Cognitive science is, more than anything else, a pursuit of cognitive mechanisms. To make headway towards a mechanistic account of any particular cognitive phenomenon, a researcher must choose among the many architectures available to guide and constrain the account. It is thus fitting that this volume on contemporary debates in cognitive science includes two issues of architecture, each articulated in the 1980s but still unresolved:
• Just how modular is the mind? (section 1) – a debate initially pitting encapsulated (...) mechanisms (Fodorian modules that feed their ultimate outputs to a nonmodular central cognition) against highly interactive ones (e.g., connectionist networks that continuously feed streams of output to one another). • Does the mind process language-like representations according to formal rules? (this section) – a debate initially pitting symbolic architectures (such as Chomsky’s generative grammar or Fodor’s language of thought) against less language-like architectures (such as connectionist or dynamical ones).
Our project here is to consider the second issue within the broader context of where cognitive science has been and where it is headed. The notion that cognition in general—not just language processing—involves rules operating on language-like representations actually predates cognitive science. In traditional philosophy of mind, mental life is construed as involving propositional attitudes—that is, such attitudes towards propositions as believing, fearing, and desiring that they be true—and logical inferences from them. On this view, if a person desires that a proposition be true and believes that if she performs a certain action it will become true, she will make the inference and (absent any overriding consideration) perform the action. (shrink)
In the context of mechanistic explanation, reductionistic research pursues a decomposition of complex systems into their component parts and operations. Using research on circadian rhythms and memory consolidation as exemplars, we consider the gains to be made by finding genes and proteins that figure in mechanisms underlying behavioral phenomena. However, we also show that such research is insufficient to explain the initial phenomenon. Accordingly, researchers have increasingly recognized the need to consider higher-level organization and integration with other systems. This illustrates (...) a common need to complement reductionistic inquiry with investigations at higher levels and identifies a trajectory whereby cognitive science can embrace molecular neuroscience without surrendering its own contributions. (shrink)
Explaining the complex dynamics exhibited in many biological mechanisms requires extending the recent philosophical treatment of mechanisms that emphasizes sequences of operations. To understand how nonsequentially organized mechanisms will behave, scientists often advance what we call dynamic mechanistic explanations. These begin with a decomposition of the mechanism into component parts and operations, using a variety of laboratory-based strategies. Crucially, the mechanism is then recomposed by means of computational models in which variables or terms in differential equations correspond to properties of (...) its parts and operations. We provide two illustrations drawn from research on circadian rhythms. Once biologists identified some of the components of the molecular mechanism thought to be responsible for circadian rhythms, computational models were used to determine whether the proposed mechanisms could generate sustained oscillations. Modeling has become even more important as researchers have recognized that the oscillations generated in individual neurons are synchronized within networks; we describe models being employed to assess how different possible network architectures could produce the observed synchronized activity. (shrink)
We contrast reactive and endogenously active perspectives on brain activity. Both have been pursued continuously in neurophysiology laboratories since the early 20thcentury, but the endogenous perspective has received relatively little attention until recently. One of the many successes of the reactive perspective was the identification, in the second half of the 20th century, of the distinctive contributions of different brain regions involved in visual processing. The recent prominence of the endogenous perspective is due to new findings of ongoing oscillatory activity (...) in the brain at a wide range of time scales, exploiting such techniques as single-cell recording, EEG, and fMRI. We recount some of the evidence pointing to ways in which this endogenous activity is relevant to cognition and behavior. Our major objective is to consider certain implications of the contrast between the reactive and endogenous perspectives. In particular, we relate these perspectives to two different characterizations of explanation in the new mechanistic philosophy of science. In a basic mechanistic explanation, the operations of a mechanism are characterized qualitatively and as functioning sequentially until a terminating condition is realized. In contrast, a dynamic mechanistic explanation allows for non-sequential organization and emphasizes quantitative modeling of the mechanisms's behavior. For example, with appropriate parameter values a set of differential equations can be used to demonstrate ongoing oscillations in a system organized with feedback loops. We conclude that the basic conception of mechanistic explanation is adequate for reactive accounts of brain activity, but dynamical accounts are required to explain sustained, endogenous activity. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is two?fold. I start by contrasting three versions of externalist arguments based on etiological considerations, whose differences are not often appreciated. My purpose in doing so is to isolate one of these versions of externalism as most supportive of current anti?individualist attitudes toward the mental. My second aim is to show that this version, which I call (for reasons soon to be clear) Dialectal Etiology , is marred to a greater extent than the other two (...) by an important problem of language individuation.ii.. (shrink)
Both in biology and psychology there has been a tendency on the part of many investigators to focus solely on the mature organism and ignore development. There are many reasons for this, but an important one is that the explanatory framework often invoked in the life sciences for understanding a given phenomenon, according to which explanation consists in identifying the mechanism that produces that phenomenon, both makes it possible to side-step the development issue and to provide inadequate resources for actually (...) explaining development. When biologists and psychologists do take up the question of development, they find themselves confronted with two polarizing positions of nativism and empiricism. However, the mechanistic framework, insofar as it emphasizes organization and recognizes the potential for self-organization, does in fact provide the resources for an account of development which avoids the nativism-empiricism dichotomy. (shrink)
This commentary aims to highlight what exactly is controversial about the traditional Universal Grammar (UG) hypothesis and what is not. There is widespread agreement that we are not born that language universals exist, that grammar exists, and that adults have domain-specific representations of language. The point of contention is whether we should assume that there exist unlearned syntactic universals that are arbitrary and specific to Language.
