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\title {Philosophical Psychology \\ 02: What Are Metacognitive Feelings?}
 
\maketitle
 

02: What Are Metacognitive Feelings?

\def \ititle {02: What Are Metacognitive Feelings?}
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The Crude Picture of the Mind. (Epistemic, Perceptual, Motoric).
Research on metacognitive feelings indicates one way in which this picture may be incomplete

Crude Picture of the Mind

  • epistemic
    (knowledge states)
  • broadly motoric
    (motor representations of outcomes and affordances)
  • broadly perceptual
    (visual, tactual, ... representations; object indexes ...)
The sense of agency is far from the only metacognitive feeling. Consider a second illustration ... familiarity
Here is a face that I hope will seems familiar to most people. When you see this face, you have a feeling of familiarity. This feeling of familiarity is not just a matter of belief: even if you know for sure that you have never encountered the person depicted here (and trust me, you haven’t), the feeling of familiarity will persist. Nor is the feeling a matter of perceptual experience: you can’t perceptually experience familiarity any more than you can perceptually experience electricity.
(The face is a composite of May and Farage. It is chosen to illustrate that the feeling of familiarity is not a consequence of how familiar things actually are; instead it may be a consequnece of the degree of fluency with which unconscious processes can identify perceived items \citep{Whittlesea:1993xk,Whittlesea:1998qj}. Learning a grammar can also generate feelings of familiarity. Subjects who have implicitly learned an artificial grammar report feelings of familiarity when they encounter novel stimuli that are part of the learnt grammar \citep{scott:2008_familiarity}. They are also not doomed to treat feelings of familiarity as being about actual familiarity: instead subjects can use feeling of familiarity in deciding whether a stimulus is from that grammar \citep{Wan:2008_familiarity}.)
I could go on to mention the feeling you have when someone’s eyes are boring into your back, the feeling of déjà vu, or the feeling that a name is on the tip of your tongue. But let me focus just on the feelings associated with electricity and with familiarity. These feelings are paradigm cases of metacognitive feeling.

feelings of knowing/not knowing (Koriat 1995, 2000)

tip-of-the-tongue experiences (Brown 2000; Schwarz 2002)

feelings of certainty/uncertainty (Smith et al. 2003)

feelings of confidence (Winman and Juslin 2005)

feelings of ease of learning (Koriat 1997)

feelings of competence (Bjork and Bjork 1992)

feelings of familiarity (Whittlesea et al. 2001a, 2001b)

feelings of ‘déjà vu’ (Brown 2003)

feelings of rationality/irrationality (James 1879).

feelings of rightness (Thomson 2008)

Dokic 2012, p. 302

I want to add two to this already long list, surprise and agency.
\citep[p.~302]{dokic:2012_seeds} lists some metacognitive feelings: \begin{enumerate} \item feelings of knowing/not knowing (Koriat 1995, 2000) \item tip-of-the-tongue experiences (Brown 2000; Schwarz 2002) \item feelings of certainty/uncertainty (Smith et al. 2003) \item feelings of confidence (Winman and Juslin 2005) \item feelings of ease of learning (Koriat 1997) \item feelings of competence (Bjork and Bjork 1992) \item feelings of familiarity (Whittlesea et al. 2001a, 2001b) \item feelings of ‘déjà vu’ (Brown 2003) \item feelings of rationality/irrationality (James 1879) \item feelings of rightness (Thomson 2008) \begin{end}

feeling of surprise

There is a feeling of surprise which has features characteristic metacognitive feelings.

‘the intensity of felt surprise is [...] influenced by [...]
the degree of the event’s interference with ongoing mental activity’

Reisenzein et al, 2000 p. 271; cf. Touroutoglou & Efklides, 2010

In particular,
‘the intensity of felt surprise is not only influenced by the unexpectedness of the surprising event, but also by the degree of the event’s interference with ongoing mental activity, [...] the effect of unexpectedness on surprise is [...] partly mediated by mental interference’ \citep[p.~271]{reisenzein2000subjective}
That is, the feeling of surprise is a sensational consequence of mental interference. (This can be tested by increasing cognitive load: this intensifies feelings of surprise without, of course, making the events themselves more suprirsing. But see \citep{reisenzein:2017_cognitiveevolutionary} for an alternative interpretation of such findings.)
So whereas the feelings of agency and familiarity are both consequences of unexpected fluency of processing, the feeling of surprise is supposed to be the opposite: it is a consequence of unexpected interference in processes.
\footnote{% An alterantive is proposed by \citet[p.~79]{foster:2015_whya}: ‘the MEB theory of surprise posits that: Experienced surprise is a metacognitive assessment of the cognitive work carried out to explain an outcome. Very surprising events are those that are difficult to explain, while less surprising events are those which are easier to explain.’ \citet{foster:2015_whya} is about reactions to reading about something unexpected, whereas \citet{reisenzein2000subjective} measures how people experience unexpected events (changes to stimuli while solving a problem). The latter is much closer to what I’m after. }
 
