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7.1b. Modularity in Cognitive Science (Modularity in Cognitive Science on PhilPapers)

See also:
Appelbaum, Irene (1998). Fodor, modularity, and speech perception. Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):317-330.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Abstract: Fodor argues that speech perception is accomplished by a module. Typically, modular processing is taken to be bottom-up processing. Yet there is ubiquitous empirical evidence that speech perception is influenced by top-down processing. Fodor attempts to resolve this conflict by denying that modular processing must be exclusively bottom-up. It is argued, however, that Fodor's attempt to reconcile top-down and modular processing fails, because: (i) it undermines Fodor's own conception of modular processing; and (ii) it cannot account for the contextually varying top-down influences that characterize speech perception
Arbib, Michael A. (1989). Modularity, schemas and neurons: A critique of Fodor. In Peter Slezak (ed.), Computers, Brains and Minds. Kluwer.   (Annotation | Google)
Barrett, H. Clark (2005). Enzymatic computation and cognitive modularity. Mind and Language 20 (3):259-87.   (Cited by 27 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Currently, there is widespread skepticism that higher cognitive processes, given their apparent flexibility and globality, could be carried out by specialized computational devices, or modules. This skepticism is largely due to Fodor’s influential definition of modularity. From the rather flexible catalogue of possible modular features that Fodor originally proposed has emerged a widely held notion of modules as rigid, informationally encapsulated devices that accept highly local inputs and whose opera- tions are insensitive to context. It is a mistake, however, to equate such features with computational devices in general and therefore to assume, as Fodor does, that higher cognitive processes must be non-computational. Of the many possible non-Fodorean architectures, one is explored here that offers possible solutions to computational problems faced by conventional modular systems: an ‘enzymatic’ architecture. Enzymes are computational devices that use lock-and-key template matching to iden- tify relevant information (substrates), which is then operated upon and returned to a common pool for possible processing by other devices. Highly specialized enzymes can operate together in a common pool of information that is not pre-sorted by information type. Moreover, enzymes can use molecular ‘tags’ to regulate the operations of other devices and to change how particular substrates are construed and operated upon, allowing for highly interactive, context-specific processing. This model shows how specialized, modular processing can occur in an open system, and suggests that skepti- cism about modularity may largely be due to failure to consider alternatives to the standard model
Bennett, L. J. (1990). Modularity of mind revisited. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (September):429-36.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Bergeron, Vincent (2007). Anatomical and functional modularity in cognitive science: Shifting the focus. Philosophical Psychology 20 (2):175 – 195.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Much of cognitive science is committed to the modular approach to the study of cognition. The core of this approach consists of a pair of assumptions - the anatomical and the functional modularity assumptions - which motivate two kinds of inference: the anatomical and the functional modularity inferences. The legitimacy of both of these inferences has been strongly challenged, a situation that has had surprisingly little impact on most theorizing in the field. Following the introduction of an important, yet rarely made, distinction between two functional concepts - the distinction between cognitive working and cognitive role - this paper analyses these kinds of inference, and refocuses the attention on new aspects of their main limitations. It is argued that both the anatomical and functional modularity inferences can, and do, operate in three distinct modes in contemporary cognitive science, and that seeing this is essential to understanding both the power and the limitations of these methodological tools
Bergeron, Vincent & Matthen, Mohan (2008). Assembling the emotions. In Luc Faucher & Christine Tappolet (eds.), The Modularity of Emotions. University of Calgary Press.   (Google)
Abstract: In this article, we discuss the modularity of the emotions. In a general methodological section, we discuss the empirical basis for the postulation of modularity. Then we discuss how certain modules -- the emotions in particular -- decompose into distinct anatomical and functional parts.
Bickhard, Mark H. (2003). An integration of motivation and cognition. In L. Smith, C. Rogers & P. Tomlinson (eds.), Development and Motivation: Joint Perspectives. Leicester: British Psychological Society.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Browne, Derek (1996). Cognitive versatility. Minds and Machines 6 (4):507-23.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Jerry Fodor divides the mind into peripheral, domain-specific modules and a domaingeneral faculty of central cognition. John Tooby and Lisa Cosmides argue instead that the mind is modular all the way through; cognition consists of a multitude of domain-specific processes. But human thought has a flexible, innovative character that contrasts with the inflexible, stereotyped performances of modular systems. My goal is to discover how minds that are constructed on modular principles might come to exhibit cognitive versatility.Cognitive versatility is exhibited in the ability to learn from experience. How can this ability emerge from the resources made available by earlier stages of cognitive specialization without sacrificing the many benefits of modularization? A transition into versatile cognition occurred in the history of our species. A similar development which occurs within individual ontogeny provides clues about the phylogenetic changes
Buller, David J. (2005). Get over: Massive modularity. Biology and Philosophy 20 (4).   (Google | More links)
Cam, Philip (1988). Modularity, rationality, and higher cognition. Philosophical Studies 53 (March):279-94.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Carruthers, Peter (2008). An architecture for dual reasoning. In J. Evans & K. Frankish (eds.), In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: In J. Evans and K. Frankish (eds.), In Two Minds: dual processes and beyond. Oxford University Press, 2008. (In draft.)
Carruthers, Peter (2006). Distinctively human thinking: Modular precursors and components. In Peter Carruthers (ed.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Barrett, Clark H. (2005). Enzymatic computation and cognitive modularity. Mind and Language 20 (3):259-287.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Currently, there is widespread skepticism that higher cognitive processes, given their apparent flexibility and globality, could be carried out by specialized computational devices, or modules. This skepticism is largely due to Fodor’s influential definition of modularity. From the rather flexible catalogue of possible modular features that Fodor originally proposed has emerged a widely held notion of modules as rigid, informationally encapsulated devices that accept highly local inputs and whose opera- tions are insensitive to context. It is a mistake, however, to equate such features with computational devices in general and therefore to assume, as Fodor does, that higher cognitive processes must be non-computational. Of the many possible non-Fodorean architectures, one is explored here that offers possible solutions to computational problems faced by conventional modular systems: an ‘enzymatic’ architecture. Enzymes are computational devices that use lock-and-key template matching to iden- tify relevant information (substrates), which is then operated upon and returned to a common pool for possible processing by other devices. Highly specialized enzymes can operate together in a common pool of information that is not pre-sorted by information type. Moreover, enzymes can use molecular ‘tags’ to regulate the operations of other devices and to change how particular substrates are construed and operated upon, allowing for highly interactive, context-specific processing. This model shows how specialized, modular processing can occur in an open system, and suggests that skepti- cism about modularity may largely be due to failure to consider alternatives to the standard model
Carruthers, Peter (2003). Is the mind a system of modules shaped by natural selection? In Christopher R. Hitchcock (ed.), Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Science. Blackwell.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This chapter defends the positive thesis which constitutes its title. It argues first, that the mind has been shaped by natural selection; and second, that the result of that shaping process is a modular mental architecture. The arguments presented are all broadly empirical in character, drawing on evidence provided by biologists, neuroscientists and psychologists (evolutionary, cognitive, and developmental), as well as by researchers in artificial intelligence. Yet the conclusion is at odds with the manifest image of ourselves provided both by introspection and by common-sense psychology. The chapter concludes by sketching how a modular architecture might be developed to account for the patently unconstrained character of human thought, which has served as an assumption in a number of recent philosophical attacks on mental modularity
Carruthers, Peter (2003). Moderately massive modularity. In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Mind and Persons. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Abstract: This paper will sketch a model of the human mind according to which the mind’s structure is massively, but by no means wholly, modular. Modularity views in general will be motivated, elucidated, and defended, before the thesis of moderately massive modularity is explained and elaborated
Carruthers, Peter (2004). Practical reasoning in a modular mind. Mind and Language 19 (3):259-278.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   This paper starts from an assumption defended in the author's previous work. This is that distinctivelyhuman flexible and creative theoretical thinking can be explained in terms of the interactions of a variety of modular systems, with the addition of just a few amodular components and dispositions. On the basis of that assumption it is argued that distinctively human practical reasoning, too, can be understood in modular terms. The upshot is that there is nothing in the human psyche that requires any significant retreat from a thesis of massively modular mental organization
Carruthers, Peter (2006). Simple heuristics meet massive modularity. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This chapter investigates the extent to which claims of massive modular organization of the mind (espoused by some members of the evolutionary psychology research program) are consistent with the main elements of the simple heuristics research program. A number of potential sources of conflict between the two programs are investigated and defused. However, the simple heuristics program turns out to undermine one of the main arguments offered in support of massive modularity, at least as the latter is generally understood by philosophers. So one result of the argument will be to force us to re-examine the way in which the notion of modularity in cognitive science should best be characterized, if the thesis of massive modularity isn’t to be abandoned altogether. What is at stake in this discussion, is whether there is a well-motivated notion of ‘module’ such that we have good reason to think that the human mind must be massively modular in its organization. I shall be arguing (in the end) that there is
Carruthers, Peter (2006). The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 13 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Peter Carruthers, a leading philosopher of mind, provides a comprehensive development and defense of one of the guiding assumptions of evolutionary psychology: that the human mind is composed of a large number of semi-independent modules. Written with unusual clarity and directness, and surveying an extensive range of research in cognitive science, it will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the nature and organization of the mind
Carruthers, Peter (2006). The case for massively modular models of mind. In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell.   (Cited by 16 | Google | More links)
Abstract: My charge in this chapter is to set out the positive case supporting massively modular models of the human mind.1 Unfortunately, there is no generally accepted understanding of what a massively modular model of the mind is. So at least some of our discussion will have to be terminological. I shall begin by laying out the range of things that can be meant by ‘modularity’. I shall then adopt a pair of strategies. One will be to distinguish some things that ‘modularity’ definitely can’t mean, if the thesis of massive modularity is to be even remotely plausible. The other will be to look at some of the arguments that have been offered in support of massive modularity, discussing what notion of ‘module’ they might warrant. It will turn out that there is, indeed, a strong case in support of massively modular models of the mind on one reasonably natural understanding of ‘module’. But what really matters in the end, of course, is the substantive question of what sorts of structure are adequate to account for the organization and operations of the human mind, not whether or not the components appealed to in that account get described as ‘modules’. So the more interesting question before us is what the arguments that have been offered in support of massive modularity can succeed in showing us about those structures, whatever they get called
Chien, A. J. (1996). Why the mind may not be modular. Minds and Machines 6 (1):1-32.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Fodor argued that in contrast to input systems which are informationally encapsulated, general intelligence is unencapsulated and hence non-modular; for this reason, he suggested, prospects for understanding it are not bright. It is argued that an additional property, primitive functionality, is required for non-modularity. A functionally primitive computational model for quantifier scoping, limited to some scoping influences, is then motivated, and an implementation described. It is argued that only such a model can be faithful to intuitive scope preferences. But it is also argued that an extended model which includes all scoping influences is a hopeless prospect from a developmental perspective. Fodor's views are concluded to have some independent support: quantifier scoping is a mental ability parasitic on general intelligence that is non-modular though in a revised sense, warranting pessimism about our ability of model it
Clark Barrett, H. (2006). Modularity and design reincarnation. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Google)
Barrett, Clark H. & Kurzban, R. (2006). Modularity in cognition: Framing the debate. Psychological Review 113:628-647.   (Google)
Abstract: Modularity has been the subject of intense debate in the cognitive sciences for more than 2 decades. In some cases, misunderstandings have impeded conceptual progress. Here the authors identify arguments about modularity that either have been abandoned or were never held by proponents of modular views of the mind. The authors review arguments that purport to undermine modularity, with particular attention on cognitive architecture, development, genetics, and evolution. The authors propose that modularity, cleanly defined, provides a useful framework for directing research and resolving debates about individual cognitive systems and the nature of human evolved cognition. Modularity is a fundamental property of living things at every level of organization; it might prove indispensable for understanding the structure of the mind as well
Collins, John M. (2005). On the input problem for massive modularity. Minds and Machines 15 (1):1-22.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor argues that the massive modularity thesis – the claim that (human) cognition is wholly served by domain specific, autonomous computational devices, i.e., modules – is a priori incoherent, self-defeating. The thesis suffers from what Fodor dubs the input problem: the function of a given module (proprietarily understood) in a wholly modular system presupposes non-modular processes. It will be argued that massive modularity suffers from no such a priori problem. Fodor, however, also offers what he describes as a really real input problem (i.e., an empirical one). It will be suggested that this problem is real enough, but it does not selectively strike down massive modularity – it is a problem for everyone
Cundall, Michael K. (2006). Rethinking the divide: Modules and central systems. Philosophia 34 (4).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper I argue that the cognitive system is best viewed as a continuum of cognitive processing from modules to central systems rather than having these as discrete and wholly different modes of cognitive processing. I rely on recent evidence on the development of theory of mind (ToM) abilities and the developmental disorder of autism. I then turn to the phenomenology of modular processes. I show that modular outputs have a stronger force than non-modular or central system outputs. I then evaluate social cognitions and show them to occupy a middle ground with respect to phenomenal strength between modular and non-modular outputs. The evidence presented then seems to indicate a continuum of cognitive processing rather than the traditional division between modules and central systems
