•  3219
    Memory and the Sense of Personal Identity
    with Stan Klein
    Mind 121 (483): 677-702. 2012.
    Memory of past episodes provides a sense of personal identity — the sense that I am the same person as someone in the past. We present a neurological case study of a patient who has accurate memories of scenes from his past, but for whom the memories lack the sense of mineness. On the basis of this case study, we propose that the sense of identity derives from two components, one delivering the content of the memory and the other generating the sense of mineness. We argue that this new model of …Read more
  •  553
    Against Arguments from Reference
    with Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, and Stephen Stich
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2). 2009.
    It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a the…Read more
  •  545
    Teleological Essentialism: Generalized
    with David Rose
    Cognitive Science 44 (3). 2020.
    Natural/social kind essentialism is the view that natural kind categories, both living and non-living natural kinds, as well as social kinds (e.g., race, gender), are essentialized. On this view, artifactual kinds are not essentialized. Our view—teleological essentialism—is that a broad range of categories are essentialized in terms of teleology, including artifacts. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments typically used to provide evidence of essentialist thinking—involving superficial chang…Read more
  •  447
    Intuitions about personal identity: An empirical study
    with Michael Bruno
    Philosophical Psychology 23 (3): 293-312. 2010.
    Williams (1970) argues that our intuitions about personal identity vary depending on how a given thought experiment is framed. Some frames lead us to think that persistence of self requires persistence of one's psychological characteristics; other frames lead us to think that the self persists even after the loss of one's distinctive psychological characteristics. The current paper takes an empirical approach to these issues. We find that framing does affect whether or not people judge that pers…Read more
  •  381
    Experimental Philosophy
    with Joshua Knobe, Wesley Buckwalter, Philip Robbins, Hagop Sarkissian, and Tamler Sommers
    Annual Review of Psychology 63 (1): 81-99. 2012.
    Experimental philosophy is a new interdisciplinary field that uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy. The present review focuses on research in experimental philosophy on four central questions. First, why is it that people's moral judgments appear to influence their intuitions about seemingly nonmoral questions? Second, do people think that moral questions have objective answers, or do they see morality as fundamentally rela…Read more
  •  326
    Cause and burn
    Cognition 207 (104517): 104517. 2021.
    Many philosophers maintain that causation is to be explicated in terms of a kind of dependence between cause and effect. These “dependence” theories are opposed by “production” accounts which hold that there is some more fundamental causal “oomph”. A wide range of experimental research on everyday causal judgments seems to indicate that ordinary people operate primarily with a dependence-based notion of causation. For example, people tend to say that absences and double preventers are causes. …Read more
  •  321
    The everyday capacity to understand the mind, or 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our ordinary lives. Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich provide a detailed and integrated account of the intricate web of mental components underlying this fascinating and multifarious skill. The imagination, they argue, is essential to understanding others, and there are special cognitive mechanisms for understanding oneself. The account that emerges has broad implications for longstanding philosophical debate…Read more
  •  293
    Folk psychology: Simulation or tacit theory?
    with Stephen Stich
    Mind and Language 7 (1-2): 35-71. 1992.
    A central goal of contemporary cognitive science is the explanation of cognitive abilities or capacities. [Cummins 1983] During the last three decades a wide range of cognitive capacities have been subjected to careful empirical scrutiny. The adult's ability to produce and comprehend natural language sentences and the child's capacity to acquire a natural language were among the first to be explored. [Chomsky 1965, Fodor, Bever & Garrett 1974, Pinker 1989] There is also a rich literature on the …Read more
  •  269
    Imagination and the puzzles of iteration
    Analysis 62 (3): 182-87. 2002.
    Iteration presents opposing puzzles for a theory of the imagination. The first puzzle, noted by David Lewis, is that when a person pretends to pretend, the iteration is often preserved. Let’s call this the puzzle of ‘pre- served iteration’. At the other pole, Gregory Currie has noted that very often when we pretend to pretend, the iteration does collapse. We might call this the puzzle of ‘collapsed iteration’. Somehow a theory of the imagination must be able to address these two puzzles. I argue…Read more
  •  199
    According to recent accounts of the imagination, mental mechanisms that can take input from both imagining and from believing will process imagination-based inputs (pretense representations) and isomorphic beliefs in much the same way. That is, such a mechanism should produce similar outputs whether its input is the belief that p or the pretense representation that p. Unfortunately, there seem to be clear counterexamples to this hypothesis, for in many cases, imagining that p and believing that …Read more
  •  186
    Recent work in developmental psychology indicates that children naturally think that psychological states continue after death. One important candidate explanation for why this belief is natural appeals to the idea that we believe in immortality because we can't imagine our own nonexistence. This paper explores this old idea. To begin, I present a qualified statement of the thesis that we can't imagine our own nonexistence. I argue that the most prominent explanation for this obstacle, Freud's, …Read more
  •  174
    An important motivation for relational theories of color is that they resolve apparent conflicts about color: x can, without contradiction, be red relative to S1 and not red relative to S2. Alas, many philosophers claim that the view is incompatible with naive, phenomenally grounded introspection. However, when we presented normal adults with apparent conflicts about color (among other properties), we found that many were open to the relationalist's claim that apparently competing variants can s…Read more
  •  173
    The claim that common sense regards free will and moral responsibility as compatible with determinism has played a central role in both analytic and experimental philosophy. In this paper, we show that evidence in favor of this “natural compatibilism” is undermined by the role that indeterministic metaphysical views play in how people construe deterministic scenarios. To demonstrate this, we re-examine two classic studies that have been used to support natural compatibilism. We find that althoug…Read more
  •  150
    This volume presents new essays on the propositional imagination by leading researchers. The propositional imagination---the mental capacity we exploit when we imagine that everyone is colour-blind or that Hamlet is a procrastinator---plays an essential role in philosophical theorizing, engaging with fiction, and indeed in everyday life. Yet only recently has there been a systematic attempt to give a cognitive account of the propositional imagination. These thirteen essays, specially written for…Read more
  •  148
    Process Debunking and Ethics
    Ethics 124 (4): 727-749. 2014.
