We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating OCD patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect affordance-responsiveness, including responsiveness to social affordances.
Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is wholly determined by, or even reducible to, its representational content. In this essay I put forward a version of intentionalism that allows (though does not require) the reduction of phenomenal character to representational content. Unlike other reductionist theories, however, it does not require the acceptance of phenomenal externalism (the view that phenomenal character does not supervene on the internal state of the subject). According the view offered here, (...) phenomenal characters essentially represent subject-environment relations that are relevant to the possibilities for causal interaction between the subject and the environment; relations of the kind that J. J. Gibson dubbed affordances. I argue for this view chiefly through an examination of spatial perception, though other cases are also considered. The view assumes that a phenomenal character has an essential functional role; though it need not be assumed that a functional role is sufficient for a phenomenal character. (shrink)
Interest in "embodiment", and over how one may best express the implications of embodiment, is no parochial question, of interest only to a small number of effete philosophers. It confronts perceptual psychologists, developmental psychologists, and psychotherapists, of course. It may not be surprising, either, that it has become an important issue to some students of history and sociology, and to linguists, literary theorists and aestheticians. But that's not all. As physicists -- working within the very bastion of "objective" analysis -- (...) have tried to find expression for what seems to be going on in the domain of sub-atomic nature, they have begun to suggest that physical description itself is inevitably situated. And within the study of artificial intelligence, support is growing for the contention that intelligence cannot be understood entirely formalistically. Intelligence must at least be embodied -- it must somehow display "engaged agency" -- if it is to be recognizable as intelligence. It is within this context that the contribution offered by this essay must be understood. I shall contend that a particular conception -- that of "affordances" -- can, when suitably qualified, offer a conceptual tool of quite exceptional value in the construction of a positive theory of embodied agency, and of its philosophical consequences. (shrink)
I argue that the most promising approach to understanding J.J. Gibson's "affordances" takes affordances themselves as ontological primitives, instead of treating them as dispositional properties of more primitive things, events, surfaces, or substances. These latter are best treated as coalescences of affordances present in the environment (or "coalescences of use-potential," as in Sanders (1994) and Hilditch (1995)). On this view, even the ecological approach's stress on the complementary organism/environment pair is seen as expressing a particular affordance relation (...) between the world and the analyst. That the world is parsed in any way among events and objects, perceivers and worlds, etc., reflects equally features of certain real or possible perspectives on the world and features of the world itself. In section 1, I begin by contending that, contrary to the apparent expectations of some in the field, the bare existence of affordances is surely quite uncontroversial. In section 2, I argue that the most reasonable approach to foundational ontology is a relativistic one. In section 3, I address the claim that affordances must be ontologically complemented by effectivities for the sake of completeness, and I shall argue against that claim on grounds that I take to reflect some of Gibson's most important insights. This work will help to clarify the way affordances are to be used in the fourth and final section, where I argue that ontological work, even within special sciences, should not be merely "regional," and that the most attractive general approach to ontological questions is one that is based on affordances, rather than upon things, events, surfaces, and the like. (shrink)
James Gibson’s concept of affordances was an attempt to undermine the traditional dualism of the objective and subjective. Gibson himself insisted on the continuity of “affordances in general” and those attached to human artifacts. However, a crucial distinction needs to be drawn between “affordances in general” and the “canonical affordances” that are connected primarily to artifacts. Canonical affordances are conventional and normative. It is only in such cases that it makes sense to talk of the (...) affordance of the object. Chairs, for example, are for sitting-on, even though we may also use them in many other ways. A good deal of confusion has arisen in the discussion of affordances from (1) the failure to recognize the normative status of canonical affordances and (2) then generalizing from this special case. (shrink)
There are important structural similarities in the way that animals and humans engage in unreflective activities, including unreflective social interactions in the case of higher animals. Firstly, it is a form of unreflective embodied intelligence that is ‘motivated’ by the situation. Secondly, both humans and non-human animals are responsive to ‘affordances’ (Gibson 1979); to possibilities for action offered by an environment. Thirdly, both humans and animals are selectively responsive to one affordance rather than another. Social affordances are a (...) subcategory of affordances, namely possibilities for social interaction offered by an environment: a friend’s sad face invites comforting behavior, a person waiting for a coffee machine can afford a conversation, and an extended hand affords a handshake. I will review recent insights in the nature of the bodily intentionality characteristic of unreflective action. Such ‘motor intentionality’ can be characterized as “our direct bodily inclination to act in a situated, environmental context” (Kelly 2005, p. 106). Standard interpretations of bodily intentionality see grasping an object as the paradigmatic example of motor intentionality. I will discuss the implications of another, novel perspective that emphasizes the importance of unreflective switches from one activity to another (Rietveld 2004) and understands bodily intentionality in terms of adequate responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances. In the final section I will discuss some implications for cognitive neuroscientists who use empirical findings related to the ‘mirror neuron system’ as a starting point for a theory of motor intentionality and social cognition. (shrink)
The notion of affordance has been introduced by Gibson (1977, 1979) as the feature of an object or the environment that allows the observer to perform an action, a set of “environmental supports for an organism’s intentional activities” (Reybrouck 2005). Studied under very different perspectives, this concept has become a crucial issue not only for the ecological psychology, but also for cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence studies, and philosophy of mind. This variety of approaches has widened the already ambiguous definition originally (...) provided by Gibson, contributing to the development of different standpoints in open contrast with each other (see Zipoli Caiani 2011). During the last two decades, moreover, many researchers tried to extend the notion also to musical experience, aiming to draw a coherent theory of musical affordances (e.g. Clarke 2005; Nussbaum 2007; Krueger 2011a; 2011b). In this paper, we will argue for a particular concept of musical affordances, that is, as we see it, one narrower and less ambiguous in scope and more closely related to its original. Taking the discovery of canonical neurons as our starting point, we will (i) introduce the general notion of affordance, (ii) discuss some significant contributions in this area of research, mostly focusing on musical affordances and (iii) propose a motor-based interpretation of musical affordances. (shrink)
In his ecological approach to perception, james gibson introduced the concept of affordance to refer to the perceived meaning of environmental objects and events. this paper examines the relational and causal character of affordances, as well as the grounds for extending affordances beyond environmental features with transcultural meaning to include those features with culturally-specific meaning. such an extension is seen as warranted once affordances are grounded in an intentional analysis of perception. toward this end, aspects of merleau-ponty's (...) treatment of perception are explored. finally, a resolution of the apparent tension between the relational and perceiver-independent nature of affordances is presented. (shrink)
I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. In the first part of the paper, I illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson's theory of perception. In the second part, I argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. The main purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity enriched by Gibson's (...) visionary insight, but independent of the most controversial claims of the Gibsonian movement. (shrink)
According to John McDowell, representational perceptual content is conceptual through and through. This paper criticizes this view by claiming that there is a certain kind of representational and non-conceptual perceptual content that is sensitive to bodily skills. After a brief introduction to McDowell's position, Merleau-Ponty's notion of body schema and Gibson's notion of affordance are presented. It is argued that affordances are constitutive of representational perceptual content, and that at least some affordances, (...) class='Hi'> the so-called 'conditional affordances', are essentially related to the body schema. This means that the perceptual content depends upon the nature of the body schema. Since the body schema does not pertain to the domain that our conceptual faculties operate upon, it is argued that this kind of perceptual content cannot be conceptual. At least some of that content is representational, yet it cannot feature as non-demonstrative conceptual content. It is argued that if it features as demonstrative conceptual content, it has to be captured by private concepts. Since McDowell's theory does not allow for the existence of a private language, it is concluded that at least some representational perceptual content is non-conceptual. (shrink)
In her essay --?Information, Perception and Action--, Claire Michaels reaches two conclusions that run very much against the grain of ecological psychology. First, she claims that affordances are not perceived, but simply acted upon; second, because of this, perception and action ought to be conceived separately. These conclusions are based upon a misinterpretation of empirical evidence which is, in turn, based upon a conflation of two proper objects of perception: objectively with properties and affordances.
