Francois Recanati

  • Rationality in Action

    Rationality in Action

    Francois Recanati and John R. Searle

    The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls the Classical Model of rationality and shows why they are false. He then presents an alternative theory of the role of rationality in thought and action.

    A central point of Searle's theory is that only irrational actions are directly caused by beliefs and desires—for example, the actions of a person in the grip of an obsession or addiction. In most cases of rational action, there is a gap between the motivating desire and the actual decision making. The traditional name for this gap is "freedom of the will." According to Searle, all rational activity presupposes free will. For rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options.

    Unlike many philosophical tracts, Rationality in Action invites the reader to apply the author's ideas to everyday life. Searle shows, for example, that contrary to the traditional philosophical view, weakness of will is very common. He also points out the absurdity of the claim that rational decision making always starts from a consistent set of desires. Rational decision making, he argues, is often about choosing between conflicting reasons for action. In fact, humans are distinguished by their ability to be rationally motivated by desire-independent reasons for action. Extending his theory of rationality to the self, Searle shows how rational deliberation presupposes an irreducible notion of the self. He also reveals the idea of free will to be essentially a thesis of how the brain works.

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00
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  • Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta

    Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta

    An Essay on Metarepresentation

    Francois Recanati

    Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books."

    In this book François Recanati discusses the structure of metarepresentation from a variety of perspectives. According to him, metarepresentations have a dual structure: their content includes the content of the object-representation (people reading books) as well as the "meta" part (the authors' belief). Rejecting the view that the object representation is mentioned rather than used, Recanati claims that since metarepresentations carry the content of the object representation, they must be about whatever the object representation is about. Metarepresentations are fundamentally transparent because they work by simulating the representation they are about.

    Topics covered in this wide-ranging work include the analysis of belief reports and talk about fiction, world shifting, opacity and substitutivity, quotation, the relation between direct and indirect discourse, context shifting, semantic pretense, and deference in language and thought.

    • Hardcover $80.00
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Contributor

  • The Evolved Apprentice

    The Evolved Apprentice

    How Evolution Made Humans Unique

    Kim Sterelny

    A new theory of the evolution of human cognition and human social life that emphasizes the role of information sharing across generations.

    Over the last three million years or so, our lineage has diverged sharply from those of our great ape relatives. Change has been rapid (in evolutionary terms) and pervasive. Morphology, life history, social life, sexual behavior, and foraging patterns have all shifted sharply away from those of the other great apes. In The Evolved Apprentice, Kim Sterelny argues that the divergence stems from the fact that humans gradually came to enrich the learning environment of the next generation. Humans came to cooperate in sharing information, and to cooperate ecologically and reproductively as well, and these changes initiated positive feedback loops that drove us further from other great apes.

    Sterelny develops a new theory of the evolution of human cognition and human social life that emphasizes the gradual evolution of information-sharing practices across generations and how these practices transformed human minds and social lives. Sterelny proposes that humans developed a new form of ecological interaction with their environment, cooperative foraging. The ability to cope with the immense variety of human ancestral environments and social forms, he argues, depended not just on adapted minds but also on adapted developmental environments.

    • Hardcover $37.00 £30.00
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  • Origins of Human Communication

    Origins of Human Communication

    Michael Tomasello

    A leading expert on evolution and communication presents an empirically based theory of the evolutionary origins of human communication that challenges the dominant Chomskian view.

