Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Below are readings and essay questions for tutorials in Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Many of the readings are online, and all can be obtained from the college or other libraries in Oxford, but if you are struggling to get hold of anything, email me, as I have PDF copies of nearly everything.

I have divided the reading for each topic into CORE READING and FURTHER READING, with more introductory texts marked with a star (*). Focus on the Core Reading suggestions in writing tutorial essays, and use the Further Reading suggestions as starting points for exploring topics in more depth during vacations. You will find more suggestions in the Faculty Reading list.

The default plan is to cover the following TUTORIAL TOPICS. We begin by looking at the metatheory of cognitive science, focusing on classic work by Chomsky in linguistics and Marr on vision. These first two weeks provide some theoretical background to the next two topics, the classical computational theory of mind, as it is articulated by one of its leading proponents, Jerry Fodor, and one of the main alternatives to it, connectionism. We then look at modularity and consciousness, exploring the potential limits of cognitive science. The topic of the last week is left open, giving you scope to pursue your own areas of interest. Options here include, but are not limited to, the OTHER TOPICS. (I’ve also listed some SPECIAL TOPICS, which some students have wanted to explore in the past. These are less likely to come up in exams, and some presuppose familiarity with other topics, but will help to deepen your understanding.)

The current version of this reading list was put together in light of my experience using previous incarnations in teaching Philosophy of Cognitive Science to undergraduates in Oxford over the years. If you’re teaching a similar course, and want to make use of this reading list at all, as occasional emails suggest people sometimes do, please feel free. I’d love to hear how it goes!

TUTORIAL TOPICS

  1. Tacit Knowledge in Linguistics
  2. Marr’s Levels of Analysis
  3. The Language of Thought Hypothesis
  4. Connectionism: Systematicity
  5. Modularity I: Input Systems
  6. Modularity II: Central Systems
  7. Consciousness: Access and Phenomenal
  8. TBA

OTHER TOPICS

SPECIAL TOPICS

ANTHOLOGIES and TEXTBOOKS

The following anthologies are particularly useful, and contain many of the key readings. I refer to them below as B, C&C, and H respectively:

José Luis Bermúdez, ed. (2006) Philosophy of Psychology: Contemporary Readings (Routledge).

Robert Cummins and Denise Cummins, eds. (2000) Minds, Brains, and Computers (Blackwell).

John Haugeland, ed. (1990) Mind Design II (MIT Press).

There is no set textbook, but the following are all recommended:

José Luis Bermúdez (2007) Philosophy of Psychology (Routledge).

Andy Clark (2014) Mindware, 2nd edition (OUP).

Tim Crane (2016) The Mechanical Mind, 3rd edition (Routledge).

Daniel Weiskopf and Fred Adams (2015) An Introduction to the Philosophy of Psychology (CUP).

Martin Davies (2009) ‘Cognitive Science’, in Frank Jackson and Michael Smith, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy (OUP), surveys much of what we’ll cover, and is recommended as reading in the vacation beforehand. An expanded version is on WebLearn.

TUTORIAL TOPICS

1. TACIT KNOWLEDGE in LINGUISTICS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What is it for a speaker to possess tacit knowledge of the rules of their language? What evidence, if any, could be adduced to show that speakers have such knowledge, rather than merely behave in conformity with the rules?

CORE READING

*Martin Davies (2015) 'Knowledge (Explicit, Implicit and Tacit): Philosophical Aspects' in J. D. Wright, ed. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Volume 13 (Elsevier), esp. pp. 74-78.

W. V. O. Quine (1970) 'Methodological Reflections on Current Linguistic Theory' in Synthese 21(3/4), pp. 386–398.

Gareth Evans (1981) 'Semantic Theory and Tacit Knowledge' in S. Holtzman and C. Leich, eds. Wittgenstein: To Follow a Rule (Blackwell). Reprinted in Evans (1985) Collected Papers (OUP) and in B.

Noam Chomsky (1986) Knowledge of Language (Praeger), Ch. 4, esp. pp. 243-63.

FURTHER READING

Chomsky’s work in linguistics was a major part of the cognitive revolution of the 1950s. Chomsky (1965) presents some of his main conceptual innovations, including the notion of tacit knowledge. George (1986) is a short, and extremely useful discussion of the Quine-Chomsky debate. Evans’ dispositional approach was developed by Martin Davies and Christopher Peacocke, and criticised by Crispin Wright. For references and discussion, see their contributions to George (1989). (The contributions from George and Putnam are also relevant to this week’s topic.) Miller (1997) is a useful review of the debate, and there is some critical discussion of the dispositional approach in Collins (2004), who argues Chomsky’s notion of tacit knowledge is not epistemological in any substantive sense.

Noam Chomsky (1965) Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (MIT Press), Ch. 1.

John Collins (2004) 'Faculty Disputes' in Mind & Language 19(5), pp. 503–533.

Alexander George (1986) 'Whence and Whither the Debate Between Quine and Chomsky?' in The Journal of Philosophy 83(9), pp. 489–499.

Alexander George, ed. (1989) Reflections on Chomsky (Blackwell).

Alexander Miller (1997) 'Tacit Knowledge' in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language (Blackwell, 2nd ed. 2017).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

What, if anything, is the difference between our knowledge of language and our knowledge of a memorized look-up table (like a phone book)? (2018)

Does our knowledge of language differ fundamentally from our knowledge of a list of arbitrary facts, such as the winning lottery numbers in the UK for the past ten years? (2017)

Do rules play any role in our knowledge of language? (2016)

How strong a case can be made for the claim that our knowledge of language is tacit knowledge of rules? How good are the alternatives to this claim? (2015)

2. MARR’S LEVELS of ANALYSIS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What are Marr’s three levels of analysis, and why did he think we need them? Which of them are most important for cognitive psychology, and in what sense, if any, are they independent of one another?

