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 meta-theoretical issues raised by two classics of cognitive science, Chomsky’s work in linguistics and Marr’s work on vision. We then move on to look at the classical computational theory of mind, as articulated by one of its leading proponents, Jerry Fodor. We then look at one of the main alternatives to the classical account, connectionism, and an area that has been thought by some to lie beyond the reach of cognitive science, consciousness. Only the first six weeks are fixed, leaving us two other weeks to pursue topics of your choosing. Options 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.)

TUTORIAL TOPICS

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

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

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. An expanded version is available 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.
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).
John Collins (2004) ‘Faculty Disputes’ in Mind & Language 19(5), pp. 503–533.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

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)

Is there any evidence to indicate that ordinary subjects have tacit knowledge of the grammatical rules of their language rather than merely behaving in conformity to those rules? (2013)

2. MARR’S LEVELS of ANALYSIS

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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.

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.
Ian Gold and Daniel Stoljar (1999) ‘A Neuron Doctrine in the Philosophy of Neuroscience’ in Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22(05), pp. 809-869.
Uljana Feest (2003) ‘Functional Analysis and the Autonomy of Psychology’ in Philosophy of Science 70(5), pp. 937–948.
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.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

EITHER (a) ‘Each of the three levels of description will have its place in the eventual understanding of perceptual information processing, and of course they are logically and causally related.’ (MARR) ‘In Marr’s view, a higher level was independent of the levels below it.’ (CHURCHLAND & SEJNOWSKI) Explain and discuss. OR (b) Could commonsense folk psychological explanations of human behaviour eventually be replaced by neuroscientific explanations of the same behaviour? (2014)

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). Available online: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/block/papers/msb.html.

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 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/.
Georges Rey (1995) ‘A Not “Merely Empirical” Argument for a Language of Thought’ in Philosophical Perspectives 9, pp. 201-222.
Stephen Laurence and Eric Margolis (1997) ‘Regress Arguments Against the Language of Thought’ in Analysis 57(1), pp. 60–66.
Elisabeth Camp (2007) ‘Thinking with Maps’ in Philosophical Perspectives 21(1), pp. 145–182.
Robert Matthews (2007) The Measure of Mind (OUP), Ch. 2 and 3.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

What would it take for there to be a Language of Thought? (2014)

Does the computational theory of the mind depend on there being a Language of Thought? (2013)

4. MODULARITY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION
Explain and assess Fodor’s view (a) that input systems are modular, but (b) that central systems are not, and so (c) are 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 (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) and in B and C&C.
Jerry Fodor (2000) The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (MIT Press), Ch. 4.
Jesse Prinz (2006) ‘Is the Mind Really Modular?’ in Robert Stainton, ed. Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science (Blackwell).

FURTHER READING
Fodor (1983) is the book in which he first introduced his views on modularity, and is essential reading for this topic. Part III argues input systems are modular. Part IV argues central systems are not, and so are computationally intractable. Chapters 2 and 3 of Fodor (2000), listed above, update the case for thinking that central systems are computationally intractable. For replies, see Ludwig and Schneider (2008) and Fuller and Samuels (2014). Shea (2014) looks at the distinction between top-down and bottom-up effects, often invoked in discussions of modularity. Stokes and Bergeron (2015) look at the implications of the alleged cognitive penetrability of perception.

Jerry Fodor (1983) Modularity of Mind (MIT Press).
Kirk Ludwig and Susan Schneider (2008) ‘Fodor’s Challenge to the Classical Computational Theory of Mind’ in Mind & Language 23(1), pp. 123–143.
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.
Nicholas Shea (2014) ‘Distinguishing Top-Down from Bottom-Up Effects’ in Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen, and Stephen Biggs, eds. Perception and Its Modalities (OUP).
Dustin Stokes and Vincent Bergeron (2015) ‘Modular Architectures and Informational Encapsulation: a Dilemma’ in European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5(3), pp. 315–338.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

Explain what it means to say that belief fixation is isotropic and Quinean. Do these properties mean that we cannot fully explain how we come to form beliefs about the world? (2014)

EITHER (a) Critically assess Fodor’s First Law of the Nonexistence of Cognitive Science: ‘The more global (e.g. the more isotropic) a cognitive process is, the less anybody understands it. Very global processes, like analogical reasoning, aren’t understood at all.’ (FODOR) OR (b) Drawing on a range of empirical examples, critically evaluate the claim that input systems are informationally encapsulated. (2013)

5. 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.