Currie, Gregory & Sterelny, Kim (2000). How to think about the modularity of mind-reading. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (199):145-160.   (Cited by 13 | Google | More links)
D. A. Leopold, N. K. Logothetis (1999). Multistable phenomena: Changing views in perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 3:254-264.   (Google)
Abstract: Traditional explanations of multistable visual phenomena (e.g. ambiguous figures, perceptual rivalry) suggest that the basis for spontaneous reversals in perception lies in antagonistic connectivity within the visual system. In this review, we suggest an alternative, albeit speculative. explanation for visual multistability - that spontaneous alternations reflect responses to active, programmed events initiated by brain areas that integrate sensory and non-sensory information to coordinate a diversity of behaviors. Much evidence suggests that perceptual reversals are themselves more closely related to the expression of a behavior than to passive sensory responses: (1) they are initiated spontaneously, often voluntarily, and are influenced by subjective variables such as attention and mood; (2) the alternation process is greatly facilitated with practice and compromised by lesions in non- visual cortical areas; (3) the alternation process has temporal dynamics similar to those of spontaneously initiated behaviors; (4) functional imaging reveals that brain areas associated with a variety of cognitive behaviors are specifically activated when vision becomes unstable. In this scheme, reorganizations of activity throughout the visual cortex, concurrent with perceptual reversals, are initiated by higher, largely non- sensory brain centers. Such direct intervention In the processing of the sensory input by brain structures associated with planning and motor programming might serve an important role in perceptual organization, particularly in aspects related to selective attention
Fodor, Jerry A. (1985). Precis of the modularity of mind. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8:1-42.   (Cited by 99 | Annotation | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (2005). Reply to Steven Pinker So How Does the Mind Work?. Mind and Language 20 (1):25-32.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1983). The Modularity of Mind. MIT Press.   (Cited by 3608 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1986). The modularity of mind. In Zenon W. Pylyshyn (ed.), Meaning and Cognitive Structure. Ablex.   (Cited by -1775940 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1989). Why should the mind be modular? In A. George (ed.), Reflections on Chomsky. Blackwell.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Garfield, Jay L. (ed.) (1987). Modularity in Knowledge Representation and Natural-Language Understanding. MIT Press.   (Cited by 56 | Annotation | Google)
Harnish, Robert M. (1995). Modularity and speech acts. Pragmatics and Cognition 3 (1):1-29.   (Google)
Hildebrandt, Helmut (1994). Organology and modularity: One piece of the mind or two? Philosophical Psychology 7 (1):21-38.   (Google)
Abstract: The conception of a modular structure of mind, which postulates that the mind is composed of more or less autonomous subsystems, is widespread in contemporary psychology. Proponents of a modular structure of the mind, such as Marshall (1980; 1984; 1985), Fodor (1983), Gardner (1983), and Shallice (1988), have linked their work to F. J. Gall's theory of organology or of the “functions of the brain”. This paper argues: (1) Gall's organology defends a view of the capacities of the mind that relies on a specific relation between the organism and its organs. The organs of Gall stem from and originate “needs” so that they embody not so much processing capacities, but perception-for-action cycles. (2) Modules and organs arise at different levels of description that cannot be easily matched. (3) It is just this central distinction between organs and modules which explains the inherent relation between organology, comparative biology and differential psychology on the one hand and modularity and cognitive science on the other
Jones, Karen (2006). Quick and Smart? Modularity and the pro-emotion consensus. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32:3-27.   (Google)
K. Moutoussis, ; G. A. Keliris, ; Z. Kourtzi, & N. K. Logothetis, (2005). A binocular rivalry study of motion perception in the human brain. Vision Research 45 (17):2231-43.