CORE READING

*Tony Stone and Martin Davies (2012) 'Theoretical Issues in Cognitive Psychology' in Nick Braisby & Angus Gellatly, eds. Cognitive Psychology 2nd ed. (OUP), §5.

David Marr (1982) Vision (W. H. Freeman and Co.), Ch. 1. Reprinted in B and C&C.

Patricia Kitcher (1988) 'Marr's Computational Theory of Vision' in Philosophy of Science 55(1), pp. 1–24.

Patricia S. Churchland and Terry J. Sejnowski (1990) 'Neural Representation and Neural Computation' in Philosophical Perspectives 4, pp. 343-82, esp. pp. 367-70. Reprinted in B.

FURTHER READING

Peacocke (1986) argues for the need for a fourth level, intermediate between Marr’s computational and algorithmic-representational levels. See also the commentaries on this, and Peacocke’s replies, in Mind & Language Volume 1, Issue 4. Sterelny (1990) is introductory, discussing problems in determining the algorithmic-representational level and the distinction between psychology and neuroscience. For more on the latter issue, see Gold and Stoljar (1999), which is published alongside various peer commentaries, and Feest (2003). Bechtel and Shagrir (2015), part of a special issue of Topics in Cognitive Science marking the 30th anniversary of Marr’s Vision, defends the importance of Marr’s three levels to understanding information-processing devices.

William Bechtel and Oron Shagrir (2015) 'The Non-Redundant Contributions of Marr's Three Levels of Analysis for Explaining Information-Processing Mechanisms' in Topics in Cognitive Science 7(2), pp. 312–322.

Uljana Feest (2003) 'Functional Analysis and the Autonomy of Psychology' in Philosophy of Science 70(5), pp. 937–948.

Ian Gold and Daniel Stoljar (1999) 'A Neuron Doctrine in the Philosophy of Neuroscience' in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22(05), pp. 809-869.

Christopher Peacocke (1986) 'Explanation in Computational Psychology: Language, Perception and Level 1.5' in Mind & Language, 1(2), pp. 101–123.

*Kim Sterelny (1990) The Representational Mind: An Introduction (Blackwell), Ch. 3.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) ‘Marr’s three levels are separate, therefore it is of no use to study one level if one wishes to say something about another level.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) Does any one of Marr’s levels have priority with respect to providing an explanation for a cognitive system overall and with respect to guiding research at all (other) levels? (2018)

EITHER
(a) How do Marr’s levels relate to each other?
OR
(b) ‘The personal/subpersonal distinction is best understood as a distinction between two types of psychological explanation – “horizontal” and “vertical”.’ (DRAYSON) Explain and discuss. (2017)

EITHER
(a) What are Marr’s three levels and how important is the most abstract level relative to the others?
OR
(b) Which of Marr’s three levels are most important for cognitive psychology? (2016)

In what sense, if any, can we study the mind/brain independently at each of Marr’s three levels of analysis and in what sense, if any, do the three levels constrain each other? (2015)

3. THE LANGUAGE of THOUGHT HYPOTHESIS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What is the Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH)? How, if at all, does it differ from the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM)? What are the best arguments for and against it? Are any of these arguments compelling?

CORE READING

*Ned Block (1995) 'The Mind as the Software of the Brain' in Daniel N. Osherson and Edward E. Smith, eds. An Invitation to Cognitive Science: Thinking, 2nd ed., Vol. 3, Thinking (MIT Press).

Jerry Fodor (1975) The Language of Thought (Crowell), Ch. 1. Reprinted as 'The Language of Thought: First Approximations' in B and C&C.

Daniel Dennett (1976) 'Critical Notice of The Language of Thought by Jerry Fodor' in Mind 86(342), pp. 265-80. Reprinted as 'A Cure for the Common Code' in his (1978) Brainstorms (MIT Press).

Jerry Fodor (1987) Psychosemantics (MIT Press), Ch. 1 and, especially, Appendix.

FURTHER READING

Aydede (1998/2010), an introductory overview of the LOTH, its relation to the CTM, and arguments for and against it, is a good first port of call for further work on this issue. The LOTH is typically advanced as an empirical thesis, but Rey (1995) offers a more or less a priori line of argument. Laurence and Margolis (1997) examine regress arguments against the LOTH (though be warned that their take on Fodor is a bit misleading). Camp (2007) argues against the claim that thought must be language-like. This is a particularly helpful piece if you want to get clearer on the relationship between the CTM and the LOTH. Matthews (2007) argues against the RTM/CTM more generally.

Murat Aydede (1998/2010) 'The Language of Thought Hypothesis' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/language-thought/.

Elisabeth Camp (2007) 'Thinking with Maps' in Philosophical Perspectives 21(1), pp. 145–182.

Stephen Laurence and Eric Margolis (1997) 'Regress Arguments Against the Language of Thought' in Analysis 57(1), pp. 60–66.

Robert Matthews (2007) The Measure of Mind (OUP), Ch. 2 and 3.

Georges Rey (1995) 'A Not “Merely Empirical” Argument for a Language of Thought' in Philosophical Perspectives 9, pp. 201-222.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

Do the productivity and systematicity of thought provide arguments for a certain kind of view on which mental representations have structure? (2018)

What is the language of thought hypothesis and does it entail that thought has all the properties of a language like English? (2017)

What commitments does the language of thought hypothesis have beyond a basic commitment to understanding cognition as information processing? (2016)

EITHER
(a) What is the language of thought hypothesis? Is it possible to understand mental processes as computational processes without a language of thought?
OR
(b) Could we empirically show that thought is productive and systematic? Would this provide an argument in favour of structured symbolic mental representations? (2015)

4. CONNECTIONISM: SYSTEMATICITY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

‘Connectionist models of cognitive processes are either unable to account for the systematicity of cognitive processes or are merely implementations of classical architectures. Either way, it follows that the mind cannot be a connectionist network.’ Explain and assess this objection.

