Post-Gibson attempts to set out a definition of affordance generally agree that this notion can be understood as a property of the environment with salience for an organism’s behavior. According to this view, some scholars advocate the idea that affordances are dispositional properties of physical objects that, given suitable circumstances, necessarily actualize related actions. This paper aims at assessing this statement in light of a theory of affordance perception. After years of discontinuity between strands of empirical and theoretical (...) research, the time is ripe for addressing the question of whether the dispositional interpretation of affordance is in accordance with some recent evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience. Following this line, I clarify that there are some cases of affordance-related effects that neither require the actualization of an action, nor the presence of an action-related property bearer in the environment, and that the identification of affordance with physical properties provides only a partial explanation of the wide range of affordance-related effects. Accordingly, I argue in favor of a more general account of affordance perception based on the ability to directly detect perceptual patterns in the environment. (shrink)
This article is interdisciplinary in its claims. Evolving around the ecological concept of affordance, it brings together pragmatics and ecological psychology. Starting from the theoretical writings of Peirce, Dewey and James, the biosemiotic claims of von Uexküll, Gibson’s ecological approach to perception and some empirical evidence from recent neurobiological research, it elaborates on the concepts of experiential and enactive cognition as applied to music. In order to provide an operational description of this approach, it introduces some conceptual tools from (...) the domain of cybernetics with a major focus on the concept of circularity, which links perception to action in a continuous process of sense-making and interaction with the environment. As such, it is closely related to some pragmatic, biosemiotic and ecosemiotic claims which can be subsumed under the general notion of functional significance. An attempt is made to apply this conceptual framework to the process of musical sense-making which involves the realisation of systemic cognition in the context of epistemic interactions that are grounded in our biology and possibilities for adaptive control. Central in this approach is the concept of coping with the environment, or, in musical terms, to perceive the sounding music in terms of what it affords for the consummation of musical behaviour. (shrink)
I provide an analysis of the concept of an “affordance” that enables one to conceive of “structural affordance” as a kind of affordance relation that might hold between an agent and its body. I then review research in the science of humanoid bodily movement to indicate the empirical reality of structural affordance.
An embodied movement-planning field cannot account for behavior and cognition more abstract than that of reaching. Instead, we propose an affordance field, and we sketch how it could enhance the analysis of the A-not-B error, underlie cognition, and serve as a base for language. Admittedly, a dynamic systems account of an affordance field awaits significant further development.
Gibson developed the affordance concept to complement his theory of direct perception that stands in sharp contrast with the prevalent inferential theories of perception. A comparison of the two approaches shows that the distinction between them also has an ontological aspect. We trace the history and newer formalizations of the notion of affordance and discuss some competing opinions on its scope. Next, empirical work on the affordance concept is reviewed in brief and the relevance of dynamical systems (...) theory to affordance research is demonstrated. Finally, the striking but often neglected convergence of the ideas of Gibson and those of certain Continental philosophers is discussed. (shrink)
Millikan's discussion of substance concepts in terms of their information-gathering role ignores the analyses of information-based perception and action developed within the tradition of ecological psychology. Her introduction and use without definition of key Gibsonian terms such as “affordance” and “direct perception” leaves those of us investigating such concepts uncertain of the extent to which she appreciates their theoretical importance. Due recognition of the realist account of categorical perception developed by J. J. Gibson would provide mutual benefit to modern (...) externalist philosophy as well as to experimental psychology and to those investigating the ecological approach to perception–action. (shrink)
Opposed to Norman's proposal, processing of affordance is likely to occur not solely in the dorsal stream but also in the ventral stream. Moreover, the dorsal stream might do more than just serve an important role in motor actions. It supports egocentric location coding as well. As such, it would possess a form of representational memory, contrary to Norman's proposal.