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The relationship between brain activity and conscious visual experience is central to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying perception. Binocular rivalry, where monocular stimuli compete for perceptual dominance, has been previously used to dissociate the constant stimulus from the varying percept. We report here fMRI results from humans experiencing binocular rivalry under a dichoptic stimulation paradigm that consisted of two drifting random dot patterns with different motion coherence. Each pattern had also a different color, which both enhanced rivalry and was used for reporting which of the two patterns was visible at each time. As the perception of the subjects alternated between coherent motion and motion noise, we examined the effect that these alternations had on the strength of the MR signal throughout the brain. Our results demonstrate that motion perception is able to modulate the activity of several of the visual areas which are known to be involved in motion processing. More specifically, in addition to area V5 which showed the strongest modulation, a higher activity during the perception of motion than during the perception of noise was also clearly observed in areas V3A and LOC, and less so in area V3. In previous studies, these areas had been selectively activated by motion stimuli but whether their activity reflects motion perception or not remained unclear; here we show that they are involved in motion perception as well. The present findings therefore suggest a lack of a clear distinction between ?processing? versus ?perceptual? areas in the brain, but rather that the areas involved in the processing of a specific visual attribute are also part of the neuronal network that is collectively responsible for its perceptual representation
Ludwig, Kirk & Schneider, Susan (2008). Fodor's challenge to the classical computational theory of mind. Mind and Language 23 (1):123–143.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In The Mind Doesn’t Work that Way, Jerry Fodor argues that mental representations have context sensitive features relevant to cognition, and that, therefore, the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) is mistaken. We call this the Globality Argument. This is an in principle argument against CTM. We argue that it is self-defeating. We consider an alternative argument constructed from materials in the discussion, which avoids the pitfalls of the official argument. We argue that it is also unsound and that, while it is an empirical issue whether context sensitive features of mental representations are relevant to cognition, it is empirically implausible
Lyons, Jack C. (2001). Carving the mind at its (not necessarily modular) joints. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2).   (Google)
Abstract: The cognitive enuropsychological understanding of a cognitive system is roughly that of a ‘mental organ’, which is independent of other systems, specializes in some cognitive task, and exhibits a certain kind of internal cohesiveness. This is all quite vague, and I try to make it more precise. A more precise understanding of cognitive systems will make it possible to articulate in some detail an alternative to the Fodorian doctrine of modularity (since not all cognitive systems are modules), but it will also provide a better understanding of what a module is (since all modules are cognitive systems)
Macpherson, Fiona (forthcoming). 'Cognitive penetration of colour experience: Rethinking the issue in light of an indirect mechanism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.   (Google)
Abstract: Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one’s cognitive system, for example, one’s thoughts or beliefs? Ifone thinks that this can happen [at least in certain ways that are identWed in the paper] then one thinks that there can be cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitivelv impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case ofcognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can typicallv use to explain away alleged cases. The case is one in which it seems subjects’ beliefs about the typical colour of objects ajfects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitivelv penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generallv sympathetic to the idea ofcognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation ofthis plausible mechanism
Machery, Eduoard (2008). Modularity and the flexibility of human cognition. Mind and Language 23 (3):263–272.   (Google | More links)
Abstract:   In The Architecture of the Mind, Carruthers proposes a new and detailed explanation for how human cognition could be both flexible and massively modular. The combinatorial nature of our linguistic faculty and our capacity to engage in inner speech are the cornerstones of this new explanation. Despite the ingenuity of this proposal, I argue that Carruthers has failed to explain how a massively modular mind could display the flexibility that is characteristic of human thought
Machery, Edouard (online). Massive modularity and brain evolution.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Quartz (2002) argues that some recent findings about the evolution of the brain (Finlay & Darlington, 1995) are inconsistent with evolutionary psychologists’ massive modularity hypothesis. In substance, Quartz contends that since the volume of the neocortex evolved in a concerted manner, natural selection did not act on neocortical systems independently of each other, which is a necessary condition for the massive modularity of our cognition to be true. I argue however that Quartz’s argument fails to undermine the massive modularity hypothesis