\section{Feelings of Agency}
 
\section{Feelings of Agency}
Feelings of agency may be a paradigm case of for metacognitive feelings. They seem to arise from a number of cues including the fluency of an action selection process (that is, the ease or difficulty involved in selecting one among several possible actions to perform motorically; this can be manipulated by, for example, providing helpful or misleading cues to action citep{wenke:2010_subliminal,sidarus:2013_priming,sidarus:2017_how}).
In thinking about this challenge it may be helpful to focus on the sense of agency.
It’s quite well established that there are feelings of agency, and these seem to arise from a number of cues including ...

Adapted from Sidarus & Haggard, 2016 figure 5

... comparison between outcomes represented motorically and outcomes detected sensorily and ...

Adapted from Sidarus & Haggard, 2016 figure 5

... the fluency of an action selection process (that is, the ease or difficulty involved in selecting one among several possible actions to perform motorically; this can be manipulated by, for example, providing helpful or misleading cues to action \citep{wenke:2010_subliminal,sidarus:2013_priming,sidarus:2017_how}).
The sense of agency is interesting to us because it serves to link two largely independent processes concerned with evaluating whether you are the agent of an event.
One involves detecting these cues ...
the other involves thinking about it, perhaps in the light of your background knowledge.
You can think about whether you are the agent of an event, you don’t need to go with your feelings. When someone asks you whether you felt you were in control, the right answer is to say ‘Well, I don’t know, this is a psychological experiment so there’s a good chance you were tricking me.’ [But despite all of the possible ways in which reflection on the question might lead to a variety of answers, people give replicable answers that seem to reflect fluency. Why? Because they’re answering on the basis of a feeling rather than on the basis of reflection.]
So what is this sense of agency?
First, it phenomenal rather than epistemic. It is an aspect of the phenomenal character of some experience associated with acting. So we can call it a feeling.
Second, it is metacognitive in the sense that it’s normal causes include processes which monitor action selection and production. So we can call it a \emph{metacognitive feeling}.
\footnote{Compare \citet[p.~310]{dokic:2012_seeds}: ‘the causal antecedents of noetic feelings can be said to be metacognitive insofar as they involve implicit monitoring mechanisms that are sensitive to non-intentional properties of first-order cognitive processes.’}

But what are metacognitive feelings?

 
\section{Metacognitive Feelings}
 
\section{Metacognitive Feelings}
What are metacognitive feelings? Could they be sensations in Reid’s sense? And why do humans have metacognitive feelings?
What is a metacognitive feeling? I think it’s a sensation. To illustrate,
contrast two sensory encounters with this wire. In the first you visually experience the wire as having a certain shape. In the second you receive an electric shock from the wire without seeing or touching it.% \footnote{This illustration is borrowed from Campbell (2002: 133–4); I use it to support a claim weaker than his.} The first sensory encounter involves perceptual experience as of a property of the wire whereas, intuitively, the second does not. I take this intuition to be correct.% \footnote{ Notice that the intuition is not that the shock involves no perceptual experience at all, only that the shock does not involve perceptual experience as of any property of the wire. Notice also that the intuition concerns what a perceptual experience is as of, and not directly what is represented in perception. The relation between these two is arguably not straightforward (compare, e.g., \citet[p.~28]{Shoemaker:1994el} or \citet[pp.~50--2]{Chalmers:2006xq} on distinguishing representational from phenomenal content). }
The intuition is potentially revealing because the electric shock involves rich phenomenology, and its particular phenomenal character depends in part on properties of its cause (changes in the strength of the electric current would have resulted in an encounter with different phenomenal character). So there are sensory encounters which, despite having phenomenal characters that depend in part on which properties are encountered, are not perceptual experiences as of those properties.
Let me give you two more illustrations [bushObama and Wynn’s magic mice]. ...
All three examples (the feelings of magic, of electricity and of familiarity) show that:

Metacognitive feelings

There are aspects of the overall phenomenal character of experiences which their subjects take to be informative about things that are only distantly related (if at all) to the things that those experiences intentionally relate the subject to.

