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 …

Earthworms, Google servers, and an important kind of freedom

Yesterday, I sketched the priority structure framework: attention consists in the activity of regulating priority structures, which order the parts of the subject’s on-going mental life by their relative priority. Why would we organize our mind in this way? In other words, what is the function of attention?  The answer, …

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, …

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 …

On evolutionary "truisms"

I’ve recently been re-reading A. David Milner and Melvyn Goodale’s The Visual Brain in Action, as part of a project on the conscious control of behavior (concerning which I’ll hopefully have something to post rather soon). For those who aren’t familiar with the book, it presents a detailed empirical case …