence is capable of distinguishing real or natural kinds from non-real kinds. Although …Read more
  •  151
    Crosscutting psycho-neural taxonomies: the case of episodic memory
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (2): 191-208. 2017.
    I will begin by proposing a taxonomy of taxonomic positions regarding the mind–brain: localism, globalism, revisionism, and contextualism, and will go on to focus on the last position. Although some versions of contextualism have been defended by various researchers, they largely limit themselves to a version of neural contextualism: different brain regions perform different functions in different neural contexts. I will defend what I call “environmental-etiological contextualism,” according to …Read more
  •  10
    [Book Review: Historical Ontology] (review)
    Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 449-452. 2003.
  •  432
    Researchers in the cognitive sciences often seek neural correlates of psychological constructs. In this paper, I argue that even when these correlates are discovered, they do not always lead to reductive outcomes. To this end, I examine the psychological construct of a critical period and briefly describe research identifying its neural correlates. Although the critical period is correlated with certain neural mechanisms, this does not imply that there is a reductionist relationship between this…Read more
  •  108
    Should we eliminate the innate? Reply to Griffiths and Machery
    Philosophical Psychology 22 (4). 2009.
    Griffiths and Machery (2008) have argued that innateness is a folk notion that obstructs inquiry and has no place in contemporary science. They support their view by criticizing the canalization account of innateness (Ariew, 1999, 2006). In response, I argue that the criticisms they raise for the canalization account can be avoided by another recent account of innateness, the triggering account, which provides an analysis of the concept as it applies to cognitive capacities (Khalidi, 2002, 2007;…Read more
  • Meaning-Change and Theory-Change
    Dissertation, Columbia University. 1991.
    Some philosophers and historians of science have suggested that the meanings of scientific terms change in the course of the history of science in such a way that the comparison of successive theories becomes impossible. This claim of "incommensurability", usually associated with Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, has attracted attention for its relativist and anti-rationalist implications. It would seem to make the choice between two theories into a random affair, not one of direct comparison. ;T…Read more
  •  287
    How Scientific Is Scientific Essentialism?
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1): 85-101. 2009.
    Scientific essentialism holds that: (1) each scientific kind is associated with the same set of properties in every possible world; and (2) every individual member of a scientific kind belongs to that kind in every possible world in which it exists. Recently, Ellis (Scientific essentialism, 2001 ; The philosophy of nature 2002 ) has provided the most sustained defense of scientific essentialism, though he does not clearly distinguish these two claims. In this paper, I argue that both claims face…Read more
  •  132
    The inherent bias in positing an inherence heuristic
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (5): 493-494. 2014.
    There are two problems with Cimpian & Salomon’s (C&S’s) claim that an innate inherence heuristic is part of our cognitive makeup. First, some of their examples of inherent features do not seem to accord with the authors’ own definition of inherence. Second, rather than posit an inherence heuristic to explain why humans rely more heavily on inherent features, it may be more parsimonious to do so on the basis of aspects of the world itself and our relationship to it.
  •  433
    Three Kinds of Social Kinds
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (1): 96-112. 2015.
    Could some social kinds be natural kinds? In this paper, I argue that there are three kinds of social kinds: 1) social kinds whose existence does not depend on human beings having any beliefs or other propositional attitudes towards them ; 2) social kinds whose existence depends in part on specific attitudes that human beings have towards them, though attitudes need not be manifested towards their particular instances ; 3) social kinds whose existence and that of their instances depend in part o…Read more
  •  33
    Naturalizing Kinds
    In Bana Bashour Hans Muller (ed.), Contemporary Philosophical Naturalism and its Implications, Routledge. pp. 115. 2013.
    Naturalism about natural kinds is the view that they are none other than the kinds discoverable by science. This thesis is in tension with what is perhaps the dominant contemporary view of natural kinds: essentialism. According to essentialism, natural kinds constitute a small subset of our scientific categories, namely those definable in terms of intrinsic, microphysical properties, which are possessed necessarily rather than contingently by their bearers. Though essentialism may appear co…Read more
  •  123
    Incommensurability in cognitive guise
    Philosophical Psychology 11 (1). 1998.
