The notion that visual attention can operate over visual objects in addition to spatial locations has recently received much empirical support, but there has been relatively little empirical consideration of what can count as an `object' in the ®rst place. We have investi- gated this question in the context of the multiple object tracking paradigm, in which subjects must track a number of independently and unpredictably moving identical items in a ®eld of identical distractors. What types of feature clusters can (...) be tracked in this manner? In other words, what counts as an `object' in this task? We investigated this question with a technique we call target merging: we alter tracking displays so that distinct target and distractor loca- tions appear perceptually to be parts of the same object by merging pairs of items (one target with one distractor) in various ways ± for example, by connecting item locations with a simple line segment, by drawing the convex hull of the two items, and so forth. The data show that target merging makes the tracking task far more dif®cult to varying degrees depending on exactly how the items are merged. The effect is perceptually salient, involving in some conditions a total destruction of subjects' capacity to track multiple items. These studies provide strong evidence for the object-based nature of tracking, con®rming that in some contexts attention must be allocated to objects rather than arbitrary collections of features. In addition, the results begin to reveal the types of spatially organized scene components that can be independently attended as a function of properties such as connectedness, part struc- ture, and other types of perceptual grouping. q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
The primary purpose of this study is to identify differences in attainment of learning outcomes for ethics courses delivered using two distinct teaching approaches. The first approach uses a case based method in the context of applied moral issues within medical practice. The second approach surveys moral theories in the context of applied moral issues. Significant differences are found in the attainment of learner outcomes between the two groups. In particular, attainment of outcomes related to moral decision-making is higher in (...) those students who take the course with a case based method. In contrast, attainment of outcomes related to personal beliefs about applied moral issues is higher in those students who take an introductory ethics course surveying moral theories in the context of applied issues. Neither of these results is especially surprising. What may be surprising, however, is that students in the case-based course do not appear attain learner outcomes with regard to applied moral issues despite studying those issues in detail. Finally, the assessment tool developed and refined through this study may be of use for assessment in a variety of ethics courses. (shrink)
What makes an object the same persisting individual over time? Philosophers and psychologists have both grappled with this question, but from different perspectives—philosophers conceptually analyzing the criteria for object persistence, and psychologists exploring the mental mechanisms that lead us to experience the world in terms of persisting objects. It is striking that the same themes populate explorations of persistence in these two very different fields—e.g. the roles of spatiotemporal continuity, persistence through property change, and cohesion violations. Such similarities may reflect (...) an underlying connection, in that psychological mechanisms of object persistence (especially relevant parts of mid-level visual object processing) may serve to underlie the intuitions about persistence that fuel metaphysical theories. This would be a way for cognitive science to join these two disparate fields, helping to explain the possible origins and reliability of some metaphysical intuitions, and perhaps leading to philosophical progress. (shrink)
In three experiments, subjects attempted to track multiple items as they moved independently and unpredictably about a display. Performance was not impaired when the items were briefly (but completely) occluded at various times during their motion, suggesting that occlusion is taken into account when computing enduring perceptual objecthood. Unimpaired performance required the presence of accretion and deletion cues along fixed contours at the occluding boundaries. Performance was impaired when items were present on the visual field at the same times and (...) to the same degrees as in the occlusion conditions, but disappeared and reappeared in ways which did not implicate the presence of occluding surfaces (e.g. by imploding and exploding into and out of existence, instead of accreting and deleting along a fixed contour). Unimpaired performance did not require visible occluders (i.e. Michotte’s tunnel effect) or globally consistent occluder positions. We discuss implications of these results for theories of objecthood in visual attention. (shrink)
Scholars working in philosophy of action still struggle with the freedom/determinism dichotomy that stretches back to Hellenist philosophy and the metaphysics that gave rise to it. Although that metaphysics has been repudiated in current philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the dichotomy still haunts these fields. As such, action is understood as distinct from movement, or motion. In early China, under a very different metaphysical paradigm, no such distinction is made. Instead, a notion of self-caused movement, or spontaneity, is elaborated. (...) In this article a general conception of spontaneity from early Daoism is explained, detailing its constituent aspects. Similar notions appeared from time to time in Western philosophy, and these instances are pursued, exploring how their instantiations differed from Daoist spontaneity and why. Based on these approximate examples of spontaneity and on early Daoist spontaneity, new criteria are postulated for a plausible theory of action that dispenses with presuppositions that eventuate in a freedom/determinism dichotomy, and instead the possibility is offered of a general model of action that can be applied smoothly across current philosophical and cognitive scientific subdisciplines. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of develop- ment: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules are thought (...) to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop internally, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via parameterization. (shrink)
This chapter explores a way in which visual processing may involve innate constraints and attempts to show how such processing overcomes one enduring challenge to nativism. In particular, many challenges to nativist theories in other areas of cognitive psychology have focused on the later development of such abilities, and have argued that such development is in conflict with innate origins. Innateness, in these contexts, is seen as antidevelopmental, associated instead with static processes and principles. In contrast, certain perceptual models demonstrate (...) how the very same mental processes can both be innately specified and yet develop richly in response to experience with the environment. This process is entirely unmysterious, as shown in certain formal theories of visual perception, including those that appeal to spontaneous endogenous stimulation and those based on Bayesian inference. (shrink)