In this paper, we consider the influence of Gibson's affordance theory on the design of robotic agents. Affordance theory (and the ecological approach to agent design in general) has in many cases contributed to the development of successful robotic systems; we provide a brief survey of AI research in this area. However, there remain significant issues that complicate discussions on this topic, particularly in the exchange of ideas between researchers in artificial intelligence and ecological psychology. We identify some (...) of these issues, specifically the lack of a generally accepted definition of "affordance" and fundamental differences in the current approaches taken in AI and ecological psychology. While we consider reconciliation between these fields to be possible and mutually beneficial, it will require some flexibility on the issue of direct perception. (shrink)
There are (at least) two ways to think of the differences in basic concepts and typologies that one can find in the different scientific practices that constitute a research tradition. One is the fundamentalist view: the fewer the better. The other is a non-fundamentalist view of science whereby the integration of different concepts into the right abstraction grounds an explanation that is not grounded as the sum of the explanations supported by the parts. Integrative concepts are often associated with idealizations (...) that can successfully set the stage for different phenomena to be compared or for explanations of different phenomena to be considered as jointly increasing our understanding of reality beyond that which each explanation provides separately. In this paper, our aim is to argue for the importance of the notions of an ?affordance? and ?scaffolding? as integrative concepts in the cognitive sciences. The integrational role of the concept of affordance is closely related with the capacity of affordances to generate the scaffoldings leading to the integration. The capacities of affordances that turn them into (stable) scaffoldings explain why such notions are often used interchangeably (as we shall see). On this basis, we aim to show that the concepts of affordance and scaffolding provide the sort of epistemic perspective that can overcome common complaints about the limits and unity of the cognitive sciences once claims about extended cognition are taken seriously. (shrink)
This paper revisits the concept of affordance and explores its contribution to an understanding of the use of ICT for teaching and learning. It looks at Gibson‟s original idea of affordance and at some of the difficulties long associated with the use of the word. It goes on to describe the translation of the concept of affordance into the field of design through the work, in particular, of Norman. The concept has since been translated into research concerning (...) ICT and further opportunities and difficulties emerge. The paper locates key points of divergence within the usage of „affordance‟, as involving direct perception, invariant properties and complementarity. It concludes by arguing that affordance offers a distinctive perspective on the use of ICT in education because of its focus on possibilities for action. (shrink)
We give a historical overview of the development of almost 50 years of empirical research on the affordances in the past and in the present. Defined by James Jerome Gibson in the early development of the Ecological Approach to Perception and Action as the prime of perception and action, affordances have become a rich topic of investigation in the fields of human movement science and experimental psychology. The methodological origins of the empirical research performed on affordances can be traced back (...) to the mid 1980’s and the works of Warren (1984, 1988) and Michaels (1988). Most of the research in Ecological Psychology performed since has focused on the actualization of discretely defined actions, the perception of action boundaries, the calculation of pi-numbers, and the measurement of response times. The research efforts have resulted in advancements in the understanding of the dynamic nature of affordances, affordances in a social context and the importance of calibration for perception of affordances. Although affordances are seen as an instrumental part of the control of action most studies investigating affordances do not pay attention to the control of the action. We conclude that affordances are still primarily treated as a utility to select behaviour, which creates a conceptual barrier that hinders deeper understanding of affordances. A focus on action-boundaries has largely prevented advancement in other aspects of affordances, most notably an integrative understanding of the role of affordances in the control of action. (shrink)
Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are part (...) of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students' ability to comprehend documents and 'plan' the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve 'the proximal zone of planning' - the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of how we do things with music—that is, the way that we use music as an esthetic technology to enact micro-practices of emotion regulation, communicative expression, identity construction, and interpersonal coordination that drive core aspects of our emotional and social existence. The main thesis is: from birth, music is directly perceived as an affordance-laden structure. Music, I argue, affords a sonic world, an exploratory space or nested acoustic environment that further affords possibilities for, among (...) other things, (1) emotion regulation and (2) social coordination. When we do things with music, we are engaged in the work of creating and cultivating the self, as well as creating and cultivating a shared world that we inhabit with others. I develop this thesis by first introducing the notion of a musical affordance . Next, I look at how emotional affordances in music are exploited to construct and regulate emotions. I summon empirical research on neonate music therapy to argue that this is something we emerge from the womb knowing how to do. I then look at social affordances in music, arguing that joint attention to social affordances in music alters how music is both perceived and appropriated by joint attenders within social listening contexts. In support, I describe the experience of listening to and engaging with music in a live concert setting. Thinking of music as an affordance-laden structure thus reaffirms the crucial role that music plays in constructing and regulating emotional and social experiences in everyday life. (shrink)
The complexities of bodily experience are outlined; its spatial phenomenology is specified as the explanatory target. The mereological structure of body representation is discussed; it is claimed that global spatial representations of the body are not necessary, as structural features of the actual body can be exploited in partial internal representation. The spatial structure of bodily experience is discussed; a structural affordance theory is introduced; it is claimed that bodily experience and subpersonal representation have action-orientated content; and that egocentric (...) terms continue to make sense in application to bodily experience. (shrink)
These comments claim that a shift has occurred between early discussions of online trust, where the focus was on the possibility of such trust and later ones, such as Ess’s, where the concern is more with the influence of the new communication technologies on trust in general. The comments, then, focus on affordance as examined by Ess, arguing that it is, indeed, a central issue in new communications and trust.
