Keith Douglas' Web Page

About me Find out who I am and what I do.
My resumé A copy of my resumé and other documentation about my education and work experience for employers and the curious.
Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
Current research projects What I am currently working on, including some non-research material.
Interesting people People professionally "connected" to me in some way.
Interesting organizations Organizations I am "connected" to. (Some rather loosely.)
Intellectual/professional influences Influences on my work, including an organization chart. Here you can also buy many good books on philosophy and other subjects via I have included brief reviews of hundreds of books.
Professional resources Research sources, associates programs, etc.
What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
My intellectual heroes A partial list of important people. Limited to the dead.
My educational philosophy As a sometime teacher I've developed one. Includes book resources.

Book Influences - Psychology

Purchase / Enjoy Cover
A Textbook of Social Psychology Alcock, Carment, Sadava A "Canadian focused" social psychology text. Most notable for its emphasis on the particular society/universal contrast and for its chapters on psychotechnologies - it even seems to use the word the way Bunge does. Weakest points (in addition to being 20 years old) is its section on language: the consensus of psycholinguists and psychologists of language, etc. is not fairly discussed. In particular, it (like many presentations) does not correctly present the poverty of the stimulus argument correctly. Fortunately, it is correct about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
An Invitation to Cognitive Science, volume 4: Methods, Models and Conceptual Issues Scarborough and Sternberg, eds. Fifteen articles on general issues in cognitive science taken very broadly. As is usual for the Invitation series, the clarity and merits of most of the articles is first rate. I would only flag the article by Lewontin on the evolution of cognition as a bit overboard. He is correct to say there has been much outlandish speculation in this area, and also correct to say that one ought to be cautious and investigate the matter carefully. His insistence, however, that ever knowing even a little about the evolution of (human) cognition is out of the question is going too far. Nor does he actually address much literature in evolutionary psychology specifically - for example, the Adapted Mind volume. If Lewontin thinks the work in there is garbage (as he seems to), he should at least have told us where specifically a sample of work goes off the rails. He tells us, for example, that comparing different insect mechanisms won't even tell us about evolution there, never mind about us, since they are far enough apart for it not to be possible. But surely there is a cut off of evolutionary distance below which it is clearly possible or a principle by which this is decided. None of that is discussed. However, even Lewontin's article is welcome in a volume like this and does not detract from the undeniable merits of it.
Are We Free? Psychology and Free Will Baer, Kaufman and Baumeister (eds.) A collection of short papers (mostly by psychologists) weighing on the science of free will and responsibility. No consensus is reached and one paper is even written as to have its several authors disagree amongst themselves! (Why this was not split up, I don't know.) However, most (though not all) papers do not address what philosophers regard as the most important point: you may be seemingly responsible but not responsible for that, so ... In other words, the regress problem (used to criticize, for example, Fischer and Ravizza's account of moral responsibility and compatibilism) is hardly addressed. This is a shame - I think it just might be within possibility of having degrees spelled out there, along the lines of Dennett, but it requires much more work. Another slight shame is that I know there is work on the neuroscience of willing - I would have liked to see that talked about more. Not a bad collection, however, and one on a topic which will only increase in importance.
Boldly Live As You've Never Lived Before Raben Dubious, but at least somewhat funny.
The Brain Restak A no doubt slightly dated neuroscience popularization.
Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality Churchland This is a firstly a fairly detailed summary of current research on sociality-mediating and morality-mediating systems of the brain and nervous systems. It is also a sustained attack on the philosophical tradition that "is does not entail ought". Patricia Churchland in this volume shows why that is untenable; even metaethical positions are threatened: she, as in Brainwise continues to argue traditions from Hume and Aristotle she argues are vindicated by contemporary brain sciences. These are of sociality and sentiment being key, and the contrasts with animals where these are not the case illuminate the point. One can see it as a case of "so, you want people to do certain things, or have such and such a character or even merely want to understand them, shouldn't you know where they start from in order to change or undrstand them?" Churchland finds her neuroscientific foundation in attachment systems, including the various uses of oxytocin and vasopressin. This is interesting, but as she points out repeatedly, there's still a lot which is not even sketchily known. One can only hope this will be one of many books in the increasingly important field of the neuroscience of ethics.
