Based on the motor theory of language, which asserts an evolution from gestures along several stages to today's speech and language, we suggest that speech ontogeny may partly reflect speech phylogeny, in that perception of prosodic contours is an intermediary stage between a manual communication system and a fully developed language faculty.
We add evidence in support of Corballis's gestural theory of language. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, we found that productive and receptive linguistic tasks excite the motor cortices for both hands. This indicates that the language and the hand motor systems are still tightly linked in modern man. The bilaterality of the effect, however, implies that lateralisation is a secondary issue.
Similar to directional asymmetries in animals, language lateralization in humans follows a bimodal distribution. A majority of individuals are lateralized to the left and a minority of individuals are lateralized to the right side of the brain. However, a biological advantage for either lateralization is lacking. The scenario outlined by Vallortigara & Rogers (V&R) suggests that language lateralization in humans is not specific to language or human speciation but simply follows an evolutionarily conserved organizational principle of the brain.
Assembled here for the first time in English translation, Sigrid Weigel and Georgina Paul offer illuminating new insights into Benjamin's theory, combining impulses from post-structuralism, feminism, cultural anthropology and psychoanalysis.
Abstract Under the realm of neurocultures the concept of the cerebral subject emerges as the central category to define the self, socio-cultural interaction and behaviour. The brain is the reference for explaining cognitive processes and behaviour but at the same time the plastic brain is situated in current paradigms of (self)optimization on the market of meritocracy by means of neurotechnologies. This paper explores whether neurotechnological apparatuses may—due to their hybridity and malleability—bear potentials for a change in gender based attributions that (...) have been historically legitimized by apparently natural differences between women and men. Or, in contrast, which gendered ascriptions are (again) produced in theories and applications according to the normative demands for the bio-techno-social cerebral subject situated in neoliberal power relations. An exploration of three main fields of current developments, the neurotechnological apparatus of brain-computer-interfaces, the technologies for brain tuning and the discourses in neuroeconomics, reveals first insights on these gender aspects in reliance with the ethical/political debate. Moreover, this paper concretizes questions for further research on gender and ethical aspects in the field of neurotechnologies. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9129-1 Authors Sigrid Schmitz, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, Alserstraße 23/22, 1080 Vienna, Austria Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490. (shrink)
Proceeding from the statement that «reading» images is not at all analogous to any culturally codified lecture of written texts, Sigrid Weigel develops a crucial critic of the anthropological paradigm linked to the left-right problem in the visual arts. Focusing on various examples of painted and sculpted Annunciations, the author argues how the decline of the traditional orientation, based on the figure of God in central position, leads to a growing importance of the spectator gaze and to a new (...) relation between iconic narration and symbolic meaning. (shrink)
Hegel continues to be credited with the discovery of a "master-slave dialectic". Critics, however, have established that there was no "master-slave dialectic" but rather a Knecht, that is, servant or footman, with the latter a member of an abstract relationship of Herrschaft-Knechtschaft, which is central to Hegel's idea of the journey from dependence to independence. This "primitive scene" sets up a cycle for the whole paradigm, which is a reformulation of the victory over animal life and its appetites, and (...) a reformulation of the birth of nations. Hegel followed Aristotle here; those who risked their own life are given recognition as masters and those who chose to preserve it at the cost of their freedom, are servants. (shrink)
This paper examines the effect that focus has on repetitive versus restitutive again. It is argued that a pragmatic explanation of the effect is the right strategy. The explanation builds largely on a standard focus semantics. To this we add an anaphoric analysis of again’s presupposition and a detailed analysis of the alternatives triggered when focus falls on again.
Authors frequently refer to gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning as exemplifying selection processes in the same sense of this term. However, as obvious as this claim may seem on the surface, setting out an account of “selection” that is general enough to incorporate all three of these processes without becoming so general as to be vacuous is far from easy. In this target article, we set out such a general (...) account of selection to see how well it accommodates these very different sorts of selection. The three fundamental elements of this account are replication, variation, and environmental interaction. For selection to occur, these three processes must be related in a very specific way. In particular, replication must alternate with environmental interaction so that any changes that occur in replication are passed on differentially because of environmental interaction. One of the main differences among the three sorts of selection that we investigate concerns the role of organisms. In traditional biological evolution, organisms play a central role with respect to environmental interaction. Although environmental interaction can occur at other levels of the organizational hierarchy, organisms are the primary focus of environmental interaction. In the functioning of the immune system, organisms function as containers. The interactions that result in selection of antibodies during a lifetime are between entities (antibodies and antigens) contained within the organism. Resulting changes in the immune system of one organism are not passed on to later organisms. Nor are changes in operant behavior resulting from behavioral selection passed on to later organisms. But operant behavior is not contained in the organism because most of the interactions that lead to differential replication include parts of the world outside the organism. Changes in the organism's nervous system are the effects of those interactions. The role of genes also varies in these three systems. Biological evolution is gene-based (i.e., genes are the primary replicators). Genes play very different roles in operant behavior and the immune system. However, in all three systems, iteration is central. All three selection processes are also incredibly wasteful and inefficient. They can generate complexity and novelty primarily because they are so wasteful and inefficient. Key Words: evolution; immunology; interaction; operant behavior; operant learning; replication; selection; variation. (shrink)
The relatively new practice of continuous sedation at the end of life (CS) is increasingly being debated in the clinical and ethical literature. This practice received much attention when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling noted that the availability of CS made legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) unnecessary, as CS could alleviate even the most severe suffering. This view has been widely adopted. In this article, we perform an in-depth analysis of four versions of this ?argument of preferable alternative.? Our goal (...) is to determine the extent to which CS can be considered to be an alternative to PAS and to identify the grounds, if any, on which CS may be ethically preferable to PAS. (shrink)
Surveys in different countries (e.g. the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands) show a marked recent increase in the incidence of continuous deep sedation at the end of life (CDS). Several hypotheses can be formulated to explain the increasing performance of this practice. In this paper we focus on what we call the ‘natural death’ hypothesis, i.e. the hypothesis that acceptance of CDS has spread rapidly because death after CDS can be perceived as a ‘natural’ death by medical practitioners, patients' relatives (...) and patients.We attempt to show that the label ‘natural’ cannot be unproblematically applied to the nature of this end-of-life practice. We argue that the labeling of death following CDS as ‘natural’ death is related to a complex set of mechanisms which facilitate the use of this practice. However, our criticism does not preclude the view that CDS may be clinically and ethically justified in many cases. (shrink)
This paper offers a few elements of an answer to the question to what extent drug patents can be morally justified. Justifications based on natural rights, distributive justice and utilitarian arguments are discussed and criticized. The author recognizes the potential of the patents to benefit society but argues that the system is currently evolving in the wrong direction, particularly in the field of drugs. More than a third of the world’s population has no access to essential drugs. The working of (...) the patent system is an important determinant of access to drugs. This paper argues that drug patents are not easily justified and that the ‘architecture’ of the patent system should be rethought in view of its mission of benefiting society. (shrink)
If selection is interpreted as involving repeated cycles of replication, variation, and environmental interaction so structured that environmental interaction causes replication to be differential, then selection in gene-based biological evolution and the reaction of the immune system to antigens are relatively unproblematic examples of selection processes. Operant learning and cultural evolution pose more serious problems. In this response we deal with operant learning as a selection process. Footnotes1 The authors regretfully inform readers that since the publication of our target article (...) in 2001, one of our coauthors, Rod Langman, has died. (shrink)
Since the 1980s in the US and the 1990s in Europe, patenting and licensing activities by universities have massively increased. This is strongly encouraged by governments throughout the Western world. Many regard academic patenting as essential to achieve ‘knowledge transfer’ from academia to industry. This trend has far-reaching consequences for access to the fruits of academic research and so the question arises whether the current policies are indeed promoting innovation or whether they are instead a symptom of a pro-intellectual property (...) (IP) culture which is blind to adverse effects. Addressing this question requires both empirical analysis (how real is the link between academic patenting and licensing and ‘development’ of academic research by industry?) and normative assessment (which justifications are given for the current policies and to what extent do they threaten important academic values?). After illustrating the major rise of academic patenting and licensing in the US and Europe and commenting on the increasing trend of ‘upstream’ patenting and the focus on exclusive as opposed to non-exclusive licences, this paper will discuss five negative effects of these trends. Subsequently, the question as to why policymakers seem to ignore these adverse effects will be addressed. Finally, a number of proposals for improving university policies will be made. (shrink)
Background: An effectiveness assessment on ASCT in locally advanced and metastatic breast cancer identified serious ethical issues associated with this intervention. Our objective was to systematically review these aspects by means of a literature analysis. Methods: We chose the reflexive Socratic approach as the review method using Hofmann's question list, conducted a comprehensive literature search in biomedical, psychological and ethics bibliographic databases and screened the resulting hits in a 2-step selection process. Relevant arguments were assembled from the included articles, and (...) were assessed and assigned to the question list. Hofmann's questions were addressed by synthesizing these arguments. Results: Of the identified 879 documents 102 included arguments related to one or more questions from Hofmann's question list. The most important ethical issues were the implementation of ASCT in clinical practice on the basis of phase-II trials in the 1990s and the publication of falsified data in the first randomized controlled trials (Bezwoda fraud), which caused significant negative effects on recruiting patients for further clinical trials and the doctor-patient relationship. Recent meta-analyses report a marginal effect in prolonging disease-free survival, accompanied by severe harms, including death. ASCT in breast cancer remains a stigmatized technology. Reported health-related-quality-of-life data are often at high risk of bias in favor of the survivors. Furthermore little attention has been paid to those patients who were dying. Conclusions: The questions were addressed in different degrees of completeness. All arguments were assignable to the questions. The central ethical dimensions of ASCT could be discussed by reviewing the published literature. (shrink)
This paper develops a semantic analysis of data like It is getting colder and colder. Their meaning is argued to arise from a combination of a comparative with pluractionality. The analysis is embedded in a general theory of plural predication and pluractionality. It supports a semantic theory involving a family of syntactic plural operators.
How can we value the environment, this is the crucial issue that this book debates. The critical analyses carried out within the book by such figures as Nick Hanley and Jonathan Aldred are vital to ensuring that future economic growth is not achieved at the expense of our environment.
For a long time, several natural phenomena have been considered unproblematically selection processes in the same sense of “selection.” In our target article we dealt with three of these phenomena: gene-based selection in biological evolution, the reaction of the immune system to antigens, and operant learning. We characterize selection in terms of three processes (variation, replication, and environmental interaction) resulting in the evolution of lineages via differential replication. Our commentators were largely supportive with respect to variation and environmental interaction but (...) critical with respect to replication, in particular its appeal to information. With some reservations, our commentators think that our general analysis of selection may fit gene-based selection in biological evolution and the reaction of the immune system but not operant learning. If nothing else, this article shows that the notion of selection is not as straightforward as it may seem. (shrink)
On 19 December 2008 the Official Journal of Belgium published the ‘Law regarding the procurement and use of human body material destined for human medical applications or for scientific research purposes’. This paper will comment on various aspects of the Law: its scope of application (what is understood by ‘body material’?); its concept of ‘residual human body material’ (with far-reaching implications for the type of consent required for research); the nature of actions with and uses of human body material that (...) are explicitly prohibited; the right of donors to be informed of relevant information revealed by the use of their body material; and the special responsibilities placed on hospital ethics committees. As will be argued in this paper, several of these provisions are highly problematic from an ethical point of view, especially those relating to consent. Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health has asked the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics for advice on the incorporation of the ‘presumed consent’ model, that applies to post mortem organ donation, into the biobank Law’s provisions on post mortem removal and use of body material. This aspect of the Law effectively extends the ‘presumed consent’ regime, both from organs to body material in general, and from therapeutic uses to research uses. (shrink)
Taken together, the commentaries by Sigrid Merx and Tom Paulus suggest a remarkable dialectical relationship with regard to our article “Performing Phenomenology: Negotiating Presence in Intermedial Theatre”. On the one side a lack of elaborated political consciousness is being detected, while on the other side an alleged surplus of political consciousness is being criticized. Although apparently contradictory, these reactions seem to originate in the same ideological stress: both are somehow haunted by the legacy of Bertolt Brecht and the ideology (...) of the image implicit in critical theory. We argue that the tension between illusion and deconstruction indeed is crucial to the history of the mediatized image, but that it should be taken to a deeper level where it not only remains unsolved but where it forms the heart of the experience. The user knows very well that she is being fooled and, moreover, generously lets herself being fooled. We historicize this fundamental ambivalence with a short excursion in pre-cinematic, pre-Brechtian times. Throughout the nineteenth and the twentieth century, periodic shifts between illusion and its suspension indicates the emergence of what we, in the digital era, might refer to as a ‘meta-realism’, an imagery that incorporates its own critique inside itself. If this analysis holds true, we eventually have to reformulate the stakes of deconstruction and push critical theory beyond its own borders. (shrink)
