Minds and Machines

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 543–555 | Cite as

Formal Analysis of Dynamics within Philosophy of Mind by Computer Simulation



Computer simulations can be useful tools to support philosophers in validating their theories, especially when these theories concern phenomena showing nontrivial dynamics. Such theories are usually informal, whilst for computer simulation a formally described model is needed. In this paper, a methodology is proposed to gradually formalise philosophical theories in terms of logically formalised dynamic properties. One outcome of this process is an executable logic-based temporal specification, which within a dedicated software environment can be used as a simulation model to perform simulations. This specification provides a logical formalisation at the lowest aggregation level of the basic mechanisms underlying a process. In addition, dynamic properties at a higher aggregation level that may emerge from the mechanisms specified by the lower level properties, can be specified. Software tools are available to support specification, and to automatically check such higher level properties against the lower level properties and against generated simulation traces. As an illustration, three case studies are discussed showing successful applications of the approach to formalise and analyse, among others, Clark’s theory on extended mind, Damasio’s theory on core consciousness, and Dennett’s perspective on intertemporal decision making and altruism.

Computer simulation Dynamics Philosophy of mind 



The authors are grateful to Catholijn Jonker for many stimulating discussions about the methodology, and to David Wendt for his contribution to the development of the model described in section “Intertemporal Decision Making and Altruism (Dennett)”.


  1. Ainslie, G. (2001). Breakdown of Will. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bickhard, M. H. (1993). Representational content in humans and machines. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 5, 285–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bosse, T., Jonker, C. M., Schut, M. C., & Treur, J. (2005). Simulation and analysis of shared extended mind. Simulation Journal: Transactions of the Society for Modeling and Simulation International, 81, 719–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bosse, T., Jonker, C. M., Schut, M. C., & Treur, J. (2006). Collective representational content for shared extended mind. Cognitive Systems Research Journal, 7, 151–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bosse, T., Jonker, C.M., & Treur, J. (2008a) Formalisation of damosios theory of emotion, feeling and core consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 94–113.Google Scholar
  6. Bosse T., Jonker C. M., van der Meij L, & Treur J. (2007). A language and environment for analysis of dynamics by simulation. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence Tools, 16, 435–464.Google Scholar
  7. Bosse, T., Jonker, C.M., van der Meij, L., Sharpanskykh, A., & Treur, J. (2009). Specification and verification of dynamics in agent models. International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems, 18, 167–193.Google Scholar
  8. Bosse, T., Schut, M. C., Treur, J., & Wendt, D. (2008b). Trust-based inter-temporal decision making: Emergence of altruism in a simulated society. In: Antunos, L., Paolucci, M., Norling, E. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on workshop on multi-agent-based simulation, MABS’07. Lecture notes in AI, Vol. 5003, 96–111.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, A. (1997). Being there: Putting brain, body and world together again. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, A. (2001). Reasons, robots and the extended mind. Mind & Language, 16, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58, 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Damasio, A. (2000). The feeling of what happens: Body. Cambridge, MA: Emotion and the Making of Consciousness. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  14. Dennett, D. C. (1996). Kinds of mind: Towards an understanding of consciousness. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Dennett, D. C. (2003). Freedom evolves. New York: Viking Penguin.Google Scholar
  16. Jacob, P. (1997). What minds can do: Intentionality in a non-intentional world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jonker, C.M., & Treur, J. (1999). Formal Analysis of Models for the Dynamics of Trust based on Experiences. In: F.J. Garijo, M. Boman (eds.), Multi-agent system engineering, proceedings of the 9th european workshop on modelling autonomous agents in a multi-agent world, MAAMAW’99. Lecture Notes in AI, vol. 1647, Springer, Berlin, 1999, (pp. 221–232). Extended version as Technical Report.Google Scholar
  18. Kim, J. (1996). Philosophy of mind. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  19. Loewenstein, G. F., & Elster, J. (1992). Choice over time. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  20. McMillan, K. L. (1993). Symbolic Model Checking: An approach to the state explosion problem. PhD thesis, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 1992. Published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993.Google Scholar
  21. Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (1998). Unto others: The evolution and psychology of unselfish behaviour. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Trivers, R. L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology, 46, 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Artificial IntelligenceVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations