An emerging class of theories concerning the functional structure of the brain takes the reuse of neural circuitry for various cognitive purposes to be a central organizational principle. According to these theories, it is quite common for neural circuits established for one purpose to be exapted (exploited, recycled, redeployed) during evolution or normal development, and be put to different uses, often without losing their original functions. Neural reuse theories thus differ from the usual understanding of the role of neural plasticity (...) (which is, after all, a kind of reuse) in brain organization along the following lines: According to neural reuse, circuits can continue to acquire new uses after an initial or original function is established; the acquisition of new uses need not involve unusual circumstances such as injury or loss of established function; and the acquisition of a new use need not involve (much) local change to circuit structure (e.g., it might involve only the establishment of functional connections to new neural partners). Thus, neural reuse theories offer a distinct perspective on several topics of general interest, such as: the evolution and development of the brain, including (for instance) the evolutionary-developmental pathway supporting primate tool use and human language; the degree of modularity in brain organization; the degree of localization of cognitive function; and the cortical parcellation problem and the prospects (and proper methods to employ) for function to structure mapping. The idea also has some practical implications in the areas of rehabilitative medicine and machine interface design. (shrink)
The human cognitive architecture consists of a set of largely independent modules associated with different brain regions. This book discusses in detail how these various modules can combine to produce behaviours as varied as driving a car and solving an algebraic equation.
In this chapter, I describe my “post-diagnosis” experiences as the parent of an autistic child, those years in which I tried, but failed, to make sense of the overwhelming and often nonsensical information I received about autism. I argue that immediately after being given an autism diagnosis, parents are pressured into making what amounts to a life-long commitment to a therapy program that (they are told) will not only dramatically change their child, but their family’s financial situation and even their (...) entire mode of existence. Moreover, despite information overload, many treatment programs for autism rely on empty jargon and make completely unrealistic promises, so parents are left feeling overwhelmed and panicked. Even well respected therapy programs encourage parents to spend liberally. Indeed, autistic therapists, who help construct what I refer to as the Culture of Autism, advise parents to commit to a minimum of 35 to 45 hours of intensive therapy every week. The implications are clear: for a parent who works full-time, their autistic child becomes a second full-time job. Autism is big business right now, and therapists are pushing parents to the brink of desperation. So it is not too surprising that there is a desperate cry for a more permanent solution—which is why researchers seek to cure autism. But there are two ways to conceptualize cure. A Therapeutic Cure model (TC) conceives of a cure as a beneficial treatment for the patient that eliminates or ameliorates the harms of the disease or condition. But the notion of a therapeutic cure for autism is highly implausible, given the complexities of autism. Indeed, at this point, the vast majority of researchers have come to the conclusion that the idea of a therapeutic cure for autism is simply a non-starter. Therefore the bulk of research seeking a cure for autism focuses instead on a second approach, which I refer to as the Negative Eugenics Cure model (NEC). With this model, the intention is to eliminate the disease or condition without regard for the health or well-being of the organism carrying the disease or condition. So, with regard to autism, researchers are focusing on identifying genetic markers for autism that can be detected in utero, or in embryos, so that autistic fetuses can be eliminated and autism eradicated by preventing the existence of autistic individuals. I review both models and argue that both fail to provide convincing arguments that the “solution” either offers is desirable. Both rest on the assumption that autism renders a life not worth living which, all things considered, is false. Instead of pushing to cure autism, an idea pervasive in this Culture of Autism, I contend that autistics are individuals with lives worth living. Moreover, rather than expend millions on research to search for the means to eliminate autism, we should instead expend our resources to ensure autistic individuals have access to support they may need. If the phenomenology of autism were better understood and appreciated, the panicked demand for a cure for autism might abate and perhaps autism could be seen as having value in and of its own right. (shrink)
In recent years the concepts of individual autonomy and political liberalism have been the subjects of intense debate, but these discussions have occurred largely within separate academic disciplines. Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism contains for the first time new essays devoted to foundational questions regarding both the notion of the autonomous self and the nature and justification of liberalism. Written by leading figures in moral, legal and political theory, the volume covers inter alia the following topics: the nature of (...) the self and its relation to autonomy, the social dimensions of autonomy and the political dynamics of respect and recognition, and the concept of autonomy underlying the principles of liberalism. (shrink)
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between (...) the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics. (shrink)
The contributors to Pragmatism and the Philosophy of Sport argue that American pragmatism is particularly well suited analyze the experience and development of sport activities. This volume will be a valuable resource in any philosophy of sport class or in a course on pragmatism; it will also be appropriate for kinesiology students. It will give readers a good sense of the themes in the American philosophical tradition as well as those in the burgeoning field of the philosophy of sport.
