In this largely antimetaphysical treatment of free will and determinism, Mark Balaguer argues that the philosophical problem of free will boils down to an open scientific question about the causal histories of certain kinds of neural events. In the course of his argument, Balaguer provides a naturalistic defense of the libertarian view of free will.
In making decisions, when should we go with our gut and when should we try to analyze every option? When should we use our intuition and when should we rely on logic and statistics? Most of us would probably agree that for important decisions, we should follow certain guidelines—gather as much information as possible, compare the options, pin down the goals before getting started. But in practice we make some of our best decisions by adapting to circumstances rather than blindly following procedures.
While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitive science, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this book, Anthony Chemero describes this nonrepresentational approach (which he terms radical embodied cognitive science), puts it in historical and conceptual context, and applies it to traditional problems in the philosophy of mind.
In Cognition and Perception, Athanassios Raftopoulos discusses the cognitive penetrability of perception and claims that there is a part of visual processes (which he calls “perception”) that results in representational states with nonconceptual content; that is, a part that retrieves information from visual scenes in conceptually unmediated, “bottom-up,” theory-neutral ways.
Emotional intelligence (or EI)--the ability to perceive, regulate, and communicate emotions, to understand emotions in ourselves and others--has been the subject of best-selling books, magazine cover stories, and countless media mentions. It has been touted as a solution for problems ranging from relationship issues to the inadequacies of local schools. But the media hype has far outpaced the scientific research on emotional intelligence.
The predicative mind singles out and represents an item in order to attribute to it a property, a relation, an action, an evaluation; it thinks, and says, of a house that it is big, of a car that it is to the left of the house, of a cat that it is about to jump, of a hypothesis that it is plausible. The capacity to predicate appears to be neither innate nor learned, yet it is universal among humans. Puzzling in evolutionary, developmental, and philosophical terms, the mental competence for predication still awaits a coherent and plausible explanation.
Many philosophical naturalists eschew analysis in favor of discovering metaphysical truths from the a posteriori, contending that analysis does not lead to philosophical insight. A countercurrent to this approach seeks to reconcile a certain account of conceptual analysis with philosophical naturalism; prominent and influential proponents of this methodology include the late David Lewis, Frank Jackson, Michael Smith, Philip Pettit, and David Armstrong.
Agency is a central psychological phenomenon that must be accounted for in any explanatory framework for human action. According to the diverse group of scholars, researchers, and clinicians who have contributed chapters to this book, psychological agency is not a fixed entity that conforms to traditional definitions of free will but an affective, embodied, and relational processing of human experience. Agency is dependent on the biological, social, and cultural contexts that inform and shape who we are.
The now-popular idea that emotions have an intelligent core (and the reverse, that intelligence has an emotional core) comes from the neurosciences and psychology. Similarly, the fundamental sexualization of the brain--the new interest in “essential differences” in male and female brains and behaviors--is based on neuroscience research and neuroimages of emotions.
In Human Reasoning and Cognitive Science, Keith Stenning and Michiel van Lambalgen—a cognitive scientist and a logician—argue for the indispensability of modern mathematical logic to the study of human reasoning. Logic and cognition were once closely connected, they write, but were “divorced” in the past century; the psychology of deduction went from being central to the cognitive revolution to being the subject of widespread skepticism about whether human reasoning really happens outside the academy.
How do novel scientific concepts arise? In Creating Scientific Concepts, Nancy Nersessian seeks to answer this central but virtually unasked question in the problem of conceptual change. She argues that the popular image of novel concepts and profound insight bursting forth in a blinding flash of inspiration is mistaken.
Human communication is grounded in fundamentally cooperative, even shared, intentions. In this original and provocative account of the evolutionary origins of human communication, Michael Tomasello connects the fundamentally cooperative structure of human communication (initially discovered by Paul Grice) to the especially cooperative structure of human (as opposed to other primate) social interaction.
In The Allure of Machinic Life, John Johnston examines new forms of nascent life that emerge through technical interactions within human-constructed environments--“machinic life”--in the sciences of cybernetics, artificial life, and artificial intelligence. With the development of such research initiatives as the evolution of digital organisms, computer immune systems, artificial protocells, evolutionary robotics, and swarm systems, Johnston argues, machinic life has achieved a complexity and autonomy worthy of study in its own right.
Evolutionary psychology occupies an important place in the drive to understand and explain human behavior. Darwinian ideas provide powerful tools to illuminate how fundamental aspects of the way humans think, feel, and interact derive from reproductive interests and an ultimate need for survival. In this updated and expanded edition of Evolution and Human Behavior, John Cartwright considers the emergence of Homo sapiens as a species and looks at contemporary issues, such as familial relationships and conflict and cooperation, in light of key theoretical principles.
Many students find it difficult to learn the kind of knowledge and thinking required by college or high school courses in mathematics, science, or other complex domains. Thus they often emerge with significant misconceptions, fragmented knowledge, and inadequate problem-solving skills. Most instructors or textbook authors approach their teaching efforts with a good knowledge of their field of expertise but little awareness of the underlying thought processes and kinds of knowledge required for learning in scientific domains.
Many philosophers and cognitive scientists dismiss the notion of qualia, sensory experiences that are internal to the brain. Leading opponents of qualia (and of Indirect Realism, the philosophical position that has qualia as a central tenet) include Michael Tye, Daniel Dennett, Paul and Patricia Churchland, and even Frank Jackson, a former supporter.
John Staddon has devoted his long and distinguished career to the study of the adaptive function and mechanisms of learning. He did his graduate work at the famous Skinner Lab at Harvard in the early 1960s (supervised by Richard Herrnstein, who did his doctoral work with B. F. Skinner), but his work can be characterized as theoretical behaviorism. Staddon, now at Duke University, believes that experimental analysis is never enough to make sense of behavior and that “theoretical imagination” is also required.
The "hard problem" of today's consciousness studies is subjective experience: understanding why some brain processing is accompanied by an experienced inner life. Recent scientific advances offer insights for understanding the physiological and chemical phenomenology of consciousness. But by leaving aside the internal experiential nature of consciousness in favor of mapping neural activity, such science leaves many questions unanswered.
Emergence, largely ignored just thirty years ago, has become one of the liveliest areas of research in both philosophy and science. Fueled by advances in complexity theory, artificial life, physics, psychology, sociology, and biology and by the parallel development of new conceptual tools in philosophy, the idea of emergence offers a way to understand a wide variety of complex phenomena in ways that are intriguingly different from more traditional approaches.
In order to solve problems, humans are able to synthesize apparently unrelated concepts, take advantage of serendipitous opportunities, hypothesize, invent, and engage in other similarly abstract and creative activities, primarily through the use of their visual systems. In Scenario Visualization, Robert Arp offers an evolutionary account of the unique human ability to solve nonroutine vision-related problems.
The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain.
Surveys show that our growing concern over protecting the environment is accompanied by a diminishing sense of human contact with nature. Many people have little commonsense knowledge about nature—are unable, for example, to identify local plants and trees or describe how these plants and animals interact. Researchers report dwindling knowledge of nature even in smaller, nonindustrialized societies. In The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, Scott Atran and Douglas Medin trace the cognitive consequences of this loss of knowledge.
The idea of intelligent machines has become part of popular culture. But tracing the history of the actual science of machine intelligence reveals a rich network of cross-disciplinary contributions--the unrecognized origins of ideas now central to artificial intelligence, artificial life, cognitive science, and neuroscience. In The Mechanization of Mind in History, scientists, artists, historians, and philosophers discuss the multidisciplinary quest to formalize and understand the generation of intelligent behavior in natural and artificial systems as a wholly mechanical process.
Human beings, like other organisms, are the products of evolution. Like other organisms, we exhibit traits that are the product of natural selection. Our psychological capacities are evolved traits as much as are our gait and posture. This much few would dispute. Evolutionary psychology goes further than this, claiming that our psychological traits—including a wide variety of traits, from mate preference and jealousy to language and reason—can be understood as specific adaptations to ancestral Pleistocene conditions.
How human musical experience emerges from the audition of organized tones is a riddle of long standing. In The Musical Representation, Charles Nussbaum offers a philosophical naturalist's solution. Nussbaum founds his naturalistic theory of musical representation on the collusion between the physics of sound and the organization of the human mind-brain.