Universal Grammar (UG) can be interpreted as a constraint on the form of possible grammars (hypothesis space) or as a constraint on acquisition strategies (selection procedures). In this response to Herschensohn we reiterate the position outlined in Epstein et al. (1996a, r), that in the evaluation of L2 acquisition as a UG- constrained process the former (possible grammars/ knowledge states) is critical, not the latter. Selection procedures, on the other hand, are important in that they may have a bearing (...) on development in language acquisition. We raise the possibility that differences in first and second language acquisition pertaining to both attainment of the end-state and course of development may derive from differences in selection procedures. We further suggest that for these reasons age effects in the attainment of nativelike proficiency must necessarily be separated from UG effects. (shrink)
In this guest column, Epstein offers “a new sign” that, he argues, resolves difficulties that have arisen in many theories and practices, including linguistics, semiotics, literary theory, poetics, aesthetics, ecology, ecophilology, eco-ethics, metaphysics, theology, psychology, and phenomenology. The new sign, a pair of quotation marks around a blank space, signfies the absence of any sign. Most generally, “ ” relates to the blank space that surrounds and underlies a text; by locating “ ” within the text, the margins are (...) brought inside and can become the focus of attention. Not only the margins but also the material background of a text (the page or screen) can be brought forward and focused on through the transparency of the sign “ ”, in which case “ ” becomes a sign of itself. Consubstantial with its medium, therefore, this sign is both relative and universal: “ ” is the same everywhere, on every surface, in every language, and also in the arts. Epstein analyzes works by Rauschenberg, Malevich, Ilya Kabakov, and Vasilisk Gdenov in the visual arts, as well as music by John Cage, to demonstrate the usefulness of his new sign for aesthetics and art criticism. Each discipline, he argues, has its own nonspeakable conditions and assumptions that it needs to bring inside disciplinary frontiers. At the frontier of language, “ ” is both inside and outside, and therefore can express the nonspeakable condition of speakability. In concluding, Epstein suggests that the task of the avant-garde in theory today is to develop a “negative semiotics”: a semiotics of nonsigns, modeled on negative (apophatic) theology. (shrink)
The thesis of methodological individualism in social science is commonly divided into two different claims—explanatory individualism and ontological individualism. Ontological individualism is the thesis that facts about individuals exhaustively determine social facts. Initially taken to be a claim about the identity of groups with sets of individuals or their properties, ontological individualism has more recently been understood as a global supervenience claim. While explanatory individualism has remained controversial, ontological individualism thus understood is almost universally accepted. In this paper I argue (...) that ontological individualism is false. Only if the thesis is weakened to the point that it is equivalent to physicalism can it be true, but then it fails to be a thesis about the determination of social facts by facts about individual persons. Even when individualistic facts are expanded to include people’s local environments and practices, I shall argue, those still underdetermine the social facts that obtain. If true, this has implications for explanation as well as ontology. I first consider arguments against the local supervenience of social facts on facts about individuals, correcting some flaws in existing arguments and affirming that local supervenience fails for a broad set of social properties. I subsequently apply a similar approach to defeat a particularly weak form of global supervenience, and consider potential responses. Finally, I explore why it is that people have taken ontological individualism to be true. (shrink)
The term queer has recently come into wide use to designate distinctive emphases in the politics and the intellectual study of sexuality. This article explores the unfortunate irony that most work falling under the rubric of queer theory has been undertaken largely at some remove from the discipline of sociology, despite the pioneering role that an earlier generation of sociologists played in formulating influential conceptions of the social construction of sexuality. The article suggests important continuities between the earlier sociological theories (...) and recent queer theory, but also analyzes the new challenges that queer theorists have posed by insisting on the indispensability of questions of sexual "marginality" to the larger understanding of social and cultural organization. The article concludes by suggesting how sociologists might engage with such a project. (shrink)
William James described the stream of thought as having two components: (1) a nucleus of highly conscious, often perceptual material; and (2) a fringe of dimly felt contextual information that controls the entry of information into the nucleus and guides the progression of internally directed thought. Here I examine the neural and cognitive correlates of this phenomenology. A survey of the cognitive neuroscience literature suggests that the nucleus corresponds to a dynamic global buffer formed by interactions between different regions of (...) the brain, while the fringe corresponds to a set of mechanisms in the frontal and medial temporal lobes that control the contents of this global buffer. A consequence of this account is that there might be conscious imagistic representations that are not part of the nucleus. I argue that phenomenology can be linked to psychology and neuroscience and a meaningful way that illuminates both. (shrink)
The choices I will be talking about have to do with biotechnology and genetic engineering, choices which we are currently not making consciously because we really don't know what is going on. I would like to tell you what is going on in these areas, and then talk about how we might approach this matter in ethical ways.