    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. Tomasello argues that human cooperative communication rests on a psychological infrastructure of shared intentionality (joint attention, common ground), evolved originally for collaboration and culture more generally. The basic motives of the infrastructure are helping and sharing: humans communicate to request help, inform others of things helpfully, and share attitudes as a way of bonding within the cultural group. These cooperative motives each created different functional pressures for conventionalizing grammatical constructions. Requesting help in the immediate you-and-me and here-and-now, for example, required very little grammar, but informing and sharing required increasingly complex grammatical devices. Drawing on empirical research into gestural and vocal communication by great apes and human infants (much of it conducted by his own research team), Tomasello argues further that humans' cooperative communication emerged first in the natural gestures of pointing and pantomiming. Conventional communication, first gestural and then vocal, evolved only after humans already possessed these natural gestures and their shared intentionality infrastructure along with skills of cultural learning for creating and passing along jointly understood communicative conventions. Challenging the Chomskian view that linguistic knowledge is innate, Tomasello proposes instead that the most fundamental aspects of uniquely human communication are biological adaptations for cooperative social interaction in general and that the purely linguistic dimensions of human communication are cultural conventions and constructions created by and passed along within particular cultural groups.

    • Hardcover $38.00 £32.00
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  • Things and Places

    Things and Places

    How the Mind Connects with the World

    Zenon W. Pylyshyn

    Problems in linking representation and perceived things in the world are discussed in light of the role played by a preconceptual indexing mechanism that functions to identify, reidentify, and track objects.

    InThings and Places, Zenon Pylyshyn argues that the process of incrementally constructing perceptual representations, solving the binding problem (determining which properties go together), and, more generally, grounding perceptual representations in experience arise from the nonconceptual capacity to pick out and keep track of a small number of sensory individuals. He proposes a mechanism in early vision that allows us to select a limited number of sensory objects, to reidentify each of them under certain conditions as the same individual seen before, and to keep track of their enduring individuality despite radical changes in their properties—all without the machinery of concepts, identity, and tenses. This mechanism, which he calls FINSTs (for "Fingers of Instantiation"), is responsible for our capacity to individuate and track several independently moving sensory objects—an ability that we exercise every waking minute, and one that can be understood as fundamental to the way we see and understand the world and to our sense of space.

    Pylyshyn examines certain empirical phenomena of early vision in light of the FINST mechanism, including tracking and attentional selection. He argues provocatively that the initial selection of perceptual individuals is our primary nonconceptual contact with the perceptual world (a contact that does not depend on prior encoding of any properties of the thing selected) and then draws upon a wide range of empirical data to support a radical externalist theory of spatial representation that grows out of his indexing theory.

    • Hardcover $8.75 £6.99
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  • Language, Consciousness, Culture

    Language, Consciousness, Culture

    Essays on Mental Structure

    Ray S. Jackendoff

    An integrative approach to human cognition that encompasses the domains of language, consciousness, action, social cognition, and theory of mind that will foster cross-disciplinary conversation among linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.

    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.

    Jackendoff argues that linguistics has become isolated from the other cognitive sciences at least partly because of the syntax-based architecture assumed by mainstream generative grammar. He proposes an alternative parallel architecture for the language faculty that permits a greater internal integration of the components of language and connects far more naturally to such larger issues in cognitive neuroscience as language processing, the connection of language to vision, and the evolution of language.

    Extending this approach beyond the language capacity, Jackendoff proposes sharper criteria for a satisfactory theory of consciousness, examines the structure of complex everyday actions, and investigates the concepts involved in an individual's grasp of society and culture. Each of these domains is used to reflect back on the question of what is unique about human language and what follows from more general properties of the mind.

    Language, Consciousness, Culture extends Jackendoff's pioneering theory of conceptual semantics to two of the most important domains of human thought: social cognition and theory of mind. Jackendoff's formal framework allows him to draw new connections among a large variety of literatures and to uncover new distinctions and generalizations not previously recognized. The breadth of the approach will foster cross-disciplinary conversation; the vision is to develop a richer understanding of human nature.

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  • Reliable Reasoning

    Reliable Reasoning

    Induction and Statistical Learning Theory

    Gilbert Harman and Sanjeev Kulkarni

    The implications for philosophy and cognitive science of developments in statistical learning theory.

    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.

    After discussing philosophical attempts to evade the problem of induction, Harman and Kulkarni provide an admirably clear account of the basic framework of SLT and its implications for inductive reasoning. They explain the Vapnik-Chervonenkis (VC) dimension of a set of hypotheses and distinguish two kinds of inductive reasoning. The authors discuss various topics in machine learning, including nearest-neighbor methods, neural networks, and support vector machines. Finally, they describe transductive reasoning and suggest possible new models of human reasoning suggested by developments in SLT.

