The aim of this article is to enquire into neuroscientific research on memory and relate it to topics of skill, knowledge and consciousness. The article outlines some contemporary theories on procedural and working memory, and discusses what contributions they give to sport science and philosophy of sport. It is argued that memory research gives important insights to the neuronal structures and events involved in knowledge and consciousness contributing to sport skills, but that these explanations are not exhaustive. The article argues (...) that phenomenal consciousness in skills is not explained by the neuroscience of memory, and hence neither are skills. (shrink)
The article attempts to show some limitations to reductive accounts in science and philosophy of body-mind relations, experience and skill. Extensive literature has developed in analytic philosophy of mind recently due to new technology and theories in the neurosciences. In the sporting sciences, there are also attempts to reduce experiences and skills to biology, mechanics, chemistry and physiology. The article argues there are three fundamental problems for reductive accounts that lead to an explanatory gap between the reduction and the conscious (...) experience. First, reductive accounts deal with objective observations; conscious experiences are subjective. Second, subjective experience seems difficult to identify with physical events described by chemistry, biology, mechanics or neurophysiology. Finally, sport involves knowing how and knowing how is also difficult to reduce to propositional knowledge, which is the reductive scientific/philosophical project. The article argues that sport provides an excellent platform to better understand what is wrong with reductive analysis in body-mind relations, since both conscious experience and knowing how are fundamental to sport performance. (shrink)
The article deals with the following: (1) Three brain imaging studies on athletes are evaluated. What do these neuroscientific studies tell us about the brain and mind of the athlete? (2) Empirical investigations will need a neuro-theory of mind if they are to make the leap from neural activity to the mental. The article looks at such a theory, Gerald Edelman's ?Neural Darwinism?. What are the implications of such a theory for sport science and philosophy of sport? (3) The article (...) appreciates some of the neurosciences applications, but questions the hope of giving a complete theory of mind. (shrink)
Friedrich Waismann, a little-known mathematician and onetime student of Wittgenstein's, provides answers to problems that vexed Wittgenstein in his attempt to explicate the foundations of mathematics through an analysis of its practice. Waismann argues in favor of mathematical intuition and the reality of infinity with a Wittgensteinian twist. Waismann's arguments lead toward an approach to the foundation of mathematics that takes into consideration the language and practice of experts.
The hunt for a biologically respectable definition for the folk concept of innateness is still on. I defend Ariew’s Canalization account of innateness against the criticisms of Griffiths and Machery, but highlight the remaining flaws in this proposal. I develop a new analysis based on the notion of environmental induction. A trait is innate, I argue, iff it is not environmentally induced. I augment this definition with a novel analysis of environmental induction that draws on the contrastive nature of causal (...) explanation. Whether a trait is environmentally induced, I argue, depends on a context sensitive contrast class. I argue that a “Noninduction” analysis of innateness allows the concept an explanatory role in biology. I show how my proposal co-opts the successes of the Canalization account whilst avoiding its pitfalls, and I account for why biologists associate a range of disparate properties with innateness. (shrink)
An influential argument due to Elliott Sober, subsequently strengthened by Denis Walsh and Joel Pust, moves from plausible premises to the bold conclusion that natural selection cannot explain the traits of individual organisms. If the argument were sound, the explanatory scope of selection would depend, surprisingly, on metaphysical considerations concerning origin essentialism. I show that the Sober-Walsh-Pust argument rests on a flawed counterfactual criterion for explanatory relevance. I further show that a more defensible criterion for explanatory relevance recently proposed by (...) Michael Strevens lends support to the view that natural selection can be relevant to the explanation of individual traits. (shrink)
I consider some hitherto unexplored examples of teleological language in the sciences. In explicating these examples, I aim to show (a) that such language is not the sole preserve of the biological sciences, and (b) that not all such talk is reducible to the ascription of functions. In chemistry and biochemistry, scientists explaining molecular rearrangements and protein folding talk informally of molecules rearranging “in order to” maximize stability. Evolutionary biologists, meanwhile, often speak of traits evolving “in order to” optimize some (...) fitness-relevant variable. I argue that in all three contexts such locutions are best interpreted as shorthands for more detailed explanations which, were we to spell them out in full, would show that the relevant process would robustly converge towards the same end-point despite variation in initial conditions. This suggests that, in biology, such talk presupposes a substantial form of adaptationism. The upshot is that such shorthands may be more applicable in the physical sciences than the biological. (shrink)
