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2015 - Volume 36, Numbers 3 and 4, Summer and Autumn

Detecting Animal Deception
Shane D. Courtland, University of Minnesota, Duluth

By witnessing displays of deception, experimenters may be able to determine whether contemporary (alive today) non-human animals possess a theory of mind. Higher-order deception, in particular, requires the deceiver to be capable of second-order intentionality. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate the inherent difficulty in scientifically determining whether animals employ higher-order deception. After examining such difficulties, I provide an explication of higher-order deception as “cause–causation with a mental state.” This explication will allow us to better determine whether animals are capable of employing such deceit.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Shane D. Courtland, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Duluth, Department of Philosophy, 1121 University Drive, Duluth, Minnesota 55812. Email: scourtla@d.umn.edu

Race and the Copernican Turn
Deborah K. Heikes, University of Alabama in Huntsville

The Enlightenment is said to be an era of moral equality, but the historical evidence suggests that few men, and even fewer women, were ever actually equal. The racism and sexism evident throughout much of modern philosophy has been ignored or dismissed as unfortunate but are, in fact, relevant to central philosophical claims of the period. Despite the hope that such offensive attitudes are simply a product of their authors’ personal biases, good reasons exist to believe that modern racist attitudes are as much an outgrowth of the epistemic difficulties those philosophers encountered and are, consequently, grounded in core philosophical doctrines. The Cartesian turn inward toward ideas of the mind creates a situation in which epistemic objectivity is necessarily grounded in a radical subjectivism. As a result, philosophers such as Hume and Kant find it necessary to grant epistemic authority only to those who reason according to proper methodologies, which, in turn, has consequences for moral agency. The result is that, by the end of the Enlightenment, rationality and personhood are no longer the possession of every human being.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Deborah Heikes, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama 35899. Email: heikesd@uah.edu

HOT, Conscious Unity, and the Structure of Events: Extending Friesen’s Critique
Stephen E. Robbins, Fidelity Information Services

Friesen (2014) has examined Rosenthal’s HOT (higher-order thought) theory of consciousness with respect to its capacity to support various forms of conscious unity, noting many difficulties. The problems facing HOT in three of these unities — subject unity, stream unity, and object unity — are extended in more detail here, with special attention paid to object unity as simply a special case of event unity. Rosenthal gives a HOT the power of uniting/co-representing multiple mental states. As Friesen notes, this co-representation must be relational; even an object unity such as a “red cube” would require at least a thought representing a location relation — “red at location x, cube at location x.” This “relational” requirement is likely more fatal to HOT theory than Friesen took the space to explore. On analysis, the relations in even a simple event are so dynamic and complex, yet simultaneously so mutually implicatory via the abstract, amodal information that specifies the event in all modalities, that the notion of a co-representational HOT loses any notion of efficacy, necessity, or coherence.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stephen E. Robbins, Ph.D., Golden Willows Farm, 2750 Church Rd., Jackson, Wisconsin 53037. Email:searlerobbins@yahoo.com

Critical Notice

The Neuroscience of Freedom and Creativity: Our Predictive Brain.
Book Author: Joaquín M. Fuster. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 282 pages, $29.99 paperback
Reviewed by Valerie Gray Hardcastle, University of Cincinnati

Since the turn of the last century, an ever-increasing number of psychologists and biologists have argued that action and perception are fundamentally connected to each other. We perceive so that we can act. Joaquín Fuster has pushed this idea for most of his career in neuroscience, collecting evidence that not only do perceptual processes and decisions to act inform one another, but also that all of cortical memory is comprised of ever-changing, distributed patterns of connections among neurons that have been defined by experience. These patterns, which he calls “cognits,” are hierarchically organized by depth of complexity and increasing abstraction. These memory networks connect neurons across discontinuous cortical regions of prefrontal and posterior association cortex. And they overlap each other, such that individual neurons can play a role in many different memory networks.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychiatry, and Behavioral Neuroscience, ML 0374, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221–0374. Email: valerie.hardcastle@uc.edu

