Morality, the Problem of Possible Future Selves, and Christmas Parables

In my 2016 book, Rightness as Fairness: A Moral and Political Theory, I argue that morality is a solution to a problem of diachronic rationality called ‘the problem of possible future selves.’ To simplify (very) greatly, the problem–which is partially inspired by L.A. Paul’s groundbreaking work on transformative experience–is that (A) our present …

Three Studies That No Moral Philosopher Should Ignore

Robin Zheng Newnham College University of Cambridge In my chapter, I argue that for cases of implicitly biased action, we should set aside questions of responsibility as attributability in favor of responsibility as accountability. As I interpret the distinction, the former constitute a problem in metaphysics and philosophy of action because we are …

How Can A Stereotype You Don’t Believe Affect You?

Stacey Goguen Boston University One of the striking aspects of stereotype threat is that it demonstrates ways in which a stereotype that you might not necessarily believe (and perhaps even likely do not believe) can nonetheless significantly affect you cognitively and psychologically.  For instance, math majors who are primed to think about …

Stereotyping, Rationality, & the Cognitive Architecture of Virtue

Alex Madva Cal Poly Pomona alexmadva.com Tamar Szabó Gendler (2008, 2011), and subsequently Andy Egan (2011), have argued that implicit biases pit our moral and epistemic aims against each other.  They cite research suggesting that the strength of implicit biases correlates with the knowledge individuals have of prevalent stereotypes, even …

What is an Attitude?

Edouard Machery University of Pittsburgh Philosophers have mostly focused on the practical implications of the recent psychological research on biases (racism, sexism, etc.) and, more generally, on attitudes (e.g., political attitudes). As is by now well known, this impressive body of work is based on novel indirect measures such as …

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 …

#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 …

Self and Others

To provide a full account of the ability to think “I”-thoughts, we need an explanation of the transition from implicitly self-related information to explicit self-representation. In the previous post, I argued that world-directed action and perception do not require explicit self-representation. This raises the question of when explicit self-representation does …

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 …

The Impossibility of Hugging Yourself, or How Touch Opens the Doors of Perception in Apes and Humans

As I mentioned in my first post, I had the opportunity to conduct research at Gombe National Park several years ago. In one of the trips from the national park to town to get provisions (and experience the luxury of a cold soda and indoor plumbing where you are not …