One of the central, abiding, and unresolved questions in environmental ethics has focused on the criterion for moral considerability or practical respect. In this essay, I call that question itself into question and argue that the search for this criterion should be abandoned because (1) it presupposes the ethical legitimacy of the Western project of planetary domination, (2) the philosophical methods that are andshould be used to address the question properly involve giving consideration in a root sense to everything, (3) (...) the history of the question suggests that it must be kept open, and (4) our deontic experience, the original source of ethical obligations, requires approaching all others, of all sorts, with a mindfulness that is clean of any a priori criterion of respect and positive value. The good work that has been doneon the question should be reconceived as having established rules for the normal, daily consideration of various kinds of others. Giving consideration in the root sense should be separated from giving high regard or positive value to what is considered. Overall, in this essay I argue that universal consideration—giving attention to others of all sorts, with the goal of ascertaining what, if any, direct ethical obligations arise from relating with them—should be adopted as one of the central constitutive principles of practical reasonableness. (shrink)
Andrew Bourke’s Principles of Social Evolution identifies three stages that characterize an evolutionary transition in individuality and deploys inclusive fitness theory to explain each stage. The third stage, social group transformation, has hitherto received relatively little attention from inclusive fitness theorists. In this review, I first discuss Bourke’s “virtual dominance” hypothesis for the evolution of the germ line. I then contrast Bourke’s inclusive fitness approach to the major transitions with the multi-level approach developed by Richard Michod, Samir Okasha and others. (...) I suggest that, rather than choosing between these approaches, we should exploit the strengths of both. Finally, I stress the need for a firmer conceptual grasp of the nature of social group transformation. (shrink)
Inclusive fitness theory was not originally designed to explain the major transitions in evolution, but there is a growing consensus that it has the resources to do so. My aim in this paper is to highlight, in a constructive spirit, the puzzles and challenges that remain. I first consider the distinctive aspects of the cooperative interactions we see within the most complex social groups in nature: multicellular organisms and eusocial insect colonies. I then focus on one aspect in particular: the (...) extreme redundancy these societies exhibit. I argue that extreme redundancy poses a distinctive explanatory puzzle for inclusive fitness theory, and I offer a potential solution which casts coercion as the key enabler. I suggest that the general moral to draw from the case is one of guarded optimism: while inclusive fitness is a powerful tool for understanding evolutionary transitions, it must be integrated within a broader framework that recognizes the distinctive problems such transitions present and the distinctive mechanisms by which these problems may be overcome. (shrink)
Even with the very best intentions , Western culture’s approach to wilderness and wildness, the otherness of nature, tends to be one of imperialistic domination and appropriation. Nevertheless, in spite of Western culture’s attempt to gain total control over nature by imprisoning wildness in wilderness areas, which are meant to be merely controlled “simulations” of wildness, a real wildness, a real otherness, can still be found in wilderness reserves . This wildness can serve as the literal ground for the subversion (...) of the imperium, and consequently as the basis for the practical establishment of and residence in what WendeII Berry has called the “landscape of harmony.” Here all land becomes wild sacred space that humans consciously come to reinhabit. In this subversive potential lies the most fundamental justification for the legal establishment of wilderness reserves. (shrink)
This paper employs an eclectic mix of paradigms in order to discuss constituting characteristics of young children's learning experiences. Drawing upon a phenomenological perspective it examines learning as a form of 'Being' and as the result of learners' engagement with the world in their own, unique, intentional manners. The learners' intentions towards their world are expressed in everyday activity and participation. A social constructivist perspective is thus employed to present learning as situated in meaningful socio-cultural contexts of the everyday, lived (...) world and as a form of participation in those settings. These characteristics of learning are brought together into a holistic, synthesised model, a Gestalt of learning. The proposed synthesis has relevance for and is applicable to educational contexts as a means of making sense of children's learning experiences and of promoting and facilitating them. (shrink)