From the very first milk you suckle, your food is genetically engineered. The natural world is completely made over, invaded and distorted beyond recognition by genetically engineered trees, plants, animals, insects, bacteria, and viruses, both planned and run amok. Illnesses are very different too. Most of the old ones are gone or mutated into new forms, yet most people are suffering from genetically engineered pathogens, either used in biowarfare, or mistakenly released into the environment, or recombined in toxic form from (...) originally harmless but rapidly mutating engineered organisms. Genetic engineering is so commonplace, you start your own simple experiments with it in elementary school. (shrink)
The Gestalt psychologists adopted a set of positions on mind-body issues that seem like an odd mix. They sought to combine a version of naturalism and physiological reductionism with an insistence on the reality of the phenomenal and the attribution of meanings to objects as natural characteristics. After reviewing basic positions in contemporary philosophy of mind, we examine the Gestalt position, characterizing it m terms of phenomenal realism and programmatic reductionism. We then distinguish Gestalt philosophy of mind from instrumentalism and (...) computational functionalism, and examine Gestalt attributions of meaning and value to perceived objects. Finally, we consider a metatheoretical moral from Gestalt theory, which commends the search for commensurate description of mental phenomena and their physiological counterparts. (shrink)
In a recent article, Harold Noonan argues that application conditions and criteria of identity are not distinct from one another. This seems to threaten the standard approach to distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I propose that his observation, while correct, does not have this consequence. I present a simple scheme for distinguishing sortals from adjectival terms. I also propose an amended version of the standard canonical form of criteria of identity.
I want to relate to you two striking examples of animals acting with more humanity than most humans. My point is not that animals are more humane than humans, but that there is dramatic evidence that animals can act in ways that do not support certain Western stereotypes about their capacities.
Within the American context, the term Corporate Good Citizenship, a rather vague and somewhat dated notion, bears little relationship to the concept of Business Ethics. Whereas the latter refers to systematic reflection on the moral significance of the institutions, policies and behavior of business actors in the normal course of their business operations, the former is a subset of the broader notion of Corporate Social Responsibility and denotes, generally, discretionary, possibly altruistic, non-business relationships between business organizations and diverse community stakeholders. (...) A newer concept, the Corporate Social Policy Process, which focuses on the institutionalization within business organizations of processes facilitating individual and organizational reflection and choice regarding the moral significance of personal and organizational action together with a consideration of the likely consequences of such action, provides analytical linkages between Business Ethics and Corporate Good Citizenship which can be useful to business scholars and operating managers alike. Specific aspects of Corporate Good Citizenship, including corporate community involvements, are examined and particular attention is paid to current trends in corporate donations, including an increasing emphasis on strategic philanthropy which explicitly mixes practical and benevolent motives in company giving policies and practices. (shrink)
In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick seeks to demonstrate that principles of justice in acquisition and transfer can be applied to justify the minimal state, and no state greater than the minimal state. That approach fails to acknowledge the critical role that forced exchanges play in overcoming a range of public goods and coordination problems. These ends are accomplished by taking property for which the owner is compensated in cash or in kind in an amount that leaves him better (...) off (by his own lights) than before the transaction. Forced exchanges use coercion to form the state, but the just compensation requirement guards against redistribution state imposed redistribution for collateral purposes. Once these forced exchanges are allowed to form a state, then they may be used thereafter to justify the powers of taxation and eminent domain used to support infrastructure (roads, sewers, public utilities) that neither the minimal state nor private markets can supply. Footnotesa I have benefited from comments at the workshop at the Social Sciences Division of the California Institute of Technology. My thanks to Justin Herring and Eric Murphy, The University of Chicago Law School, for their usual capable research assistance. (shrink)
