[Review of the book The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought, by Parruthers]

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  • Introduction: Recent cognitive developmental psychology lend support to the idea that the mind consists of distinct domain-specific modules (e.g., a folk physics, a folk biology, and a folk psychological mind-reading module), rather than a single all-purpose reasoning system. In evolutionary psychology, it is popular to assume that there are different cognitive modules which evolved as adaptations meeting different evolutionary problems (e.g., a mate recognition and a cheater detection module). Yet different notions of 'module' might be used by different cognitive scientists; and massive modularity - the idea that the whole mind consists of a large number of substantially dissociated modules - is quite controversial, and clearly denied, e.g., by proponents of distributed connectionism. In this book Carruthers offers a detailed defense of the massive modularity hypothesis, based on an impressive review of the literature in cognitive and evolutionary psychology. The book is divided into two parts. Chapters 1-3 lay out Carruthers' notion of module and argue that the mind is massively modular in this sense. Chapters 4-7 address how to account for the flexibility and creativity of human theoretical and practical reasoning. This is a major issue for any account of the mind, but flexibility is particularly challenging for a proponent of massive modularity, given the idea that a module can only hold content specific to its domain and has limited connections to other modules.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    • Brigandt, I. (2008). [Review of the book The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought, by P. Carruthers]. Philosophy in Review, 28(4), 246-248.
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