Nick Bostrom’s ‘Simulation Argument’ purports to show that, unless we are confident that advanced ‘posthuman’ civilizations are either extremely rare or extremely rarely interested in running simulations of their own ancestors, we should assign significant credence to the hypothesis that we are simulated. I argue that Bostrom does not succeed in grounding this constraint on credence. I first show that the Simulation Argument requires a curious form of selective scepticism, for it presupposes that we possess good evidence for claims about (...) the physical limits of computation and yet lack good evidence for claims about our own physical constitution. I then show that two ways of modifying the argument so as to remove the need for this presupposition fail to preserve the original conclusion. Finally, I argue that, while there are unusual circumstances in which Bostrom’s selective scepticism might be reasonable, we do not currently find ourselves in such circumstances. There is no good reason to uphold the selective scepticism the Simulation Argument presupposes. There is thus no good reason to believe its conclusion. (shrink)
In an incendiary 2010 Nature article, M. A. Nowak, C. E. Tarnita and E. O. Wilson present a savage critique of the best known and most widely used framework for the study of social evolution, W. D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection. Over a hundred biologists have since rallied to the theory’s defence, but Nowak et al. maintain that their arguments ‘stand unrefuted’. Here I consider the most contentious claim Nowak et al. defend: that Hamilton’s rule, the core explanatory principle (...) of kin selection theory, ‘almost never holds’. I first distinguish two versions of Hamilton’s rule in contemporary theory: a special version (HRS) that requires restrictive assumptions, and a general version (HRG) that does not. I then show that Nowak et al. are most charitably construed as arguing that HRS almost never holds, while HRG buys its generality at the expense of explanatory power. While their arguments against HRS are fairly uncontroversial, their arguments against HRG are more contentious, yet these have been largely overlooked in the ensuing furore. I consider the arguments for and against the explanatory value of HRG, with a view to assessing what exactly is at stake in the debate. I suggest that the debate hinges on issues concerning the causal interpretability of regression coefficients, and concerning the explanatory function Hamilton’s rule is intended to serve. (shrink)
Tomasello et al. have not characterized the motivation underlying shared intentionality, and we hope to encourage research on this topic by offering comparative paradigms and specific empirical questions. Although we agree that nonhuman primates differ greatly from us in terms of shared intentionality, we caution against concluding that they lack all aspects of it before other empirical tools have been exhausted. In addition, identifying the conditions in which humans spontaneously engage in shared intentionality, and the conditions in which we fail, (...) will more fully characterize this ability. (shrink)
This book is about the liberation of the concept of life from the bondage fashioned by the interpreters of life ever since biology began, and about the liberation of the life of humans and non-humans alike from the bondage of social structures and behaviour, which now threatens the fullness of life's possibilities if not survival itself. It falls into a tradition of writings about human problems from a perspective informed by biology. It rejects the mechanistic model of life dominant in (...) the Western world and develops an alternative 'ecological model' which is applicable to the life of the cell and the life of the human community. For the first time it brings together in one work the insights of modern biology with those of a modern holistic philosophy and a liberal theology in a way which challenges conventional approaches to science, agriculture, sociology, politics, economics, development and liberation movements. (shrink)
Abstract Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) research and (future) applications raise important ethical issues that need to be addressed to promote societal acceptance and adequate policies. Here we report on a survey we conducted among 145 BCI researchers at the 4 th International BCI conference, which took place in May–June 2010 in Asilomar, California. We assessed respondents’ opinions about a number of topics. First, we investigated preferences for terminology and definitions relating to BCIs. Second, we assessed respondents’ expectations on the marketability of (...) different BCI applications (BCIs for healthy people, BCIs for assistive technology, BCIs-controlled neuroprostheses and BCIs as therapy tools). Third, we investigated opinions about ethical issues related to BCI research for the development of assistive technology: informed consent process with locked-in patients, risk-benefit analyses, team responsibility, consequences of BCI on patients’ and families’ lives, liability and personal identity and interaction with the media. Finally, we asked respondents which issues are urgent in BCI research. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-38 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9132-6 Authors Femke Nijboer, Human Media Interaction, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands Jens Clausen, Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany Brendan Z. Allison, Laboratory of Brain-Computer Interfaces, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria Pim Haselager, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490. (shrink)
The question of who 'we' are and what vision of humanity 'we' assume in Western culture lies at the heart of hotly debated questions on the role of religion in education, politics, and culture in general. The need for recovering a greater purpose for social practices is indicated, for example, by the rapidly increasing number of publications on the demise of higher education, lamenting the fragmentation of knowledge and university culture's surrender to market-driven pragmatism. The West's cultural rootlessness and lack (...) of cultural identity are also revealed by the failure of multiculturalism to integrate religiously vibrant immigrant cultures. A main cause of the West's cultural malaise is the long-standing separation of reason and faith. -/- Jens Zimmermann suggests that the West can rearticulate its identity and renew its cultural purpose by recovering the humanistic ethos that originally shaped Western culture. In tracing the religious roots of humanism from patristic theology, through the Renaissance into modern philosophy, we find that humanism was originally based on the correlation of reason and faith. In this book, the author combines humanism, religion, and hermeneutic philosophy to re-imagine humanism for our current cultural and intellectual climate. The hope of this recovery is for humanism to become what Charles Taylor has called a 'social imaginary', an internalized vision of what it means to be human. This vision will encourage, once again, the correlation of reason and faith in order to overcome current cultural impasses, such as those posed, for example, by religious and secularist fundamentalisms. (shrink)
Logical relativism is the view that a logical proposition is known just in case it is collectively endorsed in some culture. This striking and controversial view is defended by David Bloor and Richard C. Jennings. They cite in its support distinctive reasoning practices among the Azande as described by E. E. Evans-Pitchard. Jennings has challenged my critique of Bloor's logical relativism, claiming that my analysis is based on misunderstandings of Bloor and Evans-Pritchard. I argue that Jennings' clarifications of Bloor do (...) nothing to support the thesis of logical relativism, and that a direct examination of Evans-Pritchard's evidence suggests that the Azande reason just as we do. (shrink)
This article compares Confucian ethics of Jen and feminist ethics of care. It attempts to show that they share philosophically significant common grounds. Its findings affirm the view that care-orientation in ethics is not a characteristic peculiar to one sex. It also shows that care-orientation is not peculiar to subordinated social groups. Arguing that the oppression of women is not an essential element of Confucian ethics, the author indicates the Confucianism and feminism are compatible.
The use of the term hsing in the Meng-tzu is discussed, along with Mencius' views on jen-hsing. It is argued that while the use of hsing need not connote something unlearned and shared, Mencius did view jen-hsing in terms of certain unlearned emotional predispositions shared by all jen. He regarded jen as a species distinguished from other animals by its capability of cultural accomplishment, and felt that it is the presence of the emotional predispositions that makes this possible.
Under Mencius' influence jen has been regarded as part of a theory of nature. As such, commentators have had difficulty resolving the apparent paradox in "Analects" 9.1 that Confucius rarely talked about jen. No paradox arises if jen is seen as a practice involving self-cultivation as a never-ending task and the immediacy of ethical commitment where a cluster of emotions, attitudes, and values are expressed. Jen is an ethical orientation from which one speaks and acts--not particular qualities that one might (...) enumerate and claim to possess. As such, the internal relation between jen and li does not amount to their being the same thing, as implied by some recent writers. (shrink)
At two fronts I defend my 1994 article. I argue that differences between Confucian jen ethics and feminist care ethics do not preclude their shared commonalities in comparison with Kantian, utilitarian, and contractarian ethics, and that Confucians do care. I also argue that Confucianism is capable of changing its rules to reflect its renewed understanding of jen, that care ethics is feminist, and that similarities between Confucian and care ethics have significant implications.
