In this paper I want to propose that we see solipsism as arising from certain problems we have about identifying ourselves as subjects in an objective world. The discussion will centre on Wittgenstein’s treatment of solipsism in his Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus. In that work Wittgenstein can be seen to express an unusually profound understanding of the problems faced in trying to give an account of how we, who are subjects, identify ourselves as objects in the (...) world. We have in his compressed remarks, the kernels of a number of arguments which all come together to form what can be called the problem of self-identification. I want to argue that the solipsism of the Tractatus arises at least in part as a solution to, or – to put it less optimistically – as a symptom or articulation of this problem. In approaching Wittgenstein’s early discussion of solipsism in this way I will obviously be in disagreement with some other interpretations of the work. For example, there are those who think that there is no ‘solipsism of the Tractatus’.1 In fact, the Tractarian arguments presented below as motivating solipsism have been seen as fulfilling the quite opposite function of refuting it. I do not intend in this piece to engage with alternative interpretations. Let me say a little bit about why I have granted myself the licence not to do so. First, the focus of my concern with solipsism is on how it connects with what I have called the problem of self-identification. While it is a concern that emerged in an attempt to make sense of Wittgenstein’s remarks in.. (shrink)
The malfeasance and misfeasance crises within corporate America have prompted a tripartite response from policymakers. Stringent legislation targeting somnambulant boards has been introduced; enforcement departments have been strengthened at the federal, state and self-regulatory bodies charged with overseeing the markets; the Department of Justice and the New York District Attorney's Office have taken notably aggressive stances in the criminal prosecution of individual malefaction. This paper critically assesses the implications of the changes to the legislative, regulatory and criminal justice frameworks on (...) the governance of Wall Street. Specifically, I deconstruct the rationale governing a plea-agreement entered into by Merrill Lynch in return for the temporary abeyance of criminal charges. The paper argues that this intervention, if implemented, has far-reaching consequences, effectively criminalising standard Wall Street practice. (shrink)
An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge guides the reader through the key issues and debates in contemporary epistemology. Lucid, comprehensive and accessible, it is an ideal textbook for students who are new to the subject and for university undergraduates. The book is divided into five parts. Part I discusses the concept of knowledge and distinguishes between different types of knowledge. Part II surveys the sources of knowledge, considering both a priori and a posteriori knowledge. Parts III and IV provide (...) an in-depth discussion of justification and scepticism. The final part of the book examines our alleged knowledge of the past, other minds, morality and God. O'Brien uses engaging examples throughout the book, taking many from literature and the cinema. He explains complex issues, such as those concerning the private language argument, non-conceptual content, and the new riddle of induction, in a clear and accessible way. This textbook is an invaluable guide to contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
O'Regan & Noë (O&N) fail to address adequately the two most historically important reasons for seeking to explain visual experience in terms of internal representations. They are silent about the apparently inferential nature of perception, and mistaken about the significance of the phenomenology accompanying dreams, hallucinations, and mental imagery.
O Banquete de Platão serve-se de recursos dramáticos diversos, tais como a história-moldura, a organização dos discursos e o ensino de Diotima enquanto meios de orientação do leitor pela mensagem filosófica subjacente, a qual inclui um exame do sistema socrático de educação. Os discípulos de Sócrates demonstram notável entusiasmo pela filosofia, mas parecem incapazes de distinguir o amor por Sócrates do amor pela sabedoria. Agatão ocupa posição de destaque: devido a um trocadilho com o seu nome, a jornada do jantar (...) em sua casa se tornará na ascensão em direção ao Bem. Além disso, ele representa a educação sofística e poética, assim como cada um dos oradores representa algum tipo particular de conhecimento, o que implica que não se deveria simplesmente impingir pedantismo a Eurixímaco, ou tomar o discurso de Aristófanes enquanto um interlúdio cômico. Eles formam, antes, uma complexa rede intertextual. Alcibíades exibe as fraquezas de um homem inábil ou relutante em seguir a totalidade do ensino socrático. Sua solicitação de ser conduzido por Agatão simboliza a incapacidade de encontrar o próprio caminho do Bem, ao passo que a interrupção da ordem bem organizada do banquete pelos boêmios lembra a atitude dos tiranos e de outros homens hostis à filosofia. Apesar dessa crítica aos estudantes de Sócrates, o Banquete finaliza com uma nota positiva. As ações finais de Sócrates ocupam-se das outras pessoas – uma crítica implícita a quem sustenta que a filosofia subverte os laços sociais. (shrink)
Most models of corporate social responsibility revolve around the controversy as to whether business is a single dimensional entity of profit maximization or a multi-dimensional entity serving greater societal interests. Furthermore, the models are mostly descriptive in nature and are based on the experiences of western countries. There has been little attempt to develop a model that accounts for corporate social responsibility in diverse environments with differing socio-cultural and market settings. In this paper an attempt has been made to fill (...) this gap by developing a two-dimensional model of corporate social responsibility and empirically testing its validity in the context of two dissimilar cultures – Australia and Bangladesh. The two dimensions are the span of corporate responsibility (narrow to wider perspective) and the range of outcomes of social commitments of businesses (cost to benefit driven perspective). The test results confirm the validity of the two-dimensional model in the two environments. The Factor analysis revealed two leading dimensions. Cluster analysis pointed to two distinctive clusters of managers in both Australia and Bangladesh, one consisting of managers with a broad contemporary concept of social responsibility, and the other with a limited narrow view. The paper concludes that corporate social responsibility is two-dimensional and universal in nature and that differing cultural and market settings in which managers operate may have little impact on the ethical perceptions of corporate managers. (shrink)
