Paul Thagard

Paul Thagard
University of Waterloo | UWaterloo · Department of Philosophy

About

174
Publications
59,140
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12,552
Citations
Citations since 2016
8 Research Items
3572 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500

Publications

Publications (174)
Article
Darwin claimed that human and animal minds differ in degree but not in kind, and that ethical principles such as the Golden Rule are just an extension of thinking found in animals. Both claims are false. The best way to distinguish differences in degree from differences in kind is by identifying mechanisms that have emergent properties. Recursive t...
Article
Emotional change includes generation of new emotions, switching from one emotion to another, and alteration of the frequency and intensity of emotions. Psychotherapists help clients to reduce negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety and increase positive emotions such as happiness and hope. We explain such emotional shifts by the semantic poin...
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This paper naturalizes inductive inference by showing how scientific knowledge of real mechanisms provides large benefits to it. I show how knowledge about mechanisms contributes to generalization, inference to the best explanation, causal inference, and reasoning with probabilities. Generalization from some A are B to all A are B is more plausible...
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Emotion theory needs to explain the relationship of language and emotions, and the embodiment of emotions, by specifying the computational mechanisms underlying emotion generation in the brain. We used Chris Eliasmith's Semantic Pointer Architecture to develop POEM, a computational model that explains numerous important phenomena concerning emotion...
Article
Why do people have conflicting views of equality concerning the distribution of income, wealth, and satisfaction of vital needs? How do people form and sometimes change their views of equality and related issues, such as gender identity? Answers to such questions can benefit from cognitive science—the interdisciplinary field that includes neuroscie...
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Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychotherapists assess their patients by identifying disorders that explain their symptoms. This assessment requires an inference to the best explanation that compares different disorders with respect to how well they explain the available evidence. Such comparisons are captured by the theory o...
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Computer models provide formal techniques that are highly relevant to philosophical issues in epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Such models can help philosophers to address both descriptive issues about how people do think and normative issues about how people can think better. The use of computer models in ways similar to their scientific app...
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This chapter discusses the relevance of emotion to urban planning and design, arguing for the following conclusions. Urban planning requires values, which are emotional mental/neural representations of things and situations. Decisions about how to design cities are based on emotional coherence. The concepts used in urban planning are best understoo...
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The reconciliation of theories of concepts based on prototypes, exemplars, and theory-like structures is a longstanding problem in cognitive science. In response to this problem, researchers have recently tended to adopt either hybrid theories that combine various kinds of representational structure, or eliminative theories that replace concepts wi...
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This chapter displays the structure of ideologies using a new technique called cognitive–affective mapping, portraying the cognitive and emotional relations in both left-wing and right-wing ideologies. The technique is expanded to allow multimodal representations such as pictures and sounds in addition to verbal concepts, with Nazi ideology as an i...
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We propose a new approach for examining self-related aspects and phenomena. The approach includes (1) a taxonomy and (2) an emphasis on multiple levels of mechanisms. The taxonomy categorizes approximately eighty self-related phenomena according to three primary functions involving the self: representing, effecting, and changing. The representing s...
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This paper uses a new diagramming method, cognitive-affective mapping, to analyze the emotional changes in the 1978 Camp David negotiations that led to a breakthrough accord between Egypt and Israel. We use the technique to model the mental states of the two primary negotiators, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, based on detailed descriptions provide...
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Social innovations are creative products and changes that are motivated by social needs and bring value to society by meeting those needs. This article uses case studies to investigate the cognitive and social processes that contribute to creativity in social innovation. The cases are: Wendy Kopp with Teach For America in education, Cicely Saunders...
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Model-based reasoning requires not only inferences about what is happening, but also evaluations of the desirability of what is happening. Emotions are a key part of such assessments, but sometimes they can lead people astray, as in motivated inference when people believe what fits with their desires. In contrast to motivated inference, fear-driven...