We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating OCD patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect affordance-responsiveness, including responsiveness to social affordances.
I argue that the most promising approach to understanding J.J. Gibson's "affordances" takes affordances themselves as ontological primitives, instead of treating them as dispositional properties of more primitive things, events, surfaces, or substances. These latter are best treated as coalescences of affordances present in the environment (or "coalescences of use-potential," as in Sanders (1994) and Hilditch (1995)). On this view, even the ecological approach's stress on the complementary organism/environment pair is seen as expressing a particular affordance relation between the (...) world and the analyst. That the world is parsed in any way among events and objects, perceivers and worlds, etc., reflects equally features of certain real or possible perspectives on the world and features of the world itself. In section 1, I begin by contending that, contrary to the apparent expectations of some in the field, the bare existence of affordances is surely quite uncontroversial. In section 2, I argue that the most reasonable approach to foundational ontology is a relativistic one. In section 3, I address the claim that affordances must be ontologically complemented by effectivities for the sake of completeness, and I shall argue against that claim on grounds that I take to reflect some of Gibson's most important insights. This work will help to clarify the way affordances are to be used in the fourth and final section, where I argue that ontological work, even within special sciences, should not be merely "regional," and that the most attractive general approach to ontological questions is one that is based on affordances, rather than upon things, events, surfaces, and the like. (shrink)
There are important structural similarities in the way that animals and humans engage in unreflective activities, including unreflective social interactions in the case of higher animals. Firstly, it is a form of unreflective embodied intelligence that is ‘motivated’ by the situation. Secondly, both humans and non-human animals are responsive to ‘affordances’ (Gibson 1979); to possibilities for action offered by an environment. Thirdly, both humans and animals are selectively responsive to one affordance rather than another. Social affordances are a subcategory (...) of affordances, namely possibilities for social interaction offered by an environment: a friend’s sad face invites comforting behavior, a person waiting for a coffee machine can afford a conversation, and an extended hand affords a handshake. I will review recent insights in the nature of the bodily intentionality characteristic of unreflective action. Such ‘motor intentionality’ can be characterized as “our direct bodily inclination to act in a situated, environmental context” (Kelly 2005, p. 106). Standard interpretations of bodily intentionality see grasping an object as the paradigmatic example of motor intentionality. I will discuss the implications of another, novel perspective that emphasizes the importance of unreflective switches from one activity to another (Rietveld 2004) and understands bodily intentionality in terms of adequate responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances. In the final section I will discuss some implications for cognitive neuroscientists who use empirical findings related to the ‘mirror neuron system’ as a starting point for a theory of motor intentionality and social cognition. (shrink)
James Gibson’s concept of affordances was an attempt to undermine the traditional dualism of the objective and subjective. Gibson himself insisted on the continuity of “affordances in general” and those attached to human artifacts. However, a crucial distinction needs to be drawn between “affordances in general” and the “canonical affordances” that are connected primarily to artifacts. Canonical affordances are conventional and normative. It is only in such cases that it makes sense to talk of the affordance of the object. (...) Chairs, for example, are for sitting-on, even though we may also use them in many other ways. A good deal of confusion has arisen in the discussion of affordances from (1) the failure to recognize the normative status of canonical affordances and (2) then generalizing from this special case. (shrink)
The notion of affordance has been introduced by Gibson (1977, 1979) as the feature of an object or the environment that allows the observer to perform an action, a set of “environmental supports for an organism’s intentional activities” (Reybrouck 2005). Studied under very different perspectives, this concept has become a crucial issue not only for the ecological psychology, but also for cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence studies, and philosophy of mind. This variety of approaches has widened the already ambiguous definition (...) originally provided by Gibson, contributing to the development of different standpoints in open contrast with each other (see Zipoli Caiani 2011). During the last two decades, moreover, many researchers tried to extend the notion also to musical experience, aiming to draw a coherent theory of musical affordances (e.g. Clarke 2005; Nussbaum 2007; Krueger 2011a; 2011b). In this paper, we will argue for a particular concept of musical affordances, that is, as we see it, one narrower and less ambiguous in scope and more closely related to its original. Taking the discovery of canonical neurons as our starting point, we will (i) introduce the general notion of affordance, (ii) discuss some significant contributions in this area of research, mostly focusing on musical affordances and (iii) propose a motor-based interpretation of musical affordances. (shrink)
Mereology is the logic of part—whole concepts as they are used in many different contexts. The old chemical metaphysics of atoms and molecules seems to fit classical mereology very well. However, when functional attributes are added to part specifications and quantum mechanical considerations are also added, the rules of classical mereology are breached in chemical discourses. A set theoretical alternative mereology is also found wanting. Molecular orbital theory requires a metaphysics of affordances that also stands outside classical mereology.