John Rawls’s political liberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s political liberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted the traditional rational basis review (...) in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
This commentry focuses on the one major ecumenical theme propounded in Andy Clark's Being There that I find difficult to accept; this is Clarks advocacy, especially in the third and final part of the book, of the extended nature of the embedded, embodied mind.
In this paper I want to propose that we see solipsism as arising from certain problems we have about identifying ourselves as subjects in an objective world. The discussion will centre on Wittgenstein.
My aim in this paper is to articulate further what may be called an agency theory of self-knowledge. Many theorists have stressed how important agency is to self- knowledge, and much work has been done drawing connections between the two notions.<sup>2</sup> However, it has not always been clear what _epistemic_ advantage agency gives us in this area and why it does so. I take it as a constraint on an adequate account of how a subject knows her own mental states (...) and acts, that it construe the known mental states and acts realistically and as independent of their self-ascription, and that it deliver genuine epistemic standing to the knower. The main task of the paper will, then, be to explore how our having rational agency with respect to our mental states may be able to secure genuine epistemic warrant for our self-ascriptions of states or acts independent of the ascriptions. This task will be carried out by focussing on the question of what account we should give of our knowledge of what I call our acts of judging. In the remainder of this section, I will do a little to clarify what is meant by that question. Section 2 will attempt to introduce us to elements of the best way to approach the question by considering some alternative strategies. Section 3 is devoted to forming some idea of what _kind_ of warrant we are looking for when considering how agency might give us self-knowledge. Section 4 aims to present a suggestion as to how agency gives us the kind of warrant identified over our acts of judging. Section 5 deals with some objections. (shrink)
In this paper we defend a position we call radical connectionism. Radical connectionism claims that cognition _never_ implicates an internal symbolic medium, not even when natural language plays a part in our thought processes. On the face of it, such a position renders the human capacity for abstract thought quite mysterious. However, we argue that connectionism is committed to an analog conception of neural computation, and that representation of the abstract is no more problematic for a system of analog vehicles (...) than for a symbol system. Natural language is therefore not required as a representational medium for abstract thought. Since natural language is arguably not a representational medium _at all_, but a conventionally governed scheme of communicative signals, we suggest that the role of internalised (i.e., self- directed) language is best conceived in terms of the coordination and control of cognitive activities within the brain. (shrink)
Book description: * Seventeen brand-new essays by leading philosophers and psychologists * Genuinely interdisciplinary work, at the forefront of both fields * Includes a valuable introduction, uniting common threads Leading philosophers and psychologists join forces to investigate a set of problems to do with agency and self-awareness, in seventeen specially written essays. In recent years there has been much psychological and neurological work purporting to show that consciousness and self-awareness play no role in causing actions, and indeed to demonstrate that (...) free will is an illusion. The essays in this volume subject the assumptions that motivate such claims to sustained interdisciplinary scrutiny. Patients with Anarchic Hand syndrome sometimes find their hands perform apparently goal-directed actions which the patients disown, yet seem to be unable to suppress (for example, reaching out for someone else's food in a restaurant). On the face of it, these patients lack the kind of control and self-awareness we ordinarily take ourselves to have when acting intentionally. Questions raised by this phenomenon include: What is involved in being aware of an action as one's own? What is the nature of the control these patients are lacking and which characterizes normal intentional actions? What is the relation between a priori explanations of consciousness and self-consciousness, on the one hand, and empirical work on the information-processing mechanisms involved in action control, on the other? Questions of action control and self-awareness tend to be treated separately in both philosophy and psychology. The central idea behind this volume is that outstanding unresolved issues on both topics, and in both disciplines, can only be resolved by an interdisciplinary examination of the relations between them. The editors' useful introductory essay offers a guide to cross-disciplinary reading of the contributions, and makes connections between them explicit. The book will be compulsory reading for psychologists and philosophers working on action explanation, and for anyone interested in the relation between the brain sciences and consciousness. (shrink)
In certain situations, lies can be used to pass on knowledge. The kinds of cases I focus on are those involving a speaker's devious manipulation of the hearer's irrational or prejudiced thought. These cases show that sometimes a speaker's knowledge of a hearer's mind is necessary for the testimonial transmission of knowledge. They also support a 'seeding' model of knowledge transmission, rather than one that is akin to the postal delivery of complete parcels of information.
