Explaining Imagination (forthcoming with Oxford University Press, 2020) (Preface PDF; Chapter 1 PDF) Book Abstract: Imagination will remain a mystery—we will not be able to explain imagination—until we can break it into parts we already understand. Explaining Imagination is a guidebook for doing just that, where the parts are other ordinary mental states like beliefs, desires, judgments, and decisions. In different combinations and contexts, these states constitute cases of imagining. This reductive approach to imagination is at direct odds with the current orthodoxy, according to which imagination is a sui generis mental state or process—one with its own inscrutable principles of operation. Explaining Imagination upends that view, showing how, on closer inspection, the imaginings at work in hypothetical reasoning, pretense, the enjoyment of fiction, and creativity are reducible to other familiar mental states—judgments, beliefs, desires, and decisions among them. Crisscrossing contemporary philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and aesthetics, Explaining Imagination argues that a clearer understanding of imagination is already well within reach.
"Introduction" to Inner Speech: New Voices (2018, Oxford University Press). (With Agustin Vicente) (PDF) Abstract: This is the introductory chapter to the anthology: Inner Speech: New Voices, to be published October 2018 by OUP. It gives an overview of the current debates in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience concerning inner speech, and situates the chapters of the volume with respect to those debates.
"Metacognitive deficits in categorization tasks in a population with impaired inner speech," Acta Psychologica (2017), 181: 62-74. (with Gauker, C., Richardson, M.J., Dietz, A., and Faries, F.). (PDF) Abstract: This empirical study examines the relation of language use to a person’s ability to perform categorization tasks and to assess their own abilities in those categorization tasks. A silent rhyming task was used to confirm that a group of people with post-stroke aphasia (PWA) had corresponding covert language production (or “inner speech”) impairments. The performance of the PWA was then compared to that of age- and education-matched healthy controls on three kinds of categorization tasks and on metacognitive self-assessments of their performance on those tasks. The PWA showed no deficits in their ability to categorize objects for any of the three trial types (visual, thematic, and categorial). However, on the categorial trials, their metacognitive assessments of whether they had categorized correctly were less reliable than those of the control group. The categorial trials were distinguished from the others by the fact that the categorization could not be based on some immediately perceptible feature or on the objects’ being found together in a type of scenario or setting. This result offers preliminary evidence for a link between covert language use and a specific form of metacognition.
"From Introspection to Essence: The Auditory Nature of Inner Speech," in Inner Speech, Langland-Hassan & Vicente, Eds., Oxford University Press (forthcoming). (PDF). Abstract: Inner speech always has an auditory-phonological component. To some this claim is a truism, a platitude of common sense. To others, it is an empirical hypothesis with accumulating support (Loevenbruk et al., this volume). To yet others it is a false dogma (Gauker, 2011, this volume). I defend the claim in this chapter, confining it to adults with ordinary speech and hearing. To those already convinced that inner speech has an auditory-phonological component, I urge caution and patience. For it is one thing to assert that inner speech often, or even typically, has an auditory-phonological component—quite another to propose that it always does. When forced to argue for the stronger point, we stand to make a number of interesting discoveries about inner speech itself and about our means for discriminating it from other psycholinguistic phenomena. Establishing the stronger conclusion also provides new leverage on debates concerning how we should conceive of, diagnose, and explain auditory verbal hallucinations and “inserted thoughts” in schizophrenia.
“Imagining Experiences,” Noûs (2016) doi: 10.1111/nous.12167. (PDF) Abstract: It is often held that in imagining experiences we exploit a special imagistic way of representing mentality—one that enables us to think about mental states in terms of what it is like to have them. According to some, when this way of thinking about the mind is paired with more objective means, an explanatory gap between the phenomenal and physical features of mental states arises. This paper advances a view along those lines, but with a twist. What many take for a special imagistic way of thinking about experiences is instead a special way of misconstruing them. It is this tendency to misrepresent experiences through the use of imagery that gives rise to the appearance of an explanatory gap. The pervasiveness and tenacity of this misrepresentational reflex can be traced to its roots in a particular heuristic for monitoring and remembering the mental states of others.
“Imaginative Attitudes,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2015) 90, 3: 665-686. doi: 10.1111/phpr.12115. (PDF) Abstract: The point of this paper is to reveal a dogma in the ordinary conception of sensory imagination, and to suggest another way forward. The dogma springs from two main sources: a too close comparison of mental imagery to perceptual experience, and a too strong division between mental imagery and the traditional propositional attitudes (such as belief and desire). The result is an unworkable conception of the correctness conditions of sensory imaginings—one lacking any link between the conditions under which an imagining aids human action and inference and the conditions under which it is veridical. The proposed solution is, first, to posit a variety of imaginative attitudes—akin to the traditional propositional attitudes—which have different associated correctness (or satisfaction) conditions. The second part of the solution is to allow for imaginings with “hybrid” contents, in the sense that both mental images and representations with language-like constituent structure contribute to the content of imaginings.
"Pain and Incorrigibility" The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Pain (forthcoming), J. Corns, Ed. (PDF) Abstract: This chapter (from Routledge's forthcoming handbook on the philosophy of pain) considers the question of whether people are always correct when they judge themselves to be in pain, or not in pain. While I don't show sympathy for traditional routes to the conclusion that people are "incorrigible" in their pain judgments, I explore--and perhaps even advocate--a different route to such incorrigibility. On this low road to incorrigibility, a sensory state's being judged unpleasant is what makes it a pain (or not). "Self-Knowledge and Imagination" Philosophical Explorations (2015) 18, 2: 226-245 (PDF) Abstract: How do we know when we have imagined something? How do we distinguish our imaginings from other kinds of mental states we might have? These questions present serious, if often overlooked, challenges for theories of introspection and self-knowledge. This paper looks specifically at the difficulties imagination creates for Neo-Expressivist (Bar-On 2004), outward looking (Byrne 2005, 2011, 2012b), and inner sense (Goldman 2006, Nichols and Stich 2003) theories of self-knowledge. A path forward is then charted, by considering the connection between the kinds of situations in which we can reliably say that another person is imagining, and those in which we can say the same about ourselves. This view is a variation on the outward-looking approach, and preserves much of the spirit of Neo-Expressivism.
"Hearing a voice as one's own: two views of inner speech self-monitoring deficits in schizophrenia" Review of Philosophy and Psychology (2015) doi 10.1007/s13164-015-0250-7 (PDF) Abstract: Many philosophers and psychologists have sought to explain experiences of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) and “inserted thoughts” in schizophrenia in terms of a failure on the part of patients to appropriately monitor their own inner speech. These self-monitoring accounts have recently been challenged by some who argue that AVHs are better explained in terms of the spontaneous activation of auditory-verbal representations. This paper defends two kinds of self-monitoring approach against the spontaneous activation account. The defense requires first making some important clarifications concerning what is at issue in the dispute between the two forms of theory. A popular but problematic self-monitoring theory is then contrasted with two more plausible conceptions of what the relevant self-monitoring deficits involve. The first appeals to deficits in the neural mechanisms that normally filter or attenuate sensory signals that are the result of one’s own actions. The second, less familiar, form of self-monitoring approach draws an important analogy between Wernicke’s aphasia and AVHs in schizophrenia. This style of self-monitoring theory pursues possible connections among AVHs, inserted thoughts, and the disorganized speech characteristic formal thought disorder (FTD).
“On Choosing What to Imagine,” in Knowledge Through Imagination, A. Kind & P. Kung, eds, OUP (forthcoming). (PDF). Abstract: If imagination is subject to the will, in the sense that people choose the content of their own imaginings, how is it that one nevertheless can learn from what one imagines? This chapter argues for a way forward in addressing this perennial puzzle, both with respect to propositional imagination and sensory imagination. Making progress requires looking carefully at the interplay between one’s intentions and various kinds of constraints that may be operative in the generation of imaginings. “Introspective Misidentification,” Philosophical Studies (2015) 172: 1737-1758. (PDF) Abstract: It is widely held that introspection-based self-ascriptions of mental states are “immune to error through misidentification” (IEM), relative to the first person pronoun. Many have taken such errors to be logically impossible, arguing that the immunity holds as an “absolute” necessity. Here I discuss an actual case of craniopagus twins—twins conjoined at the head and brain—as a means to arguing that such errors are logically possible and, for all we know, nomologically possible. An important feature of the example is that it is one where a person may be said to be introspectively aware of a mental state that occurs outside of her own mind. Implications are discussed for views of the relation between introspection and mental state ownership, and between introspection and epistemic criteria for the “mark of the mental.”
"Inner speech deficits in people with aphasia," Frontiers in Psychology (2015)6: 528. (with Faries, F., Richardson, M. & Dietz, A.). (PDF) Abstract: Despite the ubiquity of inner speech in our mental lives, methods for objectively assessing inner speech capacities remain underdeveloped. The most common means of assessing inner speech is to present participants with tasks requiring them to silently judge whether two words rhyme. We developed a version of this task to assess the inner speech of a population of patients with aphasia and corresponding language production deficits. Patients’ performance on the silent rhyming task was severely impaired relative to controls. Patients’ performance on this task did not, however, correlate with their performance on a variety of other standard tests of overt language and rhyming abilities. In particular, patients who were generally unimpaired in their abilities to overtly name objects during confrontation naming tasks, and who could reliably judge when two words spoken to them rhymed, were still severely impaired (relative to controls) at completing the silent rhyme task. A variety of explanations for these results are considered, as a means to critically reflecting on the relations among inner speech, outer speech, and silent rhyme judgments more generally.
"Improvisation and the self-organization of multiple musical bodies," Frontiers in Psychology (2015) 6: 313. (with Walton, A., Richardson, M. & Chemero, A.). (PDF)
“Unwitting Self-Awareness?” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2014) 89, 3: 719-726. (PDF) Abstract: This is a contribution to a book symposium on Joelle Proust’s The Philosophy of Metacognition: Mental Agency and Self-Awareness (OUP). While finding much to admire in Proust’s book, I question the legitimacy of her distinction between “procedural” and “analytic” metacognition.
“Inner Speech and Metacognition: In Search of a Connection,” Mind & Language (2014) 29, 5: 511-533. (PDF) Abstract: Many theorists claim that inner speech is importantly linked to human metacognition (thinking about one’s own thinking). However, their proposals all rely upon unworkable conceptions of the content and structure of inner speech episodes. The core problem is that they require inner speech episodes to have both auditory-phonological contents and propositional/semantic content. Difficulties for the views emerge when we look closely at how such contents might be integrated into one or more states or processes. The result is that, if inner speech is especially valuable to metacognition, we do not currently understand why it is.
“What it is to Pretend,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2014) 95, 3: 397-420. doi: 10.1111/papq.12037. (PDF) Abstract: Pretense is a topic of keen interest to philosophers and psychologists. But what is it, really, to pretend? What features qualify an act as pretense? Surprisingly little has been said on this foundational question. Here I defend an account of what it is to pretend, distinguishing pretense from a variety of related but distinct phenomena, such as (mere) copying and practicing. I show how we can distinguish pretense from sincerity by sole appeal to a person’s beliefs, desires, and intentions—and without circular recourse to an “intention to pretend.”
“Pretense, Imagination, and Belief: the Single Attitude Theory,” Philosophical Studies 159 (2012): 155-179. (PDF) Abstract: A popular view has it that the mental representations underlying pretense are not beliefs, but are ‘‘belief-like’’ in important ways. This view typically posits a distinctive cognitive attitude (a ‘‘DCA’’) called ‘‘imagination’’ that is taken toward the propositions entertained during pretense, along with correspondingly distinct elements of cognitive architecture. This paper argues that the characteristics of pretense motivating such views of imagination can be explained without positing a DCA, or other cognitive architectural features beyond those regulating normal belief and desire.
“A Puzzle about Visualization,” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (2011): 145-173. (PDF) Abstract: Visual Imagination (or visualization) is peculiar in being both free, in that what we imagine isup to us, and useful to a wide variety of practical reasoning tasks. How can we rely upon our visualizations in practical reasoning if what we imagine is subject to our whims? The key to answering this puzzle, I argue, is to provide an account of what constrains the sequence in which the representations featured in imagination unfold--an account that is consistent with its freedom. Three different approaches are outlined, building on theories that link visualization to sensorimotor predictive mechanisms (e.g., “efference copies,” “forward models”).
“Fractured Phenomenologies: Inner Speech, Thought Insertion, and the Puzzle of Extraneity,” Mind and Language, 23 (2008): 369-401. (PDF) Abstract: How is it that one’s own thoughts can seem to be someone else’s? After noting some common missteps of other approaches to this puzzle, I develop a novel cognitive solution, drawing on and critiquing theories that understand inserted thoughts and auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia as stemming from mismatches between predicted and actual sensory feedback.