CORE READING

*Brian McLaughlin (2004) 'Computationalism, Connectionism, and the Philosophy of Mind' in Luciano Floridi, ed. The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information (Blackwell).

Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn (1988) 'Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture' in Cognition 28(1/2), pp. 3–71. Reprinted in H.

Paul Smolensky (1988) 'The Constituent Structure of Connectionist Mental States: a Reply to Fodor and Pylyshyn' in The Southern Journal of Philosophy XXVI, Supplement, pp. 137–161.

Jerry Fodor and Brian McLaughlin (1990) 'Connectionism and the Problem of Systematicity: Why Smolensky's Solution Doesn't Work' in Cognition 35(2), pp. 183–204.

These are all reprinted in Cynthia Macdonald and Graham Macdonald, eds. Connectionism: Debates on Psychological Explanation (Blackwell), Part I. Alongside them, you will also find a reply to Fodor and McLaughlin (1990) by Paul Smolensky, and a very useful introduction to the debate by Cynthia Macdonald. Part II of the collection contains classic papers addressing the question whether connectionism undermines folk psychology, another issue to explore.

FURTHER READING

Matthews (1997) argues that neither connectionists nor classicists have an explanation of systematicity, but that there are grounds for optimism about the prospects for a connectionist account. Johnson (2004) argues that thought is not systematic, properly understood, so there is nothing here for the connectionist to explain anyway. McLaughlin (2009) responds to both Johnson and Robert Cummins, from whom Johnson took his cue. Calvo and Symons (2014) is a recent volume on the systematicity debate. Garson (1997/2015) is a survey, summarising the systematicity debate and many other issues.

Paco Calvo and John Symons, eds. (2014) The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn's Systematicity Challenge (MIT Press).

James Garson (1997/2015) 'Connectionism' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/connectionism/.

Kent Johnson (2004) 'On the Systematicity of Language and Thought' in Journal of Philosophy 101(3), pp. 111–139.

Brian McLaughlin (2009) 'Systematicity Redux' in Synthese 170(2), pp. 251–274.

Robert Matthews (1997) 'Can Connectionists Explain Systematicity?' in Mind & Language 12(2), pp. 154–177.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) What advantages, if any, do symbolic accounts of mental representation have in explaining productivity and systematicity?
OR
(b) ‘I should prefer to explain the sense in which thoughts are structured, not in terms of their being composed of several distinct elements, but in terms of their being a complex of the exercise of several distinct conceptual abilities.’ (EVANS) Discuss. (2017)

What empirical content is there to the claim that thought is productive and systematic? Would the truth of the claim teach us anything about cognitive architecture? (2016)

EITHER
(a) What is the language of thought hypothesis? Is it possible to understand mental processes as computational processes without a language of thought?
OR
(b) Could we empirically show that thought is productive and systematic? Would this provide an argument in favour of structured symbolic mental representations? (2015)

EITHER
(a) What advantages, if any, do connectionist models of cognition have over classical computational models?
OR
(b) Can connectionism explain the productivity and systematicity of thought without appealing to syntactically structured representations? (2014)

5. MODULARITY I: INPUT SYSTEMS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Explain and assess Fodor’s view that input systems are modular.

CORE READING

*Phillip Robbins (2009/17) 'Modularity of Mind' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/modularity-mind/.

Jerry Fodor (1985) 'Précis of Modularity of Mind' in Behavioural and Brain Sciences 8(1), pp. 1-5. Reprinted in his (1990) A Theory of Content and Other Essays (MIT Press), B, and C&C.

Paul M. Churchland (1988) 'Perceptual Plasticity and Theoretical Neutrality: A Reply to Jerry Fodor' in Philosophy of Science 55(2), pp. 167–187.

Jerry Fodor (1988) 'A Reply to Churchland's "Perceptual Plasticity and Theoretical Neutrality"' Philosophy of Science 55(2), pp. 188–198.

FURTHER READING

If you’re working on this topic (or the next) in more depth, Fodor (1983) is a must-read. You’ll also find lots of useful discussion in the critical responses to the précis, his (1985) piece in the Core Reading. Prinz (2006) is an accessible discussion, offering a range of arguments against modularity. For more on the question of encapsulation/impenetrability, Pylyshyn (1999) is a must-read, while Machery (2015) and Firestone and Scholl (2016) are highlights of the recent literature. See also Shea (2014) for a useful discussion of the distinction between top-down and bottom-up effects.

Chaz Firestone and Brian J. Scholl (2016) 'Cognition does not Affect Perception: Evaluating the Evidence for “Top-Down” Effects' in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39 1–77.

Jerry Fodor (1983) Modularity of Mind (MIT Press), Parts I, II, and III, esp. pp. 64-86.

Edouard Machery (2015) 'Cognitive Penetrability: A No-Progress Report' in J. Zeimbekis and A. Raftopoulos, eds. The Cognitive Penetrability of Perception: New Philosophical Perspectives (OUP).

Jesse Prinz (2006) 'Is the Mind Really Modular?' in Robert Stainton, ed. Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Blackwell).

Zenon Pylyshyn (1999) 'Is Vision Continuous with Cognition? The Case for Cognitive Impenetrability of Visual Perception' in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22(3), pp. 341–365.

Nicholas Shea (2014) 'Distinguishing Top-Down from Bottom-Up Effects' in Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen, and Stephen Biggs, eds. Perception and Its Modalities (OUP).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

Is the mind modular? (2018)

EITHER
(a) In what sense, if any, is the mind modular?
OR
(b) With reference to examples of perceptual processing or language processing (or both), evaluate the claim that input systems are informationally encapsulated. (2017)

What does it mean to say that the mind is modular? What evidence is there to support the claim that it is? (2016)

EITHER
(a) What is the empirical significance of the claim that the mind is modular? Is this claim well grounded in evidence?
OR
(b) What in-principle challenges does the study of central cognitive processes face? (2015)

6. MODULARITY II: CENTRAL SYSTEMS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Explain and assess Fodor’s view that central systems are (a) not modular, and so are (b) computationally intractable.

CORE READING

*Phillip Robbins (2009/17) 'Modularity of Mind' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/modularity-mind/.

Jerry Fodor (1983) Modularity of Mind (MIT Press), Part IV.

Peter Carruthers (2006) 'The Case for Massively Modular Models of Mind' in Robert Stainton, ed. Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Blackwell).

Richard Samuels (2006) 'Is the Human Mind Massively Modular?' in Robert Stainton, ed. Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Blackwell).

FURTHER READING

The massive modularity thesis was first espoused in the early 1990s by evolutionary psychologists such as Lena Cosmides and John Tooby, and Dan Sperber. (See the EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY entry below for more details.) However, it received its most thorough development in Peter Carruthers’ book, The Architecture of the Mind. Carruthers (2008) is a précis, and elsewhere in the same issue of Mind & Language, you’ll find commentaries from Fiona Cowie, Edouard Machery, and Robert Wilson, along with replies from Carruthers himself. Barrett and Kurzban (2006) is a useful review of arguments for and against massive modularity. (They are proponents.) Rabaglia et al. (2011) present a challenge for massive modularity based on the so-called positive manifold, the fact that individuals who are high scoring in one cognitive domain tend to be high scoring on other cognitive domains. Fodor (2000) updates his case for thinking that central systems are computationally intractable—Ch. 4 discusses the massive modularity thesis. For critical discussion, see Ludwig and Schneider (2008) and Fuller and Samuels (2014).

H. Clark Barrett and Robert Kurzban (2006) 'Modularity in Cognition: Framing the Debate' in Psychological Review 113(3), pp. 628–647.

Peter Carruthers (2008) 'Precis of The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought' in Mind & Language 23(3), 257–262.

Jerry Fodor (2000) The Mind Doesn't Work That Way (MIT Press).

Tim Fuller and Richard Samuels (2014) 'Scientific Inference and Ordinary Cognition: Fodor on Holism and Cognitive Architecture' in Mind & Language 29(2), pp. 201–237.

Kirk Ludwig and Susan Schneider (2008) 'Fodor's Challenge to the Classical Computational Theory of Mind' in Mind & Language 23(1), pp. 123–143.

Cristina D. Rabaglia , Gary F. Marcus & Sean P. Lane (2011) 'What Can Individual Differences Tell Us About the Specialization of Function?' in Cognitive Neuropsychology 28(3/4), pp. 288–303.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

Is the mind modular? (2018)

EITHER
(a) In what sense, if any, is the mind modular?
OR
(b) With reference to examples of perceptual processing or language processing (or both), evaluate the claim that input systems are informationally encapsulated. (2017)

What does it mean to say that the mind is modular? What evidence is there to support the claim that it is? (2016)

EITHER
(a) What is the empirical significance of the claim that the mind is modular? Is this claim well grounded in evidence?
OR
(b) What in-principle challenges does the study of central cognitive processes face? (2015)

7. CONSCIOUSNESS: ACCESS and PHENOMENAL

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Is there a distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness? If so, how are the two related, and what significance does the distinction have for cognitive science?

CORE READING

*José Luis Bermúdez (2014) Cognitive Science: An Introduction to the Science of the Mind (CUP), Ch. 14.

Ned Block (2007) 'Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh between Psychology and Neuroscience' in Brain and Behavioral Sciences 30(5/6), pp. 481-499.

Michael Cohen and Daniel Dennett (2011) 'Consciousness Cannot Be Separated From Function' in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(8), pp. 358–364.

Ian Phillips (2011) 'Perception and Iconic Memory: What Sperling Doesn't Show' in Mind and Language 26(4), pp. 381-411.

FURTHER READING

Nagel (1972) is a classic, and essential background, as is Block (2002). For some recent empirical work, see De Gardelle, Sackur, and Kouider (2009). Block (2011) replies to Cohen and Dennett (2011) and Phillips (2011). Phillips (2016) reviews some recent work on the issue. Schneider and Velmans (2017) is the second edition of an extremely useful collection. See especially the papers in Part I, The Problems of Consciousness.

Ned Block (2002) 'Concepts of Consciousness' in David Chalmers, ed. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (OUP).

— (2011) 'Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access' in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(12), pp. 567–575.

Thomas Nagel (1972) 'What Is It Like to Be a Bat?' in The Philosophical Review 83(4), pp. 435–450. Reprinted in his (1979) Mortal Questions (CUP).

Ian Phillips (2016) 'No Watershed for Overflow: Recent Work on the Richness of Consciousness' in Philosophical Psychology 29(2), 236-49.