Two widely accepted assumptions within cognitive science are that (1) the goal is to understand the mechanisms responsible for cognitive performances and (2) computational modeling is a major tool for understanding these mechanisms. The particular approaches to computational modeling adopted in cognitive science, moreover, have significantly affected the way in which cognitive mechanisms are understood. Unable to employ some of the more common methods for conducting research on mechanisms, cognitive scientists’ guiding ideas about mechanism have developed in conjunction with their (...) styles of modeling. In particular, mental operations often are conceptualized as comparable to the processes employed in classical symbolic AI or neural network models. These models, in turn, have been interpreted by some as themselves intelligent systems since they employ the same type of operations as does the mind. For this paper, what is significant about these approaches to modeling is that they are constructed specifically to account for behavior and are evaluated by how well they do so—not by independent evidence that they describe actual operations in mental mechanisms. (shrink)
This paper focuses attention on the stakeholder attribute of legitimacy. Drawing upon institutional and stakeholder theories, I develop a framework of stakeholder legitimacy based on its three aspects—legitimacy of the stakeholder as an entity, legitimacy of the stakeholder’s claim, and legitimacy of the stakeholder’s behavior. I assume that stakeholder legitimacy is socially constructed by management and that each of its three aspects exists in degree in the manager’s perception. I discuss how these aspects interact and change over time, and propose (...) an agenda for future research on stakeholder legitimacy. (shrink)
The mechanistic perspective has dominated biological disciplines such as biochemistry, physiology, cell and molecular biology, and neuroscience, especially during the 20th century. The primary strategy is reductionist: organisms are to be decomposed into component parts and operations at multiple levels. Researchers adopting this perspective have generated an enormous body of information about the mechanisms of life at scales ranging from the whole organism down to genetic and other molecular operations.
Reductionist inquiry, which involves decomposing a mechanism into its parts and operations, is only one of the tasks of mechanistic research. A second task (which may be undertaken largely simultaneously) is recomposing it—conceptually reassembling the parts and operations into an organized arrangement that constitutes the mechanism. Other tasks include determining how multiple operations are orchestrated in real time, and investigating how the mechanism interacts with the environment in which it is situated.
Although a reactive framework has long been dominant in cognitive science and neuroscience, an alternative framework emphasizing dynamics and endogenous activity has recently gained prominence. We review some of the evidence for endogenous activity and consider the implications not only for understanding cognition but also for accounts of explanation offered by philosophers of science. Our recent characterization of dynamic mechanistic explanation emphasizes the coordination of accounts of mechanisms that identify parts and operations with computational models of their activity. These can, (...) and should, be extended to incorporate attention to mechanisms that are not only active, but endogenously active. (shrink)
Diagrams have distinctive characteristics that make them an effective medium for communicating research findings, but they are even more impressive as tools for scientific reasoning. Focusing on circadian rhythm research in biology to explore these roles, we examine diagrammatic formats that have been devised (a) to identify and illuminate circadian phenomena and (b) to develop and modify mechanistic explanations of these phenomena.
I present several arguments which provide what I consider to be a definitive argument against certain forms of masculine language in their so-called sexually neutral usage. In the first part, I concentrate on the use of the word and I defend the idea that it embodies a perverse contingent a priori. In the second part, I examine how this pernicious a prioriinfects the pronominal system of French. I conclude with an undoubtedly surprising linguistic and feminist criticism of a recent decision (...) by the Office de la langue franbec to feminize job titles, arguing instead that the problem lies elsewhere and hence so does an efficient solution. (shrink)
A large body of literature agrees that persons with schizophrenia suffer from a Theory of Mind (ToM) deficit. However, most empirical studies have focused on third-person, egocentric ToM, underestimating other facets of this complex cognitive skill. Aim of this research is to examine the ToM of schizophrenic persons considering its various aspects (first vs. second order, first vs. third person, egocentric vs. allocentric, beliefs vs. desires (...) vs. positive emotions vs. negative emotions and how each of these mental state types may be dealt with), to determine whether some components are more impaired than others. We developed a Theory of Mind Assessment Scale (Th.o.m.a.s.) and administered it to 22 persons with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia and a matching control group. Th.o.m.a.s. is a semi-structured interview which allows a multi-component measurement of ToM. Both groups were also administered a few existing ToM tasks and the schizophrenic subjects were administered the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale and the WAIS-R. The schizophrenic persons performed worse than control at all the ToM measurements; however, these deficits appeared to be differently distributed among different components of ToM. Our conclusion is that ToM deficits are not unitary in schizophrenia, which also testifies to the importance of a complete and articulated investigation of ToM. (shrink)
Thelen et al.'s model of A-not-B performance is based on behavioral observations obtained with a paradigm markedly different from A-not-B. Central components of the model are not central to A-not-B performance. All data presented fit a simpler model, which specifies that the key abilities for success on A-not-B are working memory and inhibition. Intention and action can be dissociated in infants and adults.