Maier, Alexander; Wilke, Melanie; Logothetis, Nikos K. & Leopold, David A. (2003). Perception of temporally interleaved ambiguous patterns. Current Biology.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Background: Continuous viewing of ambiguous patterns is characterized by wavering perception that alternates between two or more equally valid visual solutions. However, when such patterns are viewed intermittently, either by repetitive presentation or by periodic closing of the eyes, perception can become locked or "frozen" in one configuration for several minutes at a time. One aspect of this stabilization is the possible existence of a perceptual memory that persists during periods in which the ambiguous stimulus is absent. Here, we use a novel paradgim of temporally interleaved ambiguous stimuli to explore the nature of this memory, with particular regard to its potential impact on perceptual organization. Results: We found that the persistence of a perceptual configuration was robust to interposed visual patterns and, further, that at least three ambiguous patterns, when interleaved in time, could undergo parallel, stable time courses. Then, using an interleaved presentation paradigm, we established that the occasional reversal in one pattern could be coupled with that of its interleaved counterpart, and that this coupling was a function of the structural similarity between the patterns. Conclusions: We postulate that the stabilization observed with repetitive presentation of ambiguous patterns can be at least partially accounted for by processes that retain a recent perceptual interpretation, and we speculate that such memory may be important in natural vision. We further propose tha the interleaved paradigm introduced here may be of great value to gauge aspects of stimulus similarity that appeal to particular mechanisms of perceptual organization
Mameli, Matteo (2002). Modules and mindreaders. Biology and Philosophy 16 (3):377-93.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: There are many interesting empirical and theoretical issues concerning the evolution of cognition. Despite this, recent books on the topic concentrate on two problems. One is mental modularity. The other is what distinguishes human from non-human minds. While it is easy to understand why people are interested in human uniqueness, it is not clear why modularity is the centre of attention. Fodor (2000) has a nice argument for why people _should_ be interested in modularity
Marslen-Wilson, William & Komisarjevsky Tyler, Lorraine (1987). Against modularity. In Modularity In Knowledge Representation And Natural- Language Understanding. Cambridge: Mit Press.   (Cited by 101 | Google)
McClamrock, Ron (2003). Modularity. In Lynn Nadel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.   (Google)
Abstract: Marr (for whom the boundary of the visual module the cognitive impenetrability of the systems of
Meyering, Theo C. (1994). Fodor's modularity: A new name for an old dilemma. Philosophical Psychology 7 (1):39-62.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: This paper critically examines the argument structure of Fodor's theory of modularity. Fodor claims computational autonomy as the essential properly of modular processing. This property has profound consequences, burdening modularity theory with corollaries of rigidity, non-plasticity, nativism, and the old Cartesian dualism of sensing and thinking. However, it is argued that Fodor's argument for computational autonomy is crucially dependent on yet another postulate of Fodor's theory, viz. his thesis of strong modularity, ie. the view that functionally distinct modules must also have physical counterparts in the neural architecture of the brain. Yet, Fodor offers little or no independent support for this neurological speculation. Moreover, due to the cognitivist underpinnings of Fodor's theory his view of modules as 'mental organs'faces an untenable dilemma that is to be traced back to the earliest history of modem cognitive science, viz. to the rationalist-computationalist research program initiated by Descartes and Male-branche. The tension characteristic for the Cartesian program was one that arose between information correlation and information processing accounts of the transactions between body and mind. Similarly, the tension characteristic for Fodor's theory of modularity is one between a causal account of modules on the model of simple detection mechanisms, and an information processing account of modules on the model of vast and elaborate cognitive systems. It is argued that the resulting concept of a cognitive module Fodorian style constitutes an amalgam of incompatible desiderata that fails to stake out a natural kind for cognitive science. As an alternative account, the final section shows connectionism to be capable of encompassing both Gibsonian and 'new look' accounts of cognitive achievements within one theoretical perspective, thus providing a fruitful interfield theory capable of combining the theoretical resources of the ecological approach with the indispensable theoretical complement provided by psychological processing accounts. This change of perspective would ultimately involve recasting the symbo-functionalist notion of cognitive function along bio-psychological lines
Miłkowski, Marcin (2008). When Weak Modularity is Robust Enough? Análisis Filosófico 28 (1):77-89.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper, I suggest that the notion of module explicitly defined by Peter Carruthers in The Architecture of The Mind (Carruthers 2006) is not really In use in the book. Instead, a more robust notion seems to be actually in play. The more robust notion, albeit implicitly assumed, seems to be far more useful for making claims about the modularity of mind. Otherwise, the claims would become trivial. This robust notion will be reconstructed and improved upon by putting it into a more general framework of mental architecture. I defend the view that modules are the outcome of structural rather than functional decomposition and that they should be conceived as near decomposable systems.
