In this important book, Susan Hurley sheds new light on consciousness by examining its relationships to action from various angles. She assesses the role of agency in the unity of a conscious perspective, and argues that perception and action are more deeply interdependent than we usually assume. A standard view conceives perception as input from world to mind and action as output from mind to world, with the serious business of thought in between. Hurley criticizes this picture, and considers how (...) the interdependence of perceptual experience and agency at the personal level (of mental contents and norms) may emerge from the subpersonal level (of underlying causal processes and complex dynamic feedback systems). Her two-level view has wide implications, for topics that include self-consciousness, the modularity of mind, and the relations of mind to world. The self no longer lurks hidden somewhere between perceptual input and behavioral output, but reappears out in the open, embodied and embedded in its environment. Hurley traces these themes from Kantian and Wittgensteinian arguments through to intriguing recent work in neuropsychology and in dynamic systems approaches to the mind, providing a bridge from mainstream philosophy to work in other disciplines. Consciousness in Action is unique in the range of philosophical and scientific work it draws on, and in the deep criticism it offers of centuries-old habits of thought. (shrink)
Hurley here revives a classical idea about rationality in a modern framework, by developing analogies between the structure of personality and the structure of society in the context of contemporary work in philosophy of mind, ethics, decision theory and social choice theory. The book examines the rationality of decisions and actions, and illustrates the continuity of philosophy of mind on the one hand, and ethics and jurisprudence on the other. A major thesis of the book is that arguments drawn from (...) the philosophy of mind may be used to undermine widely-held subjectivist positions in ethics and politico-economic theory. The work is inspired by the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Davidson, but goes on to connect their arguments about interpretation with formal work in decision theory and social choice theory, and with the theory of adjudication. (shrink)
To what extent can animal behaviour be described as rational? What does it even mean to describe behaviour as rational? -/- This book focuses on one of the major debates in science today - how closely does mental processing in animals resemble mental processing in humans. It addresses the question of whether and to what extent non-human animals are rational, that is, whether any animal behaviour can be regarded as the result of a rational thought processes. It does this with (...) attention to three key questions, which recur throughout the book and which have both empirical and philosophical aspects: What kinds of behavioural tasks can animals successfully perform? What if any mental processes must be postulated to explain their performance at these tasks? What properties must processes have to count as rational? The book is distinctive in pursuing these questions not only in relation to our closest relatives, the primates, whose intelligence usually gets the most attention, but also in relation to birds and dolphins, where striking results are also being obtained. -/- Some chapters focus on a particular species. They describe some of the extraordinary and complex behaviour of these species - using tools in novel ways to solve foraging problems, for example, or behaving in novel ways to solve complex social problems - and ask whether such behaviour should be explained in rational or merely mechanistic terms. Other chapters address more theoretical issues and ask, for example, what it means for behaviour to be rational, and whether rationality can be understood in the absence of language. -/- The book includes many of the world's leading figures doing empirical work on rationality in primates, dolphins, and birds, as well as distinguished philosophers of mind and science. The book includes an editors' introduction which summarises the philosophical and empirical work presented, and draws together the issues discussed by the contributors. (shrink)
and apply it to various examples of neural plasticity in which input is rerouted intermodally or intramodally to nonstandard cortical targets. In some cases but not others, cortical activity ‘defers’ to the nonstandard sources of input. We ask why, consider some possible explanations, and propose a dynamic sensorimotor hypothesis. We believe that this distinction is important and worthy of further study, both philosophical and empirical, whether or not our hypothesis turns out to be correct. In particular, the question of how (...) the distinction should be explained is linked to explanatory gap issues for consciousness. Comparative and absolute explanatory gaps should be distinguished: why does neural activity in a particular area of cortex have this qualitative expression rather than that, and why does it have any qualitative expression at all? We use the dominance/deference distinction to address the comparative gaps, both intermodal and intramodal. We do so not by inward scrutiny but rather by expanding our gaze to include relations between brain, body and environment. (shrink)
Imitation, deliberation, and mindreading are characteristically human sociocognitive skills. Research on imitation and its role in social cognition is flourishing across various disciplines. Imitation is surveyed in this target article under headings of behavior, subpersonal mechanisms, and functions of imitation. A model is then advanced within which many of the developments surveyed can be located and explained. The shared circuits model (SCM) explains how imitation, deliberation, and mindreading can be enabled by subpersonal mechanisms of control, mirroring, and simulation. It is (...) cast at a middle, functional level of description, that is, between the level of neural implementation and the level of conscious perceptions and intentional actions. The SCM connects shared informational dynamics for perception and action with shared informational dynamics for self and other, while also showing how the action/perception, self/other, and actual/possible distinctions can be overlaid on these shared informational dynamics. It avoids the common conception of perception and action as separate and peripheral to central cognition. Rather, it contributes to the situated cognition movement by showing how mechanisms for perceiving