The effort to understand speech perception on the basis of relationships between acoustic parameters of speech sounds is to be recommended. Neural specializations (combination-sensitivity) for echolocation, communication, and sound localization probably constitute the common mechanisms of vertebrate auditory processing and may be essential for speech production as well as perception. There is, however, no need for meaningful maps.
i l l ustrat es t he di ffi cul t y of providing a purely physical characterisation of phenomenal experi ence wi t ha vi vi d exampl e about a bat ’ s sensory apparatus. Whi l e a number of obj ect i ons have al ready been made to Nagel..
This provocative new book attempts to resolve traditional problems of identity over time. It seeks to answer such questions as "How is it that an object can survive change?" and "How much change can an object undergo without being destroyed?" To answer these questions Professor Heller presents a completely new theory about the nature of physical objects and about the relationship between our language and the physical world. According to his theory, the only actually existing physical entities are what the (...) author calls "hunks," four dimensional objects extending across time and space. This is a major new contribution to ontological debate and will be essential reading for all philosophers concerned with metaphysics. (shrink)
BAT - the belief in ability thesis - states, roughly, that for an agent to be able rationally to deliberate between two or more alternatives, she must believe that she is metaphysically free to perform each alternative. I show, by way of a counterexample, that BAT is false.
Humans have the abilities to perceive, produce, and synchronize with a musical beat, yet there are widespread individual differences. To investigate these abilities and to determine if a dissociation between beat perception and production exists, we developed the Harvard Beat Assessment Test (H-BAT), a new battery that assesses beat perception and production abilities. H-BAT consists of four subtests: 1) music tapping test (MTT), 2) beat saliency test (BST), 3) beat interval test (BIT), and 4) beat finding and interval test (BFIT). (...) MTT measures the degree of tapping synchronization with the beat of music, whereas BST, BIT, and BFIT measure perception and production thresholds via psychophysical adaptive stair-case methods. We administered the H-BAT on thirty individuals and investigated the performance distribution across these individuals in each subtest. There was a wide distribution in individual abilities to tap in synchrony with the beat of music during the MTT. The degree of synchronization consistency was negatively correlated with thresholds in the BST, BIT, and BFIT: a lower degree of synchronization was associated with higher perception and production thresholds. H-BAT can be a useful tool in determining an individual’s ability to perceive and produce a beat within a single session. (shrink)
The concept of consciousness has been the source of much philosophical, cognitive scientific and neuroscientific discussion for the past two decades. Many scientists, as well as philosophers, argue that at the moment we are almost completely in the dark about the nature of consciousness. Stuart Sutherland, in a much quoted remark, wrote that.
According to many philosophers, there is an explanatory gap between physical truths and phenomenal truths. Someone could know all the physical truths about the world, and in particular, all the physical information about the brain and the neurophysiology of vision, and still not know what it is like to see red (Jackson 1982, 1986). According to a similar example, someone could know all the physical truths about bats and still not know what it is like to be a bat (...) (Nagel 1974). We can conceive of an individual that is physically identical to me, molecule per molecule, but does not have any phenomenally conscious state whatsoever (Chalmers 1996). Some philosophers have argued that the explanatory gap shows that we cannot explain consciousness in physical terms (Levine 2001), or even that phenomenal consciousness is not physical and therefore physicalism is false (Chalmers 1996, 2002). (shrink)
What place does consciousness have in the natural world? If we reject materialism, could there be a credible alternative? In one classic example, philosophers ask whether we can ever know what is it is like for bats to sense the world using sonar. It seems obvious to many that any amount of information about a bat's physical structure and information processing leaves us guessing about the central questions concerning the character of its experience. A Place for Consciousness begins with (...) reflections on the existence of this gap. Is it just a psychological shortcoming in our merely human understanding of the physical world? Is it a trivial consequence of the simple fact that we just cannot be bats? Or does it mean there really are facts about consciousness over and above the physical facts? If so, what does consciousness do? Why does it exist? Rosenberg sorts out these problems, especially those centering on the causal role of consciousness. He introduces a new paradigm called Liberal Naturalism for thinking about what causation is, about the natural world, and about how to create a detailed model to go along with the new paradigm. Arguing that experience is part of the categorical foundations of causality, he shows that within this new paradigm there is a place for something essentially like consciousness in all its traditional mysterious respects. A striking feature of Liberal Naturalism is that its central tenets are motivated independently of the mind-body problem, by analyzing causation itself. Because of this approach, when consciousness shows up in the picture it is not introduced in an ad hoc way, and its most puzzling features can be explained from first principles. Ultimately, Rosenberg's final solution gives consciousness a causally important role without supposing either that it is physical or that it interacts with the physical. (shrink)