    Philosophers and historians of science have made the claim that successive scientific theories are incommensurable, that is, that many or all of their concepts fail to coincide. This claim has been echoed by cognitive psychologists who have applied it to the successive conceptual schemes of young children, or of children and adults. This paper examines the psychological evidence for the claim and proposes ways of reinterpreting it which do not involve imputing incommensurability. An alternative …Read more
  •  42
    Temporal and Counterfactual Possibility
    Sorites 20 37-42. 2008.
    Among philosophers working on modality, there is a common assumption that there is a strong connection between temporal possibility and counterfactual possibility. For example, Sydney Shoemaker 1998, 69 70) writes: It seems to me a general feature of our thought about possibility that how we think that something could have differed from how it in fact is [is] closely related to how we think that the way something is at one time could differ from the way that same thing is at a different time. In…Read more
  •  59
    Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2004.
    Philosophy in the Islamic world emerged in the ninth century and continued to flourish into the fourteenth century. It was strongly influenced by Greek thought, but Islamic philosophers also developed an original philosophical culture of their own, which had a considerable impact on the subsequent course of Western philosophy. This volume offers new translations of philosophical writings by Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ghazali, Ibn Tufayl, and Ibn Rushd. All of the texts presented here were very influentia…Read more
  •  1047
    Incommensurability
    In W. H. Newton-Smith (ed.), A Companion to Philosophy of Science, Blackwell. pp. 172-80. 1999.
    Along with “paradigm” and “scientific revolution,” “incommensurability” is one of the three most influential expressions associated with the “new philosophy of science” first articulated in the early 1960s by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. But, despite the fact that it has been widely discussed, opinions still differ widely as to the content and significance of the claim of incommensurability.
  •  148
    Against functional reductionism in cognitive science
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (3). 2005.
    Functional reductionism concerning mental properties has recently been advocated by Jaegwon Kim in order to solve the problem of the 'causal exclusion' of the mental. Adopting a reductionist strategy first proposed by David Lewis, he regards psychological properties as being 'higher-order' properties functionally defined over 'lower-order' properties, which are causally efficacious. Though functional reductionism is compatible with the multiple realizability of psychological properties, it is bl…Read more
  •  47
    Taxonomy: Psychological and biological (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 12 (2): 275-280. 1997.
  •  226
    Natural kinds as nodes in causal networks
    Synthese 195 (4): 1379-1396. 2018.
    In this paper I offer a unified causal account of natural kinds. Using as a starting point the widely held view that natural kind terms or predicates are projectible, I argue that the ontological bases of their projectibility are the causal properties and relations associated with the natural kinds themselves. Natural kinds are not just concatenations of properties but ordered hierarchies of properties, whose instances are related to one another as causes and effects in recurrent causal processe…Read more
  •  296
    Interactive kinds
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2): 335-360. 2010.
    This paper examines the phenomenon of ‘interactive kinds’ first identified by Ian Hacking. An interactive kind is one that is created or significantly modified once a concept of it has been formulated and acted upon in certain ways. Interactive kinds may also ‘loop back’ to influence our concepts and classifications. According to Hacking, interactive kinds are found exclusively in the human domain. After providing a general account of interactive kinds and outlining their philosophical significa…Read more
  •  104
    Carving nature at the joints
    Philosophy of Science 60 (1): 100-113. 1993.
    This paper discusses a philosophical issue in taxonomy. At least one philosopher has suggested thc taxonomic principle that scientific kinds are disjoint. An opposing position is dcfcndcd here by marshalling examples of nondisjoint categories which belong to different, cocxisting classification schcmcs. This dcnial of thc disjoinmcss principle can bc recast as thc claim that scientific classification is "int<-:rcst—rclativc". But why would anyone have held that scientific categories arc disjoint…Read more