Saturday, November 07, 2015

Minds, Intelligence, and Human Nature

By way of distinguishing brains from minds (including the unique and irreducible properties of consciousness), AI (artificial intelligence) from human intelligence,* and human (animal) nature from animal nature simpliciter, and, I proffer the following titles:

  • Bennett, M.R. and P.M.S. Hacker. Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003. 
  • Bennett, Maxwell, Daniel Dennett, Peter Hacker, John Searle, and Daniel Robinson. Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind and Language. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. (I prefer the arguments of Bennett, Hacker, and Robinson over Dennett and Searle.)  
  • Descombes, Vincent (Stephen Adam Schwartz, tr.). The Mind’s Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. 
  • Finkelstein, David H. Expression and the Inner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. 
  • Gillett, Grant. Subjectivity and Being Somebody: Human Identity and Neuroethics. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2008. 
  • Gillett, Grant. The Mind and Its Discontents. New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2009. 
  • Hacker, P.M.S. Human Nature: The Categorial Framework. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007. 
  • Hacker, P.M.S. The Intellectual Powers: A Study of Human Nature. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 
  • Hodgson, David. The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Horst, Steven. Beyond Reduction: Philosophy of Mind and Post-Reductionist Philosophy of Science. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. 
  • Hutto, Daniel D. The Presence of Mind. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1999. 
  • Hutto, Daniel D. Beyond Physicalism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2000. 
  • Hutto, Daniel D. Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. 
  • Pardo, Michael S. and Dennis Patterson. Minds, Brains, and Law: The Conceptual Foundations of Law and Neuroscience. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 
  • Robinson, Daniel N. Consciousness and Mental Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. 
  • Tallis, Raymond. The Explicit Animal: A Defence of Human Consciousness. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999 ed. 
  • Tallis, Raymond. Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity. Durham, England: Acumen, 2011. 
  • Travis, Charles. Unshadowed Thought: Representation in Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
* The provocative and important notions of “distributed” and “collective” intelligence blur these boundaries, indeed, they make artificial and human intelligence in several respects complementary; nevertheless, the former remains parasitic on the latter, much as conceptions of distributed and collective intelligence derive their meaning and referential power in the first instance from the concept of individual intelligence (which, in any case, is not ‘located’ in the brain), granted the superior “problem solving” (in the widest sense) capacity of distributed and collective intelligence (or collective wisdom). Moreover, acknowledging the power and significance of distributed and collective intelligence for, say, epistemic deliberative models of democratic theory and praxis, need not mean we abandon the explanatory tenets of methodological individualism for, as Hélène Landemore notes, “it can be argued that these notions lend themselves to explanations in terms of individual choices and actions, in the same way that collective-action problems can be accounted for by the analytical tools and individualist methodology of social choice theory.” 

Addendum: I am linking to the post at New APPS that moved me, in turn, to share the above list. It is representative of the sort of stuff at the permeable boundaries between and the interstices of science and philosophy that rubs me the wrong way (hopefully, for the right reasons). Generally, I think it is emblematic of “scientism” in philosophy, as captured in this remark by Professor Carrie Figdor: “Basically, I think psychological concepts are transitioning to scientifically determined standards for proper use, leaving behind the ideal-rational-human, anthropocentric standards we now have.” In short, I would argue that “no, neurons do not have preferences” (and we can critique various metaphysical and philosophy of mind theories without resorting to ‘mental state verbs’ to describe or refer to processes that in the natural world, be it within or outside our bodies). Indeed, this particular use of psychological concepts strikes me as a crude employment of anthropomorphic language! Please see Eric Schwitzgebel’s post, “Do Neurons Literally Have Preferences?” 


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