(1) a. Satoshi sent Thilo the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch. b. Satoshi sent the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch to Thilo. Many have entertained the notion that there is a rule that relates sentences such as these. This is suggested by the fact that it is possible to learn that a newly coined verb licenses one of them and automatically know that it licenses the other. Marantz (1984) argues for the existence of such a rule in this way, noting that once one has learned of (...) the new verb shin by exposure to (2a), the grammaticality of (2b) is also learned. (2) a. Thilo shinned the ball to Satoshi. b. Thilo shinned Satoshi the ball. This is explained if there is a rule that ties the double object frame together with the NP+PP frame, making it sufﬁcient to know that a verb licenses one if it licenses the other. Frequently, the rule involved has been taken to be syntactic in nature. See, among many others, Fillmore (1965), Oehrle (1976), Baker (1988), and Larson (1988). The leading idea under this view is that the two frames are simply different surface manifestations of the same underlying structure. Typically, this approach posits that the NP+PP frame represents that underlying structure from which the double object frame is transformationally derived. There is evidence, however, that the two frames instead have different underlying structures, and are not related by transformation. This evidence, then. (shrink)
This commentary on Kurt Vanhoutte and Nele Wynants’s of ‘Performing phenomenology: negotiating presence in intermedial theatre’ focuses on the implications of staging phenomenological research. In my opinion the authors missed an opportunity to stress more what W (Double U) , a performance of CREW has to offer postphenomenology and what it actually means to ‘perform’ phenomenology. I will not only argue that W (Double U) because of its performative nature offers a reflection on postphenomenology, but also that the performance must (...) be understood as a specific kind of research, conducted simultaneously from a theoretical and aesthetic orientation, leading to a complex interaction between perception and reflection, and offering a valuable, different perspective on postphenomenological research issues. W (Double U) in this respect functions as a ‘theoretical object’, producing a specific kind of embodied knowledge. Finally I will emphasize the possible radical potential in W (Double U) , because I do believe that the performance, although it might not lead explicitly to social change, does have an important social and political relevance that the authors do not really delve into. (shrink)
The case for the value of self-experimentation in advancing science is convincing. Important features of the method include (1) repeated measures of individual behavior, over extended time, to discover cause/effect relations, and (2) vivid graphical presentations. Large-scale research on Pavlovian conditioning and weight control is needed because verification could result in easy and inexpensive mitigation of a serious public health problem.
With the case of Belgium as a negative example, this paper will evaluate the legitimacy of using mentally incompetents as organ sources. The first section examines the underlying moral dilemma that results from the necessity of balancing the principle of respect for persons with the obligation to help people in desperate need. We argue for the rejection of a radical utilitarian approach but also question the appropriateness of a categorical prohibition. Section two aims to strike a fair balance between the (...) competing interests at stake and to define the conditions under which organ harvest from mentally incompetents might be morally acceptable. To this end, we morally assess the main requirements that have been put forward to allow organ removal from incompetent donors. We conclude that the current Belgian legislation is far too permissive and that national regulations that do not permit the harvest of non-regenerable organs from mentally incompetents in exceptional circumstances are too restrictive. On the basis of this discussion, we propose a number of guiding principles for decision-making in this area. (shrink)
The topic of this paper is the semantic analysis of the sentences in (1). (1a,b) contain the adverbial modifiers 'one after the other' and 'dog after dog', respectively, which add to the simple (1') information on how the overall event of the dogs entering the room is to be divided into subevents based on a division of the group of dogs into individual dogs. We call these adverbials pluractional adverbials, following e.g. Lasersohn's (1995) use of the term pluractionality for the (...) division of larger eventualities into subeventualities. (shrink)
Attempts to justify the patent system can be based on three grounds: (1) natural rights; (2) distributive justice; and (3) utilitarian (economic) arguments. Each of these arguments is problematic in many ways. The first two are dealt with very briefly. The utilitarian argument is discussed more in depth.
The semantic literature takes degree operators like the comparative, but also measure phrases, the equative, the superlative and so on, to be quantifiers over degrees. This is well motivated by their semantic contribution, but leads one to expect far more scope interaction than is actually observed. This paper proposes an alternative-semantic analysis of certain degree constructions, in particular constructions with little and other negative antonyms. Restrictions on scope can then be explained as intervention effects.