"Mind Perception and Morality" (Kurt Gray)
I suggest that mind perception is the essence of morality. Specifically, the cognitive structure of moral judgment consists of two interacting minds: an intentional agent and a suffering patient. Evidence and implications are explored.
"Children's Attitude Problems" (Valentine Hacquard)
This talk will investigate the connection between children’s linguistic acquisition of mental state (‘attitude’) verbs and their mindreading development. Children’s acquisition of attitude verbs like think or want has been used as a window into their understanding of other people’s minds. An extensive number of acquisition studies show that young children display difficulty with verbs like think but not want. This result is often interpreted as reflecting an asymmetry in conceptual development: while the desire concept is acquired early, children fail to grasp the concept of belief until their fourth birthday. This talk presents a linguistic explanation for these acquisition facts, which derives the asymmetry and children’s mistakes from pragmatic factors, rather than a deficiency in semantic or conceptual knowledge. Our experimental results suggest that children's conceptual and semantic knowledge for attitudes is in place early on, and can be unmasked in the right pragmatic conditions.
"Learning What is Human by Studying the Nonhuman Mind" (Brian Hare)
I will discuss research testing hypotheses regarding the development of social cognition in humans. Using a comparative perspective I will examine what might be unique about human development and what is likely share through common descent with bonobos and chimpanzees.
"The Role of Language in Emotion Experience and Perception" (Kristen Lindquist)
Many models of emotion assume that language is, at best, epiphenomenal to emotion. In this talk, I present psychological data showing that language might instead help constitute experiences and perceptions of emotion. Using behavioral, psychophysiological, neuro-psychological, and neuroimaging methods, I demonstrate that emotion experiences and perceptions emerge in consciousness when people use linguistic concepts to make meaning of body states in a given context. I close by discussing the implications of these findings for an understanding of the mind more generally.
"Do Animals Understand Others' Internal Goals?" (Robert Lurz)
A persistent methodological problem in primate social cognition research has been how to determine experimentally whether primates represent the internal goals (conative mental states) of other agents or just the external goals (expected outcomes) of their actions. This is an instance of Daniel Povinelli’s more general challenge that no experimental protocol currently used in the field is capable of distinguishing genuine mindreading animals from their complementary behavior-reading counterparts. I argue that current methods used to test for internal-goal attribution in primates do not solve Povinelli’s problem. To overcome the problem, a new type of experimental approach is needed, one which is supported by an alternative theoretical account of animal mindreading, called the appearance-reality mindreading (ARM) theory. I provide an outline of the ARM theory and show how it can be used to design a novel way to test for internal-goal attribution in chimpanzees.
"Agency and Emotion" (Shaun Nichols)
If an entity has a range of simple features (e.g., eyes, distinctive motions, interactive behavior), this suffices to identify the object as a goal-oriented entity – an AGENT. We argue that identifying an entity as an AGENT facilitates the attribution of a wide range of mental states to the entity, including conscious states like emotions. We present reaction time data and preliminary results from an infant study to support this model.
“More than a Feeling: Counterintuitive Effects of Empathy on Reasoning about Moral Dilemmas” (Philip Robbins)
Seminal work in moral neuroscience by Joshua Greene and colleagues employed variants of the well-known trolley problems to identify two brain networks that compete with each other to determine moral judgments. Greene interprets the tension between these brain networks using a dual-process account that pits deliberative reason against automatic, emotion-driven intuition. Recent neuroscientific evidence suggests, however, that the critical tension that Greene identifies as playing a role in moral judgment is not so much a tension between thinking and feeling, but a tension between distinct forms of reasoning. This is the idea we explore and develop in this talk.
"How to Do Things with Emotions" (Andrea Scarantino)
In How To Do Things With Words, Austin reacted to the then common assumption that linguistic statements are only in the business of stating facts by pointing out various ways in which we "do" things when we utter words (e.g. we express internal states, we issue commands, we ask questions etc.). In this talk, I react to the now common assumption that we are "acted upon" when we emote by pointing out various ways in which we "do" things by emoting (e.g. we express internal states, we make commitments, we prepare the body for action, etc.). After having established that emotions have an important active side, I will focus on the communicative dimension of emoting in particular, and explore some analogies and some differences between engaging in emotions and engaging in speech acts.