Abstract Universality, rather than partiality, is the characteristic of Confucian jen. This article puts forward three arguments to clarify confusion of interpretation: (1) that jen, rather than shu, is the main thread running through the whole system of Confucianism, and that by its two procedures of chung and shu, it presents itself as an integration of one's self with others; (2) that jen, as love, does not signify a natural preference, but an ethical refinement of an ordinary feeling of fondness, (...) that it derives from such a feeling but goes beyond it, and that it functions as a universal commitment which begins with family affection but is not limited to it; (3) that jen, as universal love, is deontological in motive, not only in contrast to a mutuality of love but also in opposition to a utilitarianism of love. (shrink)
Zande Logic and Western Logic’ Richard Jennings argues that contrary to the view of Evans-Pritchard and Tim Triplett the system of logic employed by the Azande is sui generis and distinct from that of Westerners. I argue that this thesis is erroneous because Jennings, following Evans-Pritchard, is at fault in his analysis of the logic of the Azande. Zande thinking on the topic of witchcraft-substance heritability is not contradictory as believed. But even if one assumes that the Azande do reason (...) contradictorily on matters of institutional importance, Jennings' thesis on the possibility of incompatible logics still fails because similar instances of contradictory thinking could be found in the West. Although in practical matters all peoples appeal to orthodox logic, in matters of institutional importance the epistemological relativist could be on fertile ground where orthodox logic is in conflict with beliefs that are institutionally grounded. (shrink)
In this paper, I investigate whether we can use a world-involving framework to model the epistemic states of non-ideal agents. The standard possible-world framework falters in this respect because of a commitment to logical omniscience. A familiar attempt to overcome this problem centers around the use of impossible worlds where the truths of logic can be false. As we shall see, if we admit impossible worlds where “anything goes” in modal space, it is easy to model extremely non-ideal agents that (...) are incapable of performing even the most elementary logical deductions. A much harder, and considerably less investigated challenge is to ensure that the resulting modal space can also be used to model moderately ideal agents that are not logically omniscient but nevertheless logically competent. Intuitively, while such agents may fail to rule out subtly impossible worlds that verify complex logical falsehoods, they are nevertheless able to rule out blatantly impossible worlds that verify obvious logical falsehoods. To model moderately ideal agents, I argue, the job is to construct a modal space that contains only possible and non-trivially impossible worlds where it is not the case that “anything goes”. But I prove that it is impossible to develop an impossible-world framework that can do this job and that satisfies certain standard conditions. Effectively, I show that attempts to model moderately ideal agents in a world-involving framework collapse to modeling either logical omniscient agents, or extremely non-ideal agents. (shrink)
The traditional Lewis-Stalnaker semantics treats all counterfactuals with an impossible antecedent as trivially or vacuously true. Many have regarded this as a serious defect of the semantics. For intuitively, it seems, counterfactuals with impossible antecedents---counterpossibles---can be non-trivially true and non-trivially false. Whereas the counterpossible "If Hobbes had squared the circle, then the mathematical community at the time would have been surprised'' seems true, "If Hobbes had squared the circle, then sick children in the mountains of Afghanistan at the time would (...) have been thrilled'' seems false. -/- Many have proposed to extend the Lewis-Stalnaker semantics with impossible worlds to make room for a non-trivial or non-vacuous treatment of counterpossibles. Roughly, on the extended Lewis-Stalnaker semantics, we evaluate a counterfactual of the form "If A had been true, then C would have been true'' by going to closest world---whether possible or impossible---in which A is true and check whether C is also true in that world. If the answer is "yes'', the counterfactual is true; otherwise it is false. Since there are impossible worlds in which the mathematically impossible happens, there are impossible worlds in which Hobbes manages to square the circle. And intuitively, in the closest such impossible worlds, sick children in the mountains of Afghanistan are not thrilled---they remain sick and unmoved by the mathematical developments in Europe. If so, the counterpossible "If Hobbes had squared the circle, then sick children in the mountains of Afghanistan at the time would have been thrilled'' comes out false, as desired. -/- In this paper, I will critically investigate the extended Lewis-Stalnaker semantics for counterpossibles. I will argue that the standard version of the extended semantics, in which impossible worlds correspond to maximal, logically inconsistent entities, fails to give the correct semantic verdicts for many counterpossibles. In light of the negative arguments, I will then outline a new version of the extended Lewis-Stalnaker semantics that can avoid these problems. (shrink)
Scott Campbell has recently defended the psychological approach to personal identity over time by arguing that a person is literally a series of mental events. Rejecting four-dimensionalism about the persistence of physical objects, Campbell regards constitutionalism as the main rival version of the psychological approach. He argues that his "series view" has two clear advantages over constitutionalism: it avoids the "two thinkers" objection and it allows a person to change bodies. In addition, Campbell suggests a reply to the objection, often (...) raised against views such as his, that thoughts must be distinct from their thinker. In this paper, I argue that Campbell's responses to the "two thinkers" and the "thoughts/thinker" objections are unsuccessful. Furthermore, his reply to the latter leads to four-dimensionalism of the kind he wanted to avoid – and this view too allows a person to change bodies. Moreover, I argue that it speaks against the series view that generalised versions of it fare much more poorly than do generalised versions of constitutionalism and four-dimensionalism. (shrink)