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Thought experiments can be useful in suggesting new hypotheses and in identifying flaws in established theories. Thought experiments become harmful when they are used as intuition pumps to provide evidence for the acceptance of hypotheses. Intuitions are neural processes that are poorly suited to provide evidence for beliefs, where evidence should...
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Priming influences holistic representations of social situations and subsequent actions through interactive competition among relevant concepts such as the prime, the self, a partner, or other features of the environment. The constraints among these representations stem from culturally shared affective meanings of concepts acquired in socialization...
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This paper proposes an account of the self as a multilevel system consisting of social, individual, neural, and molecular mechanisms. It argues that the functioning of the self depends on causal relations between mechanisms operating at different levels. In place of reductionist and holistic approaches to cognitive science, I advocate a method of m...
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Although mind-brain identity remains controversial, many other identities of ordinary things with scientific ones are well established. For example, air is a mixture of gases, water is H2O, and fire is rapid oxidation. This paper examines the history of 15 important identifications: air, blood, cloud, earth, electricity, fire, gold, heat, light, li...
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We describe and illustrate a new method of graphically diagramming disputants’ points of view called cognitive-affective mapping. The products of this method—cognitive-affective maps (CAMs)—represent an individual’s concepts and beliefs about a particular subject, such as another individual or group or an issue in dispute. Each of these concepts an...
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We propose a complex systems approach to the study of political belief systems, to overcome some of the fragmentation in the current scholarship on ideology. We review relevant work in psychology, sociology, and political science and identify major cleavages in the literature: the spatial vs. non-spatial divide (ideologies as reducible to a spatial...
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We propose a unified theory of intentions as neural processes that integrate representations of states of affairs, actions, and emotional evaluation. We show how this theory provides answers to philosophical questions about the concept of intention, psychological questions about human behavior, computational questions about the relations between be...
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Thagard, P. (forthcoming). Conceptual change in the history of science: Life, mind, and disease. In G. Hatano & S. Vosniadou (Eds.), Handbook of conceptual change. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
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The priming of concepts has been shown to influence peoples' subsequent actions, often unconsciously. We propose 3 mechanisms (psychological, cultural, and biological) as a unified explanation of such effects. (a) Primed concepts influence holistic representations of situations by parallel constraint satisfaction. (b) The constraints among represen...
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We propose a schema that characterizes how parts constitute wholes at diverse levels of organization, ranging from the atomic to the biological to the social. This schema of tags, organizers, attachers, and communicators provides a unified understanding of the structure, function, and dynamics of organization in physics, biology, and the cognitive...
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Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy (with cross appointment to Psychology and Computer Science), Director of the Cognitive Science Program, and University Research Chair at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is the author of The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change (MIT Press, 2012); The Brain and the...
Book
Philosophy of Linguistics investigates the foundational concepts and methods of linguistics, the scientific study of human language. This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of linguistics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historians to map out both the foundational assumptions set dur...
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Philosophy of Economics investigates the foundational concepts and methods of economics, the social science that analyzes the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of economics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historia...
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Whenever science operates at the cutting edge of what is known, it invariably runs into philosophical issues about the nature of knowledge and reality. Scientific controversies raise such questions as the relation of theory and experiment, the nature of explanation, and the extent to which science can approximate to the truth. Within particular sci...
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This chapter presents patterns of discovery that illuminate some of the most important developments in the history of medicine. Four different kinds of hypotheses employed in medical discovery that includes hypotheses about basic biological processes relevant to health and hypotheses about the causes of disease are explained. Hypotheses about treat...
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This chapter uses a neural theory of emotional consciousness to develop a novel account of conscience and moral intuition. Emotions are both cognitive appraisals and somatic perceptions, performed simultaneously by interacting brain areas. Conscience is a kind of moral intuition, which is a neural process that generates emotional intuitions combini...
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This article challenges the common view that improvements in critical thinking are best pursued by investigations in informal logic. From the perspective of research in psychology and neuroscience, hu-man inference is a process that is multimodal, parallel, and often emo-tional, which makes it unlike the linguistic, serial, and narrowly cog-nitive...
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This article uses psychological and neural theories to illuminate the use of analogies in literary allegories. It shows how new theories of neural representation, encompassing both cognitive and emotional aspects, have the potential to make sense of many kinds of literary comparisons including allegories. The main text analyzed is George Orwell's A...
Book
The most pressing problems facing humanity today - over-population, energy shortages, climate change, soil erosion, species extinctions, the risk of epidemic disease, the threat of warfare that could destroy all the hard-won gains of civilization, and even the recent fibrillations of the stock market - are all ecological or have a large ecological...
Book
The domain of nonlinear dynamical systems and its mathematical underpinnings has been developing exponentially for a century, the last 35 years seeing an outpouring of new ideas and applications and a concomitant confluence with ideas of complex systems and their applications from irreversible thermodynamics. A few examples are in meteorology, ecol...
Book
This volume covers a wide range of conceptual, epistemological and methodological issues in the philosophy of science raised by reflection upon medical science and practice. Several chapters examine such general meta-scientific concepts as discovery, reduction, theories and models, causal inference and scientific realism as they apply to medicine o...
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This volume provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of the philosophy of statistics. Theoretical as well as applied dimensions are addressed in detail, including: the problem of induction the definition and role of conditional probability foundational debates regarding the leading statistical paradigms (classical, Bayesian, likelihood,...
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Many kinds of creativity result from combination of mental representations. This paper provides a computational account of how creative thinking can arise from combining neural patterns into ones that are potentially novel and useful. We defend the hypothesis that such combinations arise from mechanisms that bind together neural activity by a proce...
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This chapter shows that belief revision about global warming can be modeled by a theory of explanatory coherence that has previously been applied to many cases of scientific belief change. We present a computer simulation of how current evidence supports acceptance of important conclusions about global warming on the basis of explanatory coherence....
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Many psychologists, philosophers, and computer scientist have written about mental models, but have remained vague about the nature of such models. Do they consist of propositions, concepts, rules, images, or some other kind of mental representation? This paper will argue that a unified account can be achieved by understanding mental models as repr...
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This paper evaluates four competing psychological explanations for why the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial reached the verdict they did: explanatory coherence, Bayesian probability theory, wishful thinking, and emotional coherence. It describes computational models that provide detailed simulations of juror reasoning for explanatory coherence...
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Mirror neurons are brain systems found in monkeys and humans that respond similarly to actions and to the perception of actions of others. This paper explores the implications of mirror neurons for several important philosophical problems, including knowledge of other minds, the nature of empathy, and moral motivation. It argues that mirror neurons...
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Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is central to modern biology, but is resisted by many people. This paper discusses the major psychological obstacles to accepting Darwin’s theory. Cognitive obstacles to adopting evolution by natural selection include conceptual difficulties, methodological issues, and coherence problems that derive...
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Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it?The Brain and the Meaning of Lifedraws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional...
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Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitive science, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitive science with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among...
Book
The Handbook Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences addresses numerous issues in the emerging field of the philosophy of those sciences that are involved in the technological process of designing, developing and making of new technical artifacts and systems. These issues include the nature of design, of technological knowledge, and of te...
Book
One of the most striking features of mathematics is the fact that we are much more certain about the mathematical knowledge we have than about what mathematical knowledge is knowledge of. Are numbers, sets, functions and groups physical entities of some kind? Are they objectively existing objects in some non-physical, mathematical realm? Are they i...
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We present a theory and neurocomputational model of how specific brain operations produce complex decision and preference phenomena, including those explored in prospect theory and decision affect theory. We propose that valuation and decision making are emotional processes, involving interacting brain areas that include two expectation-discrepancy...
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This paper proposes a theory of how conscious emotional experience is produced by the brain as the result of many interacting brain areas coordinated in working memory. These brain areas integrate perceptions of bodily states of an organism with cognitive appraisals of its current situation. Emotions are neural processes that represent the overall...