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

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

6. 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 (2002) ‘Concepts of Consciousness’ in David Chalmers, ed. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (OUP).
— (2007) ‘Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh between Psychology and Neuroscience’ in Brain and Behavioral Sciences 30, pp. 481-499.
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. Cohen and Dennett (2011) argue against Block’s access/phenomenal consciousness distinction. Block (2011) replies to this, as well as 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.

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).
Michael Cohen and Daniel Dennett (2011) ‘Consciousness Cannot Be Separated From Function’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(8), pp. 358–364.
Ned Block (2011) ‘Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(12), pp. 567–575.
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) 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)

EITHER
(a) Is phenomenal consciousness necessarily unified?
OR
(b) Critically discuss the following claim: ‘The lesson learnt from phenomena like blindsight is that goal-directed behaviour is not a reliable indicator of mental representation or subjective experience. To discover what someone is conscious of we need them to give us some form of report about their subjective experience.’ (FRITH) (2014)

EITHER
(a) Does the scientific study of consciousness assume that introspective reports are reliable? What does this mean for the prospects for a scientific study of consciousness?
OR
(b) Is there any good evidence that subjects can have states of phenomenal consciousness without access consciousness or, conversely, access consciousness without phenomenal consciousness? (2013)

OTHER TOPICS

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
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)

EITHER
(a) How could studying cognitive impairments help us understand anything about normal healthy cognition?
OR
(b) Does the existence of a double dissociation give us any information about underlying cognitive architecture? (2014)

The use of double dissociations in cognitive neuropsychology assumes that the normal cognitive architecture of the mind is identical for all people. Is this assumption warranted? (2013)

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
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 and BELIEF

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ESSAY QUESTION
Are monothematic delusions, such as the delusions of sufferers of Capgras syndrome, beliefs? If not, what are they?

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

Gregory Currie (2000) ‘Imagination, Delusion and Hallucinations’ in Mind & Language 15(1), pp. 168–183.
Tim Bayne and Elisabeth Pacherie (2005) ‘In Defence of the Doxastic Conception of Delusions’ in Mind & Language 20(2), pp. 163–188.
Andy Egan (2009) ‘Imagination, Delusion, and Self-Deception’ in T. Bayne & J. Fernández, eds. Delusion and Self-Deception (Psychology Press).
Maura Tumulty (2011) ‘Delusions and Dispositionalism about Belief’ in Mind & Language 26(5), pp. 596–628.

FURTHER READING
Campbell (2001) argues that delusions are not mental states with content at all, never mind beliefs. For discussion of Campbell’s position, see Bayne and Pacherie (2004). Currie and Ravenscroft (2002) further develop Currie’s view that delusions are imaginings. Bortoletti (2012) is a précis of her book, in which she defends the doxastic view (i.e. that delusions are beliefs). Matthews (2013) argues against the doxastic view.

John Campbell (2001) ‘Rationality, Meaning, and the Analysis of Delusion’ in Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 8(2), pp. 89–100.
Tim Bayne and Elisabeth Pacherie (2004) ‘Bottom-Up or Top-Down: Campbell’s Rationalist Account of Monothematic Delusions’ in Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 11(1), pp. 1–11.
Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft (2002) Recreative Minds (OUP), Ch. 8.
Lisa Bortolotti (2012) ‘Précis of Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs’ in Neuroethics, 5(1), 1–4. See also the essays by Schwitzgebel and Tumulty, and Bortolotti’s response, in the same issue.
Robert Matthews (2013) ‘Belief and Belief’s Penumbra’ in N. Nottelmann, ed. New Essays on Belief: Constitution, Content, and Structure (Palgrave Macmillan). Draft available online. Also see the contributions from Schwitzgebel and Bayne and Hattiangadi to the same volume.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
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)

EITHER (a) Is it plausible that a single explanatory framework could account for the wide variety of delusions? OR (b) Critically discuss the following claim: ‘What we normally describe as the delusional belief that P ought sometimes to be described as the delusional belief that I believe that P.’ (CURRIE) (2014)

EITHER (a) Are there good reasons for thinking that delusions are so irrational that they could not be a type of belief? If they are not beliefs, what are they? OR (b) ‘The precipitating event is a perceptual impairment causing loss of normal affective reactions to the visual world, including such highly significant social stimuli as people’s faces.’ (STONE and YOUNG) If this were true, would it be sufficient to explain the Capgras delusion? (2013)

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) 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)

Does the fact that we make incorrect predictions about other people’s mental states provide the basis for a good argument against the simulation theory of everyday psychological understanding? (2014)

EITHER
(a) Do we understand the psychological states of others because we apply a theory of mind to their observable behaviour or because we simulate their situation? Or both? Or neither?
OR
(b) Can the discovery of “mirror neurons” help us decide between simulation theories and the “theory” theory of everyday psychological understanding? (2013)

SPECIAL 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. 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) 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)

EITHER (a) ‘Each of the three levels of description will have its place in the eventual understanding of perceptual information processing, and of course they are logically and causally related.’ (MARR) ‘In Marr’s view, a higher level was independent of the levels below it.’ (CHURCHLAND & SEJNOWSKI) Explain and discuss. OR (b) Could commonsense folk psychological explanations of human behaviour eventually be replaced by neuroscientific explanations of the same behaviour? (2014)

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)

MASSIVE MODULARITY

TOP

ESSAY QUESTION
What is the massive modularity thesis? How, if at all, do the notions of modularity employed by its proponents differ from Fodor’s? What are the best arguments for it?

CORE READING
*Richard Samuels (2012) ‘Massive Modularity’ in E. Margolis, R. Samuels, and S. P. Stich, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science (OUP).

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby (1994) ‘Origins of Domain Specificity: The Evolution of Functional Organization’ in L. Hirschfeld and R. Gelman, eds. Mapping the Mind (CUP). Reprinted in B and C&C.
Jerry Fodor (2000) The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way (MIT Press), Ch. 5.
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
Barrett and Kurzban (2006) is a useful review of arguments for and against massive modularity. (They are proponents.) Peter Carruthers defends massive modularity at length, in his (2006) book. Wilson (2008) is a contribution to a symposium on this published by Mind & Language. Among other things, Wilson discusses the so-called argument from animals. 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. This suggests that high-level cognitive capacties are subserved by a single domain-general mechanism, rather than a range of domain-specific ones, as proponents of massive modularity claim. Robbins (2013) reviews the empirical evidence for massive modularity, and finds it wanting.

H. Clark Barrett and Robert Kurzban (2006) ‘Modularity in Cognition: Framing the Debate’ in Psychological Review 113(3), pp. 628–647.
Peter Carruthers (2006) The Architecture of the Mind (OUP).
Robert A. Wilson (2008) ‘The Drink You Have When You’re Not Having a Drink’ in Mind & Language 23(3), pp. 273–283.
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.
Philip Robbins (2013) ‘Modularity and Mental Architecture’ in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 4(6), pp. 641–649.

PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
EITHER
(a) What role should evolutionary theorising play in cognitive psychology?
OR
(b) Contrast evolutionary arguments for the massive modularity hypothesis with arguments based on psychological data. Which are stronger? (2013)