Susan Schneider and Max Velmans, eds. (2017) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, 2nd ed. (Wiley-Blackwell).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) ‘Clearly, phenomenal and access consciousness are often separated.’ Discuss and evaluate this claim.
OR
(b) ‘We can study access consciousness empirically, therefore we can resolve the problem of consciousness.’ Discuss and evaluate this claim. (2018)

‘The best explanation for several perceptual phenomena is that phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness can come apart in both directions.’ Discuss. (2017)

EITHER
(a) How good are arguments purporting to show that phenomenal and access consciousness do not always co-occur?
OR
(b) How does the distinction between access and phenomenal consciousness bear on difficulties for the science of consciousness? (2016)

EITHER
(a) Is there convincing evidence that we can have phenomenal consciousness without access consciousness? How does the answer to this question bear on how we might make sense of the nature of consciousness?
OR
(b) Are there special challenges for attempts to study consciousness scientifically? (2015)

OTHER TOPICS

THE PERSONAL/SUBPERSONAL DISTINCTION

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

Explain and assess the claim that an explanation of a person’s behaviour and capacities can be subpersonal but nevertheless psychological. What is the relation between such an explanation and our ordinary, personal explanations of such behaviour and capacities?

CORE READING

José Luis Bermúdez (2007) Philosophy of Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge), Chs. 2 and 3.

Daniel Dennett (1969) Content and Consciousness (Routledge), §11 ‘Personal and Sub-Personal Levels of Explanation’. Reprinted in B.
William Lycan (1987) Consciousness (MIT Press), Ch. 4 ‘The Continuity of Levels of Nature’. Reprinted in W. Lycan and J. Prinz, eds. (2008) Mind and Cognition, 3rd ed. (Blackwell); it’s also in earlier editions.
Jennifer Hornsby (2000) ‘Personal and Sub-Personal: A Defence of Dennett’s Early Distinction’ in Philosophical Explorations 3(1), pp. 6-24.
Zoe Drayson (2012) ‘The Uses and Abuses of the Personal/Subpersonal Distinction’ in Philosophical Perspectives 26(1), pp. 1-18.

FURTHER READING

Stich (1978) draws attention to another useful distinction in thinking about cognitive science, discussed by Drayson, between beliefs and what he calls subdoxastic states. For Dennett’s later views, discussed by Hornsby, see, in the first instance, his (1981). Davies (2000) is another discussion of the personal/subpersonal distinction, and Bennett and Hacker (2003) a recent example of the objection to which Dennett was responding in the first place.

Stephen Stich (1978) ‘Beliefs and Subdoxastic States’ in Philosophy of Science 45(4), pp. 499–518. Reprinted in B.
Daniel Dennett (1981) ‘True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why It Works’ in his (1987) The Intentional Stance (MIT Press). Reprinted in H.
Martin Davies (2000) ‘Persons and their Underpinnings’ in Philosophical Explorations, 3(1), pp. 43–62.
Michael Bennett and Peter Hacker (2003) Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Blackwell), Ch. 3.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) How do Marr’s levels relate to each other?
OR
(b) ‘The personal/subpersonal distinction is best understood as a distinction between two types of psychological explanation – “horizontal” and “vertical”.’ (DRAYSON) Explain and discuss. (2017)

EITHER
(a) What are subdoxastic states? In what ways are they different from ordinary psychological states like belief or knowledge?
OR
(b) Is the notion of ‘tacit knowledge’ trivial or can an appeal to tacit knowledge in the cognitive sciences help explain certain phenomena? (2014)

COGNITIVE NEUROPSYCHOLOGY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

How can we make inferences from evidence about the impaired performance of patients following brain injury to theories about the structure of the normal cognitive system? Do double dissociations have a special logical role in these inferences?

CORE READING

*Max Coltheart (2001) ‘Assumptions and Methods in Cognitive Neuropsychology’ in Benda Rapp, ed. The Handbook of Cognitive Neuropsychology: What Deficits Reveal About the Human Mind (Psychology Press), pp. 3–21.

Tim Shallice (1988) From Neuropsychology to Mental Structure (Cambridge UP), Ch. 10.
Mark Seidenberg (1988) ‘Cognitive Neuropsychology and Language: The State of the Art’ in Cognitive Neuropsychology 5(4), pp. 403–26.
Kim Plunkett and Stephan Bandelow (2006) ‘Stochastic Approaches to Understanding Dissociations in Inflectional Morphology’ in Brain and Language 98, pp. 194–209.
Martin Davies (2010) ‘Double Dissociation: Understanding its Role in Cognitive Neuropsychology’ in Mind & Language 25(5), pp. 500–40.

FURTHER READING

The use of double dissociations in theorising about cognition goes back to the 19th century, and Paul Broca, who identified a region of the brain employed in language processing, though the term double dissociation was first introduced by Hans-Lukas Tueber (1955). Coltheart (1999) is a short, clear statement of one of the key components of his ultra-cognitivist approach, the idea that the mind is composed of a system of domain-specific modules. Juola and Plunkett (2000) is an influential criticism of double dissociation methodology. McGeer (2007) argues on both empirical and philosophical grounds that the ultra-cognitivist approach is fundamentally misguided. Van Orden et al. (2010) argue that double dissociation of reading modules illustrates general problems with the ultra-cognitivists’ assumption of modularity.

