Free, online conference on the philosophy and science of mind!

The Minds Online conference starts today, has three week-long, and ends on September 29th. So mark your calendars and set aside some time to read and comment.

You will find that each Minds Online session has a keynote and a few contributed papers — each contributed paper with its own invited commenters. Papers are posted for advanced reading the Saturday before their session. And public commenting for each session runs from Monday (8am, EST) to Friday.

To be notified when papers go up, subscribe by email (in the menu) or to the Minds Online post RSS feed to receive be notified when papers go up. You can also subscribe to the Minds Online comment RSS feed to stay apprised of comments.

Conference hashtag: #MindsOnline2017. The full program is below: Continue reading Free, online conference on the philosophy and science of mind!

Christine Korsgaard on Reflection

Christine Korsgaard’s Sources of Normativity is one of the most impressive pieces of philosophy I’ve ever read. There are many, many reasons to read the book. Right now I am reading it because I want to understand Korsgaard’s view of reflective reasoning. She thinks that reflective reasoning is important for all of morality — #NBD. And her notion of ‘reflective’ is very similar to cognitive scientists’, but not the same. In this post, I explain Korsgaards’ view and how it differs from cognitive scientists’. Continue reading Christine Korsgaard on Reflection

What Does Christopher Peacocke mean by ‘Reflective Self-consciousness’?

The cover of the book, The Mirror of the World.Christopher Peacocke’s The Mirror of the World (2014) is largely about self-consciousness. Peacocke distinguishes “reflective” self-consciousness from other kinds of self-consciousness. Since my dissertation is about reflective reasoning, I want to try to understand reflective self-conscious — I am especially interested in what Peacocke means by ‘reflective’.

1. Peacocke’s Reflection

A drawing of a stick figure looking in a mirror.

When someone says ‘reflection’ you might think of mirrors and of light reflecting off of them. Or, if you’re like me, you might think of conscious, deliberate reasoning. Peacocke thinks that these two notions of reflection are similar.†

For example, we explain someone’s appearance in a mirror in terms of their appearance. After all, their appearance in a mirror just is a reflection of their appearance.

A drawing of a stick figure thinking about what they look like in a mirror.

And when we reflect on a thought, Peacocke thinks that something similar is happening: we explain a state of reflection in therms of the thought being reflected. And that is because the reflected state just is a reflection of that thought. So when you just reflected about what someone looks like in a mirror, your reflective state was a reflection of the thought of what someone looks like in a mirror.

2. Peacocke’s Reflective Self-consciousness

I found myself puzzled by Peacocke’s ‘reflection’. But when I remembered that his use of ‘reflection’ is ultimately about self-consciousness, it began to make more sense. So if you’re puzzled by the mirror reference, then this part might help.


De se 

Ugh. Latin. Some academics still use latin terms to explain themselves. Bear with me.

De se just means something like “of oneself”.


† “The reflecting state of the subject is something whose properties, like that of a reflection, are explained by the nature of what is being reflected, something that exists independently of being reflected” (Peacocke, Chapter 9).







What Is Reflective Reasoning?

Last week I was talking about intuition. I think of intuition as — among other things — unconscious and automatic reasoning. The opposite of that would be conscious and deliberative reasoning. We might call that reflective reasoning.† In this post I want to talk about reflective reasoning. How does it work? And why does it work? And — spoiler alert — why does it sometimes not work?

1.  An Example

Do some math for me, will you? Multiply 13 x 16. And try doing it in your head. Don’t use scrap paper or a calculator or anything like that.

Take all the time you need. I’ll be here.

Got it? Check your work with Google.

Question: what were you doing when you reasoned your way to the answer?

You were — among other things — reasoning reflectively. That is, you thought about some stuff — like ’16’ and ’13’ — but you also had some thoughts about thoughts about stuff — like “How might I multiply ’16’ by ’13’?”. These thoughts were both deliberate and conscious.

And that is a classic case of reflective reasoning: consciously and deliberately thinking about thought(s).

2.  Reflective Reasoning Works

We can do great stuff with reflective reasoning. Thanks to reflective reasoning, we can retrace our mental steps, spot errors, and fix those errors. We can even construct a narrative of each step in this process.

And these tasks are pretty important — and not just for doing spontaneous multiplication tasks. These tasks help us plan for the future, learn from our past, and explain our reasoning (to ourselves and to others). So if reflective reasoning is responsible for carrying out these tasks, then it is a good thing …when it works, that is.

What about when it doesn’t work? Continue reading What Is Reflective Reasoning?

Is Reflective Reasoning Supposed To Change Your Mind?

When you step back and question your beliefs and assumptions, do you expect to change your mind? Should you? I think that reflective reasoning is supposed to change our minds. But it might not change our beliefs. Sometimes reflection reinforces our beliefs. And sometimes reflection makes our beliefs more extreme or partisan. I’ll explain below. Continue reading Is Reflective Reasoning Supposed To Change Your Mind?

50+ Cognitive Science and/or Philosophy Blogs

Here is a list of cognitive science and/or philosophy blogs. Feel free to share it and/or suggest additions to the list. Continue reading 50+ Cognitive Science and/or Philosophy Blogs

The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!

From September 5 to September 30, there is an exciting, free, online conference about the philosophy and science of mind: the (second annual) Minds Online conference! Loads of wonderful scholars are sharing and commenting on each other’s research — and you can access and participate in all of it!

Here are a few things to note for those who are new to online conferences.

  • Sessions: There are four sessions, each with a different topic and its own keynote.
  • Timeline: Each session lasts one week. (So the conference lasts four weeks).
  • Participating: You can read papers starting the weekend before their session. And you you can comment on papers on Monday through Friday of their session.

So head on over and enjoy the wonder that is conferencing from the comfort of your home, office, favorite coffee shop, etc.

Here’s the program:

Continue reading The Minds Online Conference Is Starting!