Browsing Philosophy Research Works by Issue Date
Now showing 1 - 20 of 24
Results Per Page
- ItemSimulation and Self-knowledge(Cambridge University Press, 1996) Carruthers, PeterIn this chapter I shall be attempting to curb the pretensions of simulationism. I shall argue that it is, at best, an epistemological doctrine of limited scope. It may explain how we go about attributing beliefs and desires to others, and perhaps to ourselves, in some cases. But simulation cannot provide the fundamental basis of our conception of, or knowledge of, minded agency.
- ItemAutism as Mind-Blindness: An Elaboration and Partial Defence(Cambridge University Press, 1996) Carruthers, PeterIn this chapter I shall be defending the mind-blindness theory of autism, by showing how it can accommodate data which might otherwise appear problematic for it. Specifically, I shall show how it can explain the fact that autistic children rarely engage in spontaneous pretend-play, and also how it can explain the executive-function deficits which are characteristic of the syndrome. I shall do this by emphasising what I take to be an entailment of the mind-blindness theory, that autistic subjects have difficulties of access to their own mental states, as well as to the mental states of other people.
- ItemThinking in Language?: Evolution and a Modularist Possibility(Cambridge University Press, 1998) Carruthers, PeterThis chapter argues that our language faculty can both be a peripheral module of the mind and be crucially implicated in a variety of central cognitive functions, including conscious propositional thinking and reasoning. I also sketch arguments for the view that natural language representations (e.g. of Chomsky’s Logical Form, or LF) might serve as a lingua franca for interactions (both conscious and non-conscious) between a number of quasi-modular central systems. The ideas presented are compared and contrasted with the evolutionary proposals made by Derek Bickerton (1990, 1995), who has also argued for the involvement of language in thought. Finally, I propose that it was the evolution of a mechanism responsible for pretend play, circa 40,000 years ago, which led to the explosion of creative culture visible in the fossil record from that time onwards.
- ItemConscious Thinking: Language or Elimination?(Blackwell Publishing, Ltd., 1998-12) Carruthers, PeterDo we conduct our conscious propositional thinking in natural language? Or is such language only peripherally related to human conscious thought-processes? In this paper I shall present a partial defence of the former view, by arguing that the only real alternative is eliminativism about conscious propositional thinking. Following some introductory remarks, I shall state the argument for this conclusion, and show how that conclusion can be true. Thereafter I shall defend each of the three main premises in turn.
- ItemSympathy and Subjectivity(Taylor and Francis Group, 1999-12) Carruthers, PeterThis paper shows that even if the mental states of non-human animals lack phenomenological properties, as some accounts of mental-state consciousness imply, this need not prevent those states from being appropriate objects of sympathy and moral concern. The paper argues that the most basic form of mental (as opposed to biological) harm lies in the existence of thwarted agency, or thwarted desire, rather than in anything phenomenological.
- ItemConsciousness: Explaining the Phenomena(Cambridge University Press, 2001) Carruthers, PeterCan phenomenal consciousness be given a reductive natural explanation? Many people argue not. They claim that there is an ‘explanatory gap’ between physical and/or intentional states and processes, on the one hand, and phenomenal consciousness, on the other. I reply that, since we have purely recognitional concepts of experience, there is indeed a sort of gap at the level of concepts; but this need not mean that the properties picked out by those concepts are inexplicable. I show how dispositionalist higher-order thought (HOT) theory can reductively explain the subjective feel of experience by deploying a form of ‘consumer semantics’. First-order perceptual contents become transformed, acquiring a dimension of subjectivity, by virtue to their availability to a mind-reading (HOT generating) consumer system.
- ItemThe Roots of Scientific Reasoning: Infancy, Modularity, and the Art of Tracking(Cambridge University Press, 2002) Carruthers, PeterThis chapter examines the extent to which there are continuities between the cognitive processes and epistemic practices engaged in by human hunter–gatherers, on the one hand, and those which are distinctive of science, on the other. It deploys anthropological evidence against any form of ‘no-continuity’ view, drawing especially on the cognitive skills involved in the art of tracking. It also argues against the ‘child-as-scientist’ accounts put forward by some developmental psychologists, which imply that scientific thinking is present in early infancy and universal amongst humans who have sufficient time and resources to devote to it. In contrast, a modularist kind of ‘continuity’ account is proposed, according to which the innately channelled architecture of human cognition provides all the materials necessary for basic forms of scientific reasoning in older children and adults, needing only the appropriate sorts of external support, social context, and background beliefs and skills in order for science to begin its advance.