    • Hardcover $32.00 £26.00
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  • Sweet Dreams

    Sweet Dreams

    Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

    Daniel C. Dennett

    In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explained was published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories—"so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of his theory of consciousness, taking into account major empirical advances in the field since 1991 as well as recent theoretical challenges.

    In Consciousness Explained, Dennett proposed to replace the ubiquitous but bankrupt Cartesian Theater model (which posits a privileged place in the brain where "it all comes together" for the magic show of consciousness) with the Multiple Drafts Model. Drawing on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, he asserted that human consciousness is essentially the mental software that reorganizes the functional architecture of the brain. In Sweet Dreams, he recasts the Multiple Drafts Model as the "fame in the brain" model, as a background against which to examine the philosophical issues that "continue to bedevil the field."

    With his usual clarity and brio, Dennett enlivens his arguments with a variety of vivid examples. He isolates the "Zombic Hunch" that distorts much of the theorizing of both philosophers and scientists, and defends heterophenomenology, his "third-person" approach to the science of consciousness, against persistent misinterpretations and objections. The old challenge of Frank Jackson's thought experiment about Mary the color scientist is given a new rebuttal in the form of "RoboMary," while his discussion of a famous card trick, "The Tuned Deck," is designed to show that David Chalmers's Hard Problem is probably just a figment of theorists' misexploited imagination. In the final essay, the "intrinsic" nature of "qualia" is compared with the naively imagined "intrinsic value" of a dollar in "Consciousness—How Much is That in Real Money?"

    • Hardcover $30.00 £25.00
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  • Varieties of Meaning

    Varieties of Meaning

    The 2002 Jean Nicod Lectures

    Ruth Garrett Millikan

    Many different things are said to have meaning: people mean to do various things; tools and other artifacts are meant for various things; people mean various things by using words and sentences; natural signs mean things; representations in people's minds also presumably mean things. In Varieties of Meaning, Ruth Garrett Millikan argues that these different kinds of meaning can be understood only in relation to each other.

    What does meaning in the sense of purpose (when something is said to be meant for something) have to do with meaning in the sense of representing or signifying? Millikan argues that the explicit human purposes, explicit human intentions, are represented purposes. They do not merely represent purposes; they possess the purposes that they represent. She argues further that things that signify, intentional signs such as sentences, are distinguished from natural signs by having purpose essentially; therefore, unlike natural signs, intentional signs can misrepresent or be false.

    Part I discusses "Purposes and Cross-Purposes"—what purposes are, the purposes of people, of their behaviors, of their body parts, of their artifacts, and of the signs they use. Part II then describes a previously unrecognized kind of natural sign, "locally recurrent" natural signs, and several varieties of intentional signs, and discusses the ways in which representations themselves are represented. Part III offers a novel interpretation of the way language is understood and of the relation between semantics and pragmatics. Part IV discusses perception and thought, exploring stages in the development of inner representations, from the simplest organisms whose behavior is governed by perception-action cycles to the perceptions and intentional attitudes of humans.

    • Hardcover $35.00
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  • Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness

    Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness

    John Perry

    Physicalism is the idea that if everything that goes on in the universe is physical, our consciousness and feelings must also be physical. Ever since Descartes formulated the mind-body problem, a long line of philosophers has found the physicalist view to be preposterous. According to John Perry, the history of the mind-body problem is, in part, the slow victory of physical monism over various forms of dualism. Each new version of dualism claims that surely something more is going on with us than the merely physical.

    In this book Perry defends a view that he calls antecedent physicalism. He takes on each of three major arguments against physicalism, showing that they pose no threat to antecedent physicalism. These arguments are the zombie argument (that there is a possible world inhabited by beings that are physically indiscernible from us but not conscious), the knowledge argument (that we can know facts about our own feelings that are not just physical facts, thereby proving physicalism false), and the modal argument (that the identity of sensation and brain state is contingent, but since there is no such thing as contingent identity, sensations are not brain states).