Mereology is the logic of partâ€”whole concepts as they are used in many different contexts. The old chemical metaphysics of atoms and molecules seems to fit classical mereology very well. However, when functional attributes are added to part specifications and quantum mechanical considerations are also added, the rules of classical mereology are breached in chemical discourses. A set theoretical alternative mereology is also found wanting. Molecular orbital theory requires a metaphysics of affordances that also stands outside classical mereology.
What makes video games unique as an audiovisual medium is not just that they are interactive, but that this interactivity is rule bound and goal oriented. This means that player experience, including experience of the music, is somehow shaped or structured by these characteristics. Because of its emphasis on action in perception, James Gibson’s ecological approach to psychology—particularly his concept of affordances—is well suited to theorise the role of music in player experience. In a game, players perceive the environment and (...) gameplay situations in terms of the goal-oriented actions they afford. Nondiegetic music, not tied to any place in the digital game world, can play a unique role in the structuring of these affordances. Through a series of case studies, I will show that music creates and structures situations both in the game environment (such as the appearance of enemies in Unreal) and beyond the game environment (such as the death of an avatar and the restart of a level in Super Mario Bros.). (shrink)
The question addressed in this paper is whether particular emotional experiences or episodes of an emotion (such as two experiences of happiness) belong to a natural kind. The final answer to this question is that although some, even many, single episodes of an emotion may group into a natural kind, belonging to a natural kind is a highly contextual matter. The proposal relies on two premises. First, a conception of natural kind-hood that follows Boyd’s Homeostatic Property Cluster Theory. Second, a (...) view of emotional episodes that fits with the External Theory of Perception: typical emotional episodes are perceptual experiences of emotional affordances. After pointing out what candidates for emotional homeostatic properties could be like and suggesting some examples of emotional homeostatic mechanisms, the authors conclude that there are property clusters of emotional perceptions stabilized by homeostatic mechanisms. In spite of this, what counts as an emotional natural kind depends on many factors, not all of them natural: world properties, bodily and mental states of the agent, learning mechanisms that help us to satisfactorily navigate in the world, cultural differences that determine our perceptual style, as well as different interests which guide the explanation and prediction of emotional episodes. (shrink)
In his ecological approach to perception, james gibson introduced the concept of affordance to refer to the perceived meaning of environmental objects and events. this paper examines the relational and causal character of affordances, as well as the grounds for extending affordances beyond environmental features with transcultural meaning to include those features with culturally-specific meaning. such an extension is seen as warranted once affordances are grounded in an intentional analysis of perception. toward this end, aspects of merleau-ponty's treatment of (...) perception are explored. finally, a resolution of the apparent tension between the relational and perceiver-independent nature of affordances is presented. (shrink)
I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. In the first part of the paper, I illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson's theory of perception. In the second part, I argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. The main purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity enriched by Gibson's visionary insight, (...) but independent of the most controversial claims of the Gibsonian movement. (shrink)
According to John McDowell,<span class='Hi'></span> representational perceptual content is conceptual through and through.<span class='Hi'></span> This paper criticizes this view by claiming that there is a certain kind of representational and non-conceptual perceptual content that is sensitive to bodily skills.<span class='Hi'></span> After a brief introduction to McDowell's position,<span class='Hi'></span> Merleau-Ponty's notion of body schema and Gibson's notion of affordance are presented.<span class='Hi'></span> It is argued that affordances are constitutive of representational perceptual content,<span class='Hi'></span> and that at least some affordances,<span class='Hi'></span> (...) the so-called <span class='Hi'></span>'conditional affordances'<span class='Hi'></span>, are essentially related to the body schema.<span class='Hi'></span> This means that the perceptual content depends upon the nature of the body schema.<span class='Hi'></span> Since the body schema does not pertain to the domain that our conceptual faculties operate upon,<span class='Hi'></span> it is argued that this kind of perceptual content cannot be conceptual.<span class='Hi'></span> At least some of that content is representational,<span class='Hi'></span> yet it cannot feature as non-demonstrative conceptual content.<span class='Hi'></span> It is argued that if it features as demonstrative conceptual content,<span class='Hi'></span> it has to be captured by private concepts.<span class='Hi'></span> Since McDowell's theory does not allow for the existence of a private language,<span class='Hi'></span> it is concluded that at least some representational perceptual content is non-conceptual. (shrink)
