Modularity has been the subject of intense debate in the cognitive sciences for more than 2 decades. In some cases, misunderstandings have impeded conceptual progress. Here the authors identify arguments about modularity that either have been abandoned or were never held by proponents of modular views of the mind. The authors review arguments that purport to undermine modularity, with particular attention on cognitive architecture, development, genetics, and evolution. The authors propose that modularity, cleanly defined, provides a useful framework for directing (...) research and resolving debates about individual cognitive systems and the nature of human evolved cognition. Modularity is a fundamental property of living things at every level of organization; it might prove indispensable for understanding the structure of the mind as well. (shrink)
In their 2010 book, Biology’s First Law, D. McShea and R. Brandon present a principle that they call ‘‘ZFEL,’’ the zero force evolutionary law. ZFEL says (roughly) that when there are no evolutionary forces acting on a population, the population’s complexity (i.e., how diverse its member organisms are) will increase. Here we develop criticisms of ZFEL and describe a different law of evolution; it says that diversity and complexity do not change when there are no evolutionary causes.
α-recursion lifts classical recursion theory from the first transfinite ordinal ω to an arbitrary admissible ordinal α . Idealized computational models for α-recursion analogous to Turing machine models for classical recursion have been proposed and studied  and  and are applicable in computational approaches to the foundations of logic and mathematics . They also provide a natural setting for modeling extensions of the algorithmic logic described in  and . On such models, an α-Turing machine can complete a θ-step (...) computation for any ordinal θ < α. Here we consider constraints on the physical realization of α-Turing machines that arise from the structure of physical spacetime. In particular, we show that an α-Turing machine is realizable in a spacetime constructed from R only if α is countable. While there are spacetimes where uncountable computations are possible and while they may even be empirically distinguishable from a standard spacetime, there is good reason to suppose that such nonstandard spacetimes are nonphysical. We conclude with a suggestion for a revision of Church’s thesis appropriate as an upper bound for physical computation. (shrink)
Nature of the problem: Testimony from scientists. Reflex action and theism (1881) by W. James. The organization of thought (1916) by A.N. Whitehead. The changing scientific scene 1900-1950 (1952) by J.B. Conant. A note on methods of analysis (1943) by H.J. Muller. The way things are (1959) by P.W. Bridgman. A definition of style (1948) by J.R. Oppenheimer.--Consequences of the problem: Testimony from artists and writers. Existentialism (1947) by J.-P. Sartre. The testimony of modern art (1957) by W. (...) class='Hi'>Barrett. Parts of speech and punctuation (1935) by G. Stein. The waves (1931) by V. Woolf. The imperfect paradise, by W. Stevens. A note on style and the limits of language, by W. Gibson. (shrink)
Taking our lead from Solomon’s emphasis on the importance of the intentional object of emotion, we review the history of repeated attempts to make this object disappear. We adduce evidence suggesting that in the case of James and Schachter, the intentional object got lost unintentionally. By contrast, modern constructivists (in particular Barrett) seem quite determined to deny the centrality of the intentional object in accounting for the occurrence of emotions. Griffiths, however, downplays the role objects have in emotion (...) noting that these do not qualify as intentional. We argue that these disappearing acts, deliberate or not, generate fruitless debate and add little to the advancement of our understanding of emotion as an adaptive mechanism to cope with events that are relevant to an organism’s life. (shrink)
In recent years, philosophical discussions of free will have focused largely on whether or not free will is compatible with determinism. In this challenging book, David Hodgson takes a fresh approach to the question of free will, contending that close consideration of human rationality and human consciousness shows that together they give us free will, in a robust and indeterministic sense. In particular, they give us the capacity to respond appositely to feature-rich gestalts of conscious experiences, in ways that are (...) not wholly determined by laws of nature or computational rules. The author contends that this approach is consistent with what science tells us about the world; and he considers its implications for our responsibility for our own conduct, for the role of retribution in criminal punishment, and for the place of human beings in the wider scheme of things. -/- Praise for David Hodgson's previous work, The Mind Matters -/- "magisterial...It is balanced, extraordinarily thorough and scrupulously fair-minded; and it is written in clear, straightforward, accessible prose." --Michael Lockwood, Times Literary Supplement -/- "an excellent contribution to the literature. It is well written, authoritative, and wonderfully wide-ranging. ... This account of quantum theory ... will surely be of great value. ... On the front cover of the paper edition of this book Paul Davies is quoted as saying that this is "a truly splendid and provocative book". In writing this review I have allowed myself to be provoked, but I am happy to close by giving my endorsement to this verdict in its entirety!" --Euan Squires, Journal of Consciousness Studies -/- "well argued and extremely important book." --Sheena Meredith, New Scientist -/- "His reconstructions and explanations are always concise and clear." --Jeffrey A Barrett, The Philosophical Review -/- "In this large-scale and ambitious work Hodgson attacks a modern orthodoxy. Both its proponents and its opponents will find it compelling reading." --J. R. Lucas, Merton College, Oxford. (shrink)