Models treating the simple properties of social groups have a common shortcoming. Typically, they focus on the local properties of group members and the features of the world with which group members interact. I consider economic models of bureaucratic corruption, to show that (a) simple properties of groups are often constituted by the properties of the wider population, and (b) even sophisticated models are commonly inadequate to account for many simple social properties. Adequate models and social policies must treat certain (...) factors that are not local to individual members of the group, even if those factors are not causally connected to those individuals. Key Words: individualism corruption supervenience model cause. (shrink)
Quite unexpectedly, cognitive psychologists find their field intimately connected to a whole new intellectual landscape that had previously seemed remote, unfamiliar, and all but irrelevant. Yet the proliferating connections tying together the cognitive and evolutionary communities promise to transform both fields, with each supplying necessary principles, methods, and a species of rigor that the other lacks. (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994, p. 85).
This article defends the classical liberal view of human interactions that gives strong protection to associational freedom except in cases that involve the use of force or fraud or the exercise of monopoly power. That conception is at war with the modern antidiscrimination or human rights laws that operate in competitive markets in such vital areas as employment and housing, with respect to matters of race, sex, age, and increasingly, disability. The article further argues that using the label to boost (...) the moral case for antidiscrimination laws gets matters exactly backwards, given that any program of forced association on one side of a status relationship (employer, not employee; landlord, not tenant) is inconsistent with any universal norm governing all individuals regardless of role in all associative arrangements. The articled also discusses the tensions that arise under current Supreme Court law, which protects associational freedom arising out of expressive activities (as in cases involving the NAACP or the Boy Scouts), but refuses to extend that protection to other forms of association, such as those involving persons with disabilities. The great vice of all these arrangements is that they cannot guarantee the stability of mandated win/lose relationships. The article further argues that a strong social consensus against discrimination is insufficient reason to coerce dissenters, given that holders of the dominant position can run their operations as they see fit even if others do otherwise. It closes with a short model human rights statute drafted in the classical liberal tradition that avoids the awkward line drawing and balancing that give rise to modern bureaucracies to enforce modern antidiscrimination laws. (shrink)
Buddhists call Buddhism the Buddha Dharma: the Dharma, a collection of methods for getting enlightened, taught by a Buddha, a Fully Enlightened One. Buddhists refer to themselves as people who have taken refuge with the Three Jewels: 1) the Buddhas or Fully Enlightened Ones, 2) the Dharma or methods taught for reaching enlightenment, 3) and the Sangha or community of Buddhist monks and nuns, called Bhikshus and Bhikshunis. In formally becoming a Buddhist one becomes a disciple of a Buddhist master, (...) a fully ordained Bhikshu, who administers the Three Refuges: "I take refuge with the Buddhas; I take refuge with the Dharma; I take refuge with the Sangha.". (shrink)
Many theorists have regarded genealogy as an important technique for social criticism. But it has been unclear how genealogy can go beyond the accomplishments of other, more mundane, critical methods. I propose a new approach to understanding the critical potential of history. I argue that theorists have been misled by the assumption that if a claim is deserving of criticism, it is because the claim is false. Turning to the criticism of concepts rather than criticism of claims, I expand on (...) the distinction between "descriptive semantics" and "foundational semantics" to show that genealogy can be uniquely qualified to explore the foundations of concepts, and hence to criticize concepts that are problematic in nonobvious ways. (shrink)
What might it be like to be a Buddhist in a future world where your life started with your parents designing your genes? In addition to screening for unwanted genetic diseases, they would have selected your genes for sex; height; eye, hair, and skin color; and, if your parents are Buddhists, maybe even for genes that allow you to sit easily in the full lotus position. Pressured by current social fads, they may also have chosen genes whose overall functions are (...) not clearly understood but are rumored to be connected with temperament, intelligence, mindfulness, and perhaps psychic powers. (There is no longer any need to search for reincarnated lamas. They now clone themselves and get reborn in their own clones.) If your parents are poor, they may have been paid to design you with genes tailored for a particular occupation, together with a pre-birth contract for future employment. As in the film Gattaca, you probably belong to a clearly defined social class according to the degree of your genetic enhancement. Of course there may still be a few weird, unenhanced naturals-by-choice meditating in the mountains. (shrink)