In recent years, a number of contemporary proponents of psychoanalysis have sought to derive support for their conjectures about the _dynamic_ unconscious from the empirical evidence in favor of the _cognitive_ unconscious. It is our contention, however, that far from supporting the dynamic unconscious, recent work in cognitive science suggests that the time has come to dispense with this concept altogether. In this paper we defend this claim in two ways. First, we argue that any attempt to shore up the (...) dynamic unconscious with the cognitive unconscious is bound to fail, simply because the latter, as it is understood in contemporary cognitive science, is incompatible with the former, as it is traditionally conceived by psychoanalytic theory. Second, we show how psychological phenomena traditionally cited as evidence for the operation of a dynamic unconscious can be accommodated more parsimoniously by other means. (shrink)
* Fascinating topic in the philosophy of mind and action * Changes the focus of, and gives fresh momentum to, current discussions of self-identification and self-reference * Rigorous discussion of rival views Lucy OBrien argues that a satisfactory account of first-person reference and self-knowledge needs to concentrate on our nature as agents. She considers two main questions. First, what account of first-person reference can we give that respects the guaranteed nature of such reference? Second, what account can we give of (...) our knowledge of our mental and physical actions? Clearly written, with rigorous discussion of rival views, this book will be of interest to anyone working in the philosophy of mind and action. (shrink)
In this paper I critically examine the line of reasoning that has recently appeared in the literature that connects connectionism with eliminativism. This line of reasoning has it that if connectionist models turn out accurately to characterize our cognition, then beliefs, desires and the other intentional entities of commonsense psychology will be eliminated from our theoretical ontology. In complete contrast I argue (1) that not only is this line of reasoning mistaken about the eliminativist tendencies of connectionist models, but (2) (...) that these models have the potential to provide a more robust vindication of commonsense psychology than classical computational models. (shrink)
It is commonplace for both philosophers and cognitive scientists to express their allegiance to the "unity of consciousness". This is the claim that a subjects phenomenal consciousness, at any one moment in time, is a single thing. This view has had a major influence on computational theories of consciousness. In particular, what we call single-track theories dominate the literature, theories which contend that our conscious experience is the result of a single consciousness-making process or mechanism in the brain. We argue (...) that the orthodox view is quite wrong: phenomenal experience is not a unity, in the sense of being a single thing at each instant. It is a multiplicity, an aggregate of phenomenal elements, each of which is the product of a distinct consciousness-making mechanism in the brain. Consequently, cognitive science is in need of a multi-track theory of consciousness; a computational model that acknowledges both the manifold nature of experience, and its distributed neural basis. (shrink)
In Connectionism and the Philosophy of Psychology, Horgan and Tienson (1996) argue that cognitive processes, pace classicism, are not governed by exceptionless, representation-level rules; they are instead the work of defeasible cognitive tendencies subserved by the non-linear dynamics of the brains neural networks. Many theorists are sympathetic with the dynamical characterisation of connectionism and the general (re)conception of cognition that it affords. But in all the excitement surrounding the connectionist revolution in cognitive science, it has largely gone unnoticed that connectionism (...) adds to the traditional focus on computational processes, a new focus one on the vehicles of mental representation, on the entities that carry content through the mind. Indeed, if Horgan and Tiensons dynamical characterisation of connectionism is on the right track, then so intimate is the relationship between computational processes and representational vehicles, that connectionist cognitive science is committed to a resemblance theory of mental content. (shrink)
When it comes to applying computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, cognitive scientists appear to face a dilemma. The only strategy that seems to be available is one that explains consciousness in terms of special kinds of computational processes. But such theories, while they dominate the field, have counter-intuitive consequences; in particular, they force one to accept that phenomenal experience is composed of information processing effects. For cognitive scientists, therefore, it seems to come down to a choice between (...) a counter-intuitive theory or no theory at all. We offer a way out of this dilemma. We argue that the computational theory of mind doesn't force cognitive scientists to explain consciousness in terms of computational processes, as there is an alternative strategy available: one that focuses on the representational vehicles that encode information in the brain. This alternative approach to consciousness allows us to do justice to the standard intuitions about phenomenal experience, yet remain within the confines of cognitive science. (shrink)
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches _vehicle_ and _process_ theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be space (...) for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are _dissociable_, and on the other, by the _classical_ computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of _connectionism; _and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: _phenomenal experience consists in the explicit_ _representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks_.. (shrink)