    • Hardcover $45.00 £38.00
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  • Strong Feelings

    Strong Feelings

    Emotion, Addiction, and Human Behavior

    Jon Elster

    Emotion and addiction lie on a continuum between simple visceral drives such as hunger, thirst, and sexual desire at one end and calm, rational decision making at the other. Although emotion and addiction involve visceral motivation, they are also closely linked to cognition and culture. They thus provide the ideal vehicle for Jon Elster's study of the interrelation between three explanatory approaches to behavior: neurobiology, culture, and choice.

    The book is organized around parallel analyses of emotion and addiction in order to bring out similarities as well as differences. Elster's study sheds fresh light on the generation of human behavior, ultimately revealing how cognition, choice, and rationality are undermined by the physical processes that underlie strong emotions and cravings. This book will be of particular interest to those studying the variety of human motivations who are dissatisfied with the prevailing reductionisms.

    *Not for sale in Belgium, France, or Switzerland.

    • Hardcover $52.50
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  • Naturalizing The Mind

    Naturalizing The Mind

    Fred Dretske

    Naturalizing the Mind skillfully develops a representational theory of the qualitative, the phenomenal, the what-it-is-like aspects of the mind that have defied traditional forms of naturalism.

    How can the baffling problems of phenomenal experience be accounted for? In this provocative book, Fred Dretske argues that to achieve an understanding of the mind it is not enough to understand the biological machinery by means of which the mind does its job. One must understand what the mind's job is and how this task can be performed by a physical system—the nervous system.

    Naturalizing the Mind skillfully develops a representational theory of the qualitative, the phenomenal, the what-it-is-like aspects of the mind that have defied traditional forms of naturalism. Central to Dretske's approach is the claim that the phenomenal aspects of perceptual experiences are one and the same as external, real-world properties that experience represents objects as having. Combined with an evolutionary account of sensory representation, the result is a completely naturalistic account of phenomenal consciousness.

    * Not for sale in France or Belgium.

    • Hardcover $27.00 £22.00
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  • The Elm and the Expert

    The Elm and the Expert

    Mentalese and Its Semantics

    Jerry A. Fodor

    Written in a highly readable, irreverent style, The Elm and the Expert provides a lively discussion of semantic issues about mental representation, with special attention to issues raised by Frege's problem, Twin cases, and the putative indeterminacy of reference.

    Bound to be widely read and much discussed, The Elm and the Expert, written in Jerry Fodor's usual highly readable, irreverent style, provides a lively discussion of semantic issues about mental representation, with special attention to issues raised by Frege's problem, Twin cases, and the putative indeterminacy of reference. The book extends and revises a view of the relation between mind and meaning that the author has been developing since his 1975 book, The Language of Thought.

    There is a general consensus among philosophers that a referential semantics for mental representation cannot support a robust account of intentional explanation. Fodor has himself espoused this view in previous publications, and it is widespread (if tacit) throughout the cognitive science community. This book is largely a reconsideration of the arguments that are supposed to ground this consensus. Fodor concludes that these considerations are far less decisive than has been supposed. He offers a theory sketch in which psychological explanation is intentional, psychological processes are computational, and the semantic properties of mental representations are referential. Connections with the problem of "naturalizing" intentionality are also explored.

    The four lectures in The Elm and the Expert were originally delivered in Paris in the spring of 1993 to inaugurate the Jean Nicod Lecture series. The Jean Nicod Lectures are delivered annually by a leading philosopher of mind or philosophically oriented cognitive scientist. The 1993 lectures marked the centenary of the birth of the French philosopher and logician Jean Nicod (1893-1931). The lectures are sponsored by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) as part of its effort to develop the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science in France.

    Jean Nicod series

    • Hardcover $22.00
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