In this paper I focus on the role that cyberspace should play in social or political protest, and, in particular, in acts of civil disobedience. I have two main purposes in doing so. First, I want to address the question, “When is hacktivism civil disobedience?” I answer the question by including a more complete and explicit analysis of civil disobedience, as it is affected by information technology, than is currently done in the literature on hacktivism. This allows a clearer answer (...) to the question posed here than currently provided in the relevant literature. Second, I analyze James Moor’s claim that information technology transforms old processes, as this claim applies to the context of civil disobedience. As we will see, while information technology may exacerbate certain issues, little transformation seems required in this case. (shrink)
Rational choice theory relies on premises that are correct and complete; but, in general, neither can be assured. Knowledge is an open system of selected relationships and the adequacy of our representations of phenomena is always subject to Knightian uncertainty. The management of industrial research projects requires the exploration of this uncertainty, with the aid of provisionally closed models. Systems are defined by their elements and their connections, and the incompleteness of connections aids adjustment to external change and also promotes (...) novelty ? much of it unsuccessful, for it cannot be rationally generated ? through variations in the degree and dimensions of closure. We create knowledge by creating patterns, grouping phenomena by selective (and problematic) criteria of similarity; and coherence between patterns is important for individuals and organizations. Adam Smith's psychological and evolutionary theory of the growth of knowledge, like the epistemology of modern science, rests on human cognition and the intersubjectivity that it makes possible. Genetically based evolution has progressed from the specification of behaviour to an endowment of motivation and the capacity to create patterns, encouraging search and the development of rules and conventions to aid individual thought as well as interactions. Uncertainty is the precondition of imagination; closure in some dimensions allows us to explore in others, and to absorb new ideas within a particular range. In 1861 Carlo Cattaneo argued that development resulted from two characteristics of the human mind: intelligence and will. These characteristics may be represented by selected connections and selected closures, which guide our actions. (shrink)
I argue that José Luis Bermúdez has not shown that there is a paradox in our concept of self-consciousness. The deflationary theory is not a plausible theory of self-consciousness, so its paradoxicality is irrelevant. A more plausible theory, 'the simple theory', is not paradoxical. However, I do think there is a puzzle about the connection between self-consciousness and 'I'-thoughts.
Some of the evidence for a “magical number 4” has come from the study of visual cognition, and Cowan reinterprets such evidence in terms of a single general limit on memory and attention. We evaluate this evidence, including some studies not mentioned by Cowan, and argue that limitations in visual processing are distinct from those involved in other memory phenomena.
We suggest that the sensorimotor “theory” of vision is really an unstructured collection of separate ideas, and that much of the evidence cited in its favor at best supports only a subset of these ideas. As an example, we note that work on change blindness does not “vindicate” (or even speak to) much of the sensorimotor framework. Moreover, the ideas themselves are not always internally consistent. Finally, the proposed framework draws on ideas initially espoused by James Gibson, but does little (...) to differentiate itself from those earlier views. For even part of this framework to become testable, it must specify which sources of evidence can support or contradict each of the component hypotheses. (shrink)
A debate over whether God predestines some to reprobation broke out in the ninth century. No one actually taught this view, but both John Scotus Eriugena and Hincmar of Rheims, among other churchmen at the time, presumed it to be the view of those who referred to themselves as “double predestinarians.” In part, this was because the double predestinarians had made much of Augustine’s phrase “predestined to punishment,” a phrase that can in fact be found in several of his writings. (...) This article, which is the second of two parts, argues that Eriugena and Hincmar had difficulty avoiding the appearance of disagreeing entirely with Augustine’s use of that phrase. Eriugena said the phrase is to be understood a contrario to the divine nature; Hincmar said it is to be understood in a generic sense about God’s judgment on sin. Of the two, Hincmar came the closest to acknowledging that Augustine might have erred in using the phrase as he did. (shrink)
The theory of human moral evolution elaborated in the later work of Jürgen Habermas represents one of the most challenging and provocative of recent, linguistically inspired attempts to reinterpret our understanding of Western history. In critically examining this theory, the present article identifies some major problems with Habermas's reinterpretation of the history of the formation of Western civilization as the universal pragmatic process of the evolution of human moral communicative competences. Drawing on the works of Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault, (...) the article seeks to show how the formal grounding of Habermas's evolutionary theory in the categories of his universal pragmatic conception of communicative action ultimately prevents him from grasping the radically embodied nature of human discursive practice and its implications for the historical process of the formation of human moral will. (shrink)
A debate over whether God predestines to make some people reprobate broke out in the ninth century. No one taught this view, but it was presumed by several churchmen at the time to be the position of those who called themselves double predestinarians. In part, this article explains why two double predestinarians, Gottschalk of Orbais and Ratramnus of Corbie, were mistaken for proponents of this view. They had been trying to explain Augustine’s phrase, “those predestined to punishment”, which they found (...) in no fewer than ten of Augustine’s texts. Gottschalk points out Augustine used the phrase interchangeably with the term reprobate. Thus, to Gottschalk, it is not a statement about what God predestines; rather, it is a statement about the effect of predestination on certain people. Likewise, to Ratramnus, the phrase referred to the effect of God’s ordering of both the good and evil acts of persons. That Gottschalk and Ratramnus identified Augustine’s use of the phrase with a belief in double predestination was due to their reading Augustine through the lens of Isidore of Seville’s Sententiae II.6. (shrink)
Is innate cognitive modularity consistent with a lack of innate neural modularity? Quartz & Sejnowski's implicit negative answer to his question fuels their antinativist and antimodular cognitive conclusions. I attempt here to suggest a positive answer and to solicit discussion of this crucial issue.
