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Carrie Figdor, , . The Psychological Speciesism of Humanism
2020, Philosophical Studies [forthcoming]
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Carrie Figdor

Abstract: Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, , . Alief and Belief
2008, Journal of Philosophy 105 (10): 634-663.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: I introduce and argue for the importance of a cognitive state that I call alief. Paradigmatic alief can be characterized as a mental state with associatively-linked content that is representational, affective and behavioral, and that is activated – consciously or unconsciously – by features of the subject’s internal or ambient environment. Alief is a more primitive state than either belief or imagination: it directly activates behavioral response patterns (as opposed to motivating in conjunction with desire or pretended desire.) I argue that alief explains a large number of otherwise perplexing phenomena and plays a far larger role in causing behavior than has typically been recognized by philosophers. I argue further that the notion can be invoked to explain both the effectiveness and the limitations of certain sorts of example-based reasoning, and that it lies at the core of habit-based views of ethics.

Comment: In this influential paper, Gendler argues for the existence of an important cognitive states that she calls alief. It is a highly-relevant material for teachings on many topics, for example forms of belief, rationality and belief, varieties of irrationality, implicit bias and etc, in upper-division undergraduate courses and postgraduate courses.

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, , . Thought experiments rethought – and reperceived
2004, Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1152-1163.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: Contemplating imaginary scenarios that evoke certain sorts of quasi?sensory intuitions may bring us to new beliefs about contingent features of the natural world. These beliefs may be produced quasi?observationally; the presence of a mental image may play a crucial cognitive role in the formation of the belief in question. And this albeit fallible quasi?observational belief?forming mechanism may, in certain contexts, be sufficiently reliable to count as a source of justification. This sheds light on the central puzzle surrounding scientific thought experiment, which is how contemplation of an imaginary scenario can lead to new knowledge about contingent features of the natural world.

Comment: This is a good introductory reading to the philosophy of thought experiements. It would work well as a required reading on the topic.

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Gopnik, Alison, , . The Child as Scientist
1996, Philosophy of Science 63 (4):485-514
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: This paper argues that there are powerful similarities between cognitive development in children and scientific theory change. These similarities are best explained by postulating an underlying abstract set of rules and representations that underwrite both types of cognitive abilities. In fact, science may be successful largely because it exploits powerful and flexible cognitive devices that were designed by evolution to facilitate learning in young children. Both science and cognitive development involve abstract, coherent systems of entities and rules, theories. In both cases, theories provide predictions, explanations, and interpretations. In both, theories change in characteristic ways in response to counterevidence. These ideas are illustrated by an account of children’s developing understanding of the mind.

Comment: In the mindreading debate, this is one of the main papers arguing for Theory Theory. It offers a good introduction of the theory as well as empirical support. It is suitable in a second or third year module on social cognition.

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Millikan, Ruth Garrett, , . A common structure for concepts of individuals, stuffs, and real kinds: More Mama, more milk, and more mouse
1997, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):55-65.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: Concepts are highly theoretical entities. One cannot study them empirically without committing oneself to substantial preliminary assumptions. Among the competing theories of concepts and categorization developed by psychologists in the last thirty years, the implicit theoretical assumption that what falls under a concept is determined by description () has never been seriously challenged. I present a nondescriptionist theory of our most basic concepts, which include (1) stuffs (gold, milk), (2) real kinds (cat, chair), and (3) individuals (Mama, Bill Clinton, the Empire State Building). On the basis of something important that all three have in common, our earliest and most basic concepts of substances are identical in structure. The membership of the category like that of is a natural unit in nature, to which the concept does something like pointing, and continues to point despite large changes in the properties the thinker represents the unit as having. For example, large changes can occur in the way a child identifies cats and the things it is willing to call without affecting the extension of its word The difficulty is to cash in the metaphor of in this context. Having substance concepts need not depend on knowing words, but language interacts with substance concepts, completely transforming the conceptual repertoire. I will discuss how public language plays a crucial role in both the acquisition of substance concepts and their completed structure

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Vasterling, Veronica, , . Heidegger’s hermeneutic account of cognition
2015, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14(4): 1145-1163.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: Hermeneutic phenomenology is absent in 4 EAC literature (embedded, embodied, enactive, extended and affective cognition). The aim of this article is to show that hermeneutic phenomenology as elaborated in the work of Heidegger is relevant to 4 EAC research. In the first part of the article I describe the hermeneutic turn Heidegger performs in tandem with his ontological turn of transcendental phenomenology, and the hermeneutic account of cognition resulting from it. I explicate the main thesis of the hermeneutic account, namely that cognition is interaction with the world, followed by a discussion of the modes of cognition distinguished in the hermeneutic account. In the second part of the article I discuss the implications of this account with respect to the status and meaning of first, second and third person perspective of cognition. The article concludes with the draft and discussion of an exploratory model of hermeneutic cognition.

Comment: The text gives a very concise overview and interpretation of Heidegger’s account of hermeneutics, relating it to 4E debates in the philosophy of mind and cognition. It could be interesting as advanced reading in courses in the philosophy of mind, or more introductory reading in hermeneutic phenomenology and the work of Heidegger.

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