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This putative module is not entirely like the modules from Fodor According to "Rationality-teleology" theory Dennett, mentalizing is the projection of a conception of a rational system onto beings; it is the product of an intentional stance. Doris and Shaun Nichols advocates collaborativism , the view that optimal human reasoning is substantially social.

After reviewing the work of worthy historical figures Nietzsche, Kant, Mill, et al. This last, however, is consistent with the view that social interaction is important for optimal development and maintenance of reasoning capacities, but that in adulthood optimal reasoning is nevertheless substantially individualistic. A subsequent discussion of apparent deficits in social skills in persons with autism or narcissistic personality disorder is likewise consistent with this last.

Moreover, the observation that groups are practically needed in order to build up a body of knowledge is also consistent with optimal reasoning in isolation. The chapter's most compelling support for collaborativism comes from experiments in which collaborating pairs of individuals can solve a "turning gear" puzzle more effectively than can non-collaborating pairs.

In fact, much of their argumentation supports the important role of the social in cognitive and moral reasoning without supporting a synchronic version of the view that one reasons best in groups. Gelman and Elizabeth A. Ware focuses on one facet of infant conceptual development: psychological essentialism. This is the view that concepts are structured with the presupposition that members of a category have an underlying cause or essence. So, for example, pre-school children believe that a tiger is a tiger in virtue of some typically non-perceptual "hidden" fixed, innate attribute that is informative about other features of being a tiger.

This belief is explored by asking children questions regarding various hypothetical scenarios, as "What would happen to a tiger that grows up around horses? Would it roar? In this field, there are important interactions with the themes of innateness and domain-specific modularity. The paper ultimately defends a version of essentialism according to which multiple domain-general capacities give rise to essentialist concepts. Two of the principal sections pit an evolutionary nativism against an evolutionary story that proposes that we have developed mechanisms that enable humans to learn from their culture.

The nativist view proposes that humans succeed in so many difficult cognitive tasks, such as carrying on a conversation or managing social relationships, because they have evolved special purpose mental mechanisms for these tasks.

The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought

While this sort of nativist evolutionary psychology has attracted the greatest amount of attention in recent years, this chapter resists this marriage of evolution and psychology on the grounds of the diversity of human environments. Given the evident diversity in family structures, economic bases, technologies, and physical environments, one-size-fits-all modules would not be likely to be adaptive.

Instead, the chapter urges, we have evolved the capacity to structure our environments and to transmit an understanding of those structures to subsequent generations. The chapter includes some descriptions of ways in which fossil and archaeological evidence might be used to test evolutionary psychological hypotheses. Fessler and Edouard Machery notes research traditions of seeking cross-cultural psychological universals as might be due to homologies and canalization and of seeking cross-cultural diversity as might be due to variations in artifacts, environments, and practices.

The mechanisms for culture acquisition might be either domain-specific or domain-general. Cognition also may influence culture by shaping the way in which cultural information is retained and transmitted. It reviews some of the principal conclusions that have been advanced regarding cultural differences in knowledge attribution and reference, moral judgments, and moral responsibility. Such studies might be used to help clarify what intuitions people already have, hence set the stage for questions about the reliability of these intuitions.

What is a Thought? How the Brain Creates New Ideas - Henning Beck - TEDxHHL

Alternatively, such studies might reveal that there is no unique fixed set of intuitions that merits philosophical attention, so that perhaps any project of studying intuitions for philosophical ends is misguided. Brooks, R. Damasio, A. New York, NY: Putnam. Fodor, J. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gibson, J. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Gordon, R. Folk psychology as simulation. Whorf, B.

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Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings. By contrast, 2 and 3 are grammatical. Perception and Communication. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press. Chomsky, N. Language and nature. MM is the hypothesis that the human mind is largely or entirely composed from a great many modules. Modules are functionally characterizable cognitive mechanisms that tend to possess several features, which include domain-specificity, informationally encapsulation, innateness, inaccessibility, shallow outputs, and mandatory operation.

The final thesis that comprises MM mentions that modules are found not merely at the periphery of the mind but also in the central regions responsible for such higher cognitive capacities as reasoning and decision-making. The central cognition depends on a great many functional modules that are not themselves composable into larger more inclusive systems.


One of the families of arguments for MM focuses on a range of problems that are familiar from the history of cognitive science such as problems that concern the computational tractability of cognitive processes. The arguments may vary considerably in detail but they share a common format. First, they proceed from the assumption that cognitive processes are classical computational ones. Second, given the assumption that cognitive processes are computational ones, intractability arguments seek to undermine non-modular accounts of cognition by establishing the intractability thesis.

  2. Carruthers on Massive Modularity.
  3. Carruthers on massive modularity;

Keywords: massive modularity , central modularity , modular mechanisms , cognitive-behavioral flexibility , pipeline architectures. His research focuses on issues in the philosophy of psychology and the foundations of cognitive science. He has published papers on nativism, cognitive architecture, and the ramifications of empirical psychology for our understanding of human rationality.

He is currently writing a book about how to explain the flexibility of human cognition. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. Please subscribe or login to access full text content. If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

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  • Fodor updates his case for thinking that central systems are computationally intractable—Ch. For critical discussion, see Ludwig and Schneider and Fuller and Samuels Cristina D. Rabaglia , Gary F. Is there a distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness?

    Massive modularity and the flexibility of human cognition

    If so, how are the two related, and what significance does the distinction have for cognitive science? Nagel is a classic, and essential background, as is Block For some recent empirical work, see De Gardelle, Sackur, and Kouider Block replies to Cohen and Dennett and Phillips Phillips reviews some recent work on the issue. Schneider and Velmans is the second edition of an extremely useful collection.