•  309
    In response to widespread doubts among professional philosophers (Russell, Horwich, Dietrich, McGinn, Chalmers), Stoljar argues for a ‘reasonable optimism’ about progress in philosophy. He defends the large and surprising claim that ‘there is progress on all or reasonably many of the big questions.’ However, Stoljar’s caveats and admitted avoidance of historical evidence permits overlooking persistent controversies in philosophy of mind and cognitive science that are essentially unchanged since …Read more
  •  280
    The relevance of cognitive science to teaching
    Journal of Cognitive Science 8 (2): 171-205. 2007.
    The Relevance of Cognitive Science to Teaching, Proceedings of the 6th International History, Philosophy & Science Teaching Conference (IHPST), Denver, Colorado, November 7-10, 2001. (PDF).
  •  241
    Kirsten Besheer has recently considered Descartes’ doubting appropriately in the context of his physiological theories in the spirit of recent important re-appraisals of his natural philosophy. However, Besheer does not address the notorious indubitability and its source that Descartes claims to have discovered. David Cunning has remarked that Descartes’ insistence on the indubitability of his existence presents “an intractable problem of interpretation” in the light of passages that suggest …Read more
  •  135
    The mind-brain problem
    In Evian Gordon (ed.), Integrative Neuroscience, Harwood Academic Publishers. 2000.
    The problem of explaining the mind persists essentially unchanged today since the time of Plato and Aristotle. For the ancients, of course, it was not a question of the relation of mind to brain, though the question was fundamentally the same nonetheless. For Plato, the mind was conceived as distinct from the body and was posited in order to explain knowledge which transcends that available to the senses. For his successor, Aristotle, the mind was conceived as intimately related to the body as f…Read more
  •  128
    Descartes's diagonal deduction
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 34 (March): 13-36. 1983.
    I OFFER AN ANALYSIS OF DESCARTES'S COGITO WHICH IS RADICALLY NOVEL WHILE INCORPORATING MUCH AVAILABLE INSIGHT. BY ENLARGING FOCUS FROM THE DICTUM ITSELF TO THE REASONING OF DOUBT, DREAMING AND DEMON, I DEMONSTRATE A CLOSE PARALLEL TO THE LOGIC OF THE LIAR PARADOX. THIS HELPS TO EXPLAIN FAMILIAR PARADOXICAL FEATURES OF DESCARTES'S ARGUMENT. THE ACCOUNT PROVES TO BE TEXTUALLY ELEGANT AND, MOREOVER, HAS CONSIDERABLE INDEPENDENT PHILOSOPHICAL PLAUSIBILITY AS AN ACCOUNT OF MIND AND SELF.
  •  108
    The tripartite model of representation
    Philosophical Psychology 15 (3): 239-270. 2002.
    Robert Cummins [(1996) Representations, targets and attitudes, Cambridge, MA: Bradford/MIT, p. 1] has characterized the vexed problem of mental representation as "the topic in the philosophy of mind for some time now." This remark is something of an understatement. The same topic was central to the famous controversy between Nicolas Malebranche and Antoine Arnauld in the 17th century and remained central to the entire philosophical tradition of "ideas" in the writings of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, R…Read more
  •  107
    The social construction of social constructionism
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 37 (2). 1994.
    The republication of David Bloor's Knowledge and Social Imagery is evidence of the continuing interest and importance of the work but also provides the clearest evidence of the shortcomings of the enterprise. The new Afterword of Bloor's second edition addresses criticisms of the Strong Programme, but the theses which Bloor now defends are substantially weaker claims than the iconoclastic tenets of the original manifesto. Moreover, in a related strategy, Bloor asserts that criticisms made since …Read more
  •  103
    The imagery debate: Déjà vu all over again? Commentary on Zenon Pylyshyn
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2): 209-210. 2002.
    The imagery debate re-enacts controversies persisting since Descartes. The controversy remains important less for what we can learn about visual imagery than about cognitive science itself. In the tradition of Arnauld, Reid, Bartlett, Austin and Ryle, Pylyshyn’s critique exposes notorious mistakes being unwittingly rehearsed not only regarding imagery but also in several independent domains of research in modern cognitive science.
  •  103
    Demons, Deceivers And Liars: Newcomb’s Malin Génie (review)
    Theory and Decision 61 (3): 277-303. 2006.
    A fully adequate solution to Newcomb’s Problem (Nozick 1969) should reveal the source of its extraordinary elusiveness and persistent intractability. Recently, a few accounts have independently sought to meet this criterion of adequacy by exposing the underlying source of the problem’s profound puzzlement. Thus, Sorensen (1987), Slezak (1998), Priest (2002) and Maitzen and Wilson (2003) share the ‘no box’ view according to which the very idea that there is a right choice is misconceived since th…Read more
  •  84
    Thinking about thinking: Language, thought and introspection
    Language and Communication 22 (3): 353-373. 2002.
    I do not think that the world or the sciences would ever have suggested to me any philosophical problems. What has suggested philosophical problems to me is things which other philosophers have said about the world or the sciences. (G.E. Moore, 1942, p. 14)
  •  83
    Was Descartes a liar? Diagonal doubt defended
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3): 379-388. 1988.
  •  82
    Linguistic Explanation and ‘Psychological Reality’
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (1): 3-20. 2009.
