Advertisement

Minds and Machines

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 19–27 | Cite as

The Contribution of Domain Specificity in the Highly Modular Mind

  • Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia
  • Ángeles Eraña
  • Robert Stainton
Article

Abstract

Is there a notion of domain specificity which affords genuine insight in the context of the highly modular mind, i.e. a mind which has not only input modules, but also central ‘conceptual’ modules? Our answer to this question is no. The main argument is simple enough: we lay out some constraints that a theoretically useful notion of domain specificity, in the context of the highly modular mind, would need to meet. We then survey a host of accounts of what domain specificity is, based on the intuitive idea that a domain specific mechanism is restricted in the kind of information that it processes, and show that each fails at least one of those constraints.

Keywords

Domain-specificity Cognitive modularity Central systems Information restrictions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Earlier drafts of this paper were presented at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas in Mexico City; at the Second Workshop on Context and Content, hosted by the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba; and at the University of London’s Institute for Philosophy. We are grateful to all three audiences for very insightful suggestions. We would like to single out Laura Danón, Barry Smith, Virginia Vallian, and Jonny McIntosh for truly penetrating objections that led to significant improvements.

References

  1. Atran, S. (1999). Itzaj Maya Folkbiological taxonomy. In D. Medin & S. Atran (Eds.), Folkbiology. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  2. Atran, S., Medin, D., Lynch, E., Vapnarsky, V., Ucan, E., & Sousa, P. (2001). Folkbiology doesn’t come from folkpsychology. Evidence from Yukatek Maya in cross-cultural perspective. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 1(3), 3–42. doi: 10.1163/156853701300063561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett, H. C. (2005). Enzymatic computation and cognitive modularity. Mind & Language, 20, 259–287. doi: 10.1111/j.0268-1064.2005.00285.x.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, H. C., & Kurzban, R. (2006). Modularity in cognition: Framing the debate. Psychological Review, 113(3), 628–647. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.113.3.628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carey, S., & Spelke, E. (1994). Domain-specific knowledge and conceptual change. In L. A. Hirschfeld & S. A. Gelman (Eds.), Mapping the mind (pp. 169–200). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carey, S., & Xu, F. (2001). Infant’s knowledge of objects: Beyond object files and object tracking. Cognition, 80, 179–213. doi: 10.1016/S0010-0277(00)00154-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carruthers, P. (2005). Distinctively human thinking: Modular precursors and components. In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, & S. Stich (Eds.), The innate mind: Structure and content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Carruthers, P. (2006). The case for massively modular models of mind. In R. Stainton (Ed.), Contemporary debates in cognitive science (pp. 3–21). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Collins, J. (2005). On the input problem for massive modularity. Minds and Machines, 15(1), 1–22. doi: 10.1007/s11023-004-1346-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In J. Barkow, L. Comsides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 163–228). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cummins, R. (1975). Functional analysis. The Journal of Philosophy, 72, 741–765. doi: 10.2307/2024640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fodor, J. (1983). The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  13. Fodor, J. (2000). The mind doesn’t work that way. Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  14. Hirschfeld, L., & Gelman, S. A. (Eds.). (1994). Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kanwisher, N., & Moscovitch, M. (2000). The cognitive neuroscience of face processing: An introduction. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 1/2(3), 1–13.Google Scholar
  16. Keil, F. C. (1994). The birth and nurturance of concepts by domains: The origins of concepts of living things. In L. A. Hirschfeld & S. A. Gelman (Eds.), Mapping the mind (pp. 234–254). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Locke, J. (1975). An essay concerning human understanding. In P. Nidditch (Ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Millikan, R. G. (1984). Language, thought, and other biological categories. Cambridge MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  19. Pinker, S. (1997). How the mind works? New York: Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  20. Pinker, S. (2005). So how does the mind work? Mind & Language, 20, 1–24. doi: 10.1111/j.0268-1064.2005.00274.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roberts, M. J. (Ed.). (2007). Integrating the mind. Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  22. Samuels, R. (2006). Is the mind massively modular? In R. Stainton (Ed.), Contemporary debates in cognitive science (pp. 37–56). Oxord: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  23. Santos, L. R., Hauser, M. D., & Spelke, E. S. (2002). Domain-specific knowledge in human children and non-human primates: Artifact and food kinds. In M. Bekoff, C. Allen, & G. Burghardt (Eds.), The cognitive animal (pp. 205–216). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  24. Sperber, D. (1996). Explaining culture. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  25. Sperber, D. (2002). In defense of massive modularity. In E. Dupoux (Ed.), Language, brain and cognitive development: Essays in honor of Jacques Mehler (pp. 47–57). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  26. Sperber, D. (2005). Modularity and relevance: How can a massively modular mind be flexible and context sensitive? In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, & S. Stich (Eds.), The innate mind. Structure and content (pp. 205–216). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Wright, L. (1973). Functions. The Philosophical Review, 82(2), 139–168. doi: 10.2307/2183766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia
    • 1
  • Ángeles Eraña
    • 1
  • Robert Stainton
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad de la Investigación en HumanidadesCiudad UniversitariaCoyoacánMexico, DF
  2. 2.Faculty of Arts and Humanities, UC112The University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations