This article explores the possibility that the tendency to believe in an objective, mind-independent external world traces to innate aspects of the human mind. The aspects of mind in question are, first, the capacity to distinguish mental states that have objective referents from those that do not (e.g., perceptual states versus mental imagery), and second, the capacity to mentally represent the continued existence of parts of the world that are beyond the reach of the senses. It is proposed that the evolutionary function of these cognitive abilities relates to the production of novel but adaptive voluntary behaviour. Evidence and arguments are provided in support of the innateness hypothesis. Among these is a Chomskyan-style poverty-of-the-stimulus argument derived from the philosophical literature. The evolutionary account of the subjective-objective distinction leads to the prediction that, in conditions of uncertainty, people will tend to err on the side of assuming the objectivity of their perceptions and other judgements.
Context: Shaun Gallagher’s work is very influential in contemporary philosophy, especially when it comes to the mind, to philosophical issues raised by developmental psychology, and to intersubjectivity. Problem: Classical cognitivism” has been, and often still is dominating the sciences of the mind. The reasons for this dominance include being implementable on computers, being consistent with Darwinism, and being allegedly experimentally testable. However, this dominance could just as well be a historical phase as cognitivism is disconnected from biological, anthropological, and neuroscientific research. Method: We historically and epistemologically contextualize how Gallagher contributed to bringing the body and subjectivity back to the center of the sciences of the mind by focusing on two examples: theory of mind and evolutionary psychology. Results: Both contemporary epistemologists and Gallagher’s work indicate why classical cognitivism provides a flawed model of cognition, especially when it comes to its explanatory scope: embodiment, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity, among other things, are fundamentally mistreated by cognitivism. Implications: Gallagher helped to structure what Andler calls “heterodoxical” approaches to cognition by conceptualizing a unifying framework, the so-called “E-approaches.” This unification has the major implication of leading Gallagher to a model in which cognition is “decentered,” which helps tackle the philosophical issues one might encounter when narrowing down philosophy of cognition. Constructivist content: We apply E-approaches to the philosophy of cognition, psychology and social sciences.