    Methodological questions concerning Chomsky’s generative approach to linguistics have been debated without consensus. The status of linguistics as psychology, the psychological reality of grammars, the character of tacit knowledge and the role of intuitions as data remain heatedly disputed today. I argue that the recalcitrance of these disputes is symptomatic of deep misunderstandings. I focus attention on Michael Devitt’s recent extended critique of Chomskyan linguistics and I suggest that his …Read more
  •  77
    Radical Constructivism: Epistemology, Education and Dynamite
    Constructivist Foundations 6 (1): 102-111. 2010.
    Context: The current situation in philosophy of science includes central, ongoing debates about realism and anti-realism. The same question has been central to the theorising of radical constructivism and, in particular, to its implications for educational theory. However the constructivist literature does not make significant contact with the most important, mainstream philosophical discussions. Problem: Despite its overwhelming influence among educationalists, I suggest that the “radical const…Read more
  •  71
    Reinterpreting images
    Analysis (October) 235 (October): 235-243. 1990.
  •  69
    Godel's theorem and the mind
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33 (March): 41-52. 1982.
  •  64
    A Second Look at David Bloor’s Knowledge and Social Imagery
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (3): 336-361. 1994.
    The recent republication of David Bloor's Knowledge and Social Imagery in a second edition provides an occasion to reappraise the celebrated work which launched the so-called Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge. This work embodies the general outlook and foundational principles in a way that is still characteristic of its descendents. Above all, the recent republication of Bloor's original book is evidence of the continuing interest and importance of the work, but it also p…Read more
  •  57
    Doubts about indubitability
    Philosophical Forum 41 (4): 389-412. 2010.
    Kirsten Besheer has recently considered Descartes’ doubting appropriately in the context of his physiological theories in the spirit of recent important re-appraisals of his natural philosophy. However, Besheer does not address the notorious indubitability and its source that Descartes claims to have discovered. David Cunning has remarked that Descartes’ insistence on the indubitability of his existence presents “an intractable problem of interpretation” in the light of passages that suggest …Read more
  •  39
    Talking to ourselves: The intelligibility of inner speech
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6): 699-700. 2002.
    The possible role of language in intermodular communication and non-domain-specific thinking is an empirical issue that is independent of the “vehicle” claim that natural language is “constitutive” of some thoughts. Despite noting objections to various forms of the thesis that we think in language, Carruthers entirely neglects a potentially fatal objection to his own preferred version of this “cognitive conception.”.
  •  36
    Minds, machines and self-reference
    Dialectica 38 (1): 17-34. 1984.
    SummaryJ.R. Lucas has argued that it follows from Godel's Theorem that the mind cannot be a machine or represented by any formal system. Although this notorious argument against the mechanism thesis has received considerable attention in the literature, it has not been decisively rebutted, even though mechanism is generally thought to be the only plausible view of the mind. In this paper I offer an analysis of Lucas's argument which shows that it derives its persuasiveness from a subtle confusio…Read more
  •  35
    Two varieties of constructivism are distinguished. In part 1, the psychological or “radical” constructivism of von Glasersfeld is discussed. Despite its dominant influence in science education, radical constructivism has been controversial, with challenges to its principles and practices. In part 2, social constructivism is discussed in the sociology of scientific knowledge. Social constructivism has not been primarily concerned with education but has the most direct consequences in view of its …Read more
  •  33
    Situated cognition
    Perspectives on Cognitive Science. 1999.
    The self-advertising, at least, suggests that 'situated cognition' involves the most fundamental conceptual re-organization in AI and cognitive science, even appearing to deny that cognition is to be explained by mental representations. In their defence of the orthodox symbolic representational theory, A. Vera and H. Simon have rebutted many of these claims, but they overlook an important reading of situated arguments which may, after all, involve a revolutionary insight. I show that the whole d…Read more
  •  30
    Externalist theories in natural language semantics have become the orthodoxy since Kripke is widely thought to have refuted descriptive theories involving internal cognitive representation of meaning. This shift may be seen in developments in philosophy of language of the 1970s – the direct reference “revolution against Frege”. I consider Fodor’s heretical thought that something has gone “awfully wrong” in this philosophical consensus, perhaps confirming Chomsky’s view that the whole field of ph…Read more
  •  28
    Bloor's bluff: Behaviourism and the strong programme
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 5 (3). 1991.
    Abstract The accumulated case studies in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge have been taken to establish the Strong Programme's thesis that beliefs have social causes in contradistinction to psychological ones. This externalism is essentially a commitment to the stimulus control of behaviour which was the principal tenet of orthodox Skinnerian Behaviorism. Offered as ?straight forward scientific hypotheses? these claims of social determination are asserted to be ?beyond dispute?. However, the…Read more
  •  28
    There's more to vision than meets the eye
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (7): 291-293. 2004.
  •  26
    Richard Jeffrey said that Newcomb’s Problem may be seen “as a rock on which... Bayesianism... must founder” and the problem has been almost universally conceived as reconciling the science-fictional features of the decision problem with a plausible causal analysis. Later, Jeffrey renounced his earlier position that accepted Newcomb problems as genuine decision problems, suggesting “Newcomb problems are like Escher’s famous staircase”. We may interpret this to mean that we know there can be no su…Read more