Affordances and Motivation

The study of emotions, the so-called affective turn, allows us to rethink crucial elements in psychology and philosophy of mind. There has been a concurrent surge in creative research and theory in the field of ecological psychology.[1] In our book, we seek to clarify the function of affective sentience in …

4. The Negative Semantic Argument

It is important to realize that first-personal phenomenal consciousness is all-or-nothing. Any given mental state is either phenomenally conscious or it isn’t. It makes no sense to talk of degrees of phenomenal consciousness, or partial phenomenal consciousness. This is another place where some of the distinctions drawn in Monday’s post …

Applications of the Account of the Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Today—in my (alas!) last posting—I suggest some ways the account of the evolution of representational decision making laid out in my book (and sketched in outline last time on the blog) can be applied to a number of open questions in philosophy, psychology, and economics. I will focus on three …

The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Why did some organisms switch from relying just on reflexive—i.e. purely perceptually-driven—interactions with the world to also employing the tools of representational decision making? What adaptive and other benefits does the reliance on representational decision making yield? Today, I sketch aspects of the answers to these questions; for more details, …

Foundations of the Investigation of the Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Before it is possible to begin the investigation of the evolution of representational decision making it is necessary to address three foundational issues: (1) The nature of representational decision making—what is it that we are investigating? (2) The reality of representational decision making—why think that representational decision making is a …

Efficient Cognition—The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

I want to thank John Schwenkler for inviting me to blog about my new book, Efficient Cognition—The Evolution of Representational Decision Making. I am excited to be sharing with you all the reasons why I find the evolution of representational decision making such a fascinating research project. I also look …

Call for Papers: Expanding Perception: The Role of Touch in Comparative Psychology, IJCP Special Issue

Call for Papers: Expanding Perception: The Role of Touch in Comparative Psychology, IJCP Special Issue  In recent years, researchers have begun to include diverse modes of perception in an effort to understand cognitive and affective processes in various species. In this special issue, we are interested in an interdisciplinary account …

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 …