It turns out that Rolls’s answer to Nagel’s (1974) question, "What is it like to be a bat?" is brusque: there is nothing it is like to be a bat . . . provided that bats don’t have a linguistically structured internal representational system that enables them to think about their first-order thoughts which are also linguistically structured. For phenomenal consciousness, a properly functioning system of higher-order linguistic thought (HOLT) is necessary (Rolls 1998, p. 262). By this criterion, not (...) only bats, but also a great portion of the animal kingdom, perhaps all animal species except humans, turn out to lack phenomenal consciousness. Indeed, even human babies, and perhaps infants before the early stages of acquiring their first language, are likely to lack such consciousness, if one considers the level of conceptual sophistication required by the HOLT hypothesis. In order to have a higher-order thought, one needs to have the concept of a. (shrink)
This paper critiques the representationalist account of qualia, focussing on the Representational Naturalism presented by Fred Dretske in Naturalizing the Mind. After laying out Dretske�s theory of qualia and making clear its externalist consequences, I argue that Dretske�s definition is either too liberal or runs into problems defending its requirements, in particular �naturalness� and �mentalness.� I go on to show that Dretske�s account of qualia falls foul of the argument from misperception in such a way that Dretske must either admit (...) that his kind of qualia have nothing at all to do with what mental life subjectively feels like, or that veridical perception involves qualia and misperception does not. (shrink)
in Jeremy McKenna (ed), At the Boundaries of Cricket, to be published in 2007 as a special issue of the journal Sport in Society and as a book in the series Sport in the Global Society (Taylor and Francis).
Evolutionary psychology—in its ambitious version well formulated by Cosmides and Tooby (e.g., Cosmides & Tooby 1987, Tooby & Cosmides 1992) —will succeed to the extent that it causes cognitive psychologists to rethink central aspects of human cognition in an evolutionary perspective, to the extent, that is, that psychology in general becomes evolutionary. The human species is exceptional by its massive investment in cognition, and in forms of cognitive activity—language, metarepresentation, abstract thinking—that are as unique to humans as echolocation is unique (...) to bats. The promise of evolutionary psychology is thus to help explain not just traits of human psychology that are homologous to those of many other species, but also traits of human psychology that are genuinely exceptional and that in turn help explain the exceptional character of human culture and ecology. However, most of the work done in evolutionary psychology so far is on aspects of human psychology that are not specifically human except in their details. Showing, for instance, how human preferences in mate choice are fine -tuned in the way the theory of evolution would predict is of great interest (see e.g., Buss 1994) but it can be done on the basis of a relatively shallow psychology. This makes work on distinctly human adaptations involving higher cognition of particular importance for defenders of a psychologically ambitious evolutionary psychology. What is often presented (e.g., Pinker, 1997) as the signal achievement of cognitive evolutionary psychology in this respect is the experimental testing of Cosmides’ (1989) hypothesis that there exists an evolved competence to deal with social contracts, and, in particular to detect cheaters. We want to argue that, because of faulty methodological choices—the quasi-exclusive reliance on the four-cards selection task—, the hypothesis has in fact not yet been tested. The plan of this chapter is as follows: We begin, with a short presentation of Cosmides’s social contract hypothesis, of Wason selection task, and of Cosmides’s reasons to use the task in order to test the theory.. (shrink)
Content externalism is the dominant view in the philosophy of mind. Content essentialism, the thesis that thought tokens have their contents essentially, is also popular. And many externalists are supporters of such essentialism. However, endorsing the conjunction of those views either (i) commits one to a counterintuitive view of the underlying physical nature of thought tokens or (ii) commits one to a slightly different but still counterintuitive view of the relation of thought tokens to physical tokens as well as a (...) rejection of realist physicalism. In this essay I reveal the problem and articulate and adjudicate among the possible solutions. I will end up rejecting content essentialism. (shrink)