action can be built on those for active perception.;>;>The SCM is developed heuristically, in five layers that can be combined in various ways to frame specific ontogenetic or phylogenetic hypotheses. The starting point is dynamic online motor control, whereby an organism is closely attuned to its embedding environment through sensorimotor feedback. Onto this are layered functions of prediction and simulation of feedback, mirroring, simulation of mirroring, monitored inhibition of motor output, and monitored simulation of input. Finally, monitored simulation of input specifying possible actions plus inhibited mirroring of such possible actions can generate information about the possible as opposed to actual instrumental actions of others, and the possible causes and effects of such possible actions, thereby enabling strategic social deliberation. Multiple instances of such shared circuits structures could be linked into a network permitting decomposition and recombination of elements, enabling flexible control, imitative learning, understanding of other agents, and instrumental and strategic deliberation. While more advanced forms of social cognition, which require tracking multiple others and their multiple possible actions, may depend on interpretative theorizing or language, the SCM shows how layered mechanisms of control, mirroring, and simulation can enable distinctively human cognitive capacities for imitation, deliberation, and mindreading. (shrink)
A traditional view of perception and action makestwo assumptions: that the causal flow betweenperception and action is primarily linear or one-way,and that they are merely instrumentally related toeach other, so that each is a means to the other.Either or both of these assumptions can be rejected. Behaviorism rejects the instrumental but not theone-way aspect of the traditional view, thus leavingitself open to charges of verificationism. Ecologicalviews reject the one-way aspect but not theinstrumental aspect of the traditional view, so thatperception and (...) action are seen as instrumentallyinterdependent. It is argued here that a betteralternative is to reject both assumptions, resultingin a two-level interdependence view in whichperception and action co-depend on dynamicallycircular subpersonal relations and as a result may bemore than merely instrumentally interdependent. Thisis illustrated by reference to motor theories ofperception and control theories of action. (shrink)
Imitation, deliberation, and mindreading are characteristically human sociocognitive skills. Research on imitation and its role in social cognition is flourishing across various disciplines; it is here surveyed under headings of behavior, subpersonal mechanisms, and functions of imitation. A model is then advanced within which many of the developments surveyed can be located and explained. The shared circuits model explains how imitation, deliberation, and mindreading can be enabled by subpersonal mechanisms of control, mirroring and simulation. It is cast at a middle, (...) functional level of description, between the level of neural implementation and the level of conscious perceptions and intentional actions. The shared circuits model connects shared informational dynamics for perception and action with shared informational dynamics for self and other, while also showing how the action/perception, self/other and actual/possible distinctions can be overlaid on these shared informational dynamics. It avoids the common conception of perception and action as separate and peripheral to central cognition. Rather, it contributes to the situated cognition movement by showing how mechanisms for perceiving action can be built on those for active perception. (shrink)
This introductory chapter explains the coverage of this book, which is about animal rationality and mental processing in animals. This book discusses the theoretical issues and distinctions that bear on attributions of rationality to animals and draws some contrasts between rationality and certain other traits of animals to determine the relationships between them. It explores the relations between behaviour and the processes that explain behaviour, and the senses in which animal behaviour might be rational in virtue of features other than (...) classical reasoning processes on the human model. -/- . (shrink)
I defend the view that we should not overintellectualize the mind. Nonhuman animals can occupy islands of practical rationality: they can have contextbound reasons for action even though they lack full conceptual abilities. Holism and the possibility of mistake are required for such reasons to be the agent's reasons, but these requirements can be met in the absence of inferential promiscuity. Empirical work with animals is used to illustrate the possibility that reasons for action could be bound to symbolic or (...) social contexts, and connections are made to simulationist accounts of cognitive skills. (shrink)
We all know about the vehicle/content distinction (see Dennett 1991a, Millikan 1991, 1993). We shouldn't confuse properties represented in content with properties of vehicles of content. In particular, we shouldn't confuse the personal and subpersonal levels. The contents of the mental states of subject/agents are at the personal level. Vehicles of content are causally explanatory subpersonal events or processes or states. We shouldn't suppose that the properties of vehicles must be projected into what they represent for subject/agents, or vice versa. (...) This would be to confuse the personal and subpersonal levels. (shrink)
I defend the view that we should not overintellectualize the mind. Nonhuman animals can occupy islands of practical rationality: they can have context‐bound reasons for action even though they lack full conceptual abilities. Holism and the possibility of mistake are required for such reasons to be the agent's reasons, but these requirements can be met in the absence of inferential promiscuity. Empirical work with animals is used to illustrate the possibility that reasons for action could be bound to symbolic or (...) social contexts, and connections are made to simulationist accounts of cognitive skills. (shrink)
Brewer’s Perception and Reason argues, from familiar scenarios of duplicate environments and switching, that a subject’s perceptual experiences must provide reasons for her empirical beliefs. Only perceptual experience can tie reference down to a thing as opposed to its duplicate, and this tying down must be a matter of giving the subject reasons that she can recognize as such. Moreover, such reasons require conceptual contents.