What are the conditions for fixing the reference of a proper name? Debate on this point has recently been rekindled by Scott Soames, Robin Jeshion, and others. In this paper, I sketch a new pragmatic approach to the justification of reference-fixing procedures, in opposition to accounts that insist on an invariant set of conditions for fixing reference across environments and linguistic communities. Comparing reference to other relations whose instances are introduced through "initiation" procedures, I outline a picture in which the (...) procedures that are successful for fixing the reference of proper names depend in part on regularities in the actual environment. (shrink)
This fascinating collection on artifacts brings together seven papers by philosophers with nine by psychologists, biologists, and an archaeologist. The psychological papers include two excellent discussions of empirical work on the mental representation of artifact concepts – an assessment by Malt and Sloman of a large variety of studies on the conflicting ways we classify artifacts and extend our applications of artifact categories to new cases, and a review by Mahon and Caramazza of data from semantically impaired patients and from (...) neuroimaging on concepts of living kinds versus artifact kinds. Following these are three papers on the development of artifact concepts in children, including a short but provocative piece by Keil, Greif, and Kerner arguing that there is a mismatch between the patterns of development for our concepts of artifacts and the patterns of representation we end up developing. The final part of the book includes authoritative papers on artifact use by insects, birds, and mammals, by primates, and by Australopithecines and Neanderthals. (shrink)
Imagine a world in which as part of their basic substances tomatoes contain fish and tobacco, potatoes contain chicken, moths and other insects, and corn contains fireflies. Is this science-fiction? No, these plant-animal hybrids already exist today and may soon be on your supermarket shelves without any special labeling to warn you. Furthermore, in a few years the types of these genetically engineered "vegetables" are sure to increase and may very possibly also include human genes. If you are a vegetarian, (...) do you want to be in the position of inadvertently eating vegetables that are part meat? Even if you are not a vegetarian, are you ready to become a cannibal and eat foods that are part human being? (shrink)
Aristotle stated one of the most influential postulates in the history of ethics: virtue is the middle point between two vicious extremes: "…excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the mean of virtue. For men are good in but one way, but bad in many." The paper argues that between two vices there are two virtues that comprise two different moral perspectives as perceived by stereoethics. For example, two virtues can be found between the vices of miserliness and wastefulness: (...) generosity, which is further from miserliness, and thrift, which is further from wastefulness. Just as there are stereo music and stereo cinema, which convey the full volume of sounds and objects, there is stereo ethics, based on the duality of virtues. From the point of view of stereo ethics we can rethink the "golden rule": "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them." At the basis of both the golden rule and, later, the Kantian categorical imperative, lies the reversibility of moral subjects: you should put yourself in somebody else's place and treat you neighbor as you wish him or her to treat you. Today, however, ithas become obvious that only the ethics of differentiation can save us from relativism, which is a negative reaction against traditional morals with their universal norms. It is precisely this irreducibility of the individual to the general that may become a source of new moral energy. Two questions form a moral criterion: Would you wish to become an object of your own actions? Could anyone but you be the subject of your actions? The best action is that which corresponds to the needs of the largest number and the capacities of the smallest number of people. Act in such a way that you yourself would like to become an object of your actions, but no one else could be their subject. It is moral to do for others that which no one else can do except myself : to be for-others, but not like-others. (shrink)
The historical Buddha Shakyamuni denied the divine authority of the Brahmins, the Hindu priestly class. He set up a system of taking refuge with the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) in which a member of the Buddhist monastic community becomes the representative of the Three Jewels and the teacher of individual lay Buddhists. He also set up lineages of enlightened masters, who were entrusted with the task of carrying on the authentic teachings.
The extent to which concepts, memory, and planning are necessary to the simulation of intelligent behavior is a fundamental philosophical issue in Artificial Intelligence. An active and productive segement of the AI community has taken the position that multiple low-level agents, properly organized, can account for high-level behavior. Empirical research on these questions with fully operational systems has been restricted to mobile robots that do simple tasks. This paper recounts experiments with Hoyle, a system in a cerebral, rather than a (...) physical, domain. The program learns to perform well and quickly, often outpacing its human creators at two-person, perfect information board games. Hoyle demonstrates that a surprising amount of intelligent behavior can be treated as if it were situation-determined, that often planning is unnecessary, and that the memory required to support this learning is minimal. Concepts, however, are crucial to this reactive program's ability to learn and perform. (shrink)
An educated guess about the future of academic bioethics can only be made on the basis of the historical conditions of its success. According to its official history, which attributes its success primarily to the service it has done for the patient, it should be safe at least as long as the patient still needs its service. Like many other academic disciplines, it might suffer under the present economic downturn. However, in the plausible assumption that its social role has not (...) been exhausted yet, it should recover as soon as the economy does. But if, as this paper tries to argue, the success of academic bioethics should be attributed first and foremost to the service it has done for the neoliberal agenda, then its future would have to depend on the fate of the latter. The exact implications of the downturn for the neoliberal agenda are obviously impossible to predict. Among the various options, however, the one of going back to 'normal' seems to be the least likely. The other options suggest that the future of academic bioethics, as we have known it, is bleak. (shrink)
Chomsky's current Biolinguistic (Minimalist) methodology is shown to comport with what might be called 'established' aspects of biological method, thereby raising, in the biolinguistic domain, issues concerning biological autonomy from the physical sciences. At least current irreducibility of biology, including biolinguistics, stems in at least some cases from the very nature of what I will claim is physiological, or inter-organ/inter-component, macro-levels of explanation which play a new and central explanatory role in Chomsky's inter-componential (interface-based) explanation of certain (anatomical) properties of (...) the syntactic component of Universal Grammar. Under this new mode of explanation, certain physiological functions of cognitive mental organs are hypothesized, in an attempt to explain aspects of their internal anatomy. Thus, the internal anatomy of the syntactic component exhibits features that enable it to effectively interface with (i.e. function in a coordinated fashion with) other 'adjacent' organs, such as the Conceptual-Intensional (C-I) ('meaning') system and the Sensory- Motor (SM) ('sound') system. These two interface systems take as their inputs the assembled outputs of the syntactic component and, as a result of the very syntactic structure imposed by the syntax (as opposed to countless imaginable alternatives) are then able to assign their (linearized) sound and (compositional) meaning interpretations. If this is an accurate characterization, Chomsky's long-standing postulation of mental organs, and I will argue, the advancement of new hypotheses concerning physiological inter-organ functions, has attained in current biolinguistic Minimalist method a significant unification with foundational aspects of physiological explanation in other areas of biology. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan is one of the most interesting and influential philosophers alive. Her work is also hard to penetrate. In this review, I try to present and assess her work on the nature of language, which is collected in this anthology. I also criticize her analysis of “natural convention” as well as her discussion of illocutionary acts.
Chomsky and others have denied the relevance of external linguistic entities, such as E-languages, to linguistic explanation, and have questioned their coherence altogether. I discuss a new approach to understanding the nature of linguistic entities, focusing in particular on making sense of the varieties of kinds of “words” that are employed in linguistic theorizing. This treatment of linguistic entities in general is applied to constructing an understanding of external linguistic entities.