Cognition Gropen   My heavily annotated coursepack from the course of this title.
Cognitive Psychology Medin and Ross A typical cognitive psychology textbook which includes some discussion of errors in reasoning and expertise (two epistemologically interesting topics) and the Marrian levels as applied to cogntive psychology.
Color Ontology and Color Science Cohen and Matthen, eds. A collection of detailed, challenging papers on colour perception and "ontology" (i.e., about what colours are). These show there is much work to be done in this fascinating area, and that many received views are perhaps mistaken. Includes pretty colour plates to help in the discussion.
Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations Mach This little classic book is almost two even smaller ones together. In one, the more defensible, interesting and important for the history of science proper is a pioneering work in psychophysics with many important findings in visual and auditory perception discussed - complete with musical notes in the latter case. In the other, however, Mach's subjectivist epistemology and even metaphysics is defended - badly. His targets are psychoneural dualism and materialism, but arguments in favour of this extreme, antiscientific viewpoint which Mach gives are lousy and only of passing historical significance.
Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and their Representation Margolis and Laurence (eds.) A collection of 16 papers on the metaphysics, semantics, epistemology, psychology, neuroscience, biology and anthropology of artifacts. Despite consisting primarily of review works, this volume has the feel of kicking off a profitable new area of study. I do note with personal interest that many of the investigations would benefit from an investigation of computational artifacts.
Describing Inner Experience Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel A proponent (psychologist) of a specific technique for conducting interviews to elicit descriptions of "inner experience" and a skeptic (philosopher) team up to try the the method out and analyze the results. I tried to be open minded about this; however, I have to side with the skeptic at almost every turn - the "method" runs roughshod over many distinctions and runs into all the dangers of phenomenology more generally. However, the detailed record of their subject reporting her experience is valuable and could be used by the (or another) skeptic to show clearly some of the problems. For example, the proponent is convinced that there were the details of F-18s in an experience the subject had, despite the "story" involved being about Stukas. I find it this case interesting, for at least in my dreams, I can be sure that something is an X (or is a person Y) without having the "picture" (or other sense impression) of X or Y. So maybe the subject has the "but it must be" impression? How would one even tell? A science of consciousness (or whatever one wants to call it) is a valuable endeavour, but simply hoping that because someone is confident their words can be taken at face value is not a useful approach. All and all, a somewhat (but not completely) disappointing book.
Exploring Psychology Myers Introductory psychology book that I use. Nothing special except many quotations.
Feeling of What Happens Damasio A powerful but difficult book (in part due to the writing style, unfortunately) about the role of the emotions in cognition and other areas.
50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio and Beyerstein This is a book of debunking popular pseudoscientific (and nonscientific) views of brain and behaviour. Also included are brief discussions of how and why research into such things is done as well as some "strange but true" stuff. The book's greatest weakness is that it does not go into enough detail as to why certain things are wrongheaded; however, it does reference a lot of literature to find the primary sources. This is good, though it does render the material less accessible than it could be. On the other hand, it makes the book smaller and cheaper. I would personally recommend this book completely only to those who have access to a university library to get a hold of the materials referenced.
How the Mind Works Pinker See my review.
Human Behaviour and the Brain Petrides   Course pack for a course I did in neuropsychology/cognitive neuroscience.
Human Reasoning and Cognitive Science Stenning and Van Lambalgen