From my Consciousness in Action, ch. 2; see Consciousness in Action for bibligraphy. This chapter revises material from "Kant on Spontaneity and the Myth of the Giving", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1993-94, pp. 137-164, and "Myth Upon Myth", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1996, vol. 96, pp. 253-260.
I argue that an ecologically distributed conception of instrumental rationality can and should be extended to a socially distributed conception of instrumental rationality in social environments. The argument proceeds by showing that the assumption of exogenously fixed units of activity cannot be justified; different units of activity are possible and some are better means to independently given ends than others, in various circumstances. An important social heuristic, the mirror heuristic, enables the flexible formation of units of activity in game theoretic (...) situations, including collective units where these are instrumentally effective. In effect, the mirror heuristic makes the formation of units of activity endogenous to instrumental rationality. Moreover, the mirror heuristic is a conditional metaheuristic, which depends on mind reading of the heuristics of other players rather than on predictions of their behavior. Such mind reading can be regarded as emerging from an arms race between behavioral mimicry and ever smarter behavior reading. Even though unilateral mind reading may have benefits, the mirror metaheuristic illustrates that mutual mind reading has distinctive functions in responding to the challenges of social complexity. If simple heuristics can make us smart in the right environments, then social heuristics can make us smarter still. (shrink)
Part 1 reviews the general question of when elimination of an entity orproperty is warranted, as opposed to revision of our view of it. Theconnections of this issue with the distinction between context-drivenand theory-driven accounts of reference and essence are probed.Context-driven accounts tend to be less hospitable to eliminativism thantheory-driven accounts, but this tendency should not be overstated.However, since both types of account give essences explanatory depth,eliminativist claims associated with supposed impossible essences areproblematic on both types of account.Part 2 applies (...) these considerations to responsibility in particular. Theimpossibility of regressive choice or control is explained. It is arguedthat this impossibility does not support the claim that no one is everresponsible on either context-driven or theory-driven accounts of`responsibility''. (shrink)
[ Susan Hurley] I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the 'currency' of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether it (...) understands luck in interpersonal or counterfactual terms. /// [Richard J. Arneson] Does it make sense to hold that, if it is bad that some people are worse off than others, it is worse if those who are worse off come to be so through sheer bad luck that it is beyond their power to control? In her contribution to this symposium, Susan Hurley cautions against a closely related fallacy: from the fact that people have come to an unequal condition through unchosen bad luck, it does not follow that, if we aim to undo the influence of unchosen luck, we ought to institute equality of condition. Forswearing the fallacy that Hurley analyses is compatible with answering the question affirmatively, and more generally with holding that principles of distributive justice should be sensitive to the distinction between chosen and unchosen bad luck. This essay explores how this might be done. (shrink)
Recently research on imitation and its role in social cognition has been flourishing across various disciplines. After briefly reviewing these developments under the headings of behavior, subpersonal mechanisms, and functions of imitation, I advance the _shared circuits_.
i>: We should not overintellectualize the mind. Nonhuman animals can occupy islands of practical rationality: they can have specific, context-bound reasons for action even though they lack full conceptual abilities. Holism and the possibility of mistake are required for such reasons to be the agent’s reasons, but these requirements can be met in the absence of inferential promiscuity. Empirical work with animals is used to illustrate the possibility that reasons for action could be bound to symbolic or social contexts, and (...) connections are made to simulationist accounts of cognitive skills. (shrink)
Why does it matter whether and how individuals consciously control their behavior? It matters for many reasons. Here I focus on concerns about social influences of which agents are typically unaware on aggressive behavior.
Individualism fixes the unit of rational agency at the individual, creating problems exemplified in Hi-Lo and Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) games. But instrumental evaluation of consequences does not require a fixed individual unit. Units of agency can overlap, and the question of which unit should operate arises. Assuming a fixed individual unit is hard to justify: It is natural, and can be rational, to act as part of a group rather than as an individual. More attention should be paid to how (...) units of agency are formed and selected: Are the local processes local or nonlocal? Do they presuppose the ability to understand other minds? (shrink)
Philosophy of neuroscience may seem an odd thing to do. What can a philosopher add to what neuroscience itself has to say, other than at some very abstract level, far removed from empirical details and the interests of scientists? At some point you take a deep breath, acknowledge the methodological questions, and just go ahead, spurred on by the sheer philosophical interest and excitement abroad in the neurosciences today. So it is very gratifying to a philosopher of neuroscience for such (...) a distinguished neuropsychologist as Marcel Kinsbourne to find added value in the result. (shrink)