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The Philosophy of Daniel Dennett$
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Bryce Huebner

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199367511.001.0001

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Towers and Trees in Cognitive Evolution

Towers and Trees in Cognitive Evolution

Chapter:
(p.224) (p.225) 8.1 Towers and Trees in Cognitive Evolution
Source:
The Philosophy of Daniel Dennett
Author(s):

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199367511.003.0015

Dennett argues that Darwinism provides a universal theory of adaptation and improvement in design. In his “Tower of Generate and Test,” Dennett distinguishes four kinds of creatures that realize a Darwinian pattern on different scales and with different degrees of sophistication: Darwinian, Skinnerian, Popperian, and Gregorian creatures. I examine Dennett’s tower in the light of recent work on learning, and in the context of the phylogenetic tree. A class of associative learners—Humean organisms—probably lies between Dennett’s Darwinian and Skinnerian creatures. Various cognitive capacities are also more demanding than instrumental conditioning, but insufficient for Popperian cognition in Dennett’s sense. Creatures corresponding to these intermediate stages are named—Carnapian, Pearlian, Tolmanian. These stages are not arranged in a tower.

Keywords:   Tower of Generate and Test, cognitive evolution, associative learning, kinds of minds, Daniel Dennett

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