This article reports results from two studies of how people answer counterfactual questions about simple machines. Participants learned about devices that have a specific configuration of components, and they answered questions of the form “If component X had not operated [failed], would component Y have operated?” The data from these studies indicate that participants were sensitive to the way in which the antecedent state is described—whether component X “had not operated” or “had failed.” Answers also depended on whether the device (...) is deterministic or probabilistic—whether X's causal parents “always” or only “usually” cause X to operate. Participants' explanations of their answers often invoked non-operation of causally prior components or unreliability of prior connections. They less often mentioned independence from these causal elements. (shrink)
We can perceive not only low-level features of events such as color and motion, but also seemingly higher-level properties such as causality. A prototypical example of causal perception is the ”launching effect’: one object moves toward a stationary second object until they are adjacent, at which point A stops and B starts moving in the same direction. Beyond these motions themselves --- and regardless of any higher-level beliefs --- this display induces a vivid visual impression of causality, wherein A is (...) seen to cause B’s motion. Do such percepts reflect a unitary category of visual processing, or might there be multiple distinct forms of causal perception? While launching is often simply equated with causal perception, researchers have sometimes described other phenomena such as ”triggering’ and ”entraining’. We used psychophysical methods to determine whether these labels really carve visual processing at its joints, and how putatively different forms of causal perception relate to each other. Previous research demonstrated retinotopically specific adaptation to causality: exposure to causal launching makes subsequent ambiguous events in that same location more likely to be seen as non-causal ”passing’. Here, after replicating this effect, we show that exposure to triggering also yields retinotopically specific adaptation for subsequent ambiguous launching displays, but that exposure to entraining does not. Collectively, these results reveal that visual processing distinguishes some types of causal interactions. (shrink)
Recent evidence suggests that performance on reasoning tasks may reflect the operation of a number of distinct cognitive mechanisms and processes. This paper explores the implications of this view of the mind for the descriptive and normative assessment of reasoning. I suggest that descriptive questions such as “Are we equipped to reason using rule X?” and normative questions such as “Are we rational?” are obsolete—they do not possess a fine enough grain of architectural resolution to accurately characterize the mind. I (...) explore how this general lesson can apply to specific experimental interpretations, and suggest that 'rationality' must be evaluated along a number of importantly distinct dimensions. (shrink)
In his theory of history Gottfried von Herder presents a radical critique of the rationalist discourse of cosmopolitan human development advanced by the Enlightenment thinkers of his day. Herder's critique centers around his theory of history as the evolution of the Volk community. He opposed the way the rationalist perspective abstracts historical human development from all connection with the contingent elements of human historical linguistic and cultural practice in the creation of a unified, integrated world. Herder looks instead to a (...) world of infinite cultural diversity, where each historical culture is recognized as a distinct and unique manifestation of all that is rich and progressive in human life. There are some interesting parallels which can be drawn between Herder's relativistic conception of cultural community and the ideas on language and human cultural development presented in the writings of Franqois Lyotard. Both attack the Enlightenment paradigm of cultural knowledge, its pretensions to objectivity, and its claim of constituting a higher knowledge. There is a basic paradox in Herder's vision, for although Herder denies the validity of the universal claims of Enlightenment reason, his conception would appear to require the development of a form of universal rationality encompassing all national cultures. (shrink)
Such a moral theology not only provides us with a convincing certainty of God's being, but it also has the great advantage that it leads us to religion, since it joins the thought of God firmly to our morality, and in this way it even makes better men of us. Kant, Lectures on Philosophical TheologyThis philosophy too, which takes up the thought of confederation in the concept of communicative, historically situated reason, will be able to provide no assurance (keine Zuversicht); (...) it stands in the sign of a transcendence from within and must content itself with the justified encouragement of a skeptical but non-defeatist “resistance to the gods and demons of a world contemptuous of man.” Habermas, “Israel oder Athen: Wem gehoert die anamnetische Vernunft?”. (shrink)
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