On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals possess a “number sense,” or approximate number system, that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques that question whether the ANS genuinely represents number. We distinguish three lines of critique – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. We then provide positive reasons to think that the ANS genuinely represents numbers, and not just non-numerical confounds or exotic substitutes for (...) number, such as “numerosities” or “quanticals,” as critics propose. In so doing, we raise a neglected question: numbers of what kind? Proponents of the orthodox view have been remarkably coy on this issue. But this is unsatisfactory since the predictions of the orthodox view, including the situations in which the ANS is expected to succeed or fail, turn on the kind of number being represented. In response, we propose that the ANS represents not only natural numbers, but also non-natural rational numbers. It does not represent irrational numbers, however, and thereby fails to represent the real numbers more generally. This distances our proposal from existing conjectures, refines our understanding of the ANS, and paves the way for future research. (shrink)
Philosophy, scientific psychology, and common sense all distinguish perception from cognition. While there is little agreement about how the perception–cognition boundary ought to be drawn, one prominent idea is that perceptual states are dependent on a stimulus, or stimulus-dependent, in a way that cognitive states are not. This paper seeks to develop this idea in a way that can accommodate two apparent counterexamples: hallucinations, which are prima facie perceptual yet stimulus-independent; and demonstrative thoughts, which are prima facie cognitive yet stimulus-dependent. (...) The payoff is not only a specific proposal for marking the perception–cognition boundary, but also a deeper understanding of the natures of hallucination and demonstrative thought. (shrink)
The distinction between perception and cognition frames countless debates in philosophy and cognitive science. But what, if anything, does this distinction actually amount to? In this introductory article, we summarize recent work on this question. We first briefly consider the possibility that a perception-cognition border should be eliminated from our scientific ontology, and then introduce and critically examine five positive approaches to marking a perception–cognition border, framed in terms of phenomenology, revisability, modularity, format, and stimulus-dependence.
In the 1980s, a number of philosophers argued that perception is analog. In the ensuing years, these arguments were forcefully criticized, leaving the thesis in doubt. This paper draws on Weber’s Law, a well-entrenched finding from psychophysics, to advance a new argument that perception is analog. This new argument is an adaptation of an argument that cognitive scientists have leveraged in support of the contention that primitive numerical representations are analog. But the argument here is extended to the representation of (...) non-numerical magnitudes, such as luminance and distance, and shown to apply to perception and not just cognition. The relevant sense of ‘analog’ is also clarified, and two powerful objections are addressed. Finally, the question whether perception’s analog vehicles are located in conscious experience is explored and related to a well-known controversy within psychophysics. (shrink)
Building on Christopher Peacocke’s account of analog perceptual contentand my own account of analog perceptual vehicles, I defend three claims: that theperception of magnitudes often has analog contents; that the perception of magni-tudes often has analog vehicles; and that the first claim is true in virtue of the second—that is, the analog vehicles help to ground the analog contents.
According to the Generality Constraint, mental states with conceptual content must be capable of recombining in certain systematic ways. Drawing on empirical evidence from cognitive science, I argue that so-called analogue magnitude states violate this recombinability condition and thus have nonconceptual content. I further argue that this result has two significant consequences: it demonstrates that nonconceptual content seeps beyond perception and infiltrates cognition; and it shows that whether mental states have nonconceptual content is largely an empirical matter determined by the (...) structure of the neural representations underlying them. (shrink)
Empirical discussions of mental representation appeal to a wide variety of representational kinds. Some of these kinds, such as the sentential representations underlying language use and the pictorial representations of visual imagery, are thoroughly familiar to philosophers. Others have received almost no philosophical attention at all. Included in this latter category are analogue magnitude representations, which enable a wide range of organisms to primitively represent spatial, temporal, numerical, and related magnitudes. This article aims to introduce analogue magnitude representations to a (...) philosophical audience by rehearsing empirical evidence for their existence and analysing their format, their content, and the computations they support. 1 Background1.1 Evidence of analogue magnitude representations1.2 Weber’s law1.3 Scepticism about analogue magnitude representations2 Format2.1 Carey’s analogy2.2 Neural realization2.3 Analogue representation2.4 Analogue magnitude representation components3 Content3.1 Do analogue magnitude representations have representational content?3.2 What do analogue magnitude representations represent?3.3 What content types do analogue magnitude representations have?4 Computations4.1 Arithmetic computation4.2 Practical deliberation5 Conclusion. (shrink)
John Morrison has argued that confidences are assigned in perceptual experience. For example, when you perceive a figure in the distance, your experience might assign a 55-percent confidence to the figure’s being Isaac. Morrison’s argument leans on the phenomenon of ‘completely trusting your experience’. I argue that Morrison presupposes a problematic ‘importation model’ of this familiar phenomenon, and propose a very different way of thinking about it. While the article’s official topic is whether confidences are assigned in perceptual experience, it (...) is also about two more general issues: how we can determine which properties are assigned in perceptual experience; and how we transition from perception to belief. (shrink)
Susan Carey's account of Quinean bootstrapping has been heavily criticized. While it purports to explain how important new concepts are learned, many commentators complain that it is unclear just what bootstrapping is supposed to be or how it is supposed to work. Others allege that bootstrapping falls prey to the circularity challenge: it cannot explain how new concepts are learned without presupposing that learners already have those very concepts. Drawing on discussions of concept learning from the philosophical literature, this article (...) develops a detailed interpretation of bootstrapping that can answer the circularity challenge. The key to this interpretation is the recognition of computational constraints, both internal and external to the mind, which can endow empty symbols with new conceptual roles and thus new contents. (shrink)
Drawing on the empirical premise that attention makes objects look more intense, Ned Block has argued for mental paint, a phenomenal residue that cannot be reduced to what is perceived or represented. If sound, Block's argument would undermine direct realism and representationism, two widely held views about the nature of conscious perception. We argue that Block's argument fails because the empirical premise it is based upon is false. Attending to an object alters its salience, but not its perceived intensity. We (...) also argue that salience should be equated with mental primer, a close cousin of mental paint that reintroduces difficulties for direct realism and representationism. The upshot is that direct realism and representationism are still in trouble, but not for the reason that Block thinks. (shrink)
While philosophers have been interested in animals since ancient times, in the last few decades the subject of animal minds has emerged as a major topic in philosophy. _The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds_ is an outstanding reference source to the key topics, problems and debates in this exciting subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising nearly fifty chapters by a team of international contributors, the _Handbook_ is divided into eight parts: Mental representation Reasoning and (...) metacognition Consciousness Mindreading Communication Social cognition and culture Association, simplicity, and modeling Ethics. Within these sections central issues, debates and problems are examined, including: whether and how animals represent and reason about the world; how animal cognition differs from human cognition; whether animals are conscious; whether animals represent their own mental states or those of others; how animals communicate; the extent to which animals have cultures; how to choose among competing models and explanations of animal behavior; and whether animals are moral agents and/or moral patients; The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, ethics and related disciplines such as ethology, biology, psychology, linguistics and anthropology. (shrink)
Realists about animal cognition confront a puzzle. If animals have real, contentful cognitive states, why can’t anyone say precisely what the contents of those states are? I consider several possible resolutions to this puzzle that are open to realists, and argue that the best of these is likely to appeal to differences in the format of animal cognition and human language.
In our target article, we argued that the number sense represents natural and rational numbers. Here, we respond to the 26 commentaries we received, highlighting new directions for empirical and theoretical research. We discuss two background assumptions, arguments against the number sense, whether the approximate number system represents numbers or numerosities, and why the ANS represents rational numbers.
This paper surveys and evaluates the answers that philosophers and animal researchers have given to two questions. Do animals have thoughts? If so, are their thoughts conceptual? Along the way, special attention is paid to distinguish debates of substance from mere battles over terminology, and to isolate fruitful areas for future research.
Over the past 50 years, philosophers and psychologists have perennially argued for the existence of analog mental representations of one type or another. This study critically reviews a number of these arguments as they pertain to three different types of mental representation: perceptual representations, imagery representations, and numerosity representations. Along the way, careful consideration is given to the meaning of “analog” presupposed by these arguments for analog mental representation, and to open avenues for future research.
