A new framework for the study of the human moral faculty is currently receiving much attention: the so-called ‘universal moral grammar' framework. It is based on an intriguing analogy, first pointed out by Rawls, between the study of the human moral sense and Chomsky's research program into the human language faculty. In order to assess UMG, we ask: is moral competence modular? Does it have an underlying hierarchical grammatical structure? Does moral diversity rest on culture-dependent parameters? We review evidence that (...) supports negative answers and argue that formal grammatical concepts are of limited value for the study of moral judgments, moral development and moral diversity. (shrink)
Before the end of the first year of life, infants begin to lose the ability to perceive distinctions between sounds that are not phonemic in their native language. It is typically assumed that this developmental change reflects the construction of language-specific phoneme categories, but how these categories are learned largely remains a mystery. Peperkamp, Le Calvez, Nadal, and Dupoux (2006) present an algorithm that can discover phonemes using the distributions of allophones as well as the phonetic properties of the allophones (...) and their contexts. We show that a third type of information source, the occurrence of pairs of minimally differing word forms in speech heard by the infant, is also useful for learning phonemic categories and is in fact more reliable than purely distributional information in data containing a large number of allophones. In our model, learners build an approximation of the lexicon consisting of the high-frequency n-grams present in their speech input, allowing them to take advantage of top-down lexical information without needing to learn words. This may explain how infants have already begun to exhibit sensitivity to phonemic categories before they have a large receptive lexicon. (shrink)
The dissociation Block provides between phenomenal and access consciousness (P-consciousness and A-consciousness) captures much of our intuition about conscious experience. However, it raises a major methodological puzzle, and is not uniquely supported by the empirical evidence. We provide an alternative interpretation based on the notion of levels of