I address this talk to anyone who believes in the possibility of an informative empirical science about sensory qualities. Potentially this is a large audience. By "sensory quality" I mean those qualities manifest in various sensory experiences: color, taste, smell, touch, pain, and so on. We should include sensory modalities humans do not share, such as electro-reception in fish, echolocation in bats, or the skylight compass in birds. Those pursuing empirical science about this large domain might pursue it in (...) the halls of experimental psychology, psycho-physics, psychometrics, psycho-physiology, sensory physiology, neuroscience, neuro-biology, comparative psychology, neuro-anatomy, and so on and on. These days even molecular genetics has kicked in with some notable recent contributions to the sequencing of genes for photopigments and for olfactory receptors. But to all those investigators in all those halls I bring bad news. Your discipline is _a priori_ impossible. Philosophers whom you do not know have uncovered _a priori_ proofs that empirical investigation which proceeds along the lines currently underway, or which will proceed along lines that are currently _imaginable_, does not, will not, and cannot explain the sensory qualities of experience. Or at least so they say. You might as well give up now. (shrink)
We can perceive shapes visually and tactilely, and the information we gain about shapes through both sensory modalities is integrated smoothly into and functions in the same way in our behavior independently of whether we gain it by sight or touch. There seems to be no reason in principle we couldn't perceive shapes through other sensory modalities as well, although as a matter of fact we do not. While we can identify shapes through other sensory modalities—e.g., I may know by (...) smell (the scent of mango) that the object causing my sensory experience is round—this is not perceiving an object as shaped, but rather inferring from the character of one's sensory experience and collateral information that an object of a certain shape caused it. That it is possible to perceive shape by other modalities, however, is suggested by the case of bats and aquatic mammals like dolphins which navigate through their environment by a form of sonar. It is plausible that they have some form of auditory representation of space, and so of shape. These facts about shape perception raise important questions about the relation between those features of perceptual experience which are intrinsic to different sensory modalities and the nature of our perceptual representation of shapes, and, more generally, of the space within which we perceive shaped objects to be located. John Campbell's paper, "Molyneux's Problem" (see above), raises a number of interesting and important questions about the nature of our perception of shape properties, particularly the cross-modal nature of shape perception, and ties them to more general questions about the nature both of perceptual.. (shrink)
My answer to the question why? is relatively uncontroversial among anthropologists. Sharing food makes good evolutionary sense, because animals who share food thereby insure themselves against hunger. It is for this reason that sharing food is thought to be so common in the natural world. The vampire bat is a particularly exotic example of a food-sharing species. The bats roost in caves in large numbers during the day. At night, they forage for prey, from whom they suck blood if (...) they can, but they aren’t always successful. If they fail to obtain blood for several successive nights, they die. The evolutionary pressure to share blood is therefore strong. The biologist Wilkinson  reports that a hungry bat begs for blood from a roostmate, who will sometimes respond by regurgitating some of the blood it is carrying in its own stomach. This isn’t too surprising when the roostmates are related, but the bats also share blood with roostmates who aren’t relatives. The behaviour is nevertheless evolutionarily stable, because the sharing is done on a reciprocal basis, which means that a bat is much more likely to help out a roostmate that has helped it out in the past. Bats that refuse to help out their fellows therefore risk not being helped out themselves in the future. Vampire bats have their own way of sharing, and we have ours. We call our way of sharing “fairness”. If the accidents of our evolutionary history had led to our sharing in some other way, it would not occur to us to attribute some special role to our current fairness norms. Whatever alternative norms we then.. (shrink)
In several publications Graeme Forbes has developed and defended one of the strongest arguments for essentialism about biological origins. I attempt to show that there are deep, as yet unrecognized, problems with this argument. The problems with Forbes’s argument suggest that a range of other arguments for various forms of origin essentialism are also likely to be flawed, and that we should abandon the seemingly plausible general metaphysical thesis that concrete entities that share all intrinsic properties are identical.