Logic students have been taught since Frege that logic and psychology have next to nothing to do with each other. Taking this to heart, psychologists have investigated reasoning but often with poor or simplistic understanding of logic. This monumental book attempts to correct both of these mistakes. In particular, the authors defend the idea that reasoning to an interpretation is just as important or more so than reasoning from one. This returns logic to something (claimed to be) more like Kant in the Jäsche Logik or Husserl. (Maybe ...)

The analysis, involving an essential non-monotonicity, is applied then to famous psychological experiments in logic and to understanding autism. A tour-de-force contentwise, but it is a shame MIT Press let through so many typos.

Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure Jackendoff Noted heterodox linguist Jackendoff defends a novel semantics-centered view of language, and shows how it has fruitful consequences for exploring mental "content" and "structure" generally. In particular, he is able to produce a very detailed descriptive deontic logic. One noted feature which makes the semantic approach even more heterodox is the insistence on parallelism. This is a monumental work which should be heeded by any who are concerned with logic, semantics, philosophy of mind, psychology, etc. My only source of disagreement arises when it comes time to actually getting the data from language-oriented sources. Almost all the examples are from English; at least the author does not make the mistake of thinking that the (excellent) analysis of language reflects the world. However, he does suggest that it reflects the structure of our thought (a sort of Dummettian move). This strikes me as premature. While I am certain that the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is false, I wonder if any light (or confounding matters) on the issues Jackendoff discusses could be found by attending to other languages. I am wondering about constructions like "... for ..." in English - there is no reason to suspect that all the constructions in English are paralleled in other languages.
Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain Damasio Part psychology, part personal quest, this book is easier to follow than The Feeling of What Happens.
Moral Psychology, Volume 1 - The Evolution of Morality: Adaptations and Innateness Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.) The title explains it all. Since this is an area of new research, philosophical and foundational questions abound. As usual, the dividing line between these and the strictly scientific questions is non-existent. In a way, the papers in this volume are debating the psychobiological version of the idea of a "genealogy" in the Nietzsche/Foucault sense. The papers are quite clear and very thought provoking. The editor is also to be commended for using the author/critics/reply to critics format - it makes it clear where some of the dialectic on an issue has gone/is going.
Moral Psychology, Volume 2 - The Cognitive Science of Morality: Intuition and Diversity Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.)

The title explains it all. Since this is an area of new research, philosophical and foundational questions abound. As usual, the dividing line between these and the strictly scientific questions is non-existent. This volume can be regarded as "cognitive science meets metaethics". Particularly up for discussion is the nature (or whether there is such a nature) of moral intuitions.

The papers are quite clear and very thought provoking. The editor is also to be commended for using the author/critics/reply to critics format - it makes it clear where some of the dialectic on an issue has gone/is going.

Moral Psychology, Volume 3 - The Neuroscience of Morality Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.)

The title explains it all. Since this is an area of new research, philosophical and foundational questions abound. As usual, the dividing line between these and the strictly scientific questions is non-existent. This volume can be regarded as "neuroscience meets metaethics". Particularly up for discussion is the nature of moral development.

The papers are quite clear and very thought provoking. The editor is also to be commended for using the author/critics/reply to critics format - it makes it clear where some of the dialectic on an issue has gone/is going.

