What counts as human rationality: reasoning processes that embody content-independent formal theories, such as propositional logic, or reasoning processes that are well designed for solving important adaptive problems? Most theories of human reasoning have been based on content-independent formal rationality, whereas adaptive reasoning, ecological or evolutionary, has been little explored. We elaborate and test an evolutionary approach, Cosmides' social contract theory, using the Wason selection task. In the first part, we disentangle the theoretical concept of a “social contract” from that (...) of a “cheater-detection algorithm”. We demonstrate that the fact that a rule is perceived as a social contract — or a conditional permission or obligation, as Cheng and Holyoak proposed — is not sufficient to elicit Cosmides' striking results, which we replicated. The crucial issue is not semantic, but pragmatic: whether a person is cued into the perspective of a party who can be cheated. In the second part, we distinguish between social contracts with bilateral and unilateral cheating options. Perspective change in contracts with bilateral cheating options turns P & not-Q responses into not-P & Q responses. The results strongly support social contract theory, contradict availability theory, and cannot be accounted for by pragmatic reasoning schema theory, which lacks the pragmatic concepts of perspectives and cheating detection. (shrink)
We analyse the system of ethical review of human research in the Baltic States by introducing the principle of equivalent stringency of ethical review, that is, research projects imposing equal risks and inconveniences on research participants should be subjected to equally stringent review procedures. We examine several examples of non-equivalence or asymmetry in the system of ethical review of human research: (1) the asymmetry between rather strict regulations of clinical drug trials and relatively weaker regulations of other types of clinical (...) biomedical research and (2) gaps in ethical review in the area of non-biomedical human research where some sensitive research projects are not reviewed by research ethics committees at all. We conclude that non-equivalent stringency of ethical review is at least partly linked to the differences in scope and binding character of various international legal instruments that have been shaping the system of ethical review in the Baltic States. Therefore, the Baltic example could also serve as an object lesson to other European countries which might be experiencing similar problems. (shrink)
Two decades have passed since the first attempts were made to establish systematic ethical review of human research in the Baltic States. Legally and institutionally much has changed. In this paper we provide an historical and structural overview of ethical review of human research and identify some problems related to the role of ethical review in establishing quality research environment in these countries. Problems connected to (a) public availability of information, (b) management of conflicts of interest, (c) REC composition and (...) motivation of REC members, and (d) differing levels of stringency of ethical review for different types of studies, are identified. Recommendations are made to strengthen cooperation among the Baltic RECs. (shrink)
The aims of this article are to consider whether there are medical and societal differences among diseases regarding which patient groups should be asked to participate in first-in-human trials of stem-cell-based therapies; any differences in the light of values generally endorsed by different types of ethical theories, since the question in the title of this article is value laden, and its answer depends on which values one wants to promote and protect, and how they are ranked in importance; whether the (...) answer to that question is disease-specific, or whether it depends on factors common to several diseases. To illustrate these problems, we use Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease , between which there are important medical and societal differences. Moreover, research on stem-cell-based therapies for these diseases is being translated from research to practice. This approach to the problem can be applied to decision making about similar problems raised by other diseases that exhibit the same types of differences. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Amusement, Delight, and Whimsy: Humor Has Its Reasons that Reason Cannot Ignore” by Edith K. Ackermann. Upshot: Ackermann’s target article strikes a chord by thinking together oblique and rational aspects of knowing in constructivism. Her target article points out uses of humor and various ways of making sense of our experience that have been underestimated in constructivist discourse. While I can agree on the main lines of her argument, I want to argue for further (...) differentiation and clarification with respect to some historic and systematic aspects. (shrink)
We contribute to the empirical debate on whether we understand and predict mental states by using simulation (simulation theory) or by relying on a folk psychological theory (theory theory). To decide between these two fundamental positions, it has been argued that failure to predict other people's choices would be challenging evidence against the simulation view. We test the specific claim that people prefer the rightmost position in choosing among equally valued objects, and whether or not this position bias can be (...) correctly predicted. A series of experiments shows that the bias appears only in a specific spatial arrangement and that it can be correctly predicted given adequate imaginative input. In concert with other recent findings on the correct prediction of choices these findings do actually strengthen, rather than challenge, the simulation account on the prediction of mental states. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Constructing Constructivism” by Hugh Gash. Upshot: Hugh Gash’s paper on constructing constructivism is inspiring, insightful, and important in many respects. However, and for that reason, I want to reflect on some critical aspects in terms of metaphorical uses of expressions and ongoing processes of medialization and digitization. Lastly, I am going to point out critical potentials of constructivist thinking as related to education.
