[SydPhil] Fwd: Two talks next week by Professor Martin Davies at Macquarie

John Sutton john.sutton at mq.edu.au
Sat Nov 16 10:30:17 AEDT 2013

Apologies for late notice! Please come along, all welcome, and please
forward to others who may be interested.
Enquiries to Robert Ross, robert.ross at mq.edu.au
The Australian Hearing Hub, where these talks will be held, is at the
intersection of University Ave and Balaclava Road at Macquarie University.
It is less than 10 minutes walk from Macquarie Uni rail station, and just
off Epping Road: it is building S2.6 at map reference T14 on this campus
map: http://www.mq.edu.au/pubstatic/custom/files/media/campus_map_jpeg.jpg
The Department of Cognitive Science is on Level 3 of the Hearing Hub.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robert Ross <robert.ross at mq.edu.au>
Date: Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Subject: [CCD MQ Staff] [CCD MQ] Upcoming CCD talks by Professor Martin
To: CCD Macquarie Node <ccd.mq at mq.edu.au>

Dear all,

Professor Martin Davies (http://www.mkdavies.net/Martin_Davies/Home.html),
Wilde Professor of Mental Philosophy at the University of Oxford, is giving
two talks at the Centre of Cognition and it’s Disorders in the Seminar Room
(Room 3.610) of the Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie University.

Thursday 21st November 3:30pm-5:00pm:

The silence of psychology and the consistency fallacy

Friday 22nd November 10:30am-12:00pm:

Cognitive theories of delusions

Abstracts are below. After the Thursday talk a group of us will continue
discussions with the speaker over dinner at Sakana-ya Japanese Restaurant (
http://sakanaya.com.au/) in Crows Nest. The restaurant is booked for 7pm.
If you would like to attend the dinner then please email me at
robert.ross at mq.edu.au by midday Monday so that I can get numbers correct
for the booking.

Best regards,

Robert Ross

*The silence of psychology and the consistency fallacy*

Martin Davies, Faculty of Philosophy and Department of Experimental
Psychology University of Oxford

It is widely accepted that there is no way of putting a boundary around the
kinds of evidence that might be relevant to the confirmation or
disconfirmation of an empirical hypothesis or theory. Nevertheless, the
relevance of neuroscientific evidence – particularly, neuroimaging evidence
– to psychological theories cast purely in terms of cognitive structures
and processes is contested. In the first part of the talk, I shall discuss
the following argument (generalising an argument in Coltheart, 2006):

(1) Theories in cognitive psychology speak about modularity, internal
representations and information processing, but they are silent on
neuroscientific matters. (2) Consequently, cognitive theories make no
neuroscientific predictions. (3) Therefore, neuroscientific findings
neither support, nor count against, cognitive theories.

The ‘silence of psychology’ argument is an interesting general argument for
the claim that neuroimaging evidence cannot, in principle, help us decide
between cognitive theories. But the argument invites a parity of reasoning
response: Cognitive psychological theories are silent, not only about the
brain, but also (for example) about patterns of impaired and spared
performance in patients following brain injury. Specifically, cognitive
theories are silent about the anatomical modularity that is required if
separate cognitive modules are to be independently damaged.

Even if there is no general argument for the ‘in principle’ claim that
neuroimaging evidence is irrelevant to cognitive theories, a case-by-case
approach may cast doubt on the value of neuroimaging evidence. For example,
it may be difficult to find clear cases in which neuroimaging evidence has
overturned a cognitive theory that was strongly supported by other kinds of
evidence. In recent discussions that adopt a case-by-case approach, an
important role has been played by the idea that neuroimaging researchers
are particularly prone to committing the *consistency fallacy *(Mole and
Klein, 2010): ‘a fallacy is committed whenever a researcher moves from
claiming that his or her neuroimaging data are consistent with a hypothesis
to claiming that those data show the hypothesis to be true (or even
probable)’. Thus, the consistency fallacy is the transition from ‘data D
are consistent with theory T’ to ‘data D support theory T’. Clearly,
whether the consistency fallacy is actually fallacious depends on what is
meant by ‘consistent with’ and what is meant by ‘support’. In the second
part of the talk, I shall discuss the consistency fallacy and the examples
of the fallacy that Mole and Klein provide.


Coltheart, M. 2006: Perhaps functional neuroimaging has not told us
anything about the mind (so far). *Cortex, *42, 422–7.

Mole, C. and Klein, C. 2010: Confirmation, refutation, and the evidence of
fMRI. In S.J. Hanson and M. Bunzl (eds), *Foundational Issues in Human
Brain Mapping. *Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 99–111.

*Cognitive theories of delusion*

Martin Davies Faculty of Philosophy and Department of Experimental
Psychology University of Oxford

A dominant cognitive theory of delusion is the two-factor theory developed
by Coltheart and colleagues (e.g. Coltheart, Langdon and McKay, 2011). The
leading idea of the two-factor theory is that an explanation of a delusion
can be achieved by answering two questions (Coltheart, 2007): ‘Where did
the delusion come from?’ and ‘Why does the patient not reject the belief?’.
The answers to these questions are supposed to identify two factors (two
departures from normality) in the aetiology of the delusion. The first is
an anomalous experience (or, in more explicitly neuropsychological
versions, a neuropsychological deficit that might give rise to an anomalous
experience). The second factor is an impairment of belief evaluation.

The strength of the two-factor theory is the evidence that a first factor
is present in patients with delusions, yet is not itself sufficient to
explain the delusion – so that there must be (at least) a second factor. A
weakness of the two-factor theory is the less well developed
characterisation of the cognitive nature of the second factor.

The focus on just two questions may also obscure the complexity of
explanations of delusions. There are at least three processing stages to be
considered: from anomalous experience to delusional idea or hypothesis;
from the generation of the hypothesis to its adoption as a belief; and the
persistence of the belief despite its implausibility and the evidence
against it. So there are at least three questions that an explanation of a
delusion needs to answer: ‘Where did the delusional idea or hypothesis come
from?’; ‘Why was the delusional idea or hypothesis adopted as a belief,
rather than being rejected?’; and ‘Why does the delusional belief – once it
is adopted – persist, rather than being rejected?’. So it is not only the
cognitive nature, but also the role, of the second factor that could be
more fully characterised.

In this talk, I shall consider the role and nature of the second factor (or
factors) in delusion, drawing on (1) the empirical literature on reasoning
in individuals with delusions; (2) recent work on Bayesian inference and
compartmentalisation (Coltheart, Menzies and Sutton, 2010; Davies and Egan,
2013; McKay 2012); and (3) evidence from patients with anosognosia for
motor impairments (failure to acknowledge paralysis following stroke;
Aimola Davies et al., 2009, 2010).


Aimola Davies, A.M., Davies, M., Ogden, J.A., Smithson, M. and White, R.C.
2009: Cognitive and motivational factors in anosognosia. In T. Bayne and J.
Fernández (eds), *Delusion and Self-Deception: Affective Influences on
Belief-Formation. *Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press, 187–225.

Aimola Davies, A.M., White, R.C. and Davies, M. 2010: Assessment of
anosognosia for motor impairments. In J.M. Gurd, U. Kischka and J.C.
Marshall (eds), *Handbook of Clinical Neuropsychology *(Second Edition).
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 436–68.

Coltheart, M. 2007: Cognitive neuropsychiatry and delusional belief. *Quarterly
Journal of Experimental Psychology, *60, 1041–62.

Coltheart, M., Langdon, R. and McKay, R. 2011: Delusional belief. *Annual
Review of Psychology, *62, 271–98.

Coltheart, M., Menzies, P. and Sutton, J. 2010: Abductive inference and
delusional belief. *Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, *15, 261–87.

Davies, M. and Egan, A. 2013: Delusion, cognitive approaches: Bayesian
inference and compartmentalisation. In K.W.M. Fulford, M. Davies, R.G.T.
Gipps, G. Graham, J. Sadler, G. Stanghellini and T. Thornton (eds), *The
Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. *Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 689–727.
McKay, R. 2012: Delusional inference. *Mind & Language, *27, 330–55.

Professor John Sutton
Deputy Head, Department of Cognitive Science
Macquarie University, Sydney,
NSW 2109, Australia
Phone: +61 (0)2 9850 4132
Email: john.sutton at mq.edu.au
URL: http://www.johnsutton.net/
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