Hans-Lukas Teuber (1955) ‘Physiological Psychology’ in Annual Review of Psychology 6(1), pp. 267–296.
Max Coltheart (1999) ‘Modularity and Cognition’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 3(3), pp. 115–120.
Patrick Juola and Kim Plunkett (2000) ‘Why Double Dissociations don’t Mean Much’ in G. Cohen, R. A. Johnston and K. Plunkett, eds. Exploring Cognition: Damaged Brains and Neural Networks: Readings in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Connectionist Modelling (Psychology Press), pp. 319–27.
Victoria McGeer (2007) ‘Why Neuroscience Matters to Cognitive Neuropsychology’ in Synthese 159(3), pp. 347–371.
Guy C. Van Orden, Bruce F. Pennington, and Gregory O. Stone (2010) ‘What do Double Dissociations Prove?’ in Cognitive Science 25(1), pp. 111–172.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

How strong is the claim that double dissociation evidence is superior to other kinds of evidence in the study of the mind/brain? (2018)

EITHER
(a) Is evidence from double dissociation categorically superior to other kinds of evidence in the cognitive sciences?
OR
(b) How has the development of implemented computational models of cognitive processes contributed to cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology? (2017)

EITHER
(a) ‘Double dissociation evidence is superior because it does not rely on assumptions.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) Critically evaluate the extent to which neuroimaging can shed light on cognition. (2016)

What assumptions are required for arguments from double dissociation in cognitive neuropsychology to be successful? (2015)

NEUROIMAGING

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

How, if at all, can evidence about brain activity be brought to bear on theorising in cognitive psychology?

CORE READING

*Colin Klein (2010) ‘Philosophical Issues in Neuroimaging’ in Philosophy Compass 5(2), pp. 186–198.

Richard Henson (2006) ‘Forward Inference using Functional Neuroimaging: Dissociations versus Associations. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(2), 64–69.
Max Coltheart (2006a) ‘What Has Functional Neuroimaging Told Us About the Mind (So Far)?’ in Cortex 42(3), pp. 323–331.
Max Coltheart (2006b) ‘Perhaps Functional Neuroimaging has not told us Anything about the Mind (So Far)’ in Cortex 42(3), pp. 422–427.
Adina Roskies (2009) ‘Brain‐Mind and Structure‐Function Relationships: A Methodological Response to Coltheart’ in Philosophy of Science 76(5), pp. 927–939.
Christopher Mole and Colin Klein (2010) ‘Confirmation, Refutation, and the Evidence of fMRI’ in S. J. Hanson and M. Bunzl, eds. Foundational Issues in Human Brain Mapping (MIT Press).

This might look like a lot of reading for one week, but all the papers are quite short; the longest is only 12 pages.

FURTHER READING

Poldrack (2006) raises some concerns about reverse inference. Logothetis (2008) is a useful overview of fMRI work, written for an interdisciplinary audience. Harman (2010) discusses potential misunderstandings of reports on fMRI research. Machery (2012) compares forward or “function-to-structure” inferences to the inferences based on dissociations in cognitive neuropsychology, and argues that the former are in poorer epistemic standing, while his (2014) paper defends reverse inference.

Russell Poldrack (2006) ‘Can Cognitive Processes be Inferred from Neuroimaging Data?’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10(2), pp. 59–63.
Nikos K. Logothetis (2008) ‘What we can do and what we cannot do with fMRI’ in Nature 453(7197), pp. 869–878.
Gilbert Harman (2010) ‘Words and Pictures in Reports of fMRI Research’ in S. J. Hanson and M. Bunzl, eds. Foundational Issues in Human Brain Mapping (MIT Press).
Edouard Machery (2012) ‘Dissociations in Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience’ in Philosophy of Science 79(4), pp. 490–518.
— (2014) ‘In Defense of Reverse Inference’ in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65(2), pp. 251–267.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

‘Cognitive theories, by definition, do not make claims about the brain, therefore neuroimaging evidence cannot be used to support one cognitive theory over another.’ Discuss. (2018)

EITHER
(a) ‘Double dissociation evidence is superior because it does not rely on assumptions.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) Critically evaluate the extent to which neuroimaging can shed light on cognition. (2016)

EITHER
(a) Which (if either) kind of evidence has greater value for choosing between competing cognitive-level theories, behavioural evidence or neuroimaging evidence?
OR
(b) Discuss, with examples, whether – and, if so, how – implemented computational models can contribute to human cognitive psychology. (2015)

Critically discuss: ‘No facts about the activity of the brain could be used to confirm or refute some information-processing model of cognition.’ (COLTHEART) (2014)

DELUSIONS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What is the most promising theoretical account of monothematic delusions, such as those of sufferers of Capgras syndrome? Are such delusions beliefs? If not, what are they?

CORE READING

*Lisa Bortolotti (2009/18) 'Delusions' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/delusion/

Gregory Currie (2000) 'Imagination, Delusion and Hallucinations' in Mind & Language 15(1), pp. 168–183.

John Campbell (2001) 'Rationality, Meaning, and the Analysis of Delusion' in Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 8(2/3), pp. 89–100.

Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon, and Nora Breen (2001) 'Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two- Factor Account' in Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 8(2/3), pp. 133–158.

Tim Bayne and Elisabeth Pacherie (2004) 'Bottom-Up or Top-Down: Campbell’s Rationalist Account of Monothematic Delusions' in Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 11(1), pp. 1–11.

FURTHER READING

Maher (1974) was an important starting point for understanding monothematic delusions, arguing that they are normal responses to abnormal experiences—experiences that are themselves the products of neuropsychological deficits. Recent developments of the multi-factor approach of Davies et al. have focused on Bayesian methods; Davies and Egan (2013) is a good overview. For criticism of Currie’s non-doxastic approach, see Bayne and Pacherie (2005). On the debate between doxasticists and non-doxasticists, see also Egan (2009) and Tumulty (2011). For an accessible survey of recent work on delusions, see Bortoletti and Miyazono (2015).

Tim Bayne and Elisabeth Pacherie (2005) 'In Defence of the Doxastic Conception of Delusions' in Mind & Language 20(2), pp. 163–188.

Lisa Bortoletti and Kengo Miyazono (2015) 'Recent Work on the Nature and Development of Delusions' in Philosophy Compass 10(9), pp. 636-45.

Martin Davies and Andy Egan (2013) 'Delusion: Cognitive Approaches—Bayesian Inference and Compartmentalisation' in K. W. M. Fulford, Martin Davies, Richard G. T. Gipps, George Graham, John Z. Sadler, Giovanni Stanghellini, and Tim Thornton, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (OUP).

