Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Robert Gordon (UM-St. Louis) at Bogazici, May 2nd, 5-7pm.

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Robert Gordon will be giving a talk jointly organised by the Bogazici cognitive -science program and the philosophy department, on May 2nd from 5-7pm. Venue: M2170 (Engineering Building)

Professor Gordon is the founder of Simulation Theory. As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong about this) he introduced this expression in his extremely influential 1986 paper ““Folk Psychology as Simulation”.

“The Shared World in Which Minds Meet”


The title is based on William James, writing against Berkeleian idealism:

“Practically, … our minds meet in a world of objects which they share in common…. Your objects are over and over again the same as mine. If I ask you where some object of yours is, our old Memorial Hall, for example, you point to my Memorial Hall with your hand which I see. If you alter an object in your world, put out a candle, for example, when I am present, my candle ipso facto goes out.” (Radical Empiricism)

In the spirit of this quote, I defend a kind of externalist account of folk psychology, grounded in a hypothesis about shared neural representation. Shared representation (strongly overlapping neural implementation) is well‐established for visualizing and seeing, to give just one example; also, for pain and the perception of pain in others. I describe a kind of shared external representation that would cause us to frame our understanding of others in terms of a Jamesian shared world, by default. It is implicit in this default understanding that others have epistemic access to the world – that is, that the facts (as we ourselves believe them to be) are known to others. Shared representation of this sort would seem to support Williamson’s “knowledge first” thesis in epistemology. Although shared external representation would be consistent with a simulation account of folk psychology, it would be consistent with a pluralistic account as well; however, it would not support your typical “belief‐desire theory” theory.


Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

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