Ways of Seeing is a unique collaboration between an eminent philosopher and a world famous neuroscientist. It focuses on one of the most basic human functions - vision. What does it mean to 'see'. It brings together electrophysiological studies, neuropsychology, psychophysics, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind. The first truly interdisciplinary book devoted to the topic of vision, it will make a valuable contribution to the field of cognitive science.
This paper assesses the so-called “direct-perception” model of empathy. This model draws much of its inspiration from the Phenomenological tradition: it is offered as an account free from the assumption that most, if not all, of another’s psychological states and experiences are unobservable and that one’s understanding of another’s psychological states and experiences are based on inferential processes. Advocates of this model also reject the simulation-based approach to empathy. I first argue that most of their criticisms miss their target because (...) they are directed against the simulation-based approach to mindreading. Advocates of this model further subscribe to an expressivist conception of human behavior and assume that some of an individual’s psychological states (e.g. her goals and emotions, not her beliefs) can be directly perceived in the individual’s expressive behavior. I argue that advocates of the direct-perception model face the following dilemma: either they embrace behaviorism or else they must recognize that one could not understand another’s goal or emotion from her behavior alone without making contextual assumptions. Finally, advocates of the direct-perception model endorse the narrative competency hypothesis, according to which the ability to ascribe beliefs to another is grounded in the ability to understand narratives. I argue that this hypothesis is hard to reconcile with recent results in developmental psychology showing that preverbal human infants seem able to ascribe false beliefs to others. (shrink)
According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity (...) of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
We offer an account of empathetic pain that preserves the distinctions among standard pain, contagious pain, empathetic pain, sympathy for pain, and standard pain ascription. Vicarious experiences of both contagious and empathetic pain resemble to some extent experiences of standard pain. But there are also crucial dissimilarities. As neuroscientific results show, standard pain involves a sensorimotor and an affective component. According to our account, contagious pain consists in imagining the former, whereas empathetic pain consists in imagining the latter. We further (...) argue that awareness of another's standard pain is part of empathetic pain, but empathetic awareness of another's standard pain differs from believing that another is in standard pain. (shrink)
Recent advances in the cognitive neuroscience of action have considerably enlarged our understanding of human motor cognition. In particular, the activity of the mirror system, first discovered in the brain of non-human primates, provides an observer with the understanding of a perceived action by means of the motor simulation of the agent's observed movements. This discovery has raised the prospects of a motor theory of social cognition. Since human social cognition includes the ability to mindread, many motor theorists of social (...) cognition try to bridge the gap between motor cognition and mindreading by endorsing a simulation account of mindreading. Here, we express our skepticism about the motor theory of social cognition. (shrink)
In a paper published in Psychological Review, Tyler Burge has offered a unified non-mentalistic account of a wide range of social cognitive developmental findings. His proposal is that far from attributing mental states, young children attribute to humans the same kind of internal generic states of sensory registration that biologists attribute to e.g. snails and ticks. Burge’s proposal deserves close attention: it is especially challenging because it departs from both the mentalistic and all the non-mentalistic accounts of the data so (...) far. Moreover Burge has been one of the leading philosophers of mind of the past 40 years and some of his writings on the objectivity of perception display a deep understanding of the relevance of science for sharpening our understanding of the mind. After taking a close look at the developmental evidence, in particular at false-belief studies, I argue that Burge’s, 409–434, 2018) account faces severe obstacles. To give one telling example: if young children can only attribute to others sensory registrations, then it is hard to explain the evidence showing that they respond differently to an agent’s ignorance and to her false belief. (shrink)
Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. The puzzles of intentionality lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The word itself, which is of medieval Scholastic origin, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano towards the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb (...) intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing. The entry falls into eleven sections. (shrink)
Developmental psychology currently faces a deep puzzle: most children before 4 years of age fail elicited-response false-belief tasks, but preverbal infants demonstrate spontaneous false-belief understanding. Two main strategies are available: cultural constructivism and early-belief understanding. The latter view assumes that failure at elicited-response false-belief tasks need not reflect the inability to understand false beliefs. The burden of early-belief understanding is to explain why elicited-response false-belief tasks are so challenging for most children under 4 years of age. The goal of this (...) article is to offer a pragmatic framework whose purpose is to discharge this burden. (shrink)
