Carter’s anthropic principle reminds us that intelligent life can find itself only in life-permitting times, places or universes. The principle concerns a possible observational selection effect, not a designing deity. It has no special concern with humans, nor does it say that intelligent life is inevitable and common. Barrow and Tipler, who discuss all this, are not biologically ignorant. As argued in "Universes" (Leslie, 1989) they may well be right in thinking that "fine tuning" of force strengths and particle (...) masses, without which life would be impossible, proves the reality of God or else of multiple universes plus observational selection. (shrink)
The cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as thoughts in a divine mind that knows everything worth knowing. There could also be infinitely many other universes in this mind....It may be hard to believe that the universe is as Leslie says it is--but it is also hard to resist his compelling ideas and arguments.
Although conditioned suppression has face validity as a technique for assessing resistance to change of operant behaviour, it is not discussed by Nevin & Grace. However, application of their approach to the results of a conditioned suppression study that varied food deprivation and reinforcement magnitude (Leslie 1977) produces paradoxical results.
Ducks lay eggs' is a true sentence, and `ducks are female' is a false one. Similarly, `mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus' is obviously true, whereas `mosquitoes don't carry the West Nile virus' is patently false. This is so despite the egg-laying ducks' being a subset of the female ones and despite the number of mosquitoes that don't carry the virus being ninety-nine times the number that do. Puzzling facts such as these have made generic sentences defy adequate semantic treatment. (...) However complex the truth conditions of generics appear to be, though, young children grasp generics more quickly and readily than seemingly simpler quantifiers such as `all' and `some'. I present an account of generics that not only illuminates the strange truth conditions of generics, but also explains how young children find them so comparatively easy to acquire. I then argue that generics give voice to our most cognitively primitive generalizations and that this hypothesis accounts for a variety of facts ranging from acquisition patterns to cross-linguistic data concerning the phonological articulation of operators. I go on to develop an account of the nature of these cognitively fundamental generalizations and argue that this account explains the strange truth-conditional behavior of generics. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of develop- ment: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules are thought (...) to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop internally, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via parameterization. (shrink)
The concept of acting intentionally is an important nexus where ‘theory of mind’ and moral judgment meet. Preschool children’s judgments of intentional action show a valence-driven asymmetry. Children say that a foreseen but disavowed side-effect is brought about 'on purpose' when the side-effect itself is morally bad but not when it is morally good. This is the first demonstration in preschoolers that moral judgment influences judgments of ‘on-purpose’ (as opposed to purpose influencing moral judgment). Judgments of intentional action are usually (...) assumed to be purely factual. That these judgments are sometimes partly normative — even in preschoolers — challenges current understanding. Young children’s judgments regarding foreseen side-effects depend upon whether the children process the idea that the character does not care about the side-effect. As soon as preschoolers effectively process the ‘theory of mind’ concept, NOT CARE THAT P, children show the side-effect effect.idea.. (shrink)
Might we be parts of a divine mind? Could anything like an afterlife make sense? Starting with a Platonic answer to why the world exists, Immortality Defended suggests we could well be immortal in all of three separate ways. Tackles the fundamental questions posed by our very existence, among them ‘why does the cosmos exist?’, ‘is there a divine mind or God?’ and ‘in what sense might we have afterlives?’ Defends a belief in immortality, without the need for a religious (...) affiliation or rejection of modern science Explores the ideas of ‘Einsteinian immortality’, the divine afterlife, and the theory of an infinite and divine mind Draws from the work of a wide-range of philosophers, from ancient Greece to the present day, and incorporates up-to-date scientific findings Written in a thought-provoking and engaging manner, accessible to anyone intrigued by the wonder of our being. (shrink)
One of the first books to address what has come to be known as the philosophy of cosmology, Universes asks, "Why does the universe exist?", arguing that the universe is "fine tuned for producing life." For example, if the universe's early expansion speed had been smaller by one part in a million, then it would have recollapsed rapidly; with an equivalently tiny speed increase, no galaxies would have formed. Either way, this universe would have been lifeless.
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of _develop-_ _ment_: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules are thought (...) to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop _internally_, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via _parameterization_. (shrink)
Higginbotham (1986) argues that conditionals embedded under quantifiers (as in ‘no student will succeed if they goof off’) constitute a counterexample to the thesis that natural language is semantically compositional. More recently, Higginbotham (2003) and von Fintel and Iatridou (2002) have suggested that compositionality can be upheld, but only if we assume the validity of the principle of Conditional Excluded Middle. I argue that these authors’ proposals (...) deliver unsatisfactory results for conditionals that, at least intuitively, do not appear to obey Conditional Excluded Middle. Further, there is no natural way to extend their accounts to conditionals containing ‘unless’. I propose instead an account that takes both ‘if’ and ‘unless’ statements to restrict the quantifiers in whose scope they occur, while also contributing a covert modal element to the semantics. In providing this account, I also offer a semantics for unquantified statements containing ‘unless’. (shrink)
The debate over off-line simulation has largely focussed on the capacity to predict behavior, but the basic idea of off-line simulation can be cast in a much broader framework. The central claim of the off-line account of behavior prediction is that the practical reasoning mechanism is taken off-line and used for predicting behavior. However, there's no reason to suppose that the idea of off-line simulation can't be extended to mechanisms other than the practical reasoning system. In principle, any cognitive component (...) can be taken off-line and used to perform some other function. On this view of off-line simulation, such accounts differ radically from traditional information-based accounts of cognitive capacities. And cognitive penetrability provides a wedge for empirically determining whether a capacity requires an information-based account or an off-line simulation account. Stich and Nichols (1992) argued that the simulation theory of behavior prediction was inadequate because behavior prediction seemed to be cognitively penetrable. We present empirical evidence that supports the claim that the behavior prediction is cognitively penetrable. As a result, the simulation account of behavior prediction still seems unpromising. However, off-line simulation might provide accounts of other cognitive capacities. Indeed, off- line simulation accounts have recently been offered for a strikingly diverse set of capacities including counterfactual reasoning, empathy and mental imagery. Goldman, for instance, maintains that counterfactual reasoning and empathy clearly demand off-line simulation accounts. We argue that there are alternative information-based explanations of these phenomena. Nonetheless, the off-line accounts of these phenomena are interesting and clearly worthy of further exploration. (shrink)
The growing interest in ethics and ethical behavior has not manifested itself in an ethical analysis of television programming beyond a journalism context. This study examines one social/ethical issue - lying in prime time network television situation comedies. Results show sitcom characters who lie are motivated primarily by self-interest. This egoistic approach raises questions of ethical maturity and provides a model of behavior that may have negative implications for society.
Theories that propose a modular basis for developing a “theory of mind” have no problem accommodating social interaction or social environment factors into either the learning process, or into the genotypes underlying the growth of the neurocognitive modules. Instead, they can offer models which constrain and hence explain the mechanisms through which variations in social interaction affect development. Cognitive models of both competence and performance are critical to evaluating the basis of correlations between variations in social interaction and performance on (...) mental state reasoning tasks. (shrink)
The key event at the start of the Sanskrit Ramayana attributed to Valmiki is the death of a bird at the hands of a hunter. In Sanskrit, that bird is termed krauñca. Various identifications have been offered in the past but uncertainty persists. Focusing on the text of the critical edition and drawing on ornithological data regarding the birds commonly suggested, this article establishes beyond doubt that Valmiki's krauñca bird is the Indian Sarus Crane. It then considers a key verse (...) in the southern recension, omitted by the editors of the critical edition, which supports this identification. Finally, the article explores the significance of the Indian Sarus Crane for the epic scene. (shrink)
Cosmologists using the Anthropic Principle claim that if our universe had been much different then nobody would exist to observe it. This may become explanatory when one accepts the actual existence of multiple "universes": gigantic, largely or entirely separate systems having very varied properties. Ian Hacking has urged, though, that an Inverse Gambler's Fallacy is committed during many attempts to formulate anthropic explanations. Besides disagreeing with him, the paper makes several further points in support of such explanations, in particular against (...) the background of the Inflationary Universe. (shrink)