- ItemHuman Creativity: Its Evolution, its Cognitive Basis, and its Connections with Childhood Pretence(Oxford University Press, 2002) Carruthers, PeterThis paper defends two initial claims. First, it argues that essentially the same cognitive resources are shared by adult creative thinking and problem-solving, on the one hand, and by childhood pretend play, on the other namely, capacities to generate and to reason with suppositions (or imagined possibilities). Second, it argues that the evolutionary function of childhood pretence is to practice and enhance adult forms of creativity. The paper goes on to show how these proposals can provide a smooth and evolutionarily-plausible explanation of the gap between the first appearance of our species in Southern Africa some 100,000 years ago, and the ‘creative explosion’ of cultural, technological and artistic change which took place within dispersed human populations some 60,000 years later. The intention of the paper is to sketch a proposal which might serve as a guide for future interdisciplinary research.
- ItemThe Cognitive Functions of Language(Cambridge University Press, 2002-12) Carruthers, PeterThis paper explores a variety of different versions of the thesis that natural language is involved in human thinking. It distinguishes amongst strong and weak forms of this thesis, dismissing some as implausibly strong and others as uninterestingly weak. Strong forms dismissed include the view that language is conceptually necessary for thought (endorsed by many philosophers) and the view that language is de facto the medium of all human conceptual thinking (endorsed by many philosophers and social scientists). Weak forms include the view that language is necessary for the acquisition of many human concepts, and the view that language can serve to scaffold human thought processes. The paper also discusses the thesis that language may be the medium of conscious propositional thinking, but argues that this cannot be its most fundamental cognitive role. The idea is then proposed that natural language is the medium for non-domain-specific thinking, serving to integrate the outputs of a variety of domain-specific conceptual faculties (or central-cognitive ‘quasi-modules’). Recent experimental evidence in support of this idea is reviewed, and the implications of the idea are discussed, especially for our conception of the architecture of human cognition. Finally, some further kinds of evidence which might serve to corroborate or refute the hypothesis are mentioned. The overall goal of the paper is to review a wide variety of accounts of the cognitive function of natural language, integrating a number of different kinds of evidence and theoretical consideration in order to propose and elaborate the most plausible candidate.
- ItemModerately Massive Modularity(Cambridge University Press, 2003) Carruthers, PeterThis paper will sketch a model of the human mind according to which the mind’s structure is massively, but by no means wholly, modular. Modularity views in general will be motivated, elucidated, and defended, before the thesis of moderately massive modularity is explained and elaborated.
- ItemQuantification and Second-Order Monadicity(Blackwell, 2003) Pietroski, PaulThe first part of this paper reviews some developments regarding the apparent mismatch between the logical and grammatical forms of quantificational constructions like 'Pat kicked every bottle'. I suggest that (even given quantifier-raising) many current theories still posit an undesirable mismatch. But all is well if we can treat determiners (words like 'every', 'no', and 'most') as second-order monadic predicates without treating them as predicates satisfied by ordered pairs of sets. Drawing on George Boolos's construal of second-order quantification as plural quantification, I argue that we can and should view determiners as predicates satisfied (plurally) by ordered pairs each of which associates an entity with a truth-value (t or f). The idea is 'every' is satisfied by some pairs iff every one of them associates its entity with t. It turns out that this provides a kind of explanation for the "conservativity" of determiners. And it lets us say that concatenation signifies predicate-conjunction even in phrases like 'every bottle' and 'no brown dog'.
- ItemOn Fodor's Problem(Blackwell Publishing, Ltd., 2003-11) Carruthers, PeterThis paper sketches a solution to a problem which has been emphasized by Fodor. This is the problem of how to explain distinctively-human flexible cognition in modular terms. There are three aspects to the proposed account. First, it is suggested that natural language sentences might serve to integrate the outputs of a number of conceptual modules. Second, a creative sentence-generator, or supposer, is postulated. And third, it is argued that a set of principles of inference to the best explanation can be constructed from already-extant aspects of linguistic testimony and discourse interpretation. Most importantly, it is suggested that the resulting architecture should be implementable in ways that are computationally tractable.
- ItemPhenomenal Concepts and Higher-Order Experiences(International Phenomenological Society, 2004) Carruthers, PeterRelying on a range of now-familiar thought-experiments, it has seemed to many philosophers that phenomenal consciousness is beyond the scope of reductive explanation. Others have thought that we can undermine the credibility of those thought-experiments by allowing that we possess purely recognitional concepts for the properties of our conscious mental states. This paper is concerned to explain, and then to meet, the challenge of showing how purely recognitional concepts are possible if there are no such things as qualia – in the strong sense of intrinsic (non-relational, non-intentional) properties of experience. It argues that an appeal to higher-order experiences is necessary to meet this challenge, and then deploys a novel form of higher-order thought theory to explain how such experiences are generated.
- ItemPractical Reasoning in a Modular Mind(Blackwell Publishing, Ltd., 2004-06) Carruthers, PeterThis paper starts from an assumption defended in the author’s previous work. This is that distinctively-human flexible and creative theoretical thinking can be explained in terms of the interactions of a variety of modular systems, with the addition of just a few a-modular components and dispositions. On the basis of that assumption it is argued that distinctively human practical reasoning, too, can be understood in modular terms. The upshot is that there is nothing in the human psyche that requires any significant retreat from a thesis of massively modular mental organization.