In The Border between Seeing and Thinking, Ned Block argues that the distinction between perception and cognition should be grounded in representational format. I object that cognition is multifaceted, and includes representations with the same format as some perceptual representations. We can save Block’s view by interpreting it as concerning the border between one elite species of cognition—namely, propositional thought—and everything below it, including perception. But that leaves the border between perception and cognition in general unexplained. To ﬁll this gap, (...) I recommend my stimulus-dependence account of the border and reply to objections Block raises against it. This brings into relief a category of mind that is crucial to understanding human infants and nonhuman animals—namely, nonpropositional cognition, which sits between perception and propositional thought. (shrink)
Relationalism maintains that mind-independent objects are essential constituents of veridical perceptual experiences. According to the argument from hallucination, relationalism is undermined by perfect hallucinations, experiences that are introspectively indistinguishable from veridical perceptual experiences but lack an object. Recently, a new wave of relationalists have responded by questioning whether perfect hallucinations are possible: what seem to be perfect hallucinations may really be something else, such as illusions, veridical experiences of non-obvious objects, or experiences that are not genuinely possible. This paper argues (...) that however well new wave relationalism may handle brains in vats, drug users “seeing” pink elephants, and other extraordinary hallucinations, it struggles to accommodate mundane hallucinations, such as “hearing” your child cry out from the room down the hall when she is actually sound asleep or “feeling” vibrations on your thigh even when your phone isn't in your pocket. Mundane hallucinations are best explained as byproducts of noise in the perceptual system, and noise-induced hallucinations are resistant to the strategies that new wave relationalists deploy to explain away other hallucinations. Mundane hallucinations can thus underpin an especially powerful version of the argument from hallucination. (shrink)
Imagine hosting a party. You arrange snacks, curate a playlist and place a variety of beers in the refrigerator. Your first guest shows up, adding a six-pack before taking one bottle for himself. You watch your next guest arrive and contribute a few more beers, minus one for herself. Ready for a drink, you open the fridge and are surprised to find only eight beers remaining. You haven't been consciously counting the beers, but you know there should be more, so (...) you start poking around. Sure enough, in the crisper drawer, behind a rotting head of romaine, are several bottles. (shrink)
Perceptual experience supports the assignment of confidences in belief – doxastic confidences. To explain this fact, many philosophers appeal to Perceptual Indeterminacy, which holds that perceptual content can be more or less determinate. Others instead appeal to Perceptual Confidence, which says that perceptual experience supports doxastic confidences because it assigns confidences too. Morrison argues that a primary reason to favour Perceptual Confidence is that it is uniquely capable of accounting for bell-shaped doxastic confidence distributions; we call this the bell curve (...) objection to Perceptual Indeterminacy. Here we show that two recent defences of Perceptual Indeterminacy, due to Nanay and Raleigh and Vindrola, fail to adequately address the bell curve objection. But we also argue that all is not lost for proponents of Perceptual Indeterminacy. They can counter the bell curve objection by embracing a third view, which we call Perceptual Noise. (shrink)
On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals are endowed with a “number sense”, or approximate number system (ANS), that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques, with critics maintaining either that numerical content is absent altogether, or else that some primitive analog of number (‘numerosity’) is represented as opposed to number itself. We distinguish three arguments for these claims – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. (...) We then highlight positive reasons for thinking that the ANS genuinely represents numbers. The upshot is that proponents of the orthodox view should not feel troubled by recent critiques of their position. (shrink)
Modes of presentation are often posited to accommodate Frege’s puzzle. Philosophers differ, however, in whether they follow Frege in identifying modes of presentation with Fregean senses, or instead take them to be formally individuated symbols of “Mentalese”. Building on Fodor, Margolis and Laurence defend the latter view by arguing that the mind-independence of Fregean senses renders them ontologically suspect in a way that Mentalese symbols are not. This paper shows how Fregeans can withstand this objection. Along the way, a clearer (...) understanding emerges of what senses must be to serve as an ontologically benign alternative to symbols of Mentalese. (shrink)