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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
Why is neural activity in a particular area expressed as experience of red rather than green, or as visual experience rather than auditory? Indeed, why does it have any conscious expression at all? These familiar questions indicate the explanatory gap between neural activity and ‘what it’s like’-- qualities of conscious experience. The comparative explanatory gaps, intermodal and intramodal, can be separated from the absolute explanatory gap and associated zombie issues--why does neural activity have any conscious expression at all?. Here I (...) focus on comparative gaps: why is neural activity in a given area expressed as this type of experience rather than that type of experience? (shrink)