    In this essay, two different forms of debunking arguments are distinguished. On the type of debunking argument that I will promote, one attempts to undercut the justificatory status of a belief by showing that the belief was formed by an epistemically defective psychological process. I argue that there is a promising application of such a process debunking argument in metaethics. In normative ethics, however, process debunking arguments face greater obstacles
  •  123
    Ambiguous Reference
    Mind 125 (497): 145-175. 2016.
    One of the central debates in the philosophy of language is that between defenders of the causal-historical and descriptivist theories of reference. Most philosophers involved in the debate support one or the other of the theories. Building on recent experimental work in semantics, we argue that there is a sense in which both theories are correct. In particular, we defend the view that natural kind terms can sometimes take on a causal-historical reading and at other times take on a descriptivist…Read more
  •  120
    Introspection plays a crucial role in Modern philosophy in two different ways. From the beginnings of Modern philosophy, introspection has been used a tool for philosophical exploration in a variety of thought experiments. But Modern philosophers (e.g., Locke and Hume) also tried to characterize the nature of introspection as a psychological phenomenon. In contemporary philosophy, introspection is still frequently used in thought experiments. And in the analytic tradition, philosophers have trie…Read more
  •  112
    Cognitive Penetrability, Rationality and Restricted Simulation
    with Stephen Stich
    Mind and Language 12 (3-4): 297-326. 1997.
    In a series of recent papers, Jane Heal (1994, 1995a, 1995b, 1996a, 1996b) has developed her own quite distinctive version of simulation theory and offered a detailed critique of the arguments against simulation theory that we and our collaborators presented in earlier papers. Heal's theory is clearly set out and carefully defended, and her critique of our arguments is constructive and well informed. Unlike a fair amount of what has been written in this area in recent years, her work is refreshi…Read more
  •  102
    There is a large tradition of work in moral psychology that explores the capacity for moral judgment by focusing on the basic capacity to distinguish moral violations (e.g. hitting another person) from conventional violations (e.g. playing with your food). However, only recently have there been attempts to characterize the cognitive mechanisms underlying moral judgment (e.g. Cognition 57 (1995) 1; Ethics 103 (1993) 337). Recent evidence indicates that affect plays a crucial role in mediating the…Read more
  •  100
    Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (3): 727-729. 2007.
  •  75
    Death and the Self
    with Nina Strohminger, Arun Rai, and Jay Garfield
    Cognitive Science 42 (S1): 314-332. 2018.
    It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self. This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations. Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower…Read more
  •  74
    Variations in ethical intuitions
    with Jennifer L. Zamzow
    Philosophical Issues 19 (1): 368-388. 2009.
    No Abstract
  •  68
    Recreative Minds
    Mind 113 (450): 329-334. 2004.
  •  61
    Free will and the folk: Responses to commentators
    Journal of Cognition and Culture 6 (1-2): 305-320. 2006.
    Experimental research on folk intuitions concerning free will is still in its infancy. So it is especially helpful to have such an excellent set of commentaries, and I greatly appreciate the work of the commentators in advancing the project. Because of space limitations, I can’t respond to all of the comments. I will focus on just a few issues that emerge from the comments that I think are especially promising for illumination.
  •  51
    Agent‐Regret and Accidental Agency
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1): 181-202. 2019.
    Midwest Studies In Philosophy, EarlyView.
  •  51
    Self-Conscious Emotions Without a Self
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    Recent discussions of emotions in Buddhism suggest that one of the canonical self-conscious emotions, shame, is an emotion to be endorsed and indeed cultivated. The canonical texts in the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, endorse hiri as one of the wholesome factors “always found in all good minds” and as one of “the guardians of the world”. Shame is widely taken to be a self-conscious emotion, and so if hiri counts as shame, this seems to be in tension with the central Buddhist claim that we shoul…Read more
  •  45
    Remembering Past Lives
    In Helen De Cruz & Ryan Nichols (eds.), Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy, Bloomsbury. pp. 169-196. 2016.
    The aim of this chapter is to address the role of memory in past-life convictions. Although it is commonly accepted in the modern media - and popular western culture more generally - that people believe they have lived before because the memory contains detailed verifiable facts, little is known about how people actually reason about the veracity of their previous existence. To our knowledge, the current project is the most extensive research that probes the role of memory in past life convictio…Read more
  •  37
    Choice effects and the ineffectiveness of simulation
    with Stephen Stich and Alan Leslie
    Mind and Language 10 (4): 437-45. 1995.