If consciousness is "the hard problem" in mind science—explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity—then "the really hard problem," writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book, is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of life naturalistically, without an appeal to the supernatural?
For much of the twentieth century, philosophy and science went their separate ways. In moral philosophy, fear of the so-called naturalistic fallacy kept moral philosophers from incorporating developments in biology and psychology. Since the 1990s, however, many philosophers have drawn on recent advances in cognitive psychology, brain science, and evolutionary psychology to inform their work.
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.
The twentieth century’s conceptual separation of the process of evolution (changes in a population as its members reproduce and die) from the process of development (changes in an organism over the course of its life) allowed scientists to study evolution without bogging down in the “messy details” of development. Advances in genetics produced the modern synthesis, which cast the gene as the unit of natural selection.
Recent scientific findings about human decision making would seem to threaten the traditional concept of the individual conscious will. The will is threatened from “below” by the discovery that our apparently spontaneous actions are actually controlled and initiated from below the level of our conscious awareness, and from “above” by the recognition that we adapt our actions according to social dynamics of which we are seldom aware.
John Perry, Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, is one of a handful of contemporary analytic philosophers to combine the focused approach of most current work in analytic philosophy with the more expansive systems-building of earlier analytic philosophers and contemporary philosophers in other disciplines. Perry, like W.V.O. Quine, Donald Davison, David Lewis, and Hilary Putnam, focuses on narrow topics across a broad range of subjects.
This collection of original essays on the topics of causation and explanation offers readers a state-of-the-art view of current work in these areas. The book is notable for its interdisciplinary character, and the essays, by distinguished authors and important rising scholars, will be of interest to a wide readership, including philosophers, computer scientists, and economists. Students and scholars alike will find the book valuable for its wide-ranging treatment of two difficult philosophical topics.
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.
In Reliable Reasoning, Gilbert Harman and Sanjeev Kulkarni—a philosopher and an engineer—argue that philosophy and cognitive science can benefit from statistical learning theory (SLT), the theory that lies behind recent advances in machine learning. The philosophical problem of induction, for example, is in part about the reliability of inductive reasoning, where the reliability of a method is measured by its statistically expected percentage of errors—a central topic in SLT.
Ray Jackendoff's Language, Consciousness, Culture represents a breakthrough in developing an integrated theory of human cognition. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of cognitive scientists, including linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.
This volume of Ned Block's writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism. A number of these papers treat the significance of the multiple realizability of mental states for the mind-body problem—a theme that has concerned Block since the 1960s. One paper on this topic considers the upshot for the mind-body problem of the possibility of a robot that is functionally like us but physically different—as is Commander Data of Star Trek's second generation.
This book by distinguished philosopher Nicholas Rescher seeks to clarify the idea of what a conditional says by elucidating the information that is normally transmitted by its utterance. The result is a unified treatment of conditionals based on epistemological principles rather than the semantical principles in vogue over recent decades. This approach, argues Rescher, makes it easier to understand how conditionals actually function in our thought and discourse.
Cora Diamond has played a leading role in the reception and elaboration of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Diamond's contribution to Wittgenstein scholarship is distinguished by her striking and widely discussed suggestions about continuity between Wittgenstein's early and later writings. Her work in ethics, in important respects shaped by her study of Wittgenstein, has been similarly influential.
Modern psychology began with the adoption of experimental methods at the end of the nineteenth century: Wilhelm Wundt established the first formal laboratory in 1879; universities created independent chairs in psychology shortly thereafter; and William James published the landmark work Principles of Psychology in 1890. In A History of Modern Experimental Psychology, George Mandler traces the evolution of modern experimental and theoretical psychology from these beginnings to the "cognitive revolution" of the late twentieth century.
Every sentence we hear is instantly analyzed by an inner grammar; just as a prism refracts a beam of light, grammar divides a stream of sound, linking diverse strings of information to different domains of mind—memory, vision, emotions, intentions. In The Prism of Grammar, Tom Roeper brings the abstract principles behind modern grammar to life by exploring the astonishing intricacies of child language. Adult expressions provide endless puzzles for the child to solve.
How could the body influence our thinking when it seems obvious that the brain controls the body? In How the Body Shapes the Way We Think, Rolf Pfeifer and Josh Bongard demonstrate that thought is not independent of the body but is tightly constrained, and at the same time enabled, by it. They argue that the kinds of thoughts we are capable of have their foundation in our embodiment—in our morphology and the material properties of our bodies.
How does an object persist through change? How can a book, for example, open in the morning and shut in the afternoon, persist through a change that involves the incompatible properties of being open and being shut? The goal of this reader is to inform and reframe the philosophical debate around persistence; it presents influential accounts of the problem that range from classic papers by W. V. O. Quine, David Lewis, and Judith Jarvis Thomson to recent work by contemporary philosophers.
In the contentious debate among contemporary epistemologists and philosophers regarding justification, there is one consensus: justification is distinct from knowledge; there are justified beliefs that do not amount to knowledge, even if all instances of knowledge are instances of justified belief. In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton forcefully opposes this claim. He proposes instead that justified belief simply is knowledge--not because there is more knowledge than has been supposed, but because there are fewer justified beliefs.
In Body Language, Mark Rowlands argues that the problem of representation--how it is possible for one item to represent another--has been exacerbated by the assimilation of representation to the category of the word. That is, the problem is traditionally understood as one of relating inner to outer--relating an inner representing item to something extrinsic or exterior to it. Rowlands argues that at least some cases of representation need to be understood not in terms of the word but of the deed.
The grand and sweeping claims of many relativists might seem to amount to the argument that everything is relative--except the thesis of relativism. In this book, Steven Hales defends relativism, but in a more circumscribed form that applies specifically to philosophical propositions. His claim is that philosophical propositions are relatively true--true in some perspectives and false in others. Hales defends this argument first by examining rational intuition as the method by which philosophers come to have the beliefs they do.
Speakers, in their everyday conversations, use language to talk about language. They may wonder about what words mean, to whom a name refers, whether a sentence is true. They may worry whether they have been clear, or correctly expressed what they meant to say. That speakers can make such inquiries implies a degree of access to the complex array of knowledge and skills underlying our ability to speak, and though this access is incomplete, we nevertheless can form on this basis beliefs about linguistic matters of considerable subtlety, about ourselves and others.
This groundbreaking inquiry into the centrality of place in Martin Heidegger's thinking offers not only an illuminating reading of Heidegger's thought but a detailed investigation into the way in which the concept of place relates to core philosophical issues. In Heidegger's Topology, Jeff Malpas argues that an engagement with place, explicit in Heidegger's later work, informs Heidegger's thought as a whole. What guides Heidegger's thinking, Malpas writes, is a conception of philosophy's starting point: our finding ourselves already "there," situated in the world, in "place".
These essays by leading scientists and philosophers address conceptual issues that arise in the theory and practice of evolutionary biology. The third edition of this widely used anthology has been substantially revised and updated. Four new sections have been added: on women in the evolutionary process, evolutionary psychology, laws in evolutionary theory, and race as social construction or biological reality.
In this timely and wide-ranging study, Karsten Stueber argues that empathy is epistemically central for our folk-psychological understanding of other agents--that it is something we cannot do without in order to gain understanding of other minds.