Using hypersets as an analytic tool, we compare traditionally Gibsonian (Chemero 2003; Turvey 1992) and representationalist (Sahin et al. this issue) understandings of the notion ‘affordance’. We show that representationalist understandings are incompatible with direct perception and erect barriers between animal and environment. They are, therefore, scarcely recognizable as understandings of ‘affordance’. In contrast, Gibsonian understandings are shown to treat animal-environment systems as unified complex systems and to be compatible with direct perception. We discuss the fruitful connections between Gibsonian (...) class='Hi'>affordances and dynamical systems explanation in the behavioral sciences and point to prior fruitful application of Gibsonian affordances in robotics. We conclude that it is unnecessary to re-imagine affordances as representations in order to make them useful for researchers in robotics. (shrink)
In this essay we respond to some criticisms of the guidance theory of representation offered by Tom Roberts. We argue that although Roberts’ criticisms miss their mark, he raises the important issue of the relationship between affordances and the action-oriented representations proposed by the guidance theory. Affordances play a prominent role in the anti-representationalist accounts offered by theorists of embodied cognition and ecological psychology, and the guidance theory is motivated in part by a desire to respond to the (...) critiques of representationalism offered in such accounts, without giving up entirely on the idea that representations are an important part of the cognitive economy of many animals. Thus, explorations of whether and how such accounts can in fact be related and reconciled potentially offer to shed some light on this ongoing controversy. Although the current essay hardly settles the larger debate, it does suggest that there may be more possibility for agreement than is often supposed. (shrink)
In a target article that appeared in this journal, Thomas Stoffregen 2000 questions the possibility of ecological event perception research. This paper describes an experiments performed to examine the perception of the disappearance of gap-crossing affordances, a variety of event as defined by Chemero 2000. We found that subjects reliably perceive both gap-crossing affordances and the disappearance of gap-crossing affordances. Our findings provide empirical evidence in favor of understanding events as changes in the layout of affordances, (...) shoring up event perception research in ecological psychology. (shrink)
Gibson developed the affordance concept to complement his theory of direct perception that stands in sharp contrast with the prevalent inferential theories of perception. A comparison of the two approaches shows that the distinction between them also has an ontological aspect. We trace the history and newer formalizations of the notion of affordance and discuss some competing opinions on its scope. Next, empirical work on the affordance concept is reviewed in brief and the relevance of dynamical systems theory to affordance (...) research is demonstrated. Finally, the striking but often neglected convergence of the ideas of Gibson and those of certain Continental philosophers is discussed. (shrink)
How is meaning assigned to those terms in a theory which are remote from direct observational instantiation? Models and analogies play a role, but close examination of theories in high energy physics shows that the design of experimental apparatus also influences the interpretation of such terms. Certain apparatus favours certain kinds of effects, and this affects the way mathematical theories are interpreted. In particular track producing apparatus becomes involved with theories in which photonic terms are picked out in the theory. (...) A further conceptual constraint is thus introduced. It is argued that this situation favours the interpretation of dispositional properties as affordances rather than as simple dispositions. (shrink)
The idea that natural language grammar and planned action are relatedsystems has been implicit in psychological theory for more than acentury. However, formal theories in the two domains have tendedto look very different. This article argues that both faculties sharethe formal character of applicative systems based on operationscorresponding to the same two combinatory operations, namely functional composition and type-raising. Viewing them in thisway suggests simpler and more cognitively plausible accounts of bothsystems, and suggests that the language faculty evolved in the (...) speciesand develops in children by a rather direct adaptation of a moreprimitive apparatus for planning purposive action in the world bycomposing affordances of objects or tools. Theknowledge representation that underlies such planning is alsoreflected in the natural language semantics of tense, mood, andaspect, which the paper begins by arguing provides the key tounderstanding both systems. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider the influence of Gibson's affordance theory on the design of robotic agents. Affordance theory (and the ecological approach to agent design in general) has in many cases contributed to the development of successful robotic systems; we provide a brief survey of AI research in this area. However, there remain significant issues that complicate discussions on this topic, particularly in the exchange of ideas between researchers in artificial intelligence and ecological psychology. We identify some of these (...) issues, specifically the lack of a generally accepted definition of "affordance" and fundamental differences in the current approaches taken in AI and ecological psychology. While we consider reconciliation between these fields to be possible and mutually beneficial, it will require some flexibility on the issue of direct perception. (shrink)
This article is about a sidebar in James Gibson's last book, The ecological approach to visual perception. In this sidebar, Gibson, the founder of the ecological perspective of perception and action, argued that to perceive an affordance is not to classify an object. Although this sidebar has received scant attention, it is of great significance both historically and for recent discussions about specificity, direct perception, and the functions of the dorsal and ventral streams. It is argued that Gibson's acknowledgment of (...) Wittgenstein's ideas of classification suggests a limited scope of his theory of direct perception?it cannot account for the classification of objects. The implications for both the specification debate and theorizing about the brain's dorsal and ventral pathways are explored. Based on a recent ecological conception of information and direct perception, we ultimately argue that both affordance perception and classification are direct. (shrink)
Upshot: Chemero provides a modern re-interpretation of Gibson’s ecological psychology and his affordance concept that is more coherent than the original and in line with antirepresentationalist, dynamical theories in embodied cognitive science. He argues for a radical embodied cognitive science, in which ecological and enactive approaches join forces against the more watered-down, mainstream embodied cognitive science that still maintains traditional commitments to representationalism and computationalism. He also defends a special version of realism, entity realism, which many constructivists might not find (...) entirely convincing, but which is nevertheless more or less compatible with enactive theories of embodied cognition. (shrink)
I provide an analysis of the concept of an “affordance” that enables one to conceive of “structural affordance” as a kind of affordance relation that might hold between an agent and its body. I then review research in the science of humanoid bodily movement to indicate the empirical reality of structural affordance.