Penguin Dictionary of Psychology Reber A soft cover but still giant volume on the obvious subject.
Perception Sekuler and Blake Psychology textbook; philosophically aware if unsophisticated in parts.
Physiology of Behavior Carlson Anatomy, physiology, endocrinology, etc. as it affects behaviour in humans and other animals.
Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain Damasio Noted clinical and scientific researcher Antonio Damasio revises his view of consciousness and the self to involve a 3 stage viewpoint rather than a 2 stage one. The book is also a lot clearer and easier to follow than The Feeling of What Happens and more concrete and focused than Looking for Spinoza. My only complaint is that I would have appreciated more (there are some) contrasts with competing views - for example of those thinkers he said he read usefully on consciousness.
Social Neuroscience: People Thinking about Thinking People Cacioppo, Visser and Pickett (eds.) A collection of introductory papers on the obvious topic. A few typoes and a feeling of "just beginning" (which is justified and not a problem) does permiate the work. However, I still would have liked to see more details in many places, for I know from other work that such matters are known, or at least guessed at.
The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture Barkow, Cosmides, Tooby (eds.) A collection of papers comissioned for what was at the time of first publishing (1992) a new scientific approach (arguably). Included are analyses and discussions of several topics within the broad field and long general introductions and justifications for the field itself. In my view, there are only two contentious positions actually held by the practitioners of this debated approach: (1) the computationalism thesis and (2) that individual psychology is in some sense slightly privileged over social. (Rather than the reverse or both-at-once.) (1) can of course be omitted from the viewpoint in principle (though I happen to think it is true as well). Consequently all the acromony about the field is as far as I can tell horribly misguided. This, however, is about the level of principles. At the level of individual hypotheses it seems, as should be likely, that some are better supported than others.
The Big Book of Concepts Murphy An introduction to the theories of concepts and the data that do and do not support them. Project for philosophers: does the psychological unrealisticness of many philosopher's theories of concepts make them otiose?
The Blank Slate: The Modern Deinal of Human Nature Pinker As Jim McGilvray says, there's a human nature, denying it amounts to saying that a human could give birth to a sponge. Pinker tries to find out what it looks like and comes up with some interesting ideas, and the reprint of the human universals list is no doubt food for thought.
The Cognitive Basis of Science Carruthers, Stich, Siegal (eds.) A fascinating collection of papers on what cognitive resources are used by scientific research and by other human activities.
The Cognitive Science of Science Thagard This book was, regrettably, a disappointment. I am in large agreement with many of Thagard's positions (realism, materialism, non-theism, emergentism, etc.) and yet I found the chapters in this volume unsatisfying. Since I largely agree with much of what is said, I wondered if it was simply due to a blasé attitude towards the positions I already hold. However, I convinced myself eventually that this was not the case. Instead, the problem is that each chapter (suitable for a tiny article in Philosophy of Science or the like) is way too short. Every time I read things which sounded introductory, a bit of something new and then wham, the piece would end. All of the topics: conceptual change in medicine, cross-cultural commeasurability of concepts, creativity in computing, neurocomputational models of scientific modelling, etc. are fascinating and deserve careful study. I hope they all obtain at least a monograph eventually. I am also pleased to see that Thagard and (I take it) one of his students (who he is citing) agree with me that Putnam's Twin Earth thought experiment is vitiated by its lack of attention to chemical and biochemical detail. Unfortunately, even this is argued a bit quickly. No appeal to ex falso or the like is made.
The Computational Brain Churchland and Sejnowski Why is the brain computational? One of several books on why; most detractors of the computationalism hypothesis do not even cite the arguments in this book. Even without adopting this thesis, the reader will learn a lot of neuroscience and a fair bit of important philosophy, psychology and philosophically important material, too.
The Emotional Brain LeDoux This book is a detailed popularization of current research on the neuroscience of emotion, with special emphasis on fear. Important other features include a history of theories of emotion and a repeated stress that each emotion seems to have its own system in the nervous system.
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships Nass (with Yen) Building on earlier research which concluded that computers are social actors (in the sense that people treat them as such and so in a way they are: very Wittgensteinian), Nass and his coauthor recount briefly many experiments in psychology (including some with direct applied or technological focus) which make use of it. Brief and witty, the book is easy enough to read and some of the findings are quite remarkable and useful. However, it lacks much detail on how the experiments were conducted: this is a popularization. I was also disappointed to see that (at least as reported) that Nass hasn't investigated the so-called "uncanny valley" since it might affect some of his remarkable findings.
The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature Atran and Medin An anthopologist and a cognitive psychologist have joined up to make a non-squishy, non-excessively-evolutionary-psychology focused manifesto for a new field of "cognitive anthropology". Despite the book's semisubjectivist title, it is not pomo friendly at all, with plenty of hard data and detailed analysis (though with more to come) on how various native American groups and others conceptualize various aspects of the living world. A bit hard to follow in places and including (fortunately) many methodological rmarks, this is a good introduction to what will hopefully be a fruitful field (though, as one might suspect, there are other works in this area of approximately appropriate character).
The Subtlety of Sameness: A Theory and Computer Model of Analogy-Making French One of Hofstadter's students, this is a brief description (no code; mostly architecture from the computational side) of the famous "Tabletop" analogy program from the early 1990s. French does an admirable job at explaining why this seemingly trivial domain has lots of structure and many hidden twists. Some of it is built in, and some, as he says, emerges as the program runs and the subsystems interact with each other. However, I do wonder about the "downward" level, since most of what French concerns himself with is scability. My concern is that it will be very hard to do implement substructure to many of the "parts" of the system. For example, take the "temperature" global property. In temperature as it is understood in physics, it is an aggregate (or emergent: it doesn't matter which) property of many microproperties. How would one do that computationally? Here I am relying, of course, on an analogy - perhaps this aspect is not fruitifully understood as mapping on. But then we're owed a story of what is computational and what isn't. We both (well, Hofstadter and I - and I'll assume French agrees) that eventually computation bottoms out, so to speak. But with these more abstract models, how does one know one has pursued the computational analysis far enough?
Vision Marr Influential work in cognitive science with many details obsolete now. However, made me realize that at least in the case of some systems, Fodor's old question "what else but computation?" is right on the money.
What is Addiction? Ross, Kincaid , Spurrett and Collins (eds.) 16 papers and an introduction to this complex and socially important topic. The goal of the volume seems to be to present as many different (not completely independent) approaches to answering the question. Included are takes from genetics, mainstream neuroscience (in several distinct ways), neuroeconomics, medicine, etc. I am not able to evaluate the concrete suggestions, but note that (as one might expect) many of the papers are really pretty close to annotated bibliographies. Given that Ross has worked in philosophy, I was somewhat disappointed to see that the philosophical tradition on will, etc. was not well represented.


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