The ratio-bias (RB) phenomenon refers to the perceived likelihood of a low-probability event as greater when it is presented in the form of larger (e.g. 10-in-100) rather than smaller (e.g. 1-in-10) numbers. According to cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST), the RB effect in a game of chance in a win condition, in which drawing a red jellybean is rewarded, can be accounted for by two facets of concrete thinking, the greater comprehension (at the intuitive-experiential level) of single numbers than of ratios, and (...) of smaller than of larger numbers. In a lose condition, in which drawing a red jellybean is punished, the assumption of a third facet of concrete thinking, the ''affirmative-representation principle'', is necessary, as many participants reverse their focus of attention from the undesirable red to the desirable white jellybeans. Results supported the CEST explanation of the RB effect by demonstrating a predicted negative linear relation between the magnitude of the RB effect and the magnitude of the probability-ratios in the win condition and a positive linear relation in the lose condition. Support was also found for the associative principle of experiential processing. (shrink)
A problem with Stanovich & West's inference that there a nonintellectual processing system independent from an intellectual one from data in which they partialled out global intelligence is that they may have controlled for the wrong kind of intellectual intelligence. Research on cognitive-experiential self-theory over the past two decades provides much stronger support for two independent processing systems.
This study surveyed investors to determine the extent to which they preferred ethical behavior to profits and their interest in having information about corporate ethical behavior reported in the corporate annual report. First, investors were asked to determine what penalties should be assessed against employees who engage in profitable, but unethical, behavior. Second, investors were asked about their interest in using the annual report to disclose the ethical performance of the corporation and company officials. Finally, investors were asked if they (...) felt that ethics reports should be audited.The survey results indicate that many shareholders (42%) do not expect a high level of ethical behavior from corporate employees or officers. There is a significant amount of interest in disclosure of ethical issues (72%) and unwillingness to trust management to provide unbiased reports of ethical behavior. If such reports are included with the financial statements, 32 percent of the investors surveyed would prefer to have them audited to provide independent verification. (shrink)
The new millennium will be ushered in by the biotech century. The earlier we prepare the better. In the short term, we will be affected in these main areas: medical treatment; industrial, agricultural, and forest use; and food. First, let us take a brief look at some problems with the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and in our food. Then I would like to make some simple suggestions about steps we can take to assess the situation here in Mendocino (...) County. (shrink)
It is very easy to get the feeling here in our local community that we have reached an impasse on pollution and many other environmental issues. The lines are clearly drawn, and all too often loud name-calling drowns out the little meaningful dialogue that is actually taking place. My purpose tonight is to present some ways of looking at environmental questions that are very old, yet which may represent fresh approaches to many of us. Perhaps some of the ideas can (...) provide new beginnings for meaningful dialogues and perhaps even solutions. The three main ancient traditions that I would like to discuss, albeit very briefly, are Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. (shrink)
The topic of this panel is "Biotechnology: Boon or Bane for Spiritual Development." It has very often been said that we are on the threshold of the biotech century, and I am sure that all of you are very clearly aware that genetic engineering is going to totally reshape life on this planet in many ways: economically, politically, scientifically--particularly in terms of medicine, and also environmentally. Most important for all of us is what the relationship of this incredible technology will (...) be to the spiritual nature of human beings. Although an enormous amount has been written on biotechnology, very little has been written about the relationship between biotechnology, particularly genetic engineering, and the human spirit. (shrink)
The design of new constitutions is fraught with challenges on both issues of structural design and individual rights. As both a descriptive and normative matter it is exceedingly difficult to believe that one structural solution will fit all cases. The high variation in nation size, economic development, and ethnic division can easily tilt the balance for or against a Presidential or Parliamentary system, and even within these two broad classes the differences in constitutional structure are both large and hard to (...) measure. The only confident claim is that some system of separation of powers coupled with checks and balances is needed. Deciding which system, however, is far harder. In contrast, that same level of doubt does not arise in connection with the correct specification of individual right. Strong systems of negative rights on matters of liberty, property, religion, and speech are preferable across a wide range of social organizations. On the other hand, any effort to create systems of positive entitlements will fail because of the negative effects that they have on wealth creation and the inability to define or limit the scope of the relevant entitlements. (shrink)