Stich begins his paper "What is a Theory of Mental Representation?" (1992) by noting that while there is a dizzying range of theories of mental representation in today's philosophical market place, there is very little self-conscious reflection about what a theory of mental representation is supposed to do. This is quite remarkable, he thinks, because if we bother to engage in such reflection, some very surprising conclusions begin to emerge. The most surprising conclusion of all, according to Stich, is that (...) most of the philosophers in this field are undertaking work that is quite futile:
It is my contention that most of the players in this very crowded field have _no_ coherent project that could possibly be pursued successfully with the methods they are using. (p.244)
Stich readily admits that this is a startling conclusion; so startling, he thinks, that some may even take it as an indication that he has simply "failed to figure out what those who are searching for a theory of mental representation are up to" (p.244). But it is a conclusion that he is willing to stand by, and he sets about it defending it in the body of his paper. (shrink)
Although connectionism is advocated by its proponents as an alternative to the classical computational theory of mind, doubts persist about its _computational_ credentials. Our aim is to dispel these doubts by explaining how connectionist networks compute. We first develop a generic account of computation—no easy task, because computation, like almost every other foundational concept in cognitive science, has resisted canonical definition. We opt for a characterisation that does justice to the explanatory role of computation in cognitive science. Next we examine (...) what might be regarded as the “conventional” account of connectionist computation. We show why this account is inadequate and hence fosters the suspicion that connectionist networks aren’t genuinely computational. Lastly, we turn to the principal task of the paper: the development of a more robust portrait of connectionist computation. The basis of this portrait is an explanation of the representational capacities of connection weights, supported by an analysis of the weight configurations of a series of simulated neural networks. (shrink)
The connectionist vehicle theory of phenomenal experience in the target article identifies consciousness with the brain’s explicit representation of information in the form of stable patterns of neural activity. Commentators raise concerns about both the conceptual and empirical adequacy of this proposal. On the former front they worry about our reliance on vehicles, on representation, on stable patterns of activity, and on our identity claim. On the latter front their concerns range from the general plausibility of a vehicle theory to (...) our specific attempts to deal with the dissociation studies. We address these concerns, and then finish by considering whether the vehicle theory we have defended has a coherent story to tell about the active, unified subject to whom conscious experiences belong. (shrink)
Any creature that must move around in its environment to find nutrients and mates, in order to survive and reproduce, faces the problem of sensorimotor control. A solution to this problem requires an on-board control mechanism that can shape the creature’s behaviour so as to render it “appropriate” to the conditions that obtain. There are at least three ways in which such a control mechanism can work, and Nature has exploited them all. The first and most basic way is for (...) a creature to bump into the things in its environment, and then, depending on what has been encountered, seek to modify its behaviour accordingly. Such an approach is risky, however, since some things in the environment are distinctly unfriendly. A second and better way, therefore, is for a creature to exploit ambient forms of energy that carry information about the distal structure of the environment. This is an improvement on the first method since it enables the creature to respond to the surroundings without actually bumping into anything. Nonetheless, this second method also has its limitations, one of which is that the information conveyed by such ambient energy is often impoverished, ambiguous and intermittent. (shrink)
We think the best prospect for a naturalistic explanation of phenomenal consciousness is to be found at the confluence of two influential ideas about the mind. The first is the _computational _ _theory of mind_: the theory that treats human cognitive processes as disciplined operations over neurally realised representing vehicles.1 The second is the _representationalist theory of _ _consciousness_: the theory that takes the phenomenal character of conscious experiences (the “what-it-is-likeness”) to be constituted by their representational content.2 Together these two (...) theories suggest that phenomenal consciousness might be explicable in terms of the representational content of the neurally realised representing vehicles that are generated and manipulated in the course of cognition. The simplest and most elegant hypothesis that one might entertain in this regard is that conscious experiences are identical to (i.e., are one and the same as) the brain’s representing vehicles. (shrink)
The project of the paper is a critical examination of the "strong thesis of eliminative materialism" in the philosophy of mind--The claim that all the mental entities that constitute the framework of commonsense psychology are, In principle at least, Eliminable from our ontology. The central conclusion reached is that the traditional formulation of this thesis is demonstrably untenable as it rests on a mistaken view of the relationship between our psychological self-Knowledge and language.