To illustrate, having a feeling of familiarity is not a matter of standing in any intentional relation to the property of familiarity, but it is something that we can interpret as informative about famility.
Metacognitive feelings are these aspects of experience.
Why accept this? You cannot perceive familiarity or agency any more than you can perceive electricity. Perceptual processes do not reach far back into your past, nor are they concerned with questions about whether you are the agent of an action. So to think that metacognitive feelings intentionally relate you to facts about familiarity or agency requires postulating a novel kind of sensory process, some kind of inner or bodily sense. While justification for postulating a novel inner sense may ultimately be discovered, I don’t think there is currently anything to justify this.
[EITHER] To see why we are not justified in postulating a novel inner sense, it is worth recalling Reid’s theory of sensations. [OR] But this is right, why do metacognitive feelings invite judgements? Why does the feeling of familiarity even so much as nudge you to judge that the face photographed here is familiar to you? (This is roughly \citet{dokic:2012_seeds}’s question.)
[Key point to stress there is just that metacognitive feelings are not intentional states, they are not representations, they have no content. [Or if they do have content, it’s not related to the things we take them to be associated with, like familiarity or electricity.] They are blank sensations. Compare the sensation associated with an electrical shock. It’s not a perception of electricity.]

Metacognitive feelings

can be thought of as

sensations.

metacognitive feelings can be thought of as sensations in approximately Reid’s sense.% \footnote{ \citet{Reid:1785cj,Reid:1785nz}. Even if you don’t believe that there are sensations in Reid’s sense, thinking of metacognitive feelings as if they were sensations will serve to illustrate their characteristic features. The main points that follow are consistent with several different ways of thinking about metacognitive feelings. For instance, you might take the view that what I am calling metacognitive feelings are perceptual experiences of the body or of bodily reactions, or that they involve some kind of cognitive phenomenology. The essential claim is just that the metacognitive feelings associated with the operations of object indexes are not constituted by states which involve intentional relations to any of the things which are assigned an object index. }

Sensations are

  1. monadic properties of perceptual experiences
  2. individuated by their normal causes
  3. (so they do not involve an intentional relation)
  4. which alter the overall phenomenal character of those experiences
  5. in ways not determined by the experiences’ contents.
Sensations are: \begin{enumerate} \item monadic properties of events, specifically perceptual experiences, \item individuated by their normal causes% %{Tye, 1984 #[email protected]} ---in the case of feelings of familiarity, its normal cause is ease of processing \item which alter the overall phenomenal character of those experiences \item in ways not determined by the experiences’ contents (so two perceptual experiences can have the same content while one has a sensational property which the other lacks). \end{enumerate}
Metacognitive feelings can be thought of as sensations in approximately Reid’s sense: they are monadic properties of events, specifically perceptual experiences, which are individuated by their normal causes and which alter the overall phenomenal character of those experiences in ways not determined by the experiences’ contents (so two perceptual experiences can have the same content but distinct sensational properties). Metacognitive feelings are signs: they can lead to beliefs via associations or further beliefs (\citealp[Essay~II, Chap.~16, p.~228]{Reid:1785cj}; \citealp[Chap.~VI sect.~III, pp.~164–5]{Reid:1785nz}).

Sensations can trigger beliefs via associations.

An important consequence is that metacognitive feelings can lead to beliefs only via associations or further beliefs. They are signs which need to be interpreted by their subjects (\citealp[Essay~II, Chap.~16, p.~228]{Reid:1785cj} \citealp[Chap.~VI sect.~III, pp.~164–5]{Reid:1785nz}). Let me explain.
As a scientist, you can pick out the feeling of familiarity as that metacognitive feeling which is normally caused by the degree to which certain processes are fluent. But as the subject of who has that metacognitive feeling, you do not necessarily know what its typical causes are. This is something you have to work out in whatever ways you work out the causes of any other type of event.
(Contrast metacognitive feelings with perceptual experiences. Having a perceptual experience of, say, a wire’s shape, involves standing in an intentional relation to the wire’s shape; and the phenomenal character of this perceptual experience is specified by this intentional relation.% \footnote{ Compare \citet[p.~380]{Martin:2002yx}: ‘I attend to what it is like for me to inspect the lavender bush through perceptually attending to the bush itself.’ And \citet[p.~211]{byrne:2001_intentionalism} ‘subject can only discover the phenomenal character of her experience by attending to the world ... as her experience represents it.’ } Such perceptual experiences are often held to reveal the wire’s shape to the subject and so lead directly to beliefs.% \footnote{ Compare \citet[p.~222]{Johnston:1992zb}: ‘[j]ustified belief … is available simply on the basis of visual perception’; \citet[p.~143–4]{Tye:1995oa}: ‘Phenomenal character “stands ready … to make a direct impact on beliefs’; and \citet[p.~291]{Smith:2001iz}: ‘[p]erceptual experiences are … intrinsically … belief-inducing.’ })
(By contrast, having a metacognitive feeling concerning familiarity or an physical object’s path does not involve standing in any intentional relation to these things. The metacognitive feeling is individuated by its normal causes, rather than by any intentional relation. And a metacognitive feeling leads to belief, if at all, only indirectly. For learning is required in order for the subject to come to a view on what tends to cause the metacognitive feeling.)
metacognitive feelings have been quite widely neglected in philosophy and developmental psychology. They are a means by which cognitive processes enable perceivers to acquire dispositions to form beliefs about objects’ properties which are reliably true. metacognitive feelings provide a low-cost but efficient bridge between non-conscious cognitive processes and conscious reasoning.
You can choose to interpret the feeling differently. You are not presented with familiarity in the way that you are presented with, say, circularity.

