Massive Modularity

Richard Samuels

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195309799
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Massive Modularity

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The objective of the article is to discuss the evolution, hypothesis, and some the more prominent arguments for massive modularity (MM). MM is the hypothesis that the human mind is largely or entirely composed from a great many modules. Modules are functionally characterizable cognitive mechanisms that tend to possess several features, which include domain-specificity, informationally encapsulation, innateness, inaccessibility, shallow outputs, and mandatory operation. The final thesis that comprises MM mentions that modules are found not merely at the periphery of the mind but also in the central regions responsible for such higher cognitive capacities as reasoning and decision-making. The central cognition depends on a great many functional modules that are not themselves composable into larger more inclusive systems. One of the families of arguments for MM focuses on a range of problems that are familiar from the history of cognitive science such as problems that concern the computational tractability of cognitive processes. The arguments may vary considerably in detail but they share a common format. First, they proceed from the assumption that cognitive processes are classical computational ones. Second, given the assumption that cognitive processes are computational ones, intractability arguments seek to undermine non-modular accounts of cognition by establishing the intractability thesis.

Keywords: massive modularity; central modularity; modular mechanisms; cognitive-behavioral flexibility; pipeline architectures

Article.  14655 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Language

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