Unconscious Intentions Do Not Undermine Free Will

Some have said that free will is an illusion (Wegner 2002). And some free will skeptics base their claims on evidence that experimenters are aware of our intentions before we are self-consciously aware of them. This leap from unconscious intentions to free will skepticism seems intuitive at first. Upon reflection, however, it seems odd. In this post, I’ll explain.

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Metaphysics of Mind: A Flowchart Taxonomy

I love flowcharts. And I love the philosophy of mind. So naturally, when I realized that I could combine these loves, I did. In this post, I share a flowchart-like tree for classifying views about the metaphysics of mind. I also share some conversations that are improving the chart, invite further conversation, and point out resources that can answer your questions about the metaphysics of mind. Continue reading Metaphysics of Mind: A Flowchart Taxonomy

On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science

One of the things that cognitive scientists do is look for, identify, and describe mechanisms. For example, cognitive scientists are interested in our ability (or proclivity) to ascribe mental states to others things and creatures. So, some posit a “theory of mind” mechanism. But, intuitively, there will not be a mechanism for every one of our abilities or behaviors. For example, it would be surprising if there were mechanism for driving a car. But if that is right, then we need principled reasons to think so. Or, at the very least, we need a story about why some of our abilities have mechanisms and others don’t. In this post, I’ll briefly consider four such stories. One of the take-aways will be that it is not obvious why some abilities (like driving a car) do not have mechanisms. Another take-away will be that it is not obvious what scientists mean by ‘mechanism’. Continue reading On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science

The Roles of Intuition & Reflection in Skill & Expertise

Some people think that skill and expertise is unreflective and flow-like. Others disagree. They think that skillful and expert actions often accompany (or even require) reflection. In this post, I give you excerpts from well-known proponents of each view and try to clarify their disagreement. Continue reading The Roles of Intuition & Reflection in Skill & Expertise

The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

I first learned about the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) a few years ago. I was watching one of the IAI’s debates about the limits of logic. The discussion was long form, but structured. And it included perspectives from multiple areas of expertise. For those reasons alone, the IAI had my attention. After all, you don’t typically get all that from American alternatives like TED or Talks at Google. In this post, I want to introduce the uninitiated to the IAI podcast by highlighting two of my favorite episodes. Continue reading The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality

What if traveling abroad were somehow bad for you? Well, a series of studies seem to find that “[traveling abroad] can lead to [lying and cheating] by increasing moral relativism” (Lu et al 2017, 1, 3). This finding has just the right combination of intuitive plausibility and surprise for us to want to share it uncritically. So, instead, let’s take a look at the methods, measures, and philosophical nuances of the topic. As usual, a bit of reflection makes the finding a bit less exciting and it reveals a need for follow-up research.

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Domain-familiarity & The Cognitive Reflection Test

This week I’m commenting on Nicholas Shea and Chris Frith’s “Dual-process theories and consciousness: the case for ‘Type Zero’ cognition” (2016) (open access) over at  the Brains blog. My abstract is below. Head over to Brains for the full comments and subsequent discussion.

Abstract

Type 1 and type 2 cognition are standard fare in psychology. Now Shea and Frith (2016) introduce type 0 cognition. This new category of cognition manifests from existing distinctions — (a) conscious vs. unconscious and (b) deliberate vs. automatic. Why do existing distinctions result in a new category? Because Shea and Frith (henceforth SF) apply each distinction to a different concept: one to representation and the other to processing. The result is a 2-by-2 taxonomy like the one below. This taxonomy classifies automatic processing over unconscious representations as type 0 cognition. And, deviating from convention, this taxonomy classified automatic processing over conscious representation(s) as type 1 cognition.

PROCESSING
AutomaticDeliberate
REPRESENTATIONUnconsciousType 0?
ConsciousType 1Type 2

According to SF, we deploy each type of cognition more or less successfully depending on our familiarity with the domain. When we’re familiar with the domain, we may not need to integrate information from other domains (via conscious representation) and/or deliberately attend to each step of our reasoning. So in a familiar domain, type 0 cognition might suffice.

SF briefly mention how this relates to the cognitive reflection test (CRT) (Frederick 2005). There is a puzzle about how to interpret CRT responses that do not fit a common dual-process interpretation of the CRT. In what follows, I will show how SF’s notion of domain-familiarity can make sense of these otherwise puzzling CRT responses.

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Image: “Wiffel ball” from Andrew Malone as modified by Nick ByrdCC BY 2.0