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One of the most impressive feats in robotics was the 2005 victory by a driverless Volkswagen Touareg in the DARPA Grand Challenge. This paper discusses what can be learned about the nature of representation from the car’s successful attempt to navigate the world. We review the hardware and software that it uses to interact with its environment, and...
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The ultimatum game is a simple bargaining situation where the behavior of people frequently contradicts classical game theory. Thus, the commonly observed behavior should be considered irrational. We argue that this putative irrationality stems from a wrong conception of metanormativity (the study of norms about the establishment of norms). After d...
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Theoretical neuroscience, which characterizes neural mechanisms using mathematical and computational models, is highly relevant to central problems in the philosophy of psychiatry. These models can help to solve the explanation problem of causally connecting neural processes with the behaviors and experiences found in mental illnesses. Such explana...
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IntroductionCognitive ModelingEngineering AITheory of ComputationWhat Computing Adds to Philosophy of Science
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Psychology is the study of thinking, and cognitive science is the interdisciplinary investigation of mind and intelligence that also includes philosophy, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. In these investigations, many philosophical issues arise concerning methods and central concepts. The Handbook of Philosophy o...
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Margaret Boden's Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science is a masterfully broad and informative history of computational theories of mental operations. However, its relative neglect of research in psychology and neuroscience yields a somewhat misleading picture of cognitive science, which ideally combines theory and experiment.
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abstract This paper is an investigation of the moral psychology of decisions that involve a conflict of interest. It draws on the burgeoning field of affective neuroscience, which is the study of the neurobiology of emotional systems in the brain. I show that a recent neurocomputational model of how the brain integrates cognitive and affective info...
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This paper uses a neural theory of emotional consciousness to develop a novel account of conscience and moral intuition. Emotions are both cognitive appraisals and somatic perceptions, performed simultaneously by interacting brain areas. Conscience is a neural process that generates emotional intuitions combining bodily reactions with cognitive app...
Article
What is the relation between coherence and truth? This paper rejects numerous answers to this question, including the following: truth is coherence; coherence is irrelevant to truth; coherence always leads to truth; coherence leads to probability, which leads to truth. I will argue that coherence of the right kind leads to at least approximate trut...
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Thagard, P. (2005). Being interdisciplinary: Trading zones in cognitive science. In S. J. Derry, C. D. Schunn & M. A. Gernsbacher (Eds.), Interdisciplinary collaboration: An emerging cognitive science (pp. 317-339). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Book
Scientists use concepts and principles that are partly specific for their subject matter, but they also share part of them with colleagues working in different fields. Compare the biological notion of a 'natural kind' with the general notion of 'confirmation' of a hypothesis by certain evidence. Or compare the physical principle of the 'conservatio...
Book
The ambition of this volume is twofold: to provide a comprehensive overview of the field and to serve as an indispensable reference work for anyone who wants to work in it. For example, any philosopher who hopes to make a contribution to the topic of the classical-quantum correspondence will have to begin by consulting Klaas Landsman's chapter. The...
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This article reviews a theory of explanatory coherence that provides a psychologically plausible ac-count of how people evaluate competing explanations. The theory is implemented in a computational model that uses simple artificial neural networks to simulate many im-portant cases of scientific and legal reasoning. Current research directions inclu...
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This paper presents a theory and computational model of the role of emotions in group decision making. After reviewing the role of emotions in individual decision making, it describes social and psychological mechanisms by which emotional and other information is transmitted between individuals. The processes by which these mechanisms can contribut...
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We argue that computation via quantum mechanical processes is irrelevant to explaining how brains produce thought, contrary to the ongoing speculations of many theorists. First, quantum effects do not have the temporal properties required for neural information processing. Second, there are substantial physical obstacles to any organic instantiatio...
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This paper argues that collaboration in scientific and other fields requires a substantial amount of procedural knowledge about how to collaborate. It discusses how scientists collaborate, how they learn to collaborate, and why they collaborate. Knowledge how does not always reduce to knowledge that, and collaboration has many purposes besides the...
Chapter
Conceptual change is the creation and alteration of mental representations that correspond to words. It is an important part of learning in science and everyday life.
