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)
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.
This paper explores the Hizb ut Tahrir web forum by developing a coding and counting methodology that seeks to split opinions on the forum into categories and to rate them by their quality and by how much they were viewed. This methodology is innovative and enables the identification not just of the most aired topic, but of the one that is most likely to have an influence. It finds that the strongest type of posting (as defined by the methodology employed) (...) comes from those with extremely anti-Western opinion and that terrorism and other violence also feature. Explicit mention of violence is dwarfed by the amount of anti-western posting that does not include a call to violent action. However, the forum probably provides a rich seed-bed in which such violent conversations can occur. Whilst the forum does contain some alternative opinions, these are very minor voices on an otherwise quite extreme forum. Although the paper does not make policy recommendations, there are potential policy implications of this, especially in terms of ongoing discussions in the western world over whether or not to ban the movement. (shrink)
Philanthropy is everywhere. In 2013, in the United States alone, some $330 billion was recorded in giving, from large donations by the wealthy all the way down to informal giving circles. We tend to think of philanthropy as unequivocally good, but as the contributors to this book show, philanthropy is also an exercise of power. And like all forms of power, especially in a democratic society, it deserves scrutiny. Yet it rarely has been given serious attention. This book fills that (...) gap, bringing together expert philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, historians, and legal scholars to ask fundamental and pressing questions about philanthropy’s role in democratic societies. (shrink)
In his article, The Substance View: a critique, Rob Lovering argues that the substance view – according to which the human embryo is a person entitled to human rights – leads to such implausible implications that this view should be abandoned. In this article I respond to his criticism by arguing that either his arguments fail because the proponents of the substance view are not obligated to hold positions which may be considered absurd, or because the positions which they are (...) assumed to be obligated to hold, are not absurd at all. (shrink)
Rob Lovering has recently argued that God is not omniscient on the grounds that (1) in order to be omniscient a subject must not only know all truths always but also know what it's like not to know a truth, and (2) God cannot fulfil both of these requirements. I show that Lovering's argument is unsuccessful since he inadequately supports (1) and (2), and since there are several serious doubts about (2). I also show that Lovering does not otherwise indicate (...) that God is not maximally great. (shrink)
In The Virtual, Rob Shields puts virtuality in with the key categories of contemporary social theory such as subjectivity, agency, structure, and the spaces and temporalities between the modern and the postmodern. Shields has rescued the term and the idea of the virtual from utopian futurists like Howard Rheingold and Nicholas Negroponte who use it to hype emergent technologies and forms of culture as the magical vehicles and entry points to new worlds and identities. The works of these digerati, ideologues (...) for multimedia technology and culture, now appear ideological, outdated, and no more than huckstering of the new when confronted with the current state of affairs in the technoculture and its attendant war- and terrorism-torn world. (shrink)
In his response to my earlier criticism, Rob Lawlor argues that the benefits I suggest can be derived from teaching moral theories in applied ethics courses can be obtained in other ways. In my reply, I note that because I never claimed the benefits could be obtained only from teaching moral theories, Dr Lawlor’s response fails to refute my earlier argument that some attention to moral theories is an option in applied ethics courses.
Lyric is onanistic: masturbation is the latent content of lyric poetry. This article counters queer theory with a turn to onanist theory, pointing out the centrality of masturbation to the work of Jacques Derrida, and suggesting that rather than consider masturbation the supplement to sex, we might consider the opposite. Modern man has, according to Derrida, been mistaken in his metaphysics by a deluded fidelity to presence, an ontological error to which he has been attached as though to a lover; (...) instead, modern man is guiltily onanistic. This article argues that the apostrophic intimacies of lyric and the longings held therein are masturbatory. To do so it reads Rob Halpern's Music for Porn as a deconstructive reading of Walt Whitman's Civil War poetry. (shrink)
Let me begin by signaling my enthusiasm both for the specific case offered by Cummins et al. against teleosemantics and for the overall framework from which this work derives. If the first approximation of the idea is that there will be material implicit in a representation that can be exploited by a cognitive agent that later acquires the right abilities to extract this material, and if this material looks a great deal like content, then the teleosemanticist will find accommodating it (...) challenging. Moreover, the distinction between representation and indication is intriguing and important, and the discussion of structural transformation and isomorphism is illuminating. While Cummins has been urging these themes for some time now, it seems to me that they have not been sufficiently appreciated in the literature. (shrink)
Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals. This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation and welfare goals. However, environmental decision-making is not devoid of human interests, and conservation strategies are commonly employed that suit entrenched positions and commercial (...) gain, rather than valuing the needs of the non-human animals in need of protection. The case study on the wild kangaroo harvest presents just such a dilemma, whereby a conservation strategy is put forward that can only be rationalised by ignoring difficulties in the potential for realising conservation benefits and the considerable welfare cost to kangaroos. Rather than an open debate on the ethics of killing game over livestock, in this response I argue that efforts to bring transparency and objectivity to the public debate have to date been obfuscated by those seeking to maintain entrenched interests. Only by putting aside these interests will debate about the exploitation of wildlife result in humane, compassionate, and substantive conservation benefits. (shrink)