Within philosophy there is not yet an integrative account of unreflective skillful action. As a starting point, contributions would be required from philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions. Starting from the McDowell-Dreyfus debate, shared Aristotelian-Wittgensteinian common ground is identified. McDowell and Dreyfus agree about the importance of embodied skills, situation-specific discernment and responsiveness to relevant affordances. This sheds light on the embodied and situated nature of adequate unreflective action and provides a starting point for the development of (...) an account that does justice to insights from both philosophical traditions. (shrink)
The primary difference between direct and inferential theories of perception concerns the location of perceptual content, the meaning of our perceptions. In inferential theories of perception, these meanings arise inside animals, based upon their interactions with the physical environment. Light, for example, bumps into receptors causing a sensation. The animal (or its brain) performs inferences on the sensation, yielding a meaningful perception. In direct theories of perception, on the other hand, meaning is in the environment, and perception does not depend (...) upon meaning- conferring inferences. Instead the animal simply gathers information from a meaning- laden environment. But if the environment contains meanings, then it cannot be merely physical. This places a heavy theoretical burden on direct theories of perception, a burden so severe that it may outweigh all the advantages to conceiving perception as. (shrink)
For Merleau-Ponty,consciousness in skillful coping is a matter of prereflective ‘I can’ and not explicit ‘I think that.’ The body unifies many domain-specific capacities. There exists a direct link between the perceived possibilities for action in the situation (‘affordances’) and the organism’s capacities. From Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions it is clear that in a flow of skillful actions, the leading ‘I can’ may change from moment to moment without explicit deliberation. How these transitions occur, however, is less clear. Given that Merleau-Ponty (...) suggested that a better understanding of the self-organization of brain and behavior is important, I will re-read his descriptions of skillful coping in the light of recent ideas on neurodynamics. Affective processes play a crucial role in evaluating the motivational significance of objects and contribute to the individual’s prereflective responsiveness to relevant affordances. (shrink)
Against David Schenck's interpretation, I argue that it is not absolutely clear that Merleau-Ponty ever meant to replace what Schenck refers to as the "unity of meanings" interpretation of "structure" with a "material meanings" interpretation. A particular problem-setting -- for example, an attempt to understand the "truth in naturalism" or the "truth in dualism" -- may very well require a particular mode of expression. I argue that the mode of expression chosen by Merleau-Ponty for these purposes, while unfortunate in some (...) of its apparent implications, need not be interpreted as recommitting him to the doctrine he spent his life working to renounce. I have argued that this would have been clearer had he been able to avail himself of James J. Gibson's notion of affordances, which capture perfectly what he was reaching for. (shrink)
While there are numerous differences between the approaches taken by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and James J. Gibson, the basic motivation of the two thinkers, as well as the internal logic of their respective views, is extraordinarily close. Both were guided throughout their lives by an attempt to overcome the dualism of subject and object, and both devoted considerable attention to their "Gestaltist" predecessors. There can be no doubt but that it is largely because of this common cause that the subsequent development (...) of their ideas is so similar. It is not my objective in what follows merely to demonstrate a similarity between two lines of thought. Instead, I will try to show that each approach gains considerably from attention to the other. There are numerous ways to begin such a project, each about as arbitrary as the next. For present purposes, I shall take as of central importance the question of the character of the perceived world, both in relation to the traditionally opposed mental and material "substances", and in relation to its identification and individuation of things vis a vis one another and vis a vis ourselves. This will implicate especially Gibson's "affordances" and Merleau-Ponty's thesis concerning the "materiality of meaning.". (shrink)
The places where humans meet other animals matter. This is especially true when considering encounters with animals in captivity. Myriad factors come into play in these instances, not the least of which involve the physical structures of each place and the kinds of organized activities that are offered, encouraged or discouraged there. Motivated by a strong desire to get up close to a dolphin, many people seek out tourism activities offering opportunities to "swim with dolphins." But what is the nature (...) of these swim-with-dolphin programs and how are they actually experienced by participants? If people are seeking genuine, spontaneous contact with a dolphin, does the place and activity of encounter make a .. (shrink)
Post-Gibson attempts to set out a definition of affordance generally agree that this notion can be understood as a property of the environment with salience for an organism’s behavior. According to this view, some scholars advocate the idea that affordances are dispositional properties of physical objects that, given suitable circumstances, necessarily actualize related actions. This paper aims at assessing this statement in light of a theory of affordance perception. After years of discontinuity between strands of empirical and theoretical research, (...) the time is ripe for addressing the question of whether the dispositional interpretation of affordance is in accordance with some recent evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience. Following this line, I clarify that there are some cases of affordance-related effects that neither require the actualization of an action, nor the presence of an action-related property bearer in the environment, and that the identification of affordance with physical properties provides only a partial explanation of the wide range of affordance-related effects. Accordingly, I argue in favor of a more general account of affordance perception based on the ability to directly detect perceptual patterns in the environment. (shrink)
Our everyday activities unfold in situations that offer a multiplicity of possibilities for action. While typing this text, the apple on the right side of my laptop affords eating, my e-mail checking, and the glass of water drinking from it. Every now and then I unreflectively switch from typing to eating or drinking and back to typing again. A relevant possibility for action is embedded in a field of other soliciting possibilities for action (Rietveld, 2008). Michael Wheeler and Hubert Dreyfus (...) have an interesting debate on the important issue of cognition in context. They both take a naturalistic and broadly Heideggerian approach to the problem of adequate sensitivity to context-dependent relevance (the frame-problem). Their debate focuses on such sensitivity in episodes of online intelligence (Wheeler, 2005, p. 252, p. 280), typing for instance. They agree that a central phenomenon to be understood is how one switches from one context to another by being responsive to what is relevant in a given situation. I use this latter agreement as a starting point for a new perspective on online intelligence. (shrink)
This paper widens the scope of our previous paper (Harré and Llored in Found Chem 13:63–76, 2011) by scrutinizing how whole/parts relations are involved in the study of molecules. In doing so, we point out two mereological fallacies which endanger both philosophical and chemical inferences. We also further explore how the concept of affordance is related to our mereological investigation. We then refer to quantum chemistry in order to pave the way for a new mereological approach for chemistry.
In everyday life we often act adequately, yet without deliberation. For instance, we immediately obtain and maintain an appropriate distance from others in an elevator. The notion of normativity implied here is a very basic one, namely distinguishing adequate from inadequate, correct from incorrect, or better from worse in the context of a particular situation. In the ﬁrst part of this paper I investigate such ‘situated normativity’ by focusing on unreﬂective expert action. More particularly, I use Wittgenstein’s examples of craftsmen (...) (tailors and architects) absorbed in action to introduce situated normativity. Situated normativity can be understood as the normative aspect of embodied cognition in unreﬂective skillful action. I develop Wittgenstein’s insight that a peculiar type of aﬀective behaviour, ‘directed discontent’, is essential for getting things right without reﬂection. Directed discontent is a reaction of appreciation in action and is introduced as a paradigmatic expression of situated normativity. In the second part I discuss Wittgenstein’s ideas on the normativity of what he calls ‘blind’ rule-following and the ‘bedrock’ of immediate action. What matters for understanding the normativity of (even ‘blind’) rule-following, is not that one has the capacity for linguistic articulation or reﬂection but that one is reliably participating in a communal custom. In the third part I further investigate the complex relationships between unreﬂective skillful action, perception, emotion, and normativity. Part of this entails an account of the link between normativity at the level of the expert’s socio-cultural practice and the individual’s situated and lived normativity. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to present an explanation of object permanence that is derived from an ecological account of perceptually based action. In understanding why children below a certain age do not search for occluded objects, one must first understand the process by which these children perform certain intentional actions on non-occluded items; and to do this one must understand the role affordances play in eliciting retrieval behaviour. My affordance-based explanation is contrasted with Shinskey and Munakata's graded representation (...) account; and although I do not reject totally the role representations play in initiating intentional action I nevertheless maintain that only by incorporating direct perception into an account of object permanence can a fuller understanding of this phenomenon be achieved. (shrink)
For the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010, curator Rietveld Landscape has been invited by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) to make a statement about the potential of landscape architecture to contribute to resolving the complex challenges that our society faces today. These challenges call for innovation; for a culture centred on design skills and cooperation between scientists and creative pioneers. The installation ‘Vacant NL, where architecture meets ideas’ calls upon the Dutch government to make use of the enormous potential of inspiring, (...) unoccupied buildings from the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries for innovation within the creative knowledge economy. Images of the installation can be found here: www.rietveldlandscape.nl/en/projects/439. (shrink)