Book Reviews

Psychology Gone Astray: A Selection of Racist and Sexist Literature from Early Psychological Research
Book Authors: Charles I. Abramson and Caleb W. Lack (Editors). Fareham, Hampshire, United Kingdom: Onus Books, 2014, 362 pages, $29.99 paperback. $9.99 Kindle
Reviewed by Brady J. Phelps, South Dakota State University

In the introduction to this unique book, the Editors of Psychology Gone Astray: A Selection of Racist and Sexist Literature from Early Psychological Research, make the point that “ . . . as academic psychologists, we were surprised how few students, and even colleagues, knew about this chapter in the history of psychology” [p. 1], referring to the involvement of early psychological researchers in the conduct and perpetuation of blatantly racist and sexist theory. The depth and breadth of coverage in this volume is unique, not just for what is presented but for the pragmatic nature of the presentation. The Editors uncover unpleasant facts, but do not leave the reader to walk away offended. Their challenge is presented in the form of a number of thought-discussion questions and activities for more deeply-engaged students. If used diligently, the discussion questions and activities would likely secure a sizable percentage of students to see beyond the offensiveness of this literature, and to see why the writers and researchers of this period were just “doing science” as the psychological science of that day was conducted. The discussion questions could help students adopt what has been termed an historicist view of history instead of the more easily adopted presentist view or hindsight (Seidman, 1983; Stocking, 1965).

Correspondence concerning this review should be addressed to Brady J. Phelps, Professor of Psychology, South Dakota State University, Scobey Hall Box 504, Brookings, South Dakota 57007. Email: Brady.Phelps@sdstate.edu

Propriety and Prosperity: New Studies on the Philosophy of Adam Smith
Book Authors: David F. Hardwick and Leslie Marsh (Editors). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, 302 pages, $115.00 hardcover
Reviewed by Maria Pia Paganelli, Trinity University

I recently reviewed the literature on Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment (Paganelli, 2015). What I found is that Adam Smith is very much alive and studied but in ways different from the past. Smith is engaged in current debates not just in historical ones. Scholars wish to understand what Smith said to his contemporaries but also, and especially, what he can tell us today. Smith’s ability to converse with us today is also reflected in his ability to converse with different audiences. His background, education, and interests covered most of the spectrum of knowledge. So today he can have something to say to everyone, well, to many at least.

Correspondence concerning this review should be sent to Maria Pia Paganelli, Department of Economics, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212. Email: mpaganel@trinity.edu

The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind
Book Author: Giovanna Colombetti. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2014, 270 pages, $42.00 hardcover
Reviewed by Patrick Seniuk, Södertörn University, Stockholm

Giovanna Colombetti’s book, The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind, is a novel contribution to the affective science literature addressing emotion theory. Her book critically leads readers through several influential theories that developed out of early scientific research on emotions. She re-evaluates the conceptual veracity of these theories (and their legacy) on their own terms, as well as from within the contemporary context of affective science. This context, whose goal posts have shifted substantially on the heels of post-modern theory, continues to be redefined under the emergent influence of approaches such as that of enactive mind and embodied cognition. Colombetti taps into the bodily-inspired zeitgeist by incorporating philosophical phenomenology as a way to exploit the theoretical and experiential shortcomings she attributes to traditional theories of emotion. The book is successful, if viewed as a cogent survey of the theoretical landscape in affective sciences. The phenomenologically inspired chapters on embodiment, however, are less auspicious. While enactivism and embodiment share a theoretical affinity, the book fails to deliver an exacting synthesis of these two perspectives. With this in mind, my review explores Colombetti’s unique conceptualization of affective intentionality, followed by a discussion of the phenomenological shortcomings found in Chapter 4.

Correspondance concerning this review should be addressed to Patrick Seniuk, Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education MA 795b, 141 89 Huddinge, Sweden. Email: Patrick.seniuk@sh.se


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