•  27
    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
  •  296
    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
  •  208
    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...
  •  489
    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
  •  143
    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.
  •  202
    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
  •  77
    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
  •  152
    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.
  •  465
    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
  •  447
    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
  •  34
    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
  •  128
    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
  •  46
    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
  •  60
    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
  •  1052
    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.
  •  150
    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.
  •  241
    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
  •  311
    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
  •  106
    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
  •  36
    The Arab Street: Tracking a Political Metaphor
    Middle East Journal 63 (1): 11-29. 2009.
    Understanding Arab public opinion is central to the search for sustainable po- litical solutions in the Middle East. The way Westerners think about Arab public opinion may be affected by how it is referred to in their news media. Here, we show that Arab public opinion is rarely referred to as such in the US media. Instead, it is usually referred to as the Arab street, a metaphor that casts Arab public opinion as irrational and volatile. We trace the origins of this metaphor to similar expression…Read more
  •  177
    Nature and nurture in cognition
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2): 251-272. 2002.
    This paper advocates a dispositional account of innate cognitive capacities, which has an illustrious history from Plato to Chomsky. The "triggering model" of innateness, first made explicit by Stich ([1975]), explicates the notion in terms of the relative informational content of the stimulus (input) and the competence (output). The advantage of this model of innateness is that it does not make a problematic reference to normal conditions and avoids relativizing innate traits to specific popula…Read more
  •  187
    Innateness as a natural cognitive kind
    Philosophical Psychology 29 (3): 319-333. 2016.
    Innate cognitive capacities are widely posited in cognitive science, yet both philosophers and scientists have criticized the concept of innateness as being hopelessly confused. Despite a number of recent attempts to define or characterize innateness, critics have charged that it is associated with a diverse set of properties and encourages unwarranted inferences among properties that are frequently unrelated. This criticism can be countered by showing that the properties associated with innaten…Read more
  •  65
    Averroes’s Method of Re-Interpretation
    International Philosophical Quarterly 38 (2): 175-185. 1998.
    One contentious issue in contemporary interpretations of medieval Islamic philosophy is the degree of esotericism espoused by its proponents, and therefore the degree of interpretive effort required by its modem readers to ascertain the author's real beliefs. One philosopher who has been accused of esotericism is Averroes (Ibn Rushd), particularly because he is quite explicit in distinguishing among the different types of reasoning appropriate to different classes of people: philosophers, theolo…Read more