Murphy, Dominic (2006). On Fodor's analogy: Why psychology is like philosophy of science after all. Mind and Language 21 (5):553-564.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor has argued that a modular mind must include central systems responsible for updating beliefs, and has defended this position by appealing to shared properties of belief fixation and scientific confirmation. Peter Carruthers and Stephen Pinker have attacked this analogy between science and ordinary inference. I examine their arguments and show that they fail. This does not show that Fodor's more general position is correct
Olsson, Erik J. (1997). Coherence and the modularity of mind. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (3):404-11.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Parsell, Mitch (2005). Context-sensitive inference, modularity, and the assumption of formal processing. Philosophical Psychology 18 (1):45-58.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Performance on the Wason selection task varies with content. This has been taken to demonstrate that there are different cognitive modules for dealing with different conceptual domains. This implication is only legitimate if our underlying cognitive architecture is formal. A non-formal system can explain content-sensitive inference without appeal to independent inferential modules
Pinker, Steven (2005). A reply to Jerry Fodor on how the mind works. Mind and Language 20 (1):33-38.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Prinz, Jesse J. (2006). Is the mind really modular? In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: When Fodor titled his (1983) book the _Modularity of Mind_, he overstated his position. His actual view is that the mind divides into systems some of which are modular and others of which are not. The book would have been more aptly, if less provocatively, called _The Modularity of Low-Level Peripheral Systems_. High-level perception and cognitive systems are non-modular on Fodor’s theory. In recent years, modularity has found more zealous defenders, who claim that the entire mind divides into highly specialized modules. This view has been especially popular among Evolutionary Psychologists. They claim that the mind is massively modular (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994; Sperber, 1994; Pinker, 1997; see also Samuels, 1998). Like a Swiss Army Knife, the mind is an assembly of specialized tools, each of which has been designed for some particular purpose. My goal here is to raise doubts about both peripheral modularity and massive modularity. To do that, I will rely on the criteria for modularity laid out by Fodor (1983). I will argue that neither input systems, nor central systems are modular on any of these criteria
Robbins, Philip (2008). Minimalism and modularity. In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism.   (Google)
Robbins, Philip (online). Modularity of Mind. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   (Google)
Ross, Jacob J. (1990). Against postulating central systems in the mind. Philosophy of Science 57 (2):297-312.   (Annotation | Google | More links)
Samuels, Richard (2006). Is the human mind massively modular? In Rod Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell.   (Google)
Abstract: Among the most pervasive and fundamental assumptions in cognitive science is that the human mind (or mind-brain) is a mechanism of some sort: a physical device com- posed of functionally specifiable subsystems. On this view, functional decomposition – the analysis of the overall system into functionally specifiable parts – becomes a central project for a science of the mind, and the resulting theories of cognitive archi- tecture essential to our understanding of human psychology
Samuels, Richard (2000). Massively modular minds: Evolutionary psychology and cognitive architecture. Evolution and the Human Mind.   (Cited by 28 | Google)
Abstract: What are the elements from which the human mind is composed? What structures make up our _cognitive architecture?_ One of the most recent and intriguing answers to this question comes from the newly emerging interdisciplinary field of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists defend a _massively modular_ conception of mental architecture which views the mind –including those parts responsible for such ‘central processes’ as belief revision and reasoning— as composed largely or perhaps even entirely of innate, special-purpose computational mechanisms or ‘modules’ that have been shaped by natural selection to handle the sorts of recurrent information processing problems that confronted our hunter-gatherer forebears (Cosmides and Tooby,192; Sperber, 1994; Samuels, 1998a)
Samuels, Richard (2005). The complexity of cognition: Tractability arguments for massive modularity. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Schneider, Susan, Yes, it does: A diatribe on Jerry Fodor's the mind doesn't work that way.   (Google)
Abstract: The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way is an expose of certain theoretical problems in cognitive science, and in particular, problems that concern the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). The problems that Fodor worries plague CTM divide into two kinds, and both purport to show that the success of cognitive science will likely be limited to the modules. The first sort of problem concerns what Fodor has called “global properties”; features that a mental sentence has which depend on how the sentence interacts with a larger plan (i.e., set of sentences), rather than the type identity of the sentence alone. The second problem concerns what many have called, “The Relevance Problem”: the problem of whether and how humans determine what is relevant in a computational manner. However, I argue that the problem that Fodor believes global properties pose for CTM is a non-problem, and that further, while the relevance problem is a serious research issue, it does not justify the grim view that cognitive science, and CTM in particular, will likely fail to explain cognition
Shanon, Benny (1988). Remarks on the modularity of mind. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (September):331-52.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: the concept of modularity of cognitive processes is introduced and a picture of mind is proposed according to which the peripheral input systems are modular whereas the central processes are not. The present paper examines this view from both a methodological and a substaintive perspective. Methodologically, a contrast between considerations of principle and of fact is made and implications for the nature of cognitive theory are discussed. Substantively, constraints on information flow are examined as they appear in various aspects of psychological phenomenology, and central processes in particular. It is suggested that the notion of modularity as structural and fixed be replaced by one which is dynamic, context-dependent. This modification, it is argued, is productive for the characterization of the workings of the mind, and it defines new questions for investigation
Shieber, Joseph (forthcoming). A Partial Defense of Intuition on Naturalist Grounds. Synthese.   (Google)
Siegal, Michael & Surian, Luca (2006). Modularity in language and theory of mind: What is the evidence? In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Sperber, Dan & Hirschfeld, Lawrence (2006). Culture and modularity. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Google)
Spector, Lee (2002). Hierarchy helps it work that way. Philosophical Psychology 15 (2):109-117.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor argues, in The mind doesn't work that way (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000, that the computational theory of mind is undermined by the pervasive context sensitivity of human cognition. His objections can be easily met, however, by noting the properties of appropriately structured representation hierarchies
Sperber, Dan (2002). In defense of massive modularity. In Emmanuel Dupoux (ed.), Language, Brain and Cognitive Development: Essays in Honor of Jacques Mehler. MIT Press.   (Cited by 49 | Google)
Sperber, Dan (2005). Modularity and relevance: How can a massively modular mind be flexible and context-sensitive. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Content. Oup.   (Cited by 21 | Google | More links)
Sterelny, Kim (2004). Language, modularity, and evolution. In David Papineau & Graham MacDonald (eds.), Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oup.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Language is at the core of the cognitive revolution that has transformed that discipline over the last forty years or so, and it is also the central paradigm for the most prominent attempt to synthesise psychology and evolutionary theory. A single and distinctively modular view of language has emerged out of both these perspectives, one that encourages a certain idealisation. Linguistic competence is uniform, independent of other cognitive capacities, and with a developmental trajectory that is largely independent of environmental input (Pinker 1994; Pinker 1997). Thus language is seen as a paradigm of John Tooby and Leda Cosmides’ concept of “evoked culture”: linguistic experience serves only to select a specific item from a menu of innately available options (Tooby and Cosmides 1992). In explaining this concept, they appeal to the metaphor of a jukebox. The human genome pre-stores a set of options, and the different experiences provided by different cultures select different elements out of this option set. I think an appropriate evolutionary perspective on language substantially undercuts this idealisation and the evoked culture model of language. Variability between speakers; the sensitivity of linguistic development to environmental input; and the limits of encapsulation are not noise. They are central to the language and its evolution
Stillings, Neil (1989). Modularity and naturalism. In Theories of Vision in Modularity in Knowledge Representation and Natural-Language Understanding. Cambridge: MIT Press.   (Google)
Sutton, John (ms). Review of Jerry Fodor, the mind doesn’t work that way: The scope and limits of computational psychology.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This review sketches Fodor's critique of evolutionary psychology and the 'massive modularity' thesis; queries his views on abduction in central processes; and suggests that his pessimism about the scope of computational psychology undermines his realism about folk psychology
Weiskopf, Daniel A. (2002). On Fodor's The Mind Doesn't Work That Way. Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):551-562.   (Google)
Abstract: The "New Synthesis" in cognitive science is committed to the computational theory of mind (CTM), massive modularity, nativism, and adaptationism. In The mind doesn't work that way , Jerry Fodor argues that CTM has problems explaining abductive or global inference, but that the New Synthesis offers no solution, since massive modularity is in fact incompatible with global cognitive processes. I argue that it is not clear how global human mentation is, so whether CTM is imperiled is an open question. Massive modularity also lacks some of the invidious commitments Fodor ascribes to it. Furthermore, Fodor's anti-adaptationist arguments are in tension with his nativism about the contents of modular systems. The New Synthesis thus has points worth preserving
Wilson, Robert A. (2008). The drink you have when you're not having a drink. Mind and Language 23 (3):273–283.   (Google | More links)
Abstract:   The Architecture of the Mind is itself built on foundations that deserve probing. In this brief commentary I focus on these foundations—Carruthers’ conception of modularity, his arguments for thinking that the mind is massively modular in structure, and his view of human cognitive architecture
Wilson, Robert A. (2005). What computers (still, still) can't do: Jerry Fodor on computation and modularity. Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supp 30:407-425.   (Google)
Abstract: Fodor's thinking on modularity has been influential throughout a range of the areas studying cognition, chiefly as a prod for positive work on modularity and domain-specificity. In _The Mind Doesn't Work That Way_, Fodor has developed the dark message of _The Modularity of Mind_ regarding the limits to modularity and computational analyses. This paper offers a critical assessment of Fodor's scepticism with an eye to highlighting some broader issues in play, including the nature of computation and the role of recent empirical developments in the cognitive sciences in assessing Fodor's position