This thesis has two main goals: (1) to argue that myths are natural products of human cognition; and (2) that structuralism, as introduced by Claude Levi-Strauss, provides an over-arching theory of myth when supplemented and supported by current research in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, and cognitive anthropology. With regard to (1), we argue that myths are naturally produced by the human mind through individuals’ interaction with their natural and social environments. This interaction is constrained by both the type of (...) body the individual has and the environment in which the individual is situated. From this interaction, we argue, is produced the human-body metaphor which plays an essential role in forming analogical mental models which humans use to navigate, predict, and think about their environment(s). With regard to (2), we argue that these analogical mental models are the structures from which myths are created, just as structural anthropology suggests. (shrink)
This discussion paper proposes that a meaningful distinction between science and technoscience can be found at the level of the objects of research. Both notions intermingle in the attitudes, intentions, programs and projects of researchers and research institutions—that is, on the side of the subjects of research. But the difference between science and technoscience becomes more explicit when research results are presented in particular settings and when the objects of research are exhibited for the specific interest they hold. When an (...) experiment is presented as scientific evidence which confirms or disconfirms a hypothesis, this agrees with traditional conceptions of science. When organic molecules are presented for their capacity to serve individually as electric wires that carry surprisingly large currents, this would be a hallmark of technoscience. Accordingly, we propose research on the ontology of research objects. The focus on the character and significance of research objects makes this a specifically philosophical project. (shrink)
We give a historical overview of the development of almost 50 years of empirical research on the affordances in the past and in the present. Defined by James Jerome Gibson in the early development of the Ecological Approach to Perception and Action as the prime of perception and action, affordances have become a rich topic of investigation in the fields of human movement science and experimental psychology. The methodological origins of the empirical research performed on affordances can (...) be traced back to the mid 1980’s and the works of Warren (1984, 1988) and Michaels (1988). Most of the research in Ecological Psychology performed since has focused on the actualization of discretely defined actions, the perception of action boundaries, the calculation of pi-numbers, and the measurement of response times. The research efforts have resulted in advancements in the understanding of the dynamic nature of affordances, affordances in a social context and the importance of calibration for perception of affordances. Although affordances are seen as an instrumental part of the control of action most studies investigating affordances do not pay attention to the control of the action. We conclude that affordances are still primarily treated as a utility to select behaviour, which creates a conceptual barrier that hinders deeper understanding of affordances. A focus on action-boundaries has largely prevented advancement in other aspects of affordances, most notably an integrative understanding of the role of affordances in the control of action. (shrink)
The present article constitutes an attempt at a review of a few selected questions related to the complexity paradigm and its implications for research on cognition, especially within the so-called ecological approach framework. I propose several theses, among others concerning the two contrary tendencies within the dominant methodology (the propensity to search for simplicity and the growing emphasis on recognizing complexity), as well as the ontological consequences of the phenomenon under discussion (ontological emergence and processual emergentism).
I approach the philosophical analyses of the phenomenon of trust vis-à-vis online communication beginning with an overview from within the framework of computer-mediated communication (CMC) of concerns and paradigmatic failures of trust in the history of online communication. I turn to the more directly philosophical analyses of trust online by first offering an introductory taxonomy of diverse accounts of trust that have emerged over the past decade or so. In the face of important objections to the possibility of establishing and (...) fostering trust in online environments—objections that emerge especially from the perspective of virtue ethics and phenomenological approaches to how we know and navigate the world as embodied beings—I then take up three major arguments in recent work in favor of the possibilities of trust online, followed by three vicious circles that run counter to more optimistic views. I close with a summary of some additional reasons for optimism regarding trust online, followed by a final question that emerges out of recent CMC research on social networking sites that poses, I argue, fundamental challenges indeed to how we understand and may foster and experience trust online. (shrink)
This article is interdisciplinary in its claims. Evolving around the ecological concept of affordance, it brings together pragmatics and ecological psychology. Starting from the theoretical writings of Peirce, Dewey and James, the biosemiotic claims of von Uexküll, Gibson’s ecological approach to perception and some empirical evidence from recent neurobiological research, it elaborates on the concepts of experiential and enactive cognition as applied to music. In order to provide an operational description of this approach, it introduces some conceptual tools from the (...) domain of cybernetics with a major focus on the concept of circularity, which links perception to action in a continuous process of sense-making and interaction with the environment. As such, it is closely related to some pragmatic, biosemiotic and ecosemiotic claims which can be subsumed under the general notion of functional significance. An attempt is made to apply this conceptual framework to the process of musical sense-making which involves the realisation of systemic cognition in the context of epistemic interactions that are grounded in our biology and possibilities for adaptive control. Central in this approach is the concept of coping with the environment, or, in musical terms, to perceive the sounding music in terms of what it affords for the consummation of musical behaviour. (shrink)
The recent confirmation of the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by the US Supreme Court has brought to the fore long-standing debates over individual liberty and religious freedom. Advocates of personal liberty are often critical, particularly in the USA, of public health measures which they deem to be overly restrictive of personal choice. In addition to the alleged restrictions of individual freedom of choice when it comes to the question of whether or not (...) to purchase health insurance, opponents to the PPACA also argue that certain requirements of the Act violate the right to freedom of conscience by mandating support for services deemed immoral by religious groups. These issues continue the long running debate surrounding the demands of religious groups for special consideration in the realm of health care provision. In this paper I examine the requirements of the PPACA, and the impacts that religious, and other ideological, exemptions can have on public health, and argue that the exemptions provided for by the PPACA do not in fact impose unreasonable restrictions on religious freedom, but rather concede too much and in so doing endanger public health and some important individual liberties. (shrink)
Recent economic and political advances in developing countries on the African continent and South East Asia are threatened by the rising death and morbidity rates of HIV/AIDS. In the first part of this paper we explain the reasons for the absence of affordable access to essential AIDS medication. In the second part we take a closer look at some of the pivotal frameworks relevant for this situation and undertake an ethical analysis of these frameworks. In the third part we discuss (...) a few of the proposed solutions to the problem and conclude with an argument in support of our preferred course of action. In this article we argue for compulsory licensing of essential AIDS medications in the current conditions of public health emergency. We argue on broadly consequentialist grounds that compulsory licensing is preferable both morally and pragmatically to the alternatives, notably the currently offered price cuts and drug donation schemes. (shrink)
An embodied movement-planning field cannot account for behavior and cognition more abstract than that of reaching. Instead, we propose an affordance field, and we sketch how it could enhance the analysis of the A-not-B error, underlie cognition, and serve as a base for language. Admittedly, a dynamic systems account of an affordance field awaits significant further development.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets in motion a wide range of programs that substantially affected the health system in the United States and signify a moderate but important regulatory shift in the role of the federal government in public health. This article briefly addresses two interesting policy paradoxes about the ACA. First, while the legislation primarily addresses health care financing and insurance and establishes only a few initiatives directly targeting public health, the ACA nevertheless has the (...) potential to produce extensive public health benefits across the United States population by improving access to health care and services and reducing cost. Essentially, the ACA does not take the explicit form of a public health law but instead strives to advance public health indirectly through its effects. Second, while the ACA does not establish a right to health — or even a right to health insurance — in the United States, it does set in motion a number of significant structural and normative changes to United States law that comport with the attainment of the right to health. Most significantly, key provisions of the bill are designed to improve availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of conditions necessary for health, and to prompt the government to respect, protect, and fulfill these conditions. These developments mean that, to a degree, the United States essentially has undertaken the same types of legal and policy steps that a country would be required to take to uphold the right to health without actually recognizing the right to health in any formal or legally binding way.Despite these dual paradoxes and the upside potential for public health improvements resulting from the ACA, the public health impact of the law remains uncertain and will be decided by numerous subsequent regulatory and implementation decisions. The ACA authorizes multiple federal agencies to engage in rulemaking, a process that will largely dictate the systemic and health impacts that will become its legacy. This reality opens up ample opportunity to bolster public health aspects and interpretations of the law, and to simultaneously augment the corresponding components of the right to health. (shrink)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) transforms the U.S.'s public and private health care financing systems into vehicles for promoting public health by making evidence-based preventive services available nationwide through individual and group health plans, Medicare, and Medicaid. The ACA accomplishes this transformation by breaking down two barriers: (1) the public health-health care divide, which led to a dominance of curative medicine over preventive health measures and (2) ERISA preemption, which created an obstacle to the provision of a uniform set of (...) evidence-based preventive services that could be made available to the U.S. population through individual and group health plans. As a result, prevention measures with proven effectiveness will now be provided on a national and uniform basis to a majority of Americans, with the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. (shrink)
In a recent important book,The Ethics of International Business, Tom Donaldson argues that multinational corporations (as well as individuals and nationstates) must, at a minimum, respect international human rights. For a purported right to be such a fundamental right it must satisfy three conditions. Donaldson calls the third condition the fairness-affordability condition. The affordability part of this condition holds that moral agents must be capable of paying for the burdens and responsibilities that a proposed human right would impose. If this (...) is impossible, then the purported right is not an international human right.I argue that Donaldson''s affordability condition is subject to four objections which reveal its untenability as one of the conditions upon which identification of international human rights must rest. I offer another way of treating problems of affordability and capability when it comes to such rights that all moral agents must respect. (shrink)
This article presents a new proposal for understanding the establishment and maintenance of cooperation: the cooperation afforder with framing hypothesis, producing what can be called cooperation from afforder-framing . Three key moves are present. First, a special variety of the Stag Hunt game, the Cooperation Afforder game, will reliably produce mutualistic cooperation through an evolutionary process. Second, cognitive framing is a credible candidate mechanism to meet the special conditions and requirements of the Cooperation Afforder game. Third, once mutualistic cooperation is (...) established in this way, it will plausibly lead to broader forms of cooperation, even to limited forms of altruism. (shrink)
Millikan's discussion of substance concepts in terms of their information-gathering role ignores the analyses of information-based perception and action developed within the tradition of ecological psychology. Her introduction and use without definition of key Gibsonian terms such as “affordance” and “direct perception” leaves those of us investigating such concepts uncertain of the extent to which she appreciates their theoretical importance. Due recognition of the realist account of categorical perception developed by J. J. Gibson would provide mutual benefit to modern externalist (...) philosophy as well as to experimental psychology and to those investigating the ecological approach to perception–action. (shrink)
This study investigates the relationship between workers'' perceptions of distributive and procedural justice afforded by a grievance system and their more general belief in an underlying moral order in the workplace. Using samples representing five ocupationally distinct groups, the presence of any moderating effects of occupation received only weak support. Consistent with previous work, however, workers'' perceptions of procedural justice (i.e., fairness in the process) were a stronger predictor of workers'' belief in workplace justice than were perceptions of distributive justice (...) (i.e., fairness of outcomes). (shrink)
Despite evidence indicating that public health services are the most effective means of improving the population's health status, health care services receive the bulk of funding and political support. The recent passage of the Affordable Care Act, which focused on improving access to health care services through insurance reform, reflects the primacy of health care over public health. Although policymakers typically conceptualize health care and public health as two distinct systems, gains in health status are most effectively and cost-efficiently achieved (...) through their integration into a single health system. The Act does little to compel integration; however, there are numerous opportunities to encourage the coordination of public health and health care in the Act's implementation. (shrink)
Opposed to Norman's proposal, processing of affordance is likely to occur not solely in the dorsal stream but also in the ventral stream. Moreover, the dorsal stream might do more than just serve an important role in motor actions. It supports egocentric location coding as well. As such, it would possess a form of representational memory, contrary to Norman's proposal.
The cost of health care imposes an extremely difficult, and often impossible, burden for many people to bear. It is also a burden that men and women do not experience in the same way. Evidence shows that “women have greater difficulty affording health care” (Patchias and Waxman 2007, 6). In the United States, 62 percent of working-age women in 2007—compared to 48 percent of working-age men—reported problems in affording health care, including not being able to pay medical bills, foregoing or (...) delaying needed care because of cost, or both (Rustgi, Doty, and Collins 2009). An additional 10 percent of working-age adults reported being uninsured or underinsured. The Affordable Health Care for America Act .. (shrink)
Dr Anne Merriman is the founder of Hospice Africa and Hospice Africa Uganda. She is presently Director of Policy and International Programmes. Here she tells the story of how HAU was founded. Dr Richard Harding is an academic researcher working on palliative care in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper described Dr Merriman's experience in pioneering palliative care provision. In particular it examines the steps to achieving wider availability of opioids for pain management for those with far advanced disease. Hospice Africa Uganda (...) has been a model facility in achieving high quality clinical care embedded in a strategy of advocacy and education, using a multifaceted approach that has addressed logistical, policy and legislative barriers. Until 1990 control of severe pain in Sub-Saharan Africa was non-existent except in Zimbabwe and S Africa. Oral affordable morphine was brought to Kenya through Nairobi Hospice that year, and to Uganda through Hospice Africa Uganda in 1993. This paper offers an example of a highly effective and cost efficient model of care that has transformed the ability to humanely manage the problems of those with terminal illness, and to offer a culturally appropriate "good death". Thus it is now possible to complete the ethical circle of care in resource poor circumstances. (shrink)
This paper revisits the concept of affordance and explores its contribution to an understanding of the use of ICT for teaching and learning. It looks at Gibson‟s original idea of affordance and at some of the difficulties long associated with the use of the word. It goes on to describe the translation of the concept of affordance into the field of design through the work, in particular, of Norman. The concept has since been translated into research concerning ICT and further (...) opportunities and difficulties emerge. The paper locates key points of divergence within the usage of „affordance‟, as involving direct perception, invariant properties and complementarity. It concludes by arguing that affordance offers a distinctive perspective on the use of ICT in education because of its focus on possibilities for action. (shrink)
In previous work I urged that the perceptual experience we rational animals enjoy is informed by capacities that belong to our rationality, and - in passing - that something similar holds for our intentional action. In his Presidential Address, Hubert Dreyfus argued that I thereby embraced a myth, "the Myth of the Mental". According to Dreyfus, I cannot accommodate the phenomenology of unreflective bodily coping, and its importance as a background for the conceptual capacities exercised in reflective intellectual activity. My (...) paper responds to this accusation. Dreyfus misreads my invocation of Aristotle, and is thereby led to suppose, wrongly, that I conceive rationality as detached, brought to bear on practical predicaments from a standpoint other than one of immersion in them. I urge that even unreflective bodily coping, on the part of rational animals, is informed by their rationality. Dreyfus mentions Heidegger's distinction, which is picked up by Gadamer, between being oriented towards the world and merely inhabiting an environment. But he sets it aside, whereas it is crucial for the issue between us. Engaged bodily coping involves responsiveness to affordances, and responsiveness to affordances on the part of rational animals belongs to their relation to the world. I explain how the idea that conceptual capacities are actualized in our perceptual experience is connected with the thought that our perceptual experience opens us to the world. Finally, I suggest that the real myth in this area is the conception of rationality underlying Dreyfus's resistance to my picture. (shrink)
Allen (2001) proposed the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method for personal productivity enhancement, and reduction of the stress caused by information overload. This paper argues that recent insights in psychology and cognitive science support and extend GTD’s recommendations. We first summarize GTD with the help of a flowchart. We then review the theories of situated, embodied and distributed cognition that purport to explain how the brain processes information and plans actions in the real world. The conclusion is that the brain (...) heavily relies on the environment, to function as an external memory, a trigger for actions, and a source of affordances, disturbances and feedback. We then show how these principles are practically implemented in GTD, with its focus on organizing tasks into “actionable” external memories, and on opportunistic, situation-dependent execution. Finally, we propose an extension of GTD to support collaborative work, inspired by the concept of stigmergy. (shrink)
This paper reports on the Kuhnian revolution now occurring in neuropsychology that is finally supportive of and friendly to phenomenology – the “enactive” approach to the mind-body relation, grounded in the notion of self-organization, which is consistent with Husserl and Merleau-Ponty on virtually every point. According to the enactive approach, human minds understand the world by virtue of the ways our bodies can act relative to it, or the ways we can imagine acting. This requires that action be distinguished from (...) passivity, that the mental be approached from a first person perspective, and that the cognitive capacities of the brain be grounded in the emotional and motivational processes that guide action and anticipate action affordances. It avoids the old intractable problems inherent in the computationalist approaches of twentieth century atomism and radical empiricism, and again allows phenomenology to bridge to neuropsychology in the way Merleau-Ponty was already doing over half a century ago. (shrink)
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositional properties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
Mereology is the logic of part—whole concepts as they are used in many different contexts. The old chemical metaphysics of atoms and molecules seems to fit classical mereology very well. However, when functional attributes are added to part specifications and quantum mechanical considerations are also added, the rules of classical mereology are breached in chemical discourses. A set theoretical alternative mereology is also found wanting. Molecular orbital theory requires a metaphysics of affordances that also stands outside classical mereology.
