Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch (...) on consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
For many years the evolution of language has been seen as a disreputable topic, mired in fanciful “just so stories” about language origins. However, in the last decade a new synthesis of modern linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has begun to make important contributions to our understanding of the biology and evolution of language. I review some of this recent progress, focusing on the value of the comparative method, which uses data from animal species to draw inferences about (...) language evolution. Discussing speech first, I show how data concerning a wide variety of species, from monkeys to birds, can increase our understanding of the anatomical and neural mechanisms underlying human spoken language, and how bird and whale song provide insights into the ultimate evolutionary function of language. I discuss the “descended larynx” of humans, a peculiar adaptation for speech that has received much attention in the past, which despite earlier claims is not uniquely human. Then I will turn to the neural mechanisms underlying spoken language, pointing out the difficulties animals apparently experience in perceiving hierarchical structure in sounds, and stressing the importance of vocal imitation in the evolution of a spoken language. Turning to ultimate function, I suggest that communication among kin (especially between parents and offspring) played a crucial but neglected role in driving language evolution. Finally, I briefly discuss phylogeny, discussing hypotheses that offer plausible routes to human language from a non-linguistic chimp-like ancestor. I conclude that comparative data from living animals will be key to developing a richer, more interdisciplinary understanding of our most distinctively human trait: language. (shrink)
I will focus on what seems to be a problem for Kripke’s position with respect to certain necessary a posteriori truths and true negative existentials. I shall tentatively suggest that within Kripke’s work a solution to the problem in question can be found provided one is willing to distinguish statements from propositions.
I suggest that most discussions of intentional systems have overlooked an important aspect of living organisms: the intrinsic goal-directedness inherent in the behaviour of living eukaryotic cells. This goal directedness is nicely displayed by a normal cell’s ability to rearrange its own local material structure in response to damage, nutrient distribution or other aspects of its individual experience. While at a vastly simpler level than intentionality at the human cognitive level, I propose that this basic capacity of living things provides (...) a necessary building block for cognition and high-order intentionality, because the neurons that make up vertebrate brains, like most cells in our body, embody such capacities. I provisionally dub the capacities in question “nano-intentionality”: a microscopic form of “aboutness”. The form of intrinsic intentionality I propose is thoroughly materialistic, fully compatible with known biological facts, and derived non-mysteriously through evolution. Crucially, these capacities are not shared by any existing computers or computer components, and thus provide a clear, empirically-based distinction between brains and currently existing artificial information processing systems. I suggest that an appreciation of this aspect of living matter provides a potential route out of what may otherwise appear to be a hopeless philosophical quagmire confronting information-processing models of the mind. (shrink)
Explaining the transition from a signed to a spoken protolanguage is a major problem for all gestural theories. I suggest that Arbib's improved “beyond the mirror” hypothesis still leaves this core problem unsolved, and that Darwin's model of musical protolanguage provides a more compelling solution. Second, although I support Arbib's analytic theory of language origin, his claim that this transition is purely cultural seems unlikely, given its early, robust development in children.
A system of natural deduction rules is proposed for an idealized form of English. The rules presuppose a sharp distinction between proper names and such expressions as the c, a (an) c, some c, any c, and every c, where c represents a common noun. These latter expressions are called quantifiers, and other expressions of the form that c or that c itself, are called quantified terms. Introduction and elimination rules are presented for any, every, some, a (an), and the, (...) and also for any which, every which, and so on, as well as rules for some other concepts. One outcome of these rules is that Every man loves some woman is implied by, but does not imply, Some woman is loved by every man, since the latter is taken to mean the same as Some woman is loved by all men. Also, Jack knows which woman came is implied by Some woman is known by Jack to have come, but not by Jack knows that some woman came. (shrink)
Historical language change (), like evolution itself, is a fact; and its implications for the biological evolution of the human capacity for language acquisition () have been ably explored by many contemporary theorists. However, Christiansen & Chater's (C&C's) revolutionary call for a replacement of phylogenetic models with glossogenetic cultural models is based on an inadequate understanding of either. The solution to their lies before their eyes, but they mistakenly reject it due to a supposed Gene/;culture co-evolution poses a series of (...) difficult theoretical and empirical problems that will be resolved by subtle thinking, adequate models, and careful cross-disciplinary research, not by oversimplified manifestos. (shrink)
We have synthesized a 582,970-base pair Mycoplasma genitalium genome. This synthetic genome, named M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, contains all the genes of wild-type M. genitalium G37 except MG408, which was disrupted by an antibiotic marker to block pathogenicity and to allow for selection. To identify the genome as synthetic, we inserted "watermarks" at intergenic sites known to tolerate transposon insertions. Overlapping "cassettes" of 5 to 7 kilobases (kb), assembled from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, were joined by in vitro recombination to produce intermediate (...) assemblies of approximately 24 kb, 72 kb ("1/8 genome"), and 144 kb ("1/4 genome"), which were all cloned as bacterial artificial chromosomes in Escherichia coli. Most of these intermediate clones were sequenced, and clones of all four 1/4 genomes with the correct sequence were identified. The complete synthetic genome was assembled by transformation-associated recombination cloning in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then isolated and sequenced. A clone with the correct sequence was identified. The methods described here will be generally useful for constructing large DNA molecules from chemically synthesized pieces and also from combinations of natural and synthetic DNA segments. 10.1126/science.1151721. (shrink)