Much recent cognitive neuroscientific work on body knowledge is representationalist: “body schema” and “body images”, for example, are cerebral representations of the body (de Vignemont 2009). A framework assumption is that representation of the body plays an important role in cognition. The question is whether this representationalist assumption is compatible with the variety of broadly situated or embodied approaches recently popular in the cognitive neurosciences: approaches in which cognition is taken to have a ‘direct’ relation to the body and to (...) the environment. A “direct” relation is one where the boundaries between the body and the head, or between the environment and the animal are not theoretically important in the understanding of cognition. These boundaries do not play a theoretically privileged role in cognitive explanations of behavior. But representationalism appears to put a representational veil between the locus of cognition and that which is represented, making cognitive relations to the body and to the environment be indirect, with a high associated computational load. For this reason, direct approaches have tried to minimize the use of internal representations (Suchman 1987; Barwise 1987; Agre and Chapman 1987; Brooks 1992; Thelen and Smith 1994; van Gelder 1995; Port and van Gelder 1995; Clark 1997, 1999; Rupert 2009, p. 180). Does a cognitive neuroscience committed to direct relations rule out a representationalist approach to body knowledge? Or is direct representationalism possible? (shrink)
Interest in "embodiment", and over how one may best express the implications of embodiment, is no parochial question, of interest only to a small number of effete philosophers. It confronts perceptual psychologists, developmental psychologists, and psychotherapists, of course. It may not be surprising, either, that it has become an important issue to some students of history and sociology, and to linguists, literary theorists and aestheticians. But that's not all. As physicists -- working within the very bastion of "objective" analysis -- (...) have tried to find expression for what seems to be going on in the domain of sub-atomic nature, they have begun to suggest that physical description itself is inevitably situated. And within the study of artificial intelligence, support is growing for the contention that intelligence cannot be understood entirely formalistically. Intelligence must at least be embodied -- it must somehow display "engaged agency" -- if it is to be recognizable as intelligence. It is within this context that the contribution offered by this essay must be understood. I shall contend that a particular conception -- that of "affordances" -- can, when suitably qualified, offer a conceptual tool of quite exceptional value in the construction of a positive theory of embodied agency, and of its philosophical consequences. (shrink)
Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is wholly determined by, or even reducible to, its representational content. In this essay I put forward a version of intentionalism that allows (though does not require) the reduction of phenomenal character to representational content. Unlike other reductionist theories, however, it does not require the acceptance of phenomenal externalism (the view that phenomenal character does not supervene on the internal state of the subject). According the view offered here, (...) phenomenal characters essentially represent subject-environment relations that are relevant to the possibilities for causal interaction between the subject and the environment; relations of the kind that J. J. Gibson dubbed affordances. I argue for this view chiefly through an examination of spatial perception, though other cases are also considered. The view assumes that a phenomenal character has an essential functional role; though it need not be assumed that a functional role is sufficient for a phenomenal character. (shrink)
Using hypersets as an analytic tool, we compare traditionally Gibsonian (Chemero 2003; Turvey 1992) and representationalist (Sahin et al. this issue) understandings of the notion ‘affordance’. We show that representationalist understandings are incompatible with direct perception and erect barriers between animal and environment. They are, therefore, scarcely recognizable as understandings of ‘affordance’. In contrast, Gibsonian understandings are shown to treat animal-environment systems as unified complex systems and to be compatible with direct perception. We discuss the fruitful connections between (...) Gibsonian affordances and dynamical systems explanation in the behavioral sciences and point to prior fruitful application of Gibsonian affordances in robotics. We conclude that it is unnecessary to re-imagine affordances as representations in order to make them useful for researchers in robotics. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to present an explanation of object permanence that is derived from an ecological account of perceptually based action. In understanding why children below a certain age do not search for occluded objects, one must first understand the process by which these children perform certain intentional actions on non-occluded items; and to do this one must understand the role affordances play in eliciting retrieval behaviour. My affordance-based explanation is contrasted with Shinskey and Munakata's graded representation (...) account; and although I do not reject totally the role representations play in initiating intentional action I nevertheless maintain that only by incorporating direct perception into an account of object permanence can a fuller understanding of this phenomenon be achieved. (shrink)
This article is about a sidebar in James Gibson's last book, The ecological approach to visual perception. In this sidebar, Gibson, the founder of the ecological perspective of perception and action, argued that to perceive an affordance is not to classify an object. Although this sidebar has received scant attention, it is of great significance both historically and for recent discussions about specificity, direct perception, and the functions of the dorsal and ventral streams. It is argued that Gibson's acknowledgment (...) of Wittgenstein's ideas of classification suggests a limited scope of his theory of direct perception?it cannot account for the classification of objects. The implications for both the specification debate and theorizing about the brain's dorsal and ventral pathways are explored. Based on a recent ecological conception of information and direct perception, we ultimately argue that both affordance perception and classification are direct. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of possibility , and not merely that of actuality , for an inquiry into the bodily constitution of experience. The paper will study how the possibilities of action that may (or may not) be available to the subject help to shape the meaning attributed to perceived objects and to the situation occupied by the subject within her environment. This view will be supported by reference to empirical evidence (...) provided by recent and current research on the perceptual estimation of distances and the effects brought about by the use of a tool on the organisation of our perceived immediate space. (shrink)
Upshot: Chemero provides a modern re-interpretation of Gibson’s ecological psychology and his affordance concept that is more coherent than the original and in line with antirepresentationalist, dynamical theories in embodied cognitive science. He argues for a radical embodied cognitive science, in which ecological and enactive approaches join forces against the more watered-down, mainstream embodied cognitive science that still maintains traditional commitments to representationalism and computationalism. He also defends a special version of realism, entity realism, which many constructivists might not (...) find entirely convincing, but which is nevertheless more or less compatible with enactive theories of embodied cognition. (shrink)
This paper presents a discussion of an everyday ontology of witnessing drawing on the writings of Martin Heidegger, cognitive science and presence research. We begin by defining witnessing: to witness we must be present ; and that which is witnessed must be available. Witnessing is distinguished from perceiving in that it implies and requires a record (a representation) of what has been perceived. Presence and availability are (relatively) uncontroversial but finding a place for representation, which is a classically dualistic concept, (...) in an ontological account potentially presents difficulties. We address this problem by recognising that being available, ready-to-hand and proximal can also serve to represent the very thing being witnessed. (shrink)
The recent confirmation of the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by the US Supreme Court has brought to the fore long-standing debates over individual liberty and religious freedom. Advocates of personal liberty are often critical, particularly in the USA, of public health measures which they deem to be overly restrictive of personal choice. In addition to the alleged restrictions of individual freedom of choice when it comes to the question of whether or not (...) to purchase health insurance, opponents to the PPACA also argue that certain requirements of the Act violate the right to freedom of conscience by mandating support for services deemed immoral by religious groups. These issues continue the long running debate surrounding the demands of religious groups for special consideration in the realm of health care provision. In this paper I examine the requirements of the PPACA, and the impacts that religious, and other ideological, exemptions can have on public health, and argue that the exemptions provided for by the PPACA do not in fact impose unreasonable restrictions on religious freedom, but rather concede too much and in so doing endanger public health and some important individual liberties. (shrink)