This, anyway, is why I think that

metacognitive feelings

Thereare aspects of the overall phenomenal character of experiences which their subjects take to be informative about things that are only distantly related (if at all) to the things that those experiences intentionally relate the subject to.

consequences & questions

First consequence Recall the Crude Picture of the Mind. (Epistemic, Perceptual, Motoric). I wanted to resist introducing an additional state, core cognition or core knowledge.
However I have ended up at least postulating one further thing ...

Crude Picture of the Mind

  • epistemic
    (knowledge states)
  • broadly motoric
    (motor representations of outcomes and affordances)
  • broadly perceptual
    (visual, tactual, ... representations; object indexes ...)
  • metacognitive feelings
    metacognitive feelings

Q1

Are metacognitive feelings sensations in Reid’s sense?
 

If so, is this a problem for intentionalism?

Q2

Can we also think about categorical peception of colour on this model?

Q3

Why do humans have metacognitive feelings?
 

Dokic’s ‘Water Diviner’ model:

‘noetic [metacognitive] feelings ... are first-order bodily experiences, namely non-sensory affective experiences about bodily states, which given our brain architecture co-vary with first-order epistemic states, in such a way that they can be recruited, through some kind of learning or association process, to represent conditions hinging on relevant epistemic properties of one’s own mind.’

\citep[p.~317]{dokic:2012_seeds}

Q1

Are metacognitive feelings sensations in Reid’s sense?
 

If so, is this a problem for intentionalism?

Q2

Can we also think about categorical peception of colour on this model?

Q3

Why do humans have metacognitive feelings?
 

The difference in differences ...
Here is the argument. Consider two sequences of sensory encounters: (a) a sequence of sensory encounters with two phonetic events that do not differ with respect to category (both are realisations of /d/, say), and (b) a sequence of sensory encounters with two phonetic events that do so differ (one is a realisation of /d/ the other of /g/, say).11 Let the events encountered in the first sequence differ from each other acoustically in the same way and by the same amount as the events encountered in the second sequence differ from each other. (That it is possible to find two such pairs of events follows from the fact that we enjoy categorical perception of speech.) The two sequences are depicted in Fig. 3. Now:

1. The second sequence of sensory encounters, (b), differ from each other more in phenomenal character than the first sequence of sensory encounters, (a), differ from each other.

2. This difference in differences in phenomenal character is a fact in need of explanation.

3. The difference cannot be fully explained by appeal only to perceptual experiences as of particular shades.

4. The difference can be explained in terms of perceptual experiences as of categorical colour properties.

The fourth step in this argument, (4), needs some filling in. How would the thesis that categorical perception of speech is a form of perceptual experience explain the difference in differences in phenomenal character? If the thesis is true, the first sequence of sensory encounters, (a), involves two perceptual experiences as of a single phoneme whereas the second sequence of encounters, (b), involves perceptual experiences as of different phonemes.12 Let us assume (not very controversially) that perceptual experiences have phenomenal characters and that which phenomenal character a perceptual experience has depends in part on what it is as of.13 It follows that differences in what perceptual experiences are as of can explain differences in the phenomenal characters of those perceptual experiences. In particular, if it is a fact that (b) involves perceptual experiences as of different things whereas (a) does not, this could explain why the sensory encounters in (b) differ in phenomenal character in a way that the sensory encounters in (a) do not.

5. There is no better explanation of the difference.

Q1

Are metacognitive feelings sensations in Reid’s sense?
 

If so, is this a problem for intentionalism?

Q2

Can we also think about categorical peception of colour on this model?

Q3

Why do humans have metacognitive feelings?
 

I think we can provide candidate answers to all three questions by appeal to a dual-process theory of mindreading.

metacognitive feelings ... allow a transition from the implicit-automatic mode to the explicit-controlled mode of operation.’

\citep[p.~150]{koriat:2000_feeling}

Koriat, 2000 p. 150

According to Koriat,

Adapted from Sidarus & Haggard, 2016 figure 5

Q1

Are metacognitive feelings sensations in Reid’s sense?
 

If so, is this a problem for intentionalism?

Q2

Can we also think about categorical peception of colour on this model?

Q3

Why do humans have metacognitive feelings?