Some of a person's mental states have the power to represent real and imagined states of affairs: they have semantic properties. What Minds Can Do has two goals: to find a naturalistic or non-semantic basis for the representational powers of a person's mind, and to show that these semantic properties are involved in the causal explanation of the person's behaviour. In the process, this 1997 book addresses issues that are central to much contemporary philosophical debate. It will be of interest (...) to a wide range of readers in philosophy of mind and of language, cognitive science, and psychology. (shrink)
Recent empirical and conceptual research has shown that moral considerations have an influence on the way we use the adverb 'intentionally'. Here we propose our own account of these phenomena, according to which they arise from the fact that the adverb 'intentionally' has three different meanings that are differently selected by contextual factors, including normative expectations. We argue that our hypotheses can account for most available data and present some new results that support this. We end by discussing the implications (...) of our account for folk psychology. (shrink)
A new framework for the study of the human moral faculty is currently receiving much attention: the so-called ‘universal moral grammar' framework. It is based on an intriguing analogy, first pointed out by Rawls, between the study of the human moral sense and Chomsky's research program into the human language faculty. In order to assess UMG, we ask: is moral competence modular? Does it have an underlying hierarchical grammatical structure? Does moral diversity rest on culture-dependent parameters? We review evidence that (...) supports negative answers and argue that formal grammatical concepts are of limited value for the study of moral judgments, moral development and moral diversity. (shrink)
The tuning-fork model of human social cognition, based on the discovery of mirror neurons (MNs) in the ventral premotor cortex of monkeys, involves the four following assumptions: (1) mirroring processes are processes of resonance or simulation. (2) They can be motor or non-motor. (3) Processes of motor mirroring (or action-mirroring), exemplified by the activity of MNs, constitute instances of third-person mindreading, whereby an observer represents the agent's intention. (4) Non-motor mirroring processes enable humans to represent others' emotions. After questioning all (...) four assumptions, I point out that MNs in an observer's brain could not synchronically resonate with MNs in an agent's brain unless they discharged in a single brain in two distinct tasks at different times. Finally, I sketch a conceptualist alternative to the resonance model according to which a brain mechanism active in both the execution and the perception of e.g., the act of grasping is the neural basis of the concept of e.g., grasping. (shrink)
According to the two visual systems model, the visual processing of objects divides into semantic and pragmatic processing. We provide various criteria for this distinction. Further, we argue that both the semantic and pragmatic processing of visual information about objects should be divided into low-level processing and high-level processing. Finally, we re-evaluate the contribution of the human parietal lobe to the concious visual perception of spatial relations among objects.
Alva Noë’s version of the enactive conception in _Action in Perception_ is an important contribution to the study of visual perception. First, I argue, however, that it is unclear (at best) whether, as the enactivists claim, work on change blindness supports the denial of the existence of detailed visual representations. Second, I elaborate on what Noë calls the ‘puzzle of perceptual presence’. Thirdly, I question the enactivist account of perceptual constancy. Finally, I draw attention to the tensions between enactivism and (...) two trends in cognitive neuroscience: the two-visual systems model of human vision and the theory of internal forward models of action. (shrink)
Mirror neurons fire both when a primate executes a transitive action directed toward a target (e.g., grasping) and when he observes the same action performed by another. According to the prevalent interpretation, action-mirroring is a process of interpersonal neural similarity whereby an observer maps the agent's perceived movements onto her own motor repertoire. Furthermore, ever since Gallese and Goldman's (1998) influential paper, action-mirroring has been linked to third-person mindreading on the grounds that it enables an observer to represent the agent's (...) intention. In this paper, I criticize the prevalent interpretation on two grounds. First, action-mirroring could not result in interpersonal neural similarity unless there was a single mechanism active at different times in a single brain during the execution and the perception of acts of grasping. Second, such a neural mechanism is better conceived as underlying the possession of the concept of grasping than as a basis for mindreading. (shrink)
This paper assesses the scope and limits of a widely influential model of goal-ascription by human infants: the shared-intentionality model. It derives much of its appeal from its ability to integrate behavioral evidence from developmental psychology with cognitive neuroscientific evidence about the role of mirror neuron activity in non-human primates. The central question raised by this model is whether sharing a goal with an agent is necessary and sufficient for ascribing it to that agent. I argue that advocates of the (...) shared-intentionality model underestimate both the distinction between the target and the goal of a goal-directed action and the gap between sharing and ascribing a goal. (shrink)
I examine and discuss Jaegwon Kim's arguments against non-reductive physicalism in his book, Mind in a Physical World. I first examine the supervenience argument and then the multiple realization argument. Finally, I raise some questions about Kim's overall attitude towards mental realism, i.e., realism about mental properties.
Non-cognitive gadgets are fancy tools shaped to meet specific, local needs. Cecilia Heyes defines cognitive gadgets as dedicated psychological mechanisms created through social interactions and culturally, not genetically, inherited by humans. She has boldly proposed that many human cognitive mechanisms are gadgets. If true, these claims would have far-reaching implications for our scientific understanding of human social cognition. Here we assess Heyes’s cognitive gadget approach as it applies to mindreading. We do not think that the evidence supports Heyes’s thought-provoking thesis (...) that human children are taught to read minds the way they are taught to read words. We highlight a potential circularity lurking behind this analogy, and we explain why we are unpersuaded by Heyes’s anti-mentalistic proposal for handling data inconsistent with the gadget view, which others take to be evidence for mindreading in human infancy. We conclude that while human minds may well be filled with gadgets, mindreading is unlikely to be one of them. (shrink)
To subscribe to the embodied mind (or embodiment) framework is to reject the view that an individual’s mind is realized by her brain alone. As Clark ( 2008a ) has argued, there are two ways to subscribe to embodiment: bodycentrism (BC) and the extended mind (EM) thesis. According to BC, an embodied mind is a two-place relation between an individual’s brain and her non-neural bodily anatomy. According to EM, an embodied mind is a threeplace relation between an individual’s brain, her (...) non-neural body and her non-bodily environment. I argue that BC can be given a weak and a strong interpretation, according to whether it accepts a functionalist account of the contribution of the non-neural body to higher cognitive functions and a computational account of the contents of concepts and the nature of conceptual processing. Thus, weak BC amounts to an incomplete version of EM. To accept a weak BC approach to concepts is to accept concept-empiricism. I raise four challenges for concept-empiricism and argue that what is widely taken as evidence for concept-empiricism from recent cognitive neuroscience could only vindicate weak BC if it could be shown that the non-neural body, far from being a tool at the service of the mind/brain, could be constitutive of the mind. If correct, EM would seem able to vindicate the claim that both bodily and non-bodily tools are constitutive of an individual’s mind. I scrutinize the basic arguments for EM and argue that they fail. This failure backfires on weak BC. One option left for advocates of BC is to endorse a strong, more controversial, BC approach to concepts. (shrink)
Here we address four objections raised by Julien Deonna, John Michael, and Francesca Fardo against a recent account of empathy for pain. First, to what extent must the empathizer share her target’s affective state? Second, how can one interpret neuroscientific findings on vicarious pain in light of recent results challenging the notion of a pain matrix? Third, can one offer a simpler account of how empathy makes one aware of another’s emotion? Finally, to what extent can this account of empathy (...) for pain be generalized to empathy for emotions? (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
I pursue here three related aims. First, I criticise some of the metaphysical claims made on behalf of the so-called `enactive' approach to visual experience. Secondly, I explain why the enactive view of visual experience is hard to square with the evidence in favour of the two-visual-systems model of human vision. Finally, I explore one possible way to develop the `pre-emptive perception' framework and explain why, contrary to first appearances, some of the fundamental discoveries of brain mechanisms, whose function might (...) be to underlie pre-emptive perception, do not really support the enactive approach to visual experience. (shrink)
As a naturalistically inclined philosopher, I reject the thesis that meaning is intrinsically normative. I consider the deflationary proposal that meaning is not normative at all and I find it unacceptable. I argue from the difficulties met by the deflationary proposal in favor of the teleosemantic view that the normativity of meaning arises from biological functions.
There are presently three broad approaches the project of naturalizing intentionality: a purely informational approach (Dretske and Fodor), a purely teleological approach (Millikan and Papineau), and a mixed informationally-based teleological approach (Dretske again). I will argue that the last teleosemantic theory offers the most promising approach. I also think, however, that the most explicit version of a pure teleosemantic theory of content, namely Millikan’s admirable theory, faces a pair of objections. My goal in this paper is to spell out Millikan’s (...) pure teleosemantic theory; then to present two objections; and finally to ask the question whether a teleosemantic framework can be saved from the objections. (shrink)
First, I argue that the narrow content of a thought cannot be identical with the linguistic meaning of the sentence used to express it. Secondly, I argue that the distinction between narrow content and linguistic meaning is not fatal to content-dualism. Thirdly I argue for the view that the proposition contributed by the clause prefixed by "that" is an interpretation of the believer's thought. Finally, I use this insight to provide an individualist account of Burge's thought-experiments such that recognition that (...) the truth-conditions of belief-ascriptions include aspects of the believer's environment does not entail that those environmental aspects are thereby parts of the contents of the person's thoughts. (shrink)
El libro E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of PhenomenalConsciousness presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de laconciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experienciasubjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real,y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
El libro "E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness" presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de la conciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experiencia subjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real, y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
In traditional epistemology, psychological self-knowledge is taken to be the paradigm of privleged a priori knowledge. According to an influential incompatibilist line of thought, traditional epistemic features attributed to psychological self-knowledge are supposed to be inconsistent with content externalism. In this paper, I examine one prominent compatibilist response by an advocate of content externalism, i.e., Fred Dretske's answer tot he incompatibilist argument, based on the model of displaced perceptual knowledge. I discuss the costs and benefits of his answer.
Dretske has argued that, unlike the content of beliefs and desires, the contents of innate representations cannot in principle play a role in the causal explanation of an individual's behavior. I examine this "asymmetry" and against it, I argue that the content of innate mental representations too can play a causal role in the explanation of behavior.