The idea that knowledge can be extended by inference from what is known seems highly plausible. Yet, as shown by familiar preface paradox and lottery-type cases, the possibility of aggregating uncertainty casts doubt on its tenability. We show that these considerations go much further than previously recognized and significantly restrict the kinds of closure ordinary theories of knowledge can endorse. Meeting the challenge of uncertainty aggregation requires either the restriction of knowledge-extending inferences to single premises, or eliminating epistemic uncertainty in (...) known premises. The first strategy, while effective, retains little of the original idea—conclusions even of modus ponens inferences from known premises are not always known. We then look at the second strategy, inspecting the most elaborate and promising attempt to secure the epistemic role of basic inferences, namely Timothy Williamson’s safety theory of knowledge. We argue that while it indeed has the merit of allowing basic inferences such as modus ponens to extend knowledge, Williamson’s theory faces formidable difficulties. These difficulties, moreover, arise from the very feature responsible for its virtue- the infallibilism of knowledge. (shrink)
The traditional ontology within which chemistry has developed involved various versions of a general substance/attribute scheme. Recently this has been challenged by two versions of Dynamism. One version is derived from the writings of A. N. Whitehead and the other from several sources, including G. Leibniz and I. Kant. Both involve the idea of flux of actual occasions. Unlike the former scheme, the latter involves a foundation of causal powers and the energetics of field theory. The situation has been made (...) more interesting because of the revival of trope theory, based on an ontology of particularized attributes. This notion is claimed to resolve philosophical problems about the nature of universals and of substances through the introduction of spatial and temporal sequences of tropes. While trope theory seems, at first sight, to work as an attractive alternative to substance/attribute close inspection shows that it is beset with difficulties that are more problematic that the dynamist ontology based on casual powers, dispositions and affordances. (shrink)
Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here, that cognition and metacognition are part (...) of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students' ability to comprehend documents and 'plan' the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve 'the proximal zone of planning' - the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience. (shrink)
One of the roots of anti-science is an implausible account of experiments which opens up a seemingly unbridgeable gap between what it would be rational to believe on the basis of an empirical research programme and what scientists do believe. Post-modernists and others of a similar persuasion, for example Goodman, Rorty, Latour and Gergen, have marched into this alleged gap, insisting that experiments do not probe an independent reality, but create worlds to which they are perfectly tailored. In response I (...) argue that if experiments are understood as working models of parts of Nature, Nature domesticated, then there is no epistemic gap to fill. There are complexities with this thesis that can be resolved by developing a Bohrian account of the experiment as involving an indissoluble union of apparatus and Nature, giving us access, not to occurrent properties of the world but to affordances. (shrink)
Nagel has argued that the ‘mind-body’ problem, as traditionally conceived, is insoluble. His challenge to philosophers is to devise a metaphysical scheme that incorporates materialist concepts in describing first person experience and mentalistic concepts in describing third person experience, such that the internal relations between the concepts thereby constructed are necessary. Nagel's own suggestion, a scheme not unlike the ‘underlying process’ schemes of the physical sciences, seems to lead him towards a covert materialism. Progress can be made in meeting the (...) challenge by tackling the problem first by taking the units in each ‘sphere’ to be brains and persons. I show that a metaphysics based on the metaphor of person defined tasks and materially defined tools does satisfy both Nagel's challenge conditions. To devise a scheme for qualia and brain-states I turn back to Locke's presentation of the primary/secondary quality distinction. This depends on the concept of a causal power, grounded in material states of the world. While this scheme is inadequate, a variation, based on Gibson's concept of an affordance, and drawing on Bohr's resolution of the seeming incompatibility between wave and particle ontologies for physics, is promising. The world, whatever it is, affords material states to our perceptual apparatus, and mental states to our proprioceptual apparatus. The mental states/brain states duality is not a duality of types of states, which might stand in causal relations to one another, but is a duality of means of access to two classes of affordances of whatever the world is. There is no mind-body problem in the traditional sense, namely ‘How could a material state cause or be caused by a mental state?’. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of how we do things with music—that is, the way that we use music as an esthetic technology to enact micro-practices of emotion regulation, communicative expression, identity construction, and interpersonal coordination that drive core aspects of our emotional and social existence. The main thesis is: from birth, music is directly perceived as an affordance-laden structure. Music, I argue, affords a sonic world, an exploratory space or nested acoustic environment that further affords possibilities for, among other (...) things, (1) emotion regulation and (2) social coordination. When we do things with music, we are engaged in the work of creating and cultivating the self, as well as creating and cultivating a shared world that we inhabit with others. I develop this thesis by first introducing the notion of a musical affordance . Next, I look at how emotional affordances in music are exploited to construct and regulate emotions. I summon empirical research on neonate music therapy to argue that this is something we emerge from the womb knowing how to do. I then look at social affordances in music, arguing that joint attention to social affordances in music alters how music is both perceived and appropriated by joint attenders within social listening contexts. In support, I describe the experience of listening to and engaging with music in a live concert setting. Thinking of music as an affordance-laden structure thus reaffirms the crucial role that music plays in constructing and regulating emotional and social experiences in everyday life. (shrink)
2. Invariant Sensorimotor Features ("Affordances"). To say this is not to declare oneself a Gibsonian, whatever that means. It is merely to point out that what a sensorimotor system can do is determined by what can be extracted from its motor interactions with its sensory input. If you lack sonar sensors, then your sensorimotor system cannot do what a bat's can do, at least not without the help of instruments. Light stimulation affords color vision for those of us with (...) the right sensory apparatus, but not for those of us who are color-blind. The geometric fact that, when we move, the "shadows" cast on our retina by nearby objects move faster than the shadows of further objects means that, for those of us with normal vision, our visual input affords depth perception. From more complicated facts of projective and solid geometry it follows that a 3-dimensional shape, such as, say, a boomerang, can be recognized as being the same shape Ð and the same size Ð even though the size and shape of its shadow on our retinas changes as we move in relation to it or it moves in relation to us. Its shape is said to be invariant under these sensorimotor transformations, and our visual systems can detect and extract that invariance, and translate it into a visual constancy. So we keep seeing a boomerang of the same shape and size even though the shape and size of its retinal shadows keep changing. (shrink)
: According to a consensus of psycho-physiological and philosophical theories, color sensations (or qualia) are generated in a cerebral "space" fed from photon-photoreceptor interaction (producing "metamers") in the retina of the eye. The resulting "space" has three dimensions: hue (or chroma), saturation (or "purity"), and brightness (lightness, value or intensity) and (in some versions) is further structured by primitive or landmark "colors"—usually four, or six (when white and black are added to red, yellow, green and blue). It has also been (...) proposed that there are eleven semantic universals—labeling the previous six plus the "intermediaries" of orange, pink, brown, purple, and gray. There are many versions of this consensus, but they all aim to provide ontological, epistemological and semantic blueprints for the brute fact of the reality of color ordained by Nature (evolution). In contrast to this consensus, we have argued that "seeing color" is not a matter of light waves impacting on our eyes, producing sensations to be categorized and labeled in the "color space" in the brain. While electrochemical events may unproblematically be regarded as the causal precondition for seeing color, the reception of sensations in "the color space" as semantically labeled natural categories, kinds, or information, is a "just so" story: it is Wittgenstein's beetle in a box. In contrast we consider that the authority of this consensus might better be regarded not as the result of the truth-tracking of nature, but as the sociohistorical outcome of philosophical presuppositions, scientific theories, experimental practices, technological apparatus, and their feed forward into the lifeworld. The question we shall therefore explore is whether, or to what extent, we ourselves are changed, as the conditions of production of color science change. Thus we are doing a kind of anthropology at two levels: of color science itself (and its effect on our own lifeworld), and of those studied by the "anthropology of color". As befits this stance we are agnostic about the theoretical entities of color science (cf. van Fraassen 2001), and within this new context, we propose to cross-cut object-and-subject, organism-and-environment (the bedrock of color science) in socio-historical ways. Our approach is in part inspired by, but not the same as, that of Gibson, in that we wish to pursue the notion of "social affordances" (Burmudez 1995). We suggest that color has become a naturalization through science-based technologies, which, through praxes and materializations, have become the perceptual and cultural entities that structure experience and understanding in the lifeworld. It is this naturalization that we shall refer to and characterize as "the historically inflected exosomatic organ". Consequently we shall explore the historical ontology of "color" without assuming an underlying biological constant (Dupré 2001). In part 1 we show the flimsiness of the evidence for the three dimensions of color, borrowed from physics, and fine-tuned to a "standard observer" (a "spectral creature" with a phenomenal "color space"). In part 2 we address the structuring of hue through the development of color circles and color spaces. This is followed by a review of the evidence for unique hues. Again the evidence is shown to be flimsy. We then show that an isolated domain of color is a particular kind of model, not a "natural given". In part 3, after reviewing what is referred to as "the isomorphy thesis," we discuss the exemplary case study of Berlin and Kay (1969). This illustrates the pull of stadial models presupposed by their evolutionary theory of color language. The Berlin and Kay paradigm proposes that American English color terms are incorrigible and can provide the universal metalanguage. We conclude by presenting an alternative account, namely that we ourselves are changed as the conditions of production of color science change. We argue that it is better to regard "seeing-color" as a historically inflected exosomatic organ that provides social affordances for those trained to grasp them. (shrink)
According to the BD-model of mindreading, we primarily understand others in terms of beliefs and desires. In this article we review a number of objections against explicit versions of the BD-model, and discuss the prospects of using its implicit counterpart as an explanatory model of early emerging socio-cognitive abilities. Focusing on recent findings on so-called ‘implicit’ false belief understanding, we put forward a number of considerations against the adoption of an implicit BD-model. Finally, we explore a different way to make (...) sense of implicit false belief understanding in terms of keeping track of affordances. (shrink)
Perceptual states represent the world as being certain ways, as having certain properties. Which ways and properties are these? When I hold out my hand and look at it, it seems that I have a visual experience of a hand. One traditional view has held that my perceptual state is not of a hand but merely of an array of color patches, or the like, which disposes me to believe that there’s a hand without itself actually representing anything as being (...) a hand; the perceptual state, that is, is not actually of a hand. A very different sort of view might allow into the contents of perceptual states not just hands, but perhaps even psychological states, semantic properties, causal relations, such counterfactual properties as Gibsonian affordances, and maybe even highly specific properties like that of being a pileated woodpecker. Either view purports to express a deep fact about the nature of (human) perception, one that is not merely a matter of one’s individual circumstances. Given my cognitive and perceptual apparatus, what ways can perception represent the world as being? What sorts of properties are represented in perception? What are the contents of perceptual states? (shrink)
An argument whose conclusion C is essential evidence for one of its premises can provide its target audience with justification for believing C. This is possible because we can enhance our justification for believing a proposition C by integrating it into an explanatory network of beliefs for which C itself provides essential evidence. I argue for this in light of relevant features of doxastic circularity, epistemic circularity, and explanatory inferences. Finally, I confirm my argument with an example and respond to (...) objections. (shrink)
According to the BD-model of mindreading, we primarily understand others in terms of beliefs and desires. In this article we review a number of objections against explicit versions of the BD-model, and discuss the prospects of using its implicit counterpart as an explanatory model of early emerging socio-cognitive abilities. Focusing on recent findings on so-called ‘implicit’ false belief understanding, we put forward a number of considerations against the adoption of an implicit BD-model. Finally, we explore a different way to make (...) sense of implicit false belief understanding in terms of keeping track of affordances. (shrink)
Emotional appraisal happens at more than one level. Low-level appraisals involve representations that are semantically coarse-grained, fuse the functional roles of belief and desire and have impoverished inferential roles, making it best to think of them as sub-conceptual. Multi-level theories of emotional appraisal are thus best conceived, not as theories of the actual conceptual content of emotional appraisals, but as ecological theories that identify the aspects of the environment that appraisal processes are tracking using diverse cognitive means. These aspects of (...) the environment are what the environment ‘affords’ the organism. Some of these affordances are ‘goal-affordances’ - possibilities for future action. This perspective on emotional appraisal lends support to the idea that emotional appraisal is in part ‘Machiavellian’ or ‘strategic’. Organisms take into account the payoffs resulting from an emotional response when determining whether the eliciting situation ‘warrants’ that emotion. (shrink)
Perception, as Gibson described it – picking up information that specifies the real local situation – includes not only perceiving affordances and controlling small movements, but also seeing the large-scale environmental layout and the position/movement of the “ecological self.” If the dorsal cortical system is also responsible for that very significant achievement, its activity must be at least partly conscious.
In his 1995 book Colour vision (New York: Routledge), Evan Thompson proposes a new approach to the ontology of color according to which it is tied to the ecological dispositions-affordances described by J.J. Gibson and his followers. Thompson claims that a relational account of color is necessary in order to avoid the problems that go along with the dispute between subjectivists and objectivists about color, but he claims that the received view of perception does not allow a satisfactory relational (...) account of color. Hence to avoid the problems of the subjectivist/objectivist dispute one must abandon the received view of perception. I describe an account which is similar to Thompson's, but which invokes instead the physical dispositional properties described by the received view. All of the distinguishing characteristics that Thompson claims separate his ecological dispositions from physical dispositions are in fact found in the physical dispositions appealed to by my proposed theory. Because my proposed theory is similar to subjectivism, Thompson's departure from the received view is not as radical as he claims. In a final section I describe the a posteriori manner in which a substantive departure from the received view must be carried out by describing an example of ecological experimentation. (shrink)
Most philosophers appear to have ignored the distinction between the broad concept of Virtual Machine Functionalism (VMF) described in Sloman&Chrisley (2003) and the better known version of functionalism referred to there as Atomic State Functionalism (ASF), which is often given as an explanation of what Functionalism is, e.g. in Block (1995). -/- One of the main differences is that ASF encourages talk of supervenience of states and properties, whereas VMF requires supervenience of machines that are arbitrarily complex networks of causally (...) interacting (virtual, but real) processes, possibly operating on different time-scales, examples of which include many different procesess usually running concurrently on a modern computer performing various tasks concerned with handling interfaces to physical devices, managing the file system, dealing with security, providing tools, entertainments, and games, and possibly processing research data. Another example of VMF would be the kind of functionalism involved in a large collection of possibly changing socio-economic structures and processes interacting in a complex community, and yet another is illustrated by the kind of virtual machinery involved in the many levels of visual processing of information about spatial structures, processes, and relationships (including percepts of moving shadows, reflections, highlights, optical-flow patterns and changing affordances) as you walk through a crowded car-park on a sunny day: generating a whole zoo of interacting qualia. (Forget solitary red patches, or experiences thereof.) -/- Perhaps VMF should be re-labelled "Virtual MachinERY Functionalism" because the word 'machinery' more readily suggests something complex with interacting parts. VMF is concerned with virtual machines that are made up of interacting concurrently active (but not necessarily synchronised) chunks of virtual machinery which not only interact with one another and with their physical substrates (which may be partly shared, and also frequently modified by garbage collection, metabolism, or whatever) but can also concurrently interact with and refer to various things in the immediate and remote environment (via sensory/motor channels, and possible future technologies also). I.e. virtual machinery can include mechanisms that create and manipulate semantic content, not only syntactive structures or bit patterns as digital virtual machines do. (shrink)
Thomas Stoffregen's "Affordances and Events" makes many points that are forgotten all too often--if they are realized at all--by adherents to the ecological perspective in psychology. He is to be applauded for this. But he compiles these points to make a very strong and very sweeping claim about the validity of a broad swath of research that is done by ecological psychologists. In particular, he argues for the following conclusion: "More generally, I have suggested that events may not be (...) perceived; it may be that only affordances are perceived. If so, this would raise serious questions.. (shrink)
I comment on two problems in Glover's account. First, semantic representations are not always available to awareness. Second, some functional properties, the affordances of objects, should be encoded in the dorsal system. Then I argue that the existence of Glover's two types of representations is supported by studies on “object-centered” attention. Furthermore, it foreshadows a nondescriptive causal reference fixing process.
The complexities of bodily experience are outlined; its spatial phenomenology is specified as the explanatory target. The mereological structure of body representation is discussed; it is claimed that global spatial representations of the body are not necessary, as structural features of the actual body can be exploited in partial internal representation. The spatial structure of bodily experience is discussed; a structural affordance theory is introduced; it is claimed that bodily experience and subpersonal representation have action-orientated content; and that egocentric terms (...) continue to make sense in application to bodily experience. (shrink)
There is increasing interest in research that combines neuroscientific and educational perspectives on learning, but significant philosophical issues divide these perspectives. This article examines the value of such neuroeducational research and how concepts from different perspectives may be interrelated through a ‘level of actions’ model. This model, which encourages a multiperspective approach, may be helpful in avoiding some of the worst transgressions of sense-making in constructing concepts that span neuroscience and education. Application of the model is explored in the context (...) of teaching strategies intended to foster creativity, and its affordances and limitations are discussed. (shrink)
The ecological realist concept of information as environmental specification is discussed. It is argued that affordances in ecological realism could, in principle, rest on a notion of partial specification of environmental circumstances. For this aim, a notion of Gestalt quality as a hierarchical structure of affordances would have to be adopted. It is claimed that such an account could provide a promising way to deal with problems of intentionality in perception and action, awareness and problem solving.
Theoretical and manipulative abduction conjectures and manipulations : the extra-theoretical dimension of scientific discovery. -- Non-explanatory and instrumental abduction : plausibility, implausibility, ignorance preservation. -- Semiotic brains and artificial minds : how brains make up material cognitive systems. -- Neuromultimodal abduction : pre-wired brains, embidiment, neurospaces. -- Animal abduction : from mindless organisms to srtifactual mediators. -- Abduction, affordances, and cognitive niches : sharing representations and creating chances through cognitive niche construction. -- Abduction in human and logical agents : (...) hasty generalizers, hybrid abducers, fallacies. -- Morphodynamical abduction : causation of hypotheses by attractors dynamics. (shrink)
We offer an ecological (Gibsonian) alternative to cognitive (im)penetrability. Whereas Pylyshyn explains cognitive (im)penetrability by focusing solely on computations carried out by the nervous system, according to the ecological approach the perceiver as a knowing agent influences the entire animal-environmental system: in the determination of what constitutes the environment (affordances), what constitutes information, what information is detected and, thus, what is perceived.
Mereology is the logic of partâ€”whole concepts as they are used in many different contexts. The old chemical metaphysics of atoms and molecules seems to fit classical mereology very well. However, when functional attributes are added to part specifications and quantum mechanical considerations are also added, the rules of classical mereology are breached in chemical discourses. A set theoretical alternative mereology is also found wanting. Molecular orbital theory requires a metaphysics of affordances that also stands outside classical mereology.
We are accustomed to thinking that a primrose is "concrete" and a prime number is "abstract," that "roundness" is more abstract than "round," and that "property" is more abstract than "roundness." In reality, the relation between "abstract" and "concrete" is more like the (non)relation between "abstract" and "concave," "concrete" being a sensory term [about what something feels like] and "abstract" being a functional term (about what the sensorimotor system is doing with its input in order to produce its output): Feelings (...) and things are correlated, but otherwise incommensurable. Everything that any sensorimotor system such as ourselves manages to categorize successfully is based on abstracting sensorimotor "affordances" (invariant features). The rest is merely a question of what inputs we can and do categorize, and what we must abstract from the particulars of each sensorimotor interaction in order to be able to categorize them correctly. To categorize, in other words, is to abstract. And not to categorize is merely to experience. Borges's Funes the Memorious, with his infinite, infallible rote memory, is a fictional hint at what it would be like not to be able to categorize, not to be able to selectively forget and ignore most of our input by abstracting only its reliably recurrent invariants. But a sensorimotor system like Funes would not really be viable, for if something along those lines did exist, it could not categorize recurrent objects, events or states, hence it could have no language, private or public, and could at most only feel, not function adaptively (hence survive). Luria's "S" in "The Mind of a Mnemonist" is a real-life approximation whose difficulties in conceptualizing were directly proportional to his difficulties in selectively forgetting and ignoring. Watanabe's "Ugly Duckling Theorem" shows how, if we did not selectively weight some properties more heavily than others, everything would be equally (and infinitely and indifferently) similar to everything else. Miller's "Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two" shows that there are (and must be) limitations on our capacity to process and remember information, both in our capacity to discriminate relatively (detect sameness/difference, degree-of-similarity) and in our capacity to discriminate absolutely (identify, categorize, name), The phenomenon of categorical perception shows how selective feature-detection puts a Whorfian "warp" on our feelings of similarity in the service of categorization, compressing within-category similarities and expanding between-category differences by abstracting and selectively filtering inputs through their invariant features, thereby allowing us to sort and name things reliably. Language does allow us to acquire categories indirectly through symbolic description.... (shrink)