Conventional behavior is behavior engaged in because of, or due to, convention. There are two senses of “due to”: the convention explains my behavior by actually causing it; or the convention explains my behavior by providing reasons I have for engaging in this behavior. Either way, behaviors cannot be explained by conventions unless the conventions exist; and conventions cannot provide me with (conscious) reasons for engaging in my behavior unless I know what they are. I argue that, far from causing (...) behavior, conventions are the results of behavior: conventions exist, in the sense in which they may be said to exist at all, only retrospectively. Moreover, as natural language speakers, we are ever at best in the position of thinking we know what the conventions are. But thinking one is acting conventionally is not the same thing as acting conventionally. Claims about the role of convention in linguistic competence interestingly both mirror and differ from claims about the role of genes in evolutionary theory, as I briefly pointout by way of conclusion. (shrink)
This paper is a response to criticisms that were, with one exception, delivered at a conference at the University of Rijeka in May 2003. (1) “The shocking idea” that the meanings of sorne words, hence the natures of some concepts, are causal modes of referring that are partly external to the head is defended frorn the criticisms of Nenad Miščević. (2) The causal theory of reference borrowing is defended from the criticisms of Dunja Jutronić, including those due to Thomas Blackburn (...) and Adèle Mercier. (3) The treatment of empty names in Designation is defended from the criticisms of Božidar Kante. (4) The argument that the doctrine, urged by Philip Pettit, that all concepts are response-dependent leads to “worldmaking” is defended frorn the criticisms of Jacob Busch. (5) Moral realism is defended from the criticisrns of Boran Berčić. (shrink)
Mechanistic explanation is the dominant approach to explanation in the life sciences, but it has been challenged as incompatible with a conception of humans as agents whose capacity for self-direction endows them with freedom and dignity. We argue that the mechanical philosophy, properly construed, has sufficient resources to explain how such characteristics can arise in a material world. Biological mechanisms must be regarded as active, not only reactive, and as organized so as to maintain themselves far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Notions (...) from systems biology make key contributions, particularly Gánti’s chemoton, Ruiz-Mirazo and Moreno’s basic autonomy, and Barandiaran and Moreno’s adaptive autonomous agents. The reconstrual is then extended to mental life by conceiving of cognitive mechanisms as control components in inherently active systems, as illustrated in models offered by Randall Beer and Cees van Leeuwen. (shrink)
In this paper the authors present a description and reflective analysis of an underdeveloped aspect of legal ethics education: judicial ethics. Part I provides an introduction to Canada's National Judicial Institute and its early attempts to design and deliver judicial ethics education programmes. Part II then suggests that in the last few years a second generation of judicial ethics education has emerged, generating a more systemic and contextually sophisticated pedagogical agenda. Finally, in Part III, the authors argue in favour of (...) even more challenging judicial ethics programmes that will enable judges to develop an enhanced ethical identity. (shrink)
Medical intervention in childbirth raises a number of ethical issues which have received too little attention in American obstetrics. A number of these issues are surveyed in the first section of this essay. In the second section, the hospital and the roles characteristically ascribed to patients, staff, and obstetrical practitioners are shown to provide an unsatisfactory social setting for birth. Several proposals for improving existing arrangements or for providing alternatives are offered. It is argued that procedures for eliciting and maintaining (...) fidelity to patient values for the birth experience are crucial elements in acceptable care. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The idea that correspondences relating grammatical relations and semantics (argument structure constructions) are needed to account for simple sentence types is reviewed, clarified, updated and compared with two lexicalist alternatives. Traditional lexical rules take one verb as ‘input’ and create (or relate) a different verb as ‘output’. More recently, invisible derivational verb templates have been proposed, which treat argument structure patterns as zero derivational affixes that combine with a root verb to yield a new verb. While the derivational template perspective (...) can address several problems that arise for traditional lexical rules, it still faces problems in accounting for idioms, which often contain specifications that are not appropriately assigned to individual verbs or derivational affixes (regarding adjuncts, modification, and inflection). At the same time, it is clear that verbs play a central role in determining their distribution. The balance between verbs and phrasal argument structure constructions is addressed via the Principles of Semantic Coherence and Correspondence together with a usage-based hierarchy of constructions that contains entries which can include particular verbs and other lexical material. (shrink)