Book
Contrary to standard assumptions, reasoning is often an emotional process. Emotions can have good effects, as when a scientist gets excited about a line of research and pursues it successfully despite criticism. But emotions can also distort reasoning, as when a juror ignores evidence of guilt just because the accused seems like a nice guy. In Hot...
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Abstract This chapter uses the concept of an (ATOM) to discuss ways in which categorization depends on conceptual change. Features of such theoretical concepts are theory-gener- ated rather than observed. They fit much better with the "knowledge approach" to the nature of concepts than to classical, exemplar, or prototype theories. The concept of a...
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Modern medicine has produced many successful theories concerning the causes of diseases. For example, we know that tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and that scurvy is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. This chapter discusses the nature of medical theories from the perspective of the philosophy, history, and psyc...
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This chapter uses the concept of an [ATOM] to discuss ways in which categorization depends on conceptual change. Features of such theoretical concepts are theory-generated rather than observed. They fit much better with the “knowledge approach” to the nature of concepts than to classical, exemplar, or prototype theories. The concept of atom has und...
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Full-text available
This paper develops a descriptive and normative account of how people respond to testimony. It postulates a default pathway in which people more or less automatically respond to a claim by accepting it, as long as the claim made is consistent with their beliefs and the source is credible. Otherwise, people enter a reflective pathway in which they e...
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This paper discusses Theo Kuipers' account of beauty and truth. It challenges Kuipers' psychological account of how scientists come to appreciate beautiful theories, as well as his attempt to justify the use of aesthetic criteria on the basis of a "meta-induction." I propose an alternative psychological/philosophical account based on emotional cohe...
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Computer modelling of personality and behaviour is becoming increasingly important in many fields of computer science and psychology. Personality and emotion-driven Believable Agents are needed in areas like human–machine interfaces, electronic advertising and, most notably, electronic entertainment. Computer models of personality can help explain...
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This paper uses a psychological/computational theory of emotional coherence to explain several aspects of religious belief and practice. After reviewing evidence for the importance of emotion to religious thought and cognition in general, it describes psychological and social mechanisms of emotional cognition. These mechanisms are relevant to expla...
Article
This paper develops a descriptive and normative account of how people respond to testimony. It postulates a default pathway in which people more or less automatically respond to a claim by accepting it, as long as the claim made is consistent with their beliefs and the source is credible. Otherwise, people enter a reflective pathway in which they e...
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Full-text available
This article examines some of the most important metaphors and analogies that epistemologists have used to discuss the structure and validity of knowledge. After reviewing foundational, coherentist, and other metaphors for knowledge, we discuss the metaphilosophical significance of the prevalence of such metaphors. We argue that they support a view...
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Reasoning by jurors concerning whether an accused person should be convicted of commit- ting a crime is a kind of casual inference. Jurors need to decide whether the evidence in the case was caused by the accused's criminal action or by some other cause. This paper com- pares two computational models of casual inference: explanatory coherence and B...
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The authors present a neurological theory of how cognitive information and emotional information are integrated in the nucleus accumbens during effective decision making. They describe how the nucleus accumbens acts as a gateway to integrate cognitive information from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus with emotional information...
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This article interprets emotional change as a transition in a complex dynamical system. We argue that the appropriate kind of dynamical system is one that extends recent work on how neural networks can perform parallel constraint satisfaction. Parallel processes that integrate both cognitive and affective constraints can give rise to states that we...
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Descartes contended that “I am obliged in the end to admit that none of my former ideas are beyond legitimate doubt” (1964, 64). Accordingly, he adopted a method of doubting everything: “Since my present aim was to give myself up to the pursuit of truth alone, I thought I must do the very opposite, and reject as if absolutely false anything as to w...
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A crucial part of the knowledge of molecular biologists is procedural knowledge, that is, knowledge of how to do things in laboratories. Procedural knowledge of molecular biologists involves both perceptual-motor skills and cognitive skills. We discuss such skills required in performing the most commonly used molecular biology techniques, namely, P...