In his recent "Thomas vs. Thomas: A New Approach to Nagel's Bat Argument", Yujin Nagasawa interprets Thomas Nagel as making a certain argument against physicalism and objects that this argument transgresses a principle, laid down by Thomas Aquinas, according to which inability to perform a pseudo-task does not count against an omnipotence claim. Taking Nagasawa's interpretation of Nagel for granted, I distinguish different kinds of omnipotence claims and different kinds of pseudo-tasks, and on that basis show that Nagasawa's criticism of (...) Nagel is unsuccessful. I also show how his reflections do nonetheless point to a limitation of the approach he means to criticize. (shrink)
The modernization of Burgundy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries drew on the coordinated efforts of numerous industrial and cultural sectors. Among these innovative developments, new tourism industries played a prominent role in providing new opportunities for the consumption of local products while redefining existing conceptions of Burgundian landscapes. This entailed collaboration of a variety of cultural intermediaries ranging from local boosters to politicians and from merchants to academics. Geographers contributed by incorporating symbolic, subjective, and performative practices into (...) the existing regional concepts of terroir and genres-de-vie. The result was newly scripted roles for tourists and locals to participate in gastronomic activities that, by virtue of the experience, altered participants’ experience of time, space, and themselves. Rapidly institutionalized in Burgundy, these developments illustrate how contemporary commercial interests influenced geographic notions of place in the French provinces. (shrink)
Stephen Yablo has attempted recently to revive the notion of contingent identity, identifying this with a relation of L coincidence between objects that are "distinct by nature but the same in the circumstances" (296). Yablo argues convincingly for the need of essentialist metaphysics to recognize some relation of this sort, a relation of "intimate identity-like connections between things" (296) if it is to acknowledge properly the intuitive difference between (i) the nonidentity of a bust B and a hunk of (...) wax H of which it is composed, and (ii) the nonidentity of the hunk H and the Treaty of Versailles. (i) and (ii) are clearly not on the same level. Even though B, like the Treaty of Versailles, fails to be strictly identical to H, it is very closely, and quite specially, related to it. What this relation is is certainly worth a general inquiry. (shrink)
Could a person ever transcend what it is like to be in the world as a human being? Could we ever know what it is like to be other creatures? Questions about the overcoming of a human perspective are not uncommon in the history of philosophy. In the last century, those very interrogatives were notably raised by American philosopher Thomas Nagel in the context of philosophy of mind. In his 1974 essay What is it Like to Be a Bat?, Nagel (...) offered reflections on human subjectivity and its constraints. Nagel’s insights were elaborated before the social diffusion of computers and could not anticipate the cultural impact of technological artefacts capable of materializing interactive simulated worlds as well as disclosing virtual alternatives to the “self.” In this sense, this article proposes an understanding of computers as epistemological and ontological instruments. The embracing of a phenomenological standpoint entails that philosophical issues are engaged and understood from a fundamentally practical perspective. In terms of philosophical praxis, or “applied philosophy,” I explored the relationship between human phenomenologies and digital mediation through the design and the development of experimental video games. For instance, I have conceptualized the first-person action-adventure video game Haerfest (Technically Finished 2009) as a digital re-formulation of the questions posed in Nagel’s famous essay. Experiencing a bat’s perceptual equipment in Haerfest practically corroborates Nagel’s conclusions: there is no way for humans to map, reproduce, or even experience the consciousness of an actual bat. Although unverifiable in its correspondence to that of bats, Haerfest still grants access to experiences and perceptions that, albeit still inescapably within the boundaries of human kinds of phenomenologies, were inaccessible to humans prior to the advent of computers. Phenomenological alterations and virtual experiences disclosed by interactive digital media cannot take place without a shift in human kinds of ontologies, a shift which this study recognizes as the fundamental ground for the development of a new humanism (I deem it necessary to specify that I am not utilizing the term “humanism” in its common connotation, that is to say the one that emerged from the encounter between the Roman civilization and the late Hellenistic culture. According to this conventional acceptation, humanism indicates the realization of the human essence through “scholarship and training in good conduct” (Heidegger 1998, p. 244). However, Heidegger observed that this understanding of humanism does not truly cater to the original essence of human beings, but rather “is determined with regard to an already established interpretation of nature, history, world, and […] beings as a whole.” (Heidegger 1998, p. 245) The German thinker found this way of embracing humanism reductive: a by-product of Western metaphysics. As Heidegger himself specified in his 1949 essay Letter on Humanism, his opposition to the traditional acceptation of the term humanism does not advocate for the “inhuman” or a return to the “barbaric” but stems instead from the belief that the humanism can only