The Single-Minded Animal : Shared Intentionality, Normativity, and the Foundations of Discursive Cognition book cover
1st Edition

The Single-Minded Animal
Shared Intentionality, Normativity, and the Foundations of Discursive Cognition

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after August 27, 2021
ISBN 9780367708702
August 27, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
392 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book provides an account of discursive or reason-governed cognition by synthesizing research in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, and evolutionary anthropology.

Using the grasp of a natural language as a model for the autonomous or self-governed rationality of discursive cognition, and drawing on research concerning the ontogenetic and phylogenetic development of intentionality and norm psychology in human beings, the author provides a semantics for individual intentions, collective intentions, and normative attitudes. This semantics interprets claims about collective intentions and claims about what people ought and may do as the expression of plans of action that involve taking the points of view of other people within a community. This has important consequences for our understanding of both the natural basis and the social relevance of intentional and normative mental states, and my formal account of the semantic content of the claims we use to give expression to these mental states integrates well with research in evolutionary anthropology and social psychology concerning the ontogenetic and phylogenetic development of norm psychology and collective intentionality in human beings and other primates.

The Single-Minded Animal will appeal to researchers and advanced students working on normativity, collective intentionality, social and development psychology, and evolutionary anthropology.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rationality, Autonomy, and Shared Intentionality

Part I

1. The Lamp of Reason and the Mirror of Nature

2. Evolutionary Anthropology and Shared Practical Picturing

3. Deontic Picturing and Obedience to Linguistic Norms

Part II

4. Discursive Deontic Cognition

5. Understanding What We Ought and Shall Do

6. From the Grunts and Groans of the Cave to the Light of Discursive Cognition: Climbing Jones’s Ladder

7. On the Scientific Image of the Foundations of Discursive Cognition

Part III

8. Discursive and Nondiscursive Cognition: Questions of Conceptual and Ontological Priority

9. Comparing Plan-Conditional World-Mind Expressions of Shared Intentionality with Truth-Conditional Mind-World Representations of Shared Intentionality

10. The Power of Spirit

Conclusion: Systematic and Edifying Philosophy Reconsidered

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Preston Stovall is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Philosophy and Social Science at the University of Hradec Králové. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.


“Stovall fills an important hole in the Sellars-Brandom account of normativity, the question of how normative rationality is acquired developmentally, by appealing to work in cognitive science on collective intentionality and sensitivity to norms, and by introducing a novel analysis of collective planning talk. This is an intriguing and sophisticated account of a central issue in philosophy.” – Stephen Turner, University of South Florida, USA