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ABSTRACT: A key component of much current research in behavioral ecology, cognitive science, and economics is a model of the mind at least partly based on beliefs and desires. However, despite this prevalence, there are still many open questions concerning both the structure and the applicability of this model. This is especially so when it comes to its 'desire' part: in particular, it is not yet entirely clear when and why we should expect organisms to be desire-based-understood so as to imply that they consult explicit tokenings of what they ought to do-as opposed to being drive-based-understood so as to imply that they react to the world using behavioral reflexes. In this paper, I present the beginnings of an answer to this question. To do this, I start by showing that an influential recent attempt to address these issues-due to Kim Sterelny-fails to be fully successful, as it does not make sufficiently clear what the relative benefits and disadvantages of drive-based and desire-based cognitive architectures are. I then present an alternative account of this matter based on the idea that organisms that can follow explicit behavioral rules (i.e. which have desires) avoid having to memorize a large set of state of the world-action connections-which can (though need not) be adaptive. Finally, I apply this account to the question of what the cognitive value of mental representations should be seen to be; here, I conclude that-contrary to some recent claims-relying on mental representations can make decision making easier, not harder, but also that-in line with these recent claims-whether it does so depends on the details of the case.
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ABSTRACT: In recent years there has been increasing evidence that an area in the brain called the cortical midline structures (CMSs) is implicated in what has been termed self-related processing. This article will discuss recent evidence for the relation between CMS and self-consciousness in light of several important philosophical distinctions. First, we should distinguish between being a self (i.e., being a subject of conscious experience) and being aware of being a self (i.e., being able to think about oneself as such). While the former consists in having a first-person perspective on the world, the latter requires the ability to explicitly represent one's own perspective as such. Further, we should distinguish between being aware of oneself "as subject" and being aware of oneself "as object." The focus of existing studies investigating the relation between CMS and self has been predominantly on the ability to think about oneself (and in particular thinking of oneself "as object"), while the more basic aspects involved in being a self have been neglected. However, it is important to widen the scope of the cognitive neuroscience to include the latter, not least because this might have important implications for a better understanding of disorders of the self, such as those involved in schizophrenia. In order to do so, cognitive neuroscience should work together with philosophy, including phenomenology. Second, we need to distinguish between personal and subpersonal level explanations. It will be argued that although it is important to respect this distinction, in principle, some subpersonal facts can enter into constitutive conditions of personal-level phenomena. However, in order for this to be possible, one needs both careful conceptual analysis and knowledge about relevant cognitive mechanisms.
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