Symbols enable people to organize and communicate about the world. However, the ways in which symbolic knowledge is learned and then represented in the mind are poorly understood. We present a formal analysis of symbolic learning—in particular, word learning—in terms of prediction and cue competition, and we consider two possible ways in which symbols might be learned: by learning to predict a label from the features of objects and events in the world, and by learning to predict features from a (...) label. This analysis predicts significant differences in symbolic learning depending on the sequencing of objects and labels. We report a computational simulation and two human experiments that confirm these differences, revealing the existence of Feature-Label-Ordering effects in learning. Discrimination learning is facilitated when objects predict labels, but not when labels predict objects. Our results and analysis suggest that the semantic categories people use to understand and communicate about the world can only be learned if labels are predicted from objects. We discuss the implications of this for our understanding of the nature of language and symbolic thought, and in particular, for theories of reference. (shrink)
From Budapest to the US: Five Hungarian émigré physicists Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9622-5 Authors Charles Thorpe, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0533, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The Humean internalist finds Humean motivational theses and reasons internalism to be independently attractive. She therefore combines them, in the hope of creating a theory of reasons that is attractive for all of the reasons that each thesis is attractive. On this score, she succeeds. However, there is a drawback. Those who build a theory of reasons by combining Humean motivational theses and reasons internalism face a dilemma. If you combine these views, either you are committed to a theory of (...) reasons that allows all of a person’s reasons to simultaneously change, erratically and randomly, or you are committed to a theory of reasons that fixes a person’s reasons at birth, in which case they remain stable and unchanging over a lifetime. Neither alternative is attractive. Humean internalism cannot navigate a path between these two extremes, and this should worry the Humean internalist. (shrink)
A solution to the sorites paradox is obtained by distinguishing three formats of the sorites argument and appraising them in the light of four fundamental considerations: (i) the appropriate notion of truth for the application of vague predicates to their borderline cases, (ii) a certain construal of borderline cases, (iii) a certain freedom of use of vague terms not enjoyed by non-Vague terms and (iv) the revocation of that freedom by deductive contexts.
In recent years, British science policy has seen a significant shift ‘from deficit to dialogue’ in conceptualizing the relationship between science and the public. Academics in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) have been influential as advocates of the new public engagement agenda. However, this participatory agenda has deeper roots in the political ideology of the Third Way. A framing of participation as a politics suited to post-Fordist conditions was put forward in the magazine Marxism Today in (...) the late 1980s, developed in the Demos thinktank in the 1990s, and influenced policy of the New Labour government. The encouragement of public participation and deliberation in relation to science and technology has been part of a broader implementation of participatory mechanisms under New Labour. This participatory program has been explicitly oriented toward producing forms of social consciousness and activity seen as essential to a viable knowledge economy and consumer society. STS arguments for public engagement in science have gained influence insofar as they have intersected with the Third Way politics of post-Fordism. (shrink)
The work of psychiatrist R. D. Laing deserves recognition as a key contribution to sociological theory, in dialogue with the interactionist and interpretivist sociological traditions. Laing encourages us to identify meaningful social action in what would otherwise appear to be nonsocial phenomena. His interpretation of schizophrenia as a rational strategy of withdrawal reminds us of the threat that others can pose to the self and how social relations are implicated in even the most "private" and "internal" of experiences. He developed (...) a far-reaching critical theory of the self in modern society, which challenges the medicalization and biochemical reduction of human problems. Using the case of shyness as an example, the article seeks to demonstrate the importance of Laing's theories for examining the fragility of the self in relation to contemporary social order. (shrink)
Network glasses are the physical prototype for many self-organized systems, ranging from proteins to computer science. Conventional theories of gases, liquids and crystals do not account for the strongly material-selective character of the glass-forming tendency, the phase diagrams of glasses or their optimizable properties. A new topological theory, only 25 years old, has succeeded where conventional theories have failed. It shows that (probably all slowly quenched) glasses, including network glasses, are the result of the combined effects of a few simple (...) mechanisms. These glass-forming mechanisms are topological in nature and have already been identified for several important glasses, including chalcogenide alloys, silicates (window glass and computer chips) and proteins. (shrink)
This contribution to design methodology reflects upon the barriers to effectiveness imposed by our tendency to gravitate towards the over-formal in human affairs. We see a correspondingly cleaned-up description of the process of design, a failure to consider its jagged elements and to take proper account of the non-formal in knowledge (e.g. tacit knowledge) and communication. Discipline in methodology is accordingly wrongly equated with formality. The failure of design to be effective is more likely for innovative design rather than routine (...) design.It is suggested by way of explanation that design methodology especially in the field of information technology is infused with the ghost of positivism, manifest in an unconditional belief in the value of rationality and an implied naive realist conviction about the fixed, singular and transparent nature of the environment for which design is undertaken.We need to be able to work with uncertainty rather than try for its entire elimination. A breadth of approach in carrying out the activity of design is threatened by lack of attention to the variety of forms which knowledge and corresponding forms of discourse can take.We undertake the disciplined reduction from the messy real work to metaphors tidy enough to work with, or models as they are usually misnamed.The notion of “language of struggle” is invoked as a suitable metaphor for the non-formal discourse particularly relevant to innovative design. A complementary exploration is offered of socio-linguistic space which is the common context for design.In view of the concern with social space necessary to effective design, it may be enlightening to consider the designer as applied anthropologist. (shrink)
There is a fundamental divergence of opinion between the EU and the US over how food products derived from genetically modified organisms should be labeled. This has less to do with safety, as moves towards the international harmonization of safety standards continue apace, and rather more to do with the consumers' right to know about the origins of the food they are consuming. This paper uses a framework drawn from the global public goods (GPG) literature of economics and the work (...) by international relations theorists on formal international organizations (FIO) to explain why there is presently no global consensus on the manner (voluntary or mandatory) in which GM food products should be labeled. (shrink)
It should be clear by now the extent to which many features of Thorpe's interpretation of animal behavior and of the animal mind rested, at bottom, not simply on conventional scientific proofs but on interpretive inferences, which in turn rested on a willingress to make extensions of human experience to animals. This, in turn, rested on his view of evolution and his view of reality. And these were governed by his natural theology, which was the fundamental stratum of his (...) intellectual experience.Contrary to the scientific ethos, which restricts theory choice to scientific issues alone, Thorpe's career suggests that the actual reasons for theory choice among scientists often are not limited to science, but are multiple and may sometimes be difficult to discover. It is largely because Thorpe took a public part in the natural theology enterprise that we can know something about his religious beliefs and so can see their probable influence on his scientific decisions. Similar beliefs of other scientists are sometimes harder to get at. Most may be practically beyond discovery, for the ethos of science has discouraged public professions of personal belief in relation to scientific work.101 Yet does it seem plausible that, for example, the restriction of self-consciousness to humans by some scientists is a purely scientific decision?102 Surely not, any more than that the strong influence of natural theology on Thorpe's thought means that he was not a good scientist. His natural theology may have led him into incautious enthusiasms regarding the animal mind — such as the potential if unrealizable linguistic ability of chimpanzees — through a bias in favor of the continuity of emergents in a progressive evolutionary system, just as it led him to advocate animal consciousness long before the recent upsurge of interest, but the scientific integrity of his work overall is unimpeachable. And yet, that work is not comprehensible historically as science alone. Personal philosophy must not be discounted in writing the history of recent science. This somewhat obvious conclusion (obvious to historians of science) needs emphasis, for we are still prone to think that the sciences of our own time provide their own internal dynamic that is in itself sufficient to account for their content and development. (shrink)