In a recent paper, Dylan Evans proposed that emotions could help solve what has been known as ?the frame problem?. In the process, he first questioned the utility of using the frame problem as a framework. After tackling this issue, he provided an alternative terminology to the frame problem?termed ?the search hypothesis of emotion??in order to re-examine how emotions aid rational agents. His new terminology, however, opens itself to other critiques. While accepting the basic tenets of his analysis, I question (...) (i) whether a single search theory of emotion is adequate, and (ii) whether his theory would have been better termed ?the search hypothesis of feeling?. Finally, I extend some of the ideas developed in Evans' paper. Introduction Emotion, reason and ends The search hypothesis of emotion revisited Conclusion. (shrink)
Searle's Chinese Room was supposed to prove that computers can't understand: the man in the room, following, like a computer, syntactical rules alone, though indistinguishable from a genuine Chinese speaker, doesn't understand a word. But such a room is impossible: the man won't be able to respond correctly to questions like What is the time?, even though such an ability is indispensable for a genuine Chinese speaker. Several ways to provide the room with the required ability are considered, and it (...) is concluded that for each of these the room will have understanding. Hence, Searle's argument is invalid. (shrink)
Ned Block ((1981). Psychologism and behaviorism. Philosophical Review, 90, 5-43.) argued that a behaviorist conception of intelligence is mistaken, and that the nature of an agent's internal processes is relevant for determining whether the agent has intelligence. He did that by describing a machine which lacks intelligence, yet can answer questions put to it as an intelligent person would. The nature of his machine's internal processes, he concluded, is relevant for determining that it lacks intelligence. I argue against Block (...) that it is not the nature of its processes but of its linguistic behavior which is responsible for his machine's lack of intelligence. As I show, not only has Block failed to establish that the nature of internal processes is conceptually relevant for psychology, in fact his machine example actually supports some version of behaviorism. As Wittgenstein has maintained, as far as psychology is concerned, there may be chaos inside. (shrink)
Dummett and others have failed to show that an effect can precede its cause. Dummett claimed that 'backwards causation' is unproblematic in agentless worlds, and tried to show under what conditions it is rational to believe that even backwards agent-causation occurs. Relying on considerations originating in discussions of special relativity, I show that the latter conditions actually support the view that backwards agent-causation is impossible. I next show that in Dummett's agentless worlds explanation does not necessitate backwards causation. I then (...) show why even relative backwards causation is impossible in his and Tooley's scenarios of parallel processes in which causes apparently act in opposite temporal directions. We thus have good reasons for thinking that backwards causation is impossible. (shrink)
I develop a solution to the Sorites Paradox, according to which a concatenation of valid arguments need not itself be valid. I specify which chains of valid arguments are those that do not preserve validity: those that pass the vague boundary between cases where the relevant concept applies and cases where that concept does not apply. I also develop various criticisms of this solution and show why they fail; basically, they all involve a petitio at some stage. I criticise the (...) conviction that if every short argument in a long concatenated argument is valid, so is the long argument: it is, I argue, the result of an unjustified generalisation from the case of arguments that do not employ vague concepts (as in mathematics) to arguments that do employ them. My approach is Wittgensteinian in its “leaving everything as it is,” in its claiming that the “beginning” has been searched too far back (see paper's epigraph) and in its claim that the paradox was generated by a misapplication of a partial picture of the behaviour of arguments. I conclude my paper by comparing and contrasting my approach to the few precedents found in the vagueness literature and by answering a few additional objections that were raised there. (shrink)
Hanoch Ben-Yami has argued that the theory of the semantics of natural kind terms proposed by Kripke and Putnam is false and has proposed an allegedly novel account of the semantics of kind terms. In this article, I critically examine Ben-Yami’s arguments. I will argue that Ben-Yami’s objections do not show that Kripke and Putnam’s theory is false, but at most that the specific versions of it held by Kripke and Putnam have some weaknesses. Moreover, I will argue that (...) Ben-Yami’s account is not a novel account but it is only an unsatisfactory version of Kripke and Putnam’s theory. (shrink)
