Symposium on Hayley Clatterbuck, “Chimpanzee Mindreading and the Value of Parsimonious Mental Models”

I’m happy to initiate our latest Mind & Language symposium on  Hayley Clatterbucks’s  “Chimpanzee Mindreading and the Value of Parsimonious Mental Models,” from the journal’s September 2015 issue, with commentaries by Cameron Buckner (Houston), Shannon Spaulding (Oklahoma), and Jennifer Vonk (Oakland). There has been a long-standing debate about whether apes, dogs, corvids, and possibly other animals have the capacity to engage in …

Why all conscious thinking is sensory-based

This final post addresses an obvious puzzle: why is reflective thinking sensory based? We can, after all, think about all sorts of abstract nonsensory topics. We think about God, the size of the universe, the mental states of other people, the validity of arguments, arithmetical facts and other mathematical entities, …

#MindsOnline 2015, Session 1: Social Cognition

The Minds Online conference has begun, and our first session will be open for discussion through September 4. It is on the theme of Social Cognition, and includes the following papers: Tony Jack and Jared Friedman (Case Western Reserve): “Mapping cognitive structure onto the landscape of philosophical debate: an empirical framework …

Which Theory of Mind? – And other questions

In my final post I would like to wrap up by sketching some of the implications of my proposal – in particular concerning our theorizing about social cognition – as well as raising some questions that are being left open. There exists quite a large controversy in philosophy and psychology …

Nonconceptual Self-Consciousness?

Recently, there have been several attempts to provide an account of our ability for self-conscious thought in terms of nonconceptual forms of (self-)representation (most prominent among these is perhaps the account offered by Bermúdez (1998)). Proponents of nonconceptual content assume that there are ways of representing the world that are …

Primates Who Are Calm Enough to Pay Attention, or How Touch Allows Human and Non-Human Infants to Engage in Social Interactions

When orphans who have had to overcome difficult upbringings are portrayed in movies or books, they are usually described as smart, sensible children who are capable of facing any challenge and are able to intuitively excel in anything they attempt (even quidditch). The reality of a harsh upbringing, especially for …

In the Beginning Was Touch, or How Touch Enables the Social Communicative Capacities behind Joint Attention

Throughout the 20th century we find several examples where, once it has been established that a mental capacity is expressed through a specific mode, this link becomes so strong that anyone who doesn’t engage in this mode will be described as not possessing that mental capacity. For example, the link …

Early Career Fellowships in the Philosophy of Primate Cognition

The Centre for Advanced Studies in Göttingen, the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, invites applications for Early Career Fellowships for the period from October 2015 to July 2017 in a group of philosophers working on conceptual and foundational issues concerning primate cognition. The group will be closely related to a newly established research cluster …

Naïve normativity

In standard approaches to folk psychology, our folk psychological reasoning is taken to be a species of causal reasoning. And while there is some attention to other kinds of reasoning in the developmental literature, notably teleological reasoning, most of the research I’ve run across on children’s social reasoning and explanations …