This essay introduces the massive redeployment hypothesis, an account of the functional organization of the brain that centrally features the fact that brain areas are typically employed to support numerous functions. The central contribution of the essay is to outline a middle course between strict localization on the one hand, and holism on the other, in such a way as to account for the supporting data on both sides of the argument. The massive redeployment hypothesis is supported by case studies (...) of redeployment, and compared and contrasted with other theories of the localization of function. (shrink)
: The underdetermination argument establishes that scientists may use political values to guide inquiry, without providing criteria for distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate guidance. This paper supplies such criteria. Analysis of the confused arguments against value-laden science reveals the fundamental criterion of illegitimate guidance: when value judgments operate to drive inquiry to a predetermined conclusion. A case study of feminist research on divorce reveals numerous legitimate ways that values can guide science without violating this standard.
Th is paper investigates the epistemic powers of democratic institutions through an assessment of three epistemic models of democracy : the Condorcet Jury Th eorem, the Diversity Trumps Ability Th eorem, and Dewey's experimentalist model. Dewey's model is superior to the others in its ability to model the epistemic functions of three constitutive features of democracy : the epistemic diversity of participants, the interaction of voting with discussion, and feedback mechanisms such as periodic elections and protests. It views democracy as (...) an institution for pooling widely distributed information about problems and policies of public interest by engaging the participation of epistemically diverse knowers. Democratic norms of free discourse, dissent, feedback, and accountability function to ensure collective, experimentallybased learning from the diverse experiences of diff erent knowers. I illustrate these points with a case study of community forestry groups in South Asia, whose epistemic powers have been hobbled by their suppression of women's participation. (shrink)
Responsible public policy making in a technological society must rely on complex scientific reasoning. Given that ordinary citizens cannot directly assess such reasoning, does this call the democratic legitimacy of technical public policies in question? It does not, provided citizens can make reliable second-order assessments of the consensus of trustworthy scientific experts. I develop criteria for lay assessment of scientific testimony and demonstrate, in the case of claims about anthropogenic global warming, that applying such criteria is easy for anyone of (...) ordinary education with access to the Web. However, surveys show a gap between the scientific consensus and public opinion on global warming in the U.S. I explore some causes of this gap and argue that democratic reforms of our culture of political discourse may be able to address it. (shrink)
I look at a recent argument offered in defense of a doctrine which I will call generalized scientific essentialism. This is the doctrine according to which, not only are some facts about substance composition metaphysically necessary, but, in addition, some facts about substance behavior are metaphysically necessary. More specifically, so goes the argument, not only is water necessarily composed of H2O and salt is necessarily composed of NaCl, but, in addition, salt necessarily dissolves in water. If this argument is sound, (...) and if the statement that necessarily salt dissolves in water is a statement of a law of nature, then one conclusion of the argument is that there is at least one metaphysically necessary law of nature. My paper examines the extent to which this kind of argument could be generalized to provide a case for a full-blown scientific essentialism: the doctrine according to which all of the laws of nature are necessary. Or, in terms of dispositions, it is the doctrine according to which natural kinds have all of their powers, capacities and propensities as a matter of necessity. (shrink)
The nature of cognition is being re-considered. Instead of emphasizing formal operations on abstract symbols, the new approach foregrounds the fact that cognition is, rather, a situated activity, and suggests that thinking beings ought therefore be considered first and foremost as acting beings. The essay reviews recent work in Embodied Cognition, provides a concise guide to its principles, attitudes and goals, and identifies the physical grounding project as its central research focus.
Using medical advances to enhance human athletic, aesthetic, and cognitive performance, rather than to treat disease, has been controversial. Little is known about physicians? experiences, views, and attitudes in this regard. We surveyed a national sample of physicians to determine how often they prescribe enhancements, their views on using medicine for enhancement, and whether they would be willing to prescribe a series of potential interventions that might be considered enhancements. We find that many physicians occasionally prescribe enhancements, but doctors hold (...) nuanced and ambiguous views of these issues. Most express concerns about the potential effects of enhancements on social equity, yet many also believe specific enhancements that are safe and effective should be available but not covered by insurance. These apparently contradictory views might reflect inherent tensions between the values of equity and liberty, which could make crafting coherent social policies on medical enhancements challenging. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of American Journal of Bioethics for the following free supplemental resource(s): An additional table (Table 5) referred to on p. 5]. (shrink)
Whitehead claims there is only one type of individual in the universe—the actual entity—but there are necessarily multiple tokens of this type. This turns out to be paradoxical. Nevertheless, a type of individuality that is necessarily plural because, for each token, relations to other tokens are constitutive is something familiar from ordinary language, everyday politics, and, not least, 19th century German social thought. Whitehead’s actual entity generalizes the notion of species-being we find in Fichte, Feuerbach, and Marx. The rationale for (...) the concept of species-being brings to light important social and political implications of Whitehead’s cosmology. (shrink)