David Malament tried to show that the causal theory of time leads to a unique determination of simultaneity relative to an inertial observer, namely standard simultaneity. I show that the causal relation Malament uses in his proofs, causal connectibility, should be replaced by a different causal relation, the one used by Reichenbach in his formulation of the theory. I also explain why Malament's reliance on the assumption that the observer has an eternal inertial history modifies our conception of simultaneity, and (...) I therefore eliminate it. Having made these changes, Malament's uniqueness result no longer follows, although the conventionality of simultaneity is not reinstated. I contrast my approach with previous criticisms of Malament. Introduction Causality and Temporal Order Malament's Argument Causality versus Causal Connectibility Simultaneity and History Conclusion. (shrink)
To promise someone to do something is to commit oneself to that person to do that thing, but what does that commitment consist of? Some think a promissory commitment is an obligation to do what’s promised, and that while promising practices facilitate the creation of promissory obligations, they are not essential to them. I favor the broadly Humean view in which, when it comes to promises (and so promissory obligations), practices are of the essence. I propose the Practice Reason Account (...) of promises, according to which a promise is basically to give oneself a self-interested practice reason to do what’s promised. One achieves this feat by invoking self-enforcing independent practice rules thanks to which one’s doing what’s promised preserves one’s promissory trust(worthiness) and promising power. However, nothing in this account supports the Hume-Rawls claim that promise-keeping or promise-breaking is right just when and because it conforms to practice rules that are justified by their good- or right-making properties. (shrink)
I show that the contemporary dominant analysis of natural language quantifiers that are one-place determiners by means of binary generalized quantifiers has failed to explain why they are, according to it, conservative. I then present an alternative, Geachean analysis, according to which common nouns in the grammatical subject position are plural logical subject-terms, and show how it does explain that fact and other features of natural language quantification.
In Naming and Necessity Kripke argued against the possible existence of fictional characters. I show that his argument is invalid, analyze the confusion it involves, and explain why the view that fictional characters could not have existed is implausible.
This study presents a reconsideration of Levinas's concept of the feminine. This reconsideration is facilitated by a philosophically informed analysis of Levinas's Talmudic readings on that subject.The innovation of this research is in its methodology, which combines the two corpora of Levinas' writings as important components of an integrated system of thought. Two main phenomena are derived here from Levinas' Talmudic readings and raise main principles of his ethics. In the heart of the discussion on Eros we find a statement (...) of the differentiation between feminine and masculine in Levinas's thought, and its implication for gender and for the ethics of otherness. In the center of Levinas's terminology of maternity we uncover his phenomenology of pregnancy, and its ethical implication regarding responsibility to the other. The extreme responsibility committed to the other since there is a immanent conflict between parents and their child. (shrink)
New concepts may prove necessary to profit from the avalanche of sequence data on the genome, transcriptome, proteome and interactome and to relate this information to cell physiology. Here, we focus on the concept of large activity-based structures, or hyperstructures, in which a variety of types of molecules are brought together to perform a function. We review the evidence for the existence of hyperstructures responsible for the initiation of DNA replication, the sequestration of newly replicated origins of replication, cell division (...) and for metabolism. The processes responsible for hyperstructure formation include changes in enzyme affinities due to metabolite-induction, lipid-protein affinities, elevated local concentrations of proteins and their binding sites on DNA and RNA, and transertion. Experimental techniques exist that can be used to study hyperstructures and we review some of the ones less familiar to biologists. Finally, we speculate on how a variety of in silico approaches involving cellular automata and multi-agent systems could be combined to develop new concepts in the form of an Integrated cell (I-cell) which would undergo selection for growth and survival in a world of artificial microbiology. (shrink)
In recent literature on plurals the claim has often been made that the move from singular to plural expressions can be iterated, generating what are occasionally called higher-level plurals or superplurals, often correlated with superplural predicates. I argue that the idea that the singular-to-plural move can be iterated is questionable. I then show that the examples and arguments intended to establish that some expressions of natural language are in some sense higher-level plurals fail. Next, I argue that these and some (...) other expressions should instead be classified as plurals whose reference is articulated, an idea explained and elaborated in the paper. I also show that the related categories of plural and superplural predicates collapse to that of ordinary predicates. In the process we also see that the law of substitutivity salva veritate should be elaborated for cases involving expressions more complex than singular ones. (shrink)