Suppose various observers are divided randomly into two groups, a large and a small. Not knowing into which group anyone has been sent, each can have strong grounds for believing in being in the large group, although recognizing that every observer in the other group has equally powerful reasons for thinking of this other group as the large one. Justified belief can therefore be observer-relative in a rather paradoxical way. Appreciating this allows one to reject an intriguing new objection against (...) Brandon Carter's 'doomsday argument'. Carter encourages us to doubt that we are among only the first hundredth, say, or first millionth, of all humans who will ever have existed. He thereby reinforces whatever reasons we may have for suspecting that, unless we take great care, the human race will not survive long. Admittedly his argument is weakened if our world is indeterministic, so that there is no suitably guaranteed 'fact of the matter' of how many humans will ever have existed. But even then, it can caution us against believing that a lengthy future for humankind 'is as good as determined'. Of all the objections the argument has yet faced, the new one is the most interesting. (shrink)
In the last few years, off-line simulation has become an increasingly important alternative to standard explanations in cognitive science. The contemporary debate began with Gordon (1986) and Goldman's (1989) off-line simulation account of our capacity to predict behavior. On their view, in predicting people's behavior we take our own decision making system `off line' and supply it with the `pretend' beliefs and desires of the person whose behavior we are trying to predict; we then let the decision maker reach a (...) decision on the basis of these pretend inputs. Figure 1 offers a `boxological' version of the off-line simulation theory of behavior prediction.(1). (shrink)
The paper develops a Platonic and Spinozistic metaphysics. With an unprovable yet absolute necessity, the cosmos exists just because of the ethical need for it. We, and all the intricate structures of our universe, exist as intricately structured thoughts in a divine mind. This mind could contain infinitely many other universes as well, and minds of the same kind could exist in infinite number. Evidence for this is supplied by the finely tuned orderliness of our universe, and by the sheer (...) fact that any universe exists. (shrink)
Abstract An argument originated by Brandon Carter presents humankind's imminent extinction as likelier than we should otherwise have judged. We ought to be reluctant to think ourselves among the earliest 0.01 %, for instance, of all humans who will ever have lived; yet we should be in that tiny group if the human race survived long, even at just its present size. While such reasoning attracts many criticisms, perhaps the only grave one is that indeterminism means there is not yet (...) any firm, theoretically predictable fact of how long the human race will survive. This, though, might not save Everett's many?worlds theory from a variant on Carter's point. Everett seemingly pictures observers as splitting into ever more versions, which explains away all apparent indeterminism; but then, absurdly, all except a vanishingly tiny proportion of one's versions would come into existence near one's death, outweighing all apparent evidence that death was not imminent. The need to avoid such a result severely constrains Everett?type theories. We need theories in which observer?versions diverge without increasing their numbers in any straightforward way. (shrink)
Human social intelligence comprises a wide range of complex cognitive and affective processes that appear to be selectively impaired in autistic spectrum disorders. The study of these neuro- developmental disorders and the study of canonical social intelligence have advanced rapidly over the last twenty years by investigating the two together. Specifically, studies of autism have provided important insights into the nature of ‘theory of mind’ abilities, their normal development and underlying neural systems. At the same time, the idea of impaired (...) development of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying ‘theory of mind’ has shed new light on the nature of autistic disorders. This general approach is not restricted to the study of impairments but extends to mapping areas of social intelligence that are spared in autism. Here we investigate basic moral judgment and find that it appears to be substantially intact in children with autism who are severely impaired in ‘theory of mind’. At the same time, we extend studies of moral reasoning in normal development by way of a new control task, the ‘cry baby’ task. Cry baby scenarios, in which the distress of the victim is ‘unreasonable’ or ‘unjustified,’ do not elicit moral condemnation from normally developing preschoolers or from children with autism. Judgments of moral transgressions in which the victim displays distress are therefore not likely the result of a simple automatic reaction to the distress and more likely involve moral reasoning. Mapping the cognitive co-morbidity patterns of disordered development should encompass both impairments and sparings because both will be needed to make sense of the neural and genetic levels. (shrink)
This article reviews recent developments in health care law, focusing on the engagement of law as a partner in health care innovation. The article addresses: the history and contents of recent United States federal law restricting the use of genetic information by insurers and employers; the recent federal policy recommending routine HIV testing; the recent revision of federal policy regarding the funding of human embryonic stem cell research; the history, current status, and need for future attention to advance directives; the (...) recent emergence of medical–legal partnerships and their benefits for patients; the obesity epidemic and its implications for the child’s right to health under international conventions. (shrink)
Edward R. Murrow has often been mentioned as the model CBS newsman, a combination of integrity, common sense, sound news judgment, and good writing and delivery skills. Perhaps these qualities emerged from something beyond mere educational and technical competence; perhaps he had a ?theory?;, a larger view of the world and how things operate, or should operate. Murrow's early life is explored as origin of his theory and applications of his construct of ethics and integrity are discussed.