Andy Egan (2009) 'Imagination, Delusion, and Self-Deception' in Tim Bayne and Jordi Fernández, eds. Delusion and Self-Deception (Psychology Press).

Brendan Maher (1974) 'Delusional Thinking and Perceptual Disorder' in Journal of Individual Psychology 30(1), pp. 98–113.

Maura Tumulty (2011) 'Delusions and Dispositionalism about Belief' in Mind & Language 26(5), pp. 596–628.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

How many factors are involved in monothematic delusions, and what are they? (2018)

How strong is the case for a multi-factor account of Capgras delusion? (2017)

EITHER
(a) Evaluate the case for single-factor and multi-factor accounts of delusional thinking.
OR
(b) To what extent are delusions like Capgras’ explicable by primary delusional experience? (2016)

Does making sense of delusions require us to postulate abnormalities in how beliefs are formed and maintained or does it suffice to appeal to abnormalities in perception or experience? (2015)

UNDERSTANDING MINDS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

How, if at all, do Simulation theories of understanding other minds differ from Theory theories? If they do differ, is there any evidence that decisively favours one over the other?

CORE READING

Luca Barlassina and Robert Gordon (1997/2017) ‘Folk Psychology as Mental Simulation’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/folkpsych-simulation/.

Allison Gopnik and Henry M. Wellman (1992) ‘Why the Child’s Theory of Mind Really Is a Theory’ in Mind & Language 7(1/2), pp. 145–171.
Stephen P. Stich and Shaun Nichols (1992) ‘Folk Psychology: Simulation or Tacit Theory?’ in Mind & Language 7(1-2), pp. 35–71.
Alvin Goldman (2012) ‘Theory of Mind’ in Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels, and Stephen P. Stich, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science (OUP).

Gopnik and Wellman (1992) and Stich and Nichols (1992) are reprinted in Martin Davies and Tim Stone, eds. (1995) Folk Psychology: The Theory of Mind Debate (Blackwell) alongside various other classic papers on the topic and a helpful introduction written by the editors.

FURTHER READING

Ravenscroft (1997/2016) is an SEP entry on Theory theories. Gallese and Goldman (1998) suggest that simulation theory gains support from the discovery of mirror neurons in monkeys. Saxe (2005) assesses this in the context of the argument from error, and finds it wanting. Short and Riggs (2016) respond to Saxe, defending the simulation theory.

Ian Ravenscroft (1997/2016) ‘Folk Psychology as a Theory’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/folkpsych-theory/.
Vittori Gallese and Alvin I. Goldman (1998) ‘Mirror Neurons and the Simulation Theory of Mind-Reading’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2(12), pp. 493–501.
Shaun Nichols and Stephen P. Stich (2000) ‘A Cognitive Theory of Pretense’ in Cognition 74(2), pp. 115–147.
Rebecca Saxe (2005) ‘Against Simulation: The Argument from Error’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9, 174–9.
Tim L. Short and Kevin J. Riggs (2016) ‘Defending Simulation Theory Against the Argument from Error’ in Mind & Language 31(2), pp. 248–262.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

EITHER
(a) What is the best theory of how we make sense of other minds?
OR
(b) Is the question of how we make sense of other minds amenable to empirical study? (2018)

EITHER
(a) ‘In making sense of other minds, simulation theory and theory theory really come to the same thing.’ Discuss.
OR
(b) ‘People make incorrect predictions about the mental states of other people who are just like them. The theory theory allows a ready explanation of such errors; the simulation theory allows none.’ Discuss. (2017)

EITHER
(a) Present and evaluate the best case for the claim that making sense of other minds requires simulating them.
OR
(b) How can empirical research help us understand how we make sense of other minds? (2016)

What reasons are there to think that we understand the psychological states of others by simulating their situation? How good are those reasons? (2015)

EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY

ESSAY QUESTION

What, if anything, can evolutionary arguments tells us about the mind?

CORE READING

*Kim Sterelny and Paul Griffiths (1999) Sex and Death (University of Chicago), Ch. 13.

Lena Cosmides and John Tooby (1992) ‘Cognitive Adaptations for Social Exchange’ in Jerome Barkow, Lena Cosmides, and John Tooby, eds. (1992) The Adapted Mind (OUP).
David Buller (2005) ‘Evolutionary Psychology: the Emperor’s New Paradigm’ in Trends in Cognitive Science 9(6), pp. 277-83.
Edouard Machery and H. Clark Barrett (2006) ‘Debunking Adapting Minds’ in Philosophy of Science 73(2), pp. 232–246.
Ben Jeffares and Kim Sterelny (2012) ‘Evolutionary Psychology’ in Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels, and Stephen P. Stich, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science (OUP).

FURTHER READING

The rest of Sterelny and Griffiths (1999) provides an excellent introduction to the background issues in the philosophy of biology, and is well worth reading. It is useful too to get a sense of alternative accounts of the Wason card selection test, starting with Sperber et al. (1995). (Although sceptical of Cosmides and Tooby’s account of the test, Sperber himself is quite sympathetic to evolutionary psychology, and is a proponent of the Massive Modularity Hypothesis, readings for which are suggested below.) Lloyd (1999) argues that Cosmides and Tooby’s claims rest on a faulty understanding of evolutionary biology. Dupré (2012) takes a similar line. Cosmides and Tooby (2013) is a more recent summary of their work. Downes (2018) is a useful survey piece.

Dan Sperber, Francesco Cara, and Vittorio Girotto (1995) ‘Relevance Theory Explains the Selection Task’ in Cognition 57(1), pp. 31–95.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd (1999) ‘Evolutionary Psychology: The Burdens of Proof’ in Biology & Philosophy 14(2), pp. 211–233.
John Dupré (2012) ‘Against Maladaptationism: Or, What’s Wrong with Evolutionary Psychology’ in his Processes of Life (OUP).
Lena Cosmides and John Tooby (2013) ‘Evolutionary Psychology: New Perspectives on Cognition and Motivation’ in Annual Review of Psychology 64, pp. 201–29.
Stephen M. Downes (2018) ‘Evolutionary Psychology’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolutionary-psychology/

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

How convincing are evolutionary explanations of particular aspects of cognition? (2018)

Do any evolutionary arguments have explanatory value in the cognitive sciences? (2017)

‘Evolutionary arguments in cognitive science are, across the board, pointless just-so stories.’ Discuss. (2016)

What are the strongest evolutionary arguments for particular hypotheses about the mind? How strong do you think those arguments are? (2015)

SPECIAL TOPICS

MORALITY and NEUROSCIENCE

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What, if anything, can neuroscience contribute to debates between consequentialists and deontologists?

CORE READING

*Adina Roskies (2002) ‘Neuroethics for the New Millenium’ in Neuron 35(1), pp. 21–23.
*Neil Levy (2011) ‘Neuroethics: A New Way of Doing Ethics’ in AJOB Neuroscience 2(2), pp. 3–9.

Joshua Greene, R. B. Sommerville, L. E. Nystrom, J. M. Darley, and J. D. Cohen (2001) ‘An fMRI Investigation of Emotional Engagement in Moral Judgment’ in Science 293(5537), pp. 2105–2108.
Selim Berker (2009) ‘The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience’ in Philosophy and Public Affairs 37(4), pp. 293–329.
Guy Kahane and Nicholas Shackel (2010) ‘Methodological Issues in the Neuroscience of Moral Judgement’ in Mind & Language 25(5), pp. 561-582.
Joshua Greene (2014) ‘Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics’ in Ethics 124(4), pp. 695–726.

(This might seem like a lot of reading, but the Roskies, Levy, and Greene et al. are all quite short — a total of fourteen pages between them.)

FURTHER READING

For discussion of the implications of “acquired sociopathy” for motivational internalism, the meta-ethical view that moral judgements are intrinsically motivating, see Nichols (2002), Roskies (2003) and Maibom (2005). Sinnott-Armstrong (2008) contains specially commissioned essays and responses on the implications of neuroscience for morality. See especially the essays by Greene, Kiehl, and Joyce.

Shaun Nichols (2002) ‘How Psychopaths Threaten Moral Rationalism: Is it Irrational to Be Amoral?’ in The Monist 85(2), pp. 285–303.
Adina Roskies (2003) ‘Are Ethical Judgments Intrinsically Motivational? Lessons From “Acquired Sociopathy”’ in Philosophical Psychology 16(1), pp. 51–66.
Heidi Maibom (2005) ‘Moral Unreason: The Case of Psychopathy’ in Mind & Language 20(2), pp. 237–257.
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, ed. (2008) Moral Psychology, Volume 3: The Neuroscience of Morality (MIT Press).

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

Is there good reason to think that we have more than one cognitive system for making moral judgments? What would this show about morality? (2014)

BAYESIAN MODELS

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION

What, if anything, can Bayesian models tell us about cognition?

CORE READING

*Joshua Tenenbaum, Charles Kemp, Thomas Griffiths, and Noah Goodman (2011) ‘How to Grow a Mind: Statistics, Structure, and Abstraction’ in Science 331(6022), pp. 1279–1285.

Michael Rescorla (2015) ‘Bayesian Perceptual Psychology’ in Mohan Matthen, ed. The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception (OUP).
Shaun Nichols and Richard Samuels (2017) ‘Bayesian Psychology and Human Rationality’ in T.-W. Hung and T. J. Lane, eds. Rationality: Constraints and Contexts (Elsevier).
Clark Glymour (2007) ‘Bayesian Ptolemaic Psychology’ in Harper & Wheeler, eds. Probability and inference: Essays in Honor of Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. (Kings College Publishers), pp. 123–41. Preprint available here.
Eric Mandelbaum (forthcoming) ‘Troubles with Bayesianism: An Introduction to the Psychological Immune System’ in Mind & Language.

FURTHER READING

Papineau (2012) is a useful primer on the mathematical background for this topic. Bowers and Davis (2012) and Marcus and Davis (2013) are two critical pieces. (Interesting comments and replies on both articles can be found in the same journal issues.) Griffiths et al. (2015) is useful for thinking about the relationship between this issue and Marr’s Levels of Analysis. Bayesian approaches form the theoretical background to the so-called Predictive Mind, a thesis prominently defended by Andy Clark and Jacob Hohwy. Clark (2013) is a good introduction to this, with critical responses in the same journal issue.

David Papineau (2012) Philosophical Devices (OUP), esp. Ch. 7 and 8.
Jeffrey Bowers and Colin Davis (2012) ‘Bayesian Just-So Stories in Psychology and Neuroscience’ in Psychological Bulletin 138(3), pp. 389–414.
Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis (2013) ‘How Robust are Probabilistic Models of Higher-Level Cognition?’ in Psychological Science 24(12), pp. 2351–2360.
Thomas Griffiths, Falk Lieder, and Noah Goodman (2015) ‘Rational Use of Cognitive Resources: Levels of Analysis Between the Computational and the Algorithmic’ in Topics in Cognitive Science 7(2), pp. 217–229.
Andy Clark (2013) ‘Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science’ in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36(3), pp. 181–204.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

There haven’t been any past paper questions on this topic!