- ItemReductive Explanation and the 'Explanatory Gap'(University of Calgary Press, 2004-06) Carruthers, PeterCan phenomenal consciousness be given a reductive natural explanation? Exponents of an ‘explanatory gap’ between physical, functional and intentional facts, on the one hand, and the facts of phenomenal consciousness, on the other, argue that there are reasons of principle why phenomenal consciousness cannot be reductively explained (Jackson, 1982, 1986; Levine, 1983, 1993, 2001; McGinn, 1991; Sturgeon, 1994, 2000; Chalmers, 1996, 1999). Some of these writers claim that the existence of such a gap would warrant a belief in some form of ontological dualism (Jackson, 1982; Chalmers, 1996), whereas others argue that no such entailment holds (Levine, 1983; McGinn, 1991; Sturgeon, 1994). In the other main camp, there are people who argue that a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness is possible in principle (Block and Stalnaker, 1999), and yet others who claim, moreover, to have provided such an explanation in practice (Dennett, 1991; Dretske, 1995; Tye, 1995, 2000; Lycan, 1996; Carruthers, 2000.) I shall have nothing to say about the ontological issue here (see Balog, 1999, for a recent critique of dualist arguments); nor shall I have a great deal to say about the success or otherwise of the various proposed reductive explanations. My focus will be on the explanatory gap itself – more specifically, on the question whether any such principled gap exists. I shall argue that it does not. The debate will revolve around the nature and demands of reductive explanation in general.
- ItemOn Being Simple Minded(University of Illinois Press, 2004-07) Carruthers, PeterHow simple minded can you be? Many philosophers would answer: no more simple than a language-using human being. Many other philosophers, and most cognitive scientists, would allow that mammals, and perhaps birds, possess minds. But few have gone to the extreme of believing that very simple organisms, such as insects, can be genuinely minded. This is the ground that the present paper proposes to occupy and defend. It will argue that ants and bees, in particular, possess minds. So it will be claiming that minds can be very simple indeed.
- ItemSuffering without Subjectivity(Springer Netherlands, 2004-11) Carruthers, PeterThis paper argues that it is possible for suffering to occur in the absence of phenomenal consciousness − in the absence of a certain sort of experiential subjectivity, that is. (‘Phenomenal’ consciousness is the property that some mental states possess, when it is like something to undergo them, or when they have subjective feels, or possess qualia.) So even if theories of phenomenal consciousness that would withhold such consciousness from most species of non-human animal are correct, this needn’t mean that those animals don’t suffer, and aren’t appropriate objects of sympathy and concern.
- ItemWhy the Question of Animal Consciousness Might Not Matter Very Much(Taylor and Francis Group, 2005-02) Carruthers, PeterAccording to higher-order thought accounts of phenomenal consciousness (e.g. Carruthers, 2000) it is unlikely that many non-human animals undergo phenomenally conscious experiences. Many people believe that this result would have deep and far-reaching consequences. More specifically, they believe that the absence of phenomenal consciousness from the rest of the animal kingdom must mark a radical and theoretically significant divide between ourselves and other animals, with important implications for comparative psychology. I shall argue that this belief is mistaken. Since phenomenal consciousness might be almost epiphenomenal in its functioning within human cognition, its absence in animals may signify only relatively trivial differences in cognitive architecture. Our temptation to think otherwise arises partly as a side-effect of imaginative identification with animal experiences, and partly from mistaken beliefs concerning the aspects of common-sense psychology that carry the main explanatory burden, whether applied to humans or to non-human animals.
- ItemConscious Experience Versus Conscious Thought(Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2006) Carruthers, PeterAre there different constraints on theories of conscious experience as against theories of conscious propositional thought? Is what is problematic or puzzling about each of these phenomena of the same, or of different, types? And to what extent is it plausible to think that either or both conscious experience and conscious thought involve some sort of self-reference? In pursuing these questions I shall also explore the prospects for a defensible form of eliminativism concerning conscious thinking, one that would leave the reality of conscious experience untouched. In the end, I shall argue that while there might be no such thing as conscious judging or conscious wanting, there is (or may well be) such a thing as conscious generic thinking.
- ItemInvertebrate Minds: A Challenge for Ethical Theory(Springer Netherlands, 2007) Carruthers, PeterThis paper argues that navigating insects and spiders possess a degree of mindedness that makes them appropriate (in the sense of ‘possible’) objects of sympathy and moral concern. For the evidence suggests that many invertebrates possess a belief-desire-planning psychology that is in basic respects similar to our own. The challenge for ethical theory is find some principled way of demonstrating that individual insects do not make moral claims on us, given the widely held belief that some other ‘higher’ animals do make such claims on us.