The origin of matter is one of the last and greatest unsolved mysteries bedevilling modern attempts at understanding the philosophy of the "Enneads." There are two stages in the production of Intellect and of soul. The One or Intellect produces an undifferentiated other, which becomes Intellect or soul by itself turning towards and looking towards the prior principle, with no possibility of the One's "turning towards" or "seeing" itself. But where does matter come from? To arrive at his conception of (...) matter, Plotinus has radically altered the definitions of non-being given by Plato and Aristotle in their refutation of Parmenides. Matter, for Plotinus, is a non-being opposed, not to "the being of each thing", as in Plato's "Sophist," but to all "the beings properly so-called", i.e. to all the forms. It is then further identified with Aristotle's definition of non-being as privation, with the crucial difference that privation, for Plotinus, is made a permanent substratum of change. This re-formulation of ideas from the "Sophist" and the "Physics" proves unmistakably that it is matter which is generated when soul produces a "non-being" which is also a "total lack of definition". The production of matter by soul does not, however, follow the model of the production of Intellect from the One or of soul from Intellect. Since matter is lifeless, it cannot turn towards its source. Soul therefore has to be herself directly responsible both for the production of matter and for the covering of matter with form. Matter is therefore included among the products which stem ultimately from the One. But the origin and the nature of matter have to be understood as very different from the double process of emanation which lies at the origin of Intellect and of soul. (shrink)
Drawing on the problem of deviance, I present a novel line of argumentation against causal theories of action. The causalist faces a dilemma: either she adopts a simple account of the causal route between intention and outcome, at the cost of failing to rule out deviance cases, or she adopts a more sophisticated account, at the cost of ruling out cases of intentional action in which the causal route is merely unusual. Underlying this dilemma, I argue, is that the agent's (...) perspective plays an ineliminable role in determining which causal pathways are deviant and which are not. (shrink)
To unravel the intricacies of the last argument of the Phaedo for the immortality of the soul, the reader has to peel away successive presuppositions, his own, Plato's and not least the presupposition that Plato very skilfully portrays as being shared by Socrates and his friends.A first presupposition is the reader's own. According to our modern ways of thinking, a soul that is immortal, if there is such a thing, is a soul that lives forever. That presupposition is not shared (...) by Socrates and Cebes (Socrates' interlocutor in the final argument). A soul that survives separation from the body, once or a number of times, is held to have survived death and therefore to be immortal. But it does not follow that it will live forever. For a soul to live forever, it must be shown to be not only immortal, but imperishable. Only if the soul is both immortal and imperishable can the assembled company be sure that the Socrates who is talking to them now will still be living when, after sunset, he has drunk the hemlock and can talk to them no more.The modern reader who has divested himself of the presupposition that immortal and imperishable are mere synonyms, and therefore appreciates the need for an argument designed specifically to prove that the soul is imperishable and not merely immortal, has nonetheless to be aware of a second presupposition, a presupposition shared by Socrates and his friends which restricts the meaning that the modern reader might otherwise suppose to be conveyed by the word 'imperishable'. Both Socrates and Cebes, as portrayed in the Phaedo, take it for granted that the only time when the soul might perish is the moment of her separation from the body. Provided it can be shown that the soul will survive separation from the body, no matter how often the body is taken from her, the soul, so they are happy to assume, will have shown herself to be both immortal and imperishable.We do not have to suppose that this second presupposition is shared by the author of the dialogue. Plato's subtle but insistent restriction of the moment when the soul might be threatened with extinction to the moment of her separation from the body has been deliberately designed to alert the reader to a way of thinking which Socrates, Cebes and Echecrates all take for granted, but which Plato does not necessarily invite the reader of the dialogue to share.The restriction is nonetheless essential to the structure of the argument. It is because Socrates does not envisage a possible extinction of the soul at any moment other than the moment of separation from the body that he is able to present a soul that is essentially alive as immune to the death which separates soul from body, however often such a separation may occur, and as therefore (so he