be properly understood and restored in culture as more original way of meditating and caring for humanity and understanding its relationship with Being.). Additionally, this study explicitly proposes and exemplifies the use of interactive digital technology as a medium for testing, developing and disseminating philosophical notions, problems and hypotheses in ways which are alternative to the traditional textual one. Presented as virtual experiences, philosophical concepts can be accessed without the filter of subjective imagination. In a persistent, interactive, simulated environment, I claim that the crafting and the mediation of thought takes a novel, projective (In Martin Heidegger’s 1927 Being and Time, the term “projectivity” indicates the way a Being opens to the world in terms of its possibilities of being (Heidegger 1962, pp. 184–185, BT 145). Inspired by Heidegger’s and Vilem Flusser’s work in the field of philosophy of technology as well as Helmuth Plessner’s anthropological position presented in his 1928 book Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch. Einleitung in die philosophische Anthropologie, this study understands the concept of projectivity as the innate openness of human beings to construct themselves and their world by means of technical artefacts. In this sense, this study proposes a fundamental understanding of technology as the materialization of mankind’s tendency to overcome its physical, perceptual and communicative limitations.) dimension which I propose to call “augmented ontology.”. (shrink)
The lecture that we have heard consists of excerpts from Professor Stanley’s forthcoming book Knowledge and Interest, and it consists of two parts, a messy part and a clean part; the messy part is from the book’s introduction, which describes the “central data that is at issue in this debate,” and the clean part is from Chapter 7, which presents an interesting criticism of a semantical theory of knowledge-attribution sentences that makes their truth-conditions relative to non-time-world circumstances of evaluation, e.g. (...) to a judgment-maker at a time. There is a nice discussion of Peter Lasersohn’s semantical views, with kudos, bricks, and bats to Mark Richard, Jeff King, Gareth Evans, John Hawthorne, David Kaplan, and David Lewis. Though I found this discussion of great interest and would have welcomed more discussion of an earlier view of Jason Stanley’s in which “what is said” and “what is believed” can be used to refer to entities that are not propositional, e.g. semantic values that are neutral with respect to time and place, a view of Stanley’s of which I am a fan, I was more provoked by the messy part: the appeal to intuitive linguistic data employed by supporters of epistemological contextualism, e.g. Stewart Cohen, Keith De Rose, a time-slice of David Lewis, among others. I will focus on what Professor Stanley says about the data in his paper and not worry the scholarly question about their relation to other views. (shrink)
In the present essay, I aim to accentuate an analogy between the patterns of thought articulated by Berkeley's Hylas and those of Nagel in his philosophy of bats and aliens. The comparison has a critical purpose, with Philonous playing a role similar to that of Wittgenstein. I argue that Nagel's central claim comes down to statements that are marked by a peculiar form of emptiness. Towards the end, though, I will concede that this kind of Wittgensteinian criticism runs up (...) against certain limits. The fantasies produced by Hylas or Nagel have as counterparts genuine philosophical expressions of experience, which are not vulnerable to the charges levelled at their theoretical parallels. (shrink)
Nagel’s challenge is to devise an objective phenomenological vocabulary that can describe the objective structural similarities between aural and visual perception. My contention is that Charles Sanders Peirce’s little studied and less understood phenomenological vocabulary makes a significant contribution to meeting this challenge. I employ Peirce’s phenomenology to identify the structural isomorphism between seeing a scarlet red and hearing a trumpet’s blare. I begin by distinguishing between the vividness of an experience and the intensity of a quality. I proceed to (...) identify further points of structural isomorphism (a) between the experience of seeing a scarlet red and of hearing a trumpet blare and (b) between the qualities of those experiences. Lastly, I gesture towards how these distinctions can be an aid in describing what it is like to be a bat. (shrink)
Whenever humans have a good idea, zoologists have grown accustomed to finding it anticipated in the animal kingdom.. Why not the wheel? Bats and dolphins perfected sophisticated echo-ranging systems millions of years before human engineers gave us sonar and..
This note criticizes Andrew Brennan's attempt to defend best?candidate theories of the identity of artefacts over time against certain now familiar objections. Adoption of a mereological conception of individuals does not, in itself, provide the means for a satisfactory response to objections of Wiggins and Noonan (some of which are anyway ill?focused). The way forward consists in recognizing that the consequences of best?candidate theories which have been thought objectionable (in particular, commitment to the extrinsicness of identity) do not violate the (...) necessity of identity and imply ? what anyway ought to seem unexceptionable ? that a predicate such as ?constituting the ship which is the Ship of Theseus? does not denote a genuine property of the hunk of matter of which the predicate is true. Once these consequences have been clearly mapped out, the best?candidate theorist's commitment to the extrinsicness of identity does not appear absurd. (shrink)