Context: It is beyond doubt that RC has received a great deal of attention in educational studies and learning theory. But overall, the current situation seems to be rather ambivalent in view of the blurring of the various strands in constructivist discourses and the different ways of distinguishing and foregrounding constructivist positions. Correspondingly, there is a wide range of claims, from the claim that (radical) constructivism represents a mainstream endeavor to attributions of its being outdated, self-refuting or irrelevant. Purpose: The (...) paper seeks to sound out the ambivalent situation of (radical) constructivism between “all” and “nothing” by examples of attributions of meaning to constructivist positions in academic everyday life and by challenging both prevalent criticisms of systemic-constructivist pedagogy and widespread broad classifications in learning theory. Method: The article critically reflects on (1) one-sentence “destructions” of constructivist positions, (2) Pongratz’s criticism of systemic-constructivist pedagogy, and (3) the threefold classification of the world of learning, i.e., behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Results: Both the current criticism of constructivism as a mainstream endeavor and evolutionary suggestions provided by the threefold classification are criticized. Although some constructivist concepts and distinctions are widely accepted today, often these achievements are not recognized as being rooted in constructivist discourses. Implications: As far as mainstreaming constructivism might be related to power politics, selling the “real thing,” and joining the ranks of truth-oriented Isms, it would not appear to be a desirable endeavor for those who rely on viability, circular foundations, relativist philosophy, and relationalist approaches. Nevertheless, clarifications of power relations and the interplay between constructivist analyses of politics and the politics of constructivism might contribute to overcoming the diffuse popularity of constructivist thought towards a better understanding of constructivist contributions to solution oriented, meaningful ways of dealing with urgent problems. (shrink)
Purpose: So far, the work of Josef Mitterer has not been widely recognized in philosophy of education, even though it offers many points of contact not only for epistemological and methodological questions but also for empirical and educational issues. Among these points of contact there is an outstanding sentence (see motto), which can be taken as a starting point for conceptual considerations in philosophy of education. The article takes this sentence as a hub for some corresponding investigations. Method: The article (...) seeks to make progress in these investigations through reflecting on Mitterer's sentence in ten steps, beginning with translational aspects and ending with questions of power relations and inconsistency. The arguments are made through (a) reference to concepts that are currently being discussed in philosophy of education and constructivist discourses, (b) through contrasting various conceptualizations, and (c) through discussion of selected examples. Findings: The article proposes a translation of Mitterer's sentence that may be from Mitterer. It points out several similarities with and differences to positions related to (presumed) positions of Mitterer. Furthermore, it shows innovative options for argumentations in educational philosophy on that basis. Benefits: The contribution sounds out some interfaces between Mitterer's philosophy and current debates in philosophy of education. It contributes to differentiated understandings of Mitterer's sentence and it opens up a new field of discourse. (shrink)
Excerpt: There is the difficulty in allowing for personal items when focussing on academic interests and in allowing for rational aspects when focussing on personal items for someone who has had the chance to get to know Ernst personally. At least for me the search for apposite words in English is not easy in view of the successful interplay between his philosophical ideas, his handling of everyday problems of life and his ability to cope with difficult situations. But let's give (...) it a try and look back at one of the most striking experiences we have had together. (shrink)
A well-known typological observation is the dominance of subject-initial word orders, SOV and SVO, across the world's languages. Recent findings from gestural language creation paradigms offer possible explanations for the prevalence of SOV. When asked to gesture transitive events with an animate agent and inanimate patient, gesturers tend to produce SOV order, regardless of their native language biases. Interestingly, when the patient is animate, gesturers shift away from SOV to use of other orders, like SVO and OSV. Two competing hypotheses (...) have been proposed for this switch: the noisy channel account and the role conflict account. We set out to distinguish between these two hypotheses, disentangling event reversibility and patient animacy, by looking at gestural sequences for events with two inanimate participants. We replicated the previous findings of a preference for SOV order when describing animate-inanimate, irreversible events as well as a decrease in the use of SOV when presented with animate-animate, reversible events. Accompanying the drop in SOV, in a novel condition we observed an increase in the use of SVO and OSV orders when describing events involving two animate entities. In sum, we find that the observed avoidance of SOV order in gestural language creation paradigms when the event includes an animate agent and patient is driven by the animacy of the participants rather than the reversibility of the event. We suggest that findings from gestural creation paradigms are not automatically linkable to spoken language typology. (shrink)
In a recent article, Amartya Sen writes that one important influence on his theory of adaptive preferences is Wollstonecraft's account of how some women, though clearly oppressed, are apparently satisfied with their lot. Wollstonecraft's arguments have received little attention so far from contemporary political philosophers, and one might be tempted to dismiss Sen's acknowledgment as a form of gallantry. That would be wrong. Wollstonecraft does have a lot of interest to say on the topic of why her contemporaries appeared to (...) choose what struck her as oppression, and her views can still help us reflect on contemporary problems such as the ones identified and discussed by Amartya Sen. In this article I will argue that a close look at Wollstonecraft's arguments may lead us to rethink some aspects of Sen's discussion of the phenomenon of adaptive preferences. (shrink)
I present two Triviality results for Kratzer's standard “restrictor” analysis of indicative conditionals. I both refine and undermine the common claim that problems of Triviality do not arise for Kratzer conditionals since they are not strictly conditionals at all.
The Bhagavadgita is one of the most renowned texts of Hinduism because it contains discussions of important issues such as liberation and the nature of action as well as the revelation of the Krishna as the highest god and creator of the universe. It is included in the ancient Indian Mahabharata epic at one of its most dramatic moments, that is, when the final battle is about to begin. In contrast to many other studies, this book deals with the relationship (...) between the Bhagavadgita and its epic contexts. On the basis of a thorough analysis of the text Angelika Malinar argues that its theology delineates not only new philosophical concepts and religious practices but also addresses the problem of righteous kingship and appropriate use of power. Malinar concludes by considering the Bhagavadgita's historical and cultural contexts and those features of the text that became paradigmatic in later Hindu religious traditions. (shrink)