claims) not only immortal but imperishable.In presenting that argument, how far has Plato deliberately foregone any attempt to prove that the soul is imperishable subsequently to the moment of her separation from the body? Socrates argues that the soul is unaffected by the death of the body because she is essentially alive. He does not argue that she is immune to destruction or extinction because she is essentially existent. In the face of Plato's silence, in the Phaedo and elsewhere, the modern reader has to hold in abeyance a third and final presupposition, that only a being whose essence it is to exist can of its nature never not exist.To understand the dialogue is therefore no easy matter. The reader needs to distinguish Socrates as the mouthpiece of Plato from Plato as the author of the dialogue. At the same time the modern reader has to distinguish the Plato of history from a fictional Plato who shares our own ideas and our own preconceptions, including the concept of a being cuius essentia est esse. An intricate double task, which other modern readers of the dialogue have so far not even attempted. (shrink)
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches vehicle and process theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be space (...) for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are dissociable, and on the other, by the classical computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of connectionism; and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: phenomenal experience consists in the explicit representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks. This hypothesis leads us to re-assess some common wisdom about consciousness, but, we will argue, in fruitful and ultimately plausible ways. (shrink)
Puccetti argues that Dennett's views on split brains are defective. First, we criticise Puccetti's argument. Then we distinguish persons, minds, consciousnesses, selves and personalities. Then we introduce the concepts of part-persons and part-consciousnesses, and apply them to clarifying the situation. Finally, we criticise Dennett for some contribution to the confusion.
Proponents of ecological restoration view the practice as a means of both repairing damage done to ecosystems by humans and creating an avenue to re-establish respectful and cooperative human-environment relationships. One debate affecting ecological restoration focuses on the place of 'exotic' species in restored ecosystems. Though popular, campaigns against exotics have been criticized for their troubling rhetorical parallels with nativism aimed at human immigrants. I point to some of the reasons why this critique of nativism persists, despite protests that no (...) xenophobic intent is evident, emphasizing the intimacy between social metaphors and claims about exotic nature. Language is but one facet of an entanglement of nature and society that ecological restoration strives to take seriously; however, restoration practice remains ambivalent toward this dichotomy permitting a longing for lost community purity that is embraced in nativism. Regarding defenses of nativism, I point out limitations of attempts to reframe the issue from a reactionary rejection of the foreign Other toward an argument for protecting communities from a process akin to 'cultural imperialism'. (shrink)
The “New Natural Law” Theory (NNL) of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Joseph Boyle, and their collaborators offers a distinctive account of intentional action, which underlies a moral theory that aims to justify many aspects of traditional morality and Catholic doctrine. -/- In fact, we show that the NNL is committed to premises that entail the permissibility of many actions that are irreconcilable with traditional morality and Catholic doctrine, such as elective abortions. These consequences follow principally from two aspects of the (...) NNL. The first aspect is its distinctive version of the planning theory of intention, in which adopting the 'first-person perspective' of an agent is a sufficient, and not merely necessary, condition for determining the nature of his intentional action; this planning theory rests upon an implicitly Cartesian conception of human behavior, in which behavior chosen by an agent has no intrinsic “intentionalness” apart from what he confers upon it as part of his plan. The second aspect is the NNL's distinctive account of basic human goods' incommensurability, according to which there is no common factor shared by basic human goods that allows them to be comparatively ranked in any way that directs practical deliberation. -/- The entailments of these two aspects of the NNL, we argue, amount to a reductio ad absurdum. Pace the proponents of the NNL account, we sketch an alternative hylomorphic conception of intentional action that avoids untoward moral implications by grounding human agency in the exercise of basic powers that are either (a) essential constituents of human nature or (b) acquired through participation in social practices. This conception of intentional action provides a stronger foundation for natural law theory. (shrink)