In Epistemic injustice, Miranda Fricker makes a tremendous contribution to theorizing the intersection of social epistemology with theories of justice. Theories of justice often take as their object of assessment either interpersonal transactions (specific exchanges between persons) or particular institutions. They may also take a more comprehensive perspective in assessing systems of institutions. This systemic perspective may enable control of the cumulative effects of millions of individual transactions that cannot be controlled at the individual or institutional levels. This is true (...) not only with respect to the overall distribution of such goods as income and wealth, but also with respect to the goods of testimonial and hermeneutical justice. Cognitive biases that may be difficult for even epistemically virtuous individuals to correct on their own may be more susceptible to correction if we focus on the principles that should govern our systems of testimonial gathering and assessment. Hence, while Fricker?s focus on individual epistemic virtue is important, we also need to consider what epistemic justice as a virtue of social systems would require. My paper will indicate some directions forward on this front, focusing on the need for integration of diverse institutions and persons engaged in inquiry. (shrink)
I defend Kant’s definition of analyticity in terms of concept “containment”, which has engendered widespread scepticism. Kant deployed a clear, technical notion of containment based on ideas standard within traditional logic, notably genus/species hierarchies formed via logical division. Kant’s analytic/synthetic distinction thereby undermines the logico-metaphysical system of Christian Wolff, showing that the Wolffian paradigm lacks the expressive power even to represent essential knowledge, including elementary mathematics, and so cannot provide an adequate system of philosophy. The results clarify the extent to (...) which analyticity sensu Kant can illuminate the problem of a priori knowledge generally. (shrink)
Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and methods, sabotage of others’ (...) ability to use one’s work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science. (shrink)
At the time of his death in May of 2012, Ralph Pred was working on a critical social theory inspired by process philosophy. In the book manuscript he left unfinished, Syntax and Solidarity, he develops a “radically empirical” sociology that enables him to identify and critically evaluate the different forms that social solidarity has taken in the history of civilization. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the importance of his unfinished project. The executors of Pred’s literary (...) estate would be happy to see his project, with due acknowledgment, publicized and continued. Keywords: Active Voice Bias, Concrescence, Middle Voice, Sociogeny, Solidarity, Substance. (shrink)
One of the most prominent objections to skeptical theism in recent literature is that the skeptical theist is forced to deny our competency in making judgments about the all-things-considered value of any natural event. Some skeptical theists accept that their view has this implication, but argue that it is not problematic. I think that there is reason to question the implication itself. I begin by explaining the objection to skeptical theism and the standard response to it. I then identify an (...) assumption that is prevalent in much of the literature concerning the problem of evil, and show that it is a factor in motivating commitment to the implication I mean to question. I argue that the assumption is false, and that once it is rejected there is room to endorse the skeptical theist's strategy in responding to some arguments from evil without endorsing the putative implication that objectors find unacceptable. (shrink)
The question of how an individual firm's social and environmental performance impacts its firm risk has not been examined in any empirical UK research. Does a company that strives to attain good environmental performance decrease its market risk or is environmental performance just a disadvantageous cost that increases such risk levels for these firms? Answers to this question have important implications for the management of companies and the investment decisions of individuals and institutions. The purpose of this paper is to (...) examine the relationship between corporate environmental performance and firm risk in the British context. Using the largest dataset assembled so far, with community and environmental responsibility (CER) rankings for all rated UK companies between 1994 and 2006, we show that a company's environmental performance is inversely related to its systematic financial risk. However, an increase of 1.0 in the CER score is associated with only a 0.028 reduction in its β. (shrink)
In this paper we offer a new argument for the existence of God. We contend that the laws of logic are metaphysically dependent on the existence of God, understood as a necessarily existent, personal, spiritual being; thus anyone who grants that there are laws of logic should also accept that there is a God. We argue that if our most natural intuitions about them are correct, and if they are to play the role in our intellectual activities that we take (...) them to play, then the laws of logic are best construed as necessarily existent thoughts -- more specifically, as divine thoughts about divine thoughts. We conclude by highlighting some implications for both theistic arguments and antitheistic arguments. (shrink)
In this paper, I summarize an emerging debate in the cognitive sciences over the right taxonomy for understanding cognition – the right theory of and vocabulary for describing the structure of the mind – and the proper role of neuroscientific evidence in specifying this taxonomy. In part because the discussion clearly entails a deep reconsideration of the supposed autonomy of psychology from neuroscience, this is a debate in which philosophers should be interested, with which they should be familiar, and to (...) which they should contribute. Here, I outline some of the positions being advocated, and reflect on some of the possible implications of this work both for scientific and folk psychology. (shrink)
In a recent article, Dale Tuggy argues that the two most favoured approaches to explicating the doctrine of the Trinity, Social Trinitarianism and Latin Trinitarianism, are unsatisfactory on either logical or biblical grounds. Moreover, he contends that appealing to ‘mystery’ in the face of apparent contradiction is rationally and theologically unacceptable. I raise some critical questions about Tuggy's assessment of the most relevant biblical data, before defending against his objections the rationality of an appeal to mystery in the face of (...) theological paradox. (shrink)