Syndromic surveillance uses new ways of gathering data to identify possible disease outbreaks. Because syndromic surveillance can be implemented to detect patterns before diseases are even identified, it poses novel problems for informed consent, patient privacy and confidentiality, and risks of stigmatization. This paper analyzes these ethical issues from the viewpoint of the patient as victim and vector. It concludes by pointing out that the new International Health Regulations fail to take full account of the ethical challenges raised by syndromic (...) surveillance. (shrink)
The generic account of selection proposed by Hull et al. readily fits operant learning where, by comparison with natural selection, the process is well understood but little is known about the mechanism. Objections within psychology, that operant learning ignores internal processes, fail to recognise the general significance of behaviour-environment interactions. Variation within operant response classes requires further investigation.
Psychological essentialism is the belief that some internal, unseen essence or force determines the common outward appearances and behaviors of category members. We investigated whether reasoning about transplants of bodily elements showed evidence of essentialist thinking. Both Americans and Indians endorsed the possibility of transplants conferring donors' personality, behavior, and luck on recipients, consistent with essentialism. Respondents also endorsed essentialist effects even when denying that transplants would change a recipient's category membership (e.g., predicting that a recipient of a pig's heart (...) would act more pig-like but denying that the recipient would become a pig). This finding runs counter to predictions from the strongest version of the “minimalist” position (Strevens,2000), an alternative to essentialism. Finally, studies asking about a broader range of donor-to-recipient transfers indicated that Indians essentialized more types of transfers than Americans, but neither sample essentialized monetary transfer. This suggests that results from bodily transplant conditions reflect genuine essentialism rather than broader magical thinking. (shrink)
Different sciences approach the brain-behaviour system at various levels, but often apparently share terminology. “Function” is used both ontogenetically and phylogenetically. Within the ontogeny it has various meanings; the one adopted by Arbib et al. is that of mainstream cognitive psychology. This usage is relatively imprecise, and the psychologists who are sceptical about the ability of cognitive psychology to predict behavioural outcomes may have the same reservations about Arbib et al.'s cognitive neuroscience.
Rose provides a coherent account of how a number of simplifying assumptions apparently come together to support neurogenetic determinism, or “ultra-Darwinism.” This view, he demonstrates, is deeply flawed. He proposes instead that we must take account of the interaction of processes that determine our developmental trajectory at every stage. Unfortunately, he associates this defensible position with the claim that this gives freedom of action to humans. The implications of this for the interpretation of his general thesis are discussed.
Force strengths, particle masses, etcetera, appear "fine tuned" for intelligent life. There may be many very diverse universes, observational selection explaining why we see a life-permitting one. The alternative is divine selection. The God hypothesis can explain how one and the same force strength or particle mass satisfies life’s many different requirements, and why there are life-encouraging laws of relativity and of quantum theory. It could also answer why any universe exists. God’s existence could be accounted for Platonically, by its (...) ethical requiredness. The most plausible world-view would then be Spinozistic, on lines explored in my recent book "Infinite Minds". (shrink)
Physical force strengths, particle masses, the early cosmic expansion speed and many other factors seem "fine tuned for life". Had they been slightly different, life’s evolution would have been impossible. The situation resembles catching a fish with an apparatus unable to catch ones slightly differently sized. One explanation is that the lake contains fish of many different sizes: multiple universes with randomized characteristics, most of them unobservable because observers cannot evolve in them. Another is that God created a fish of (...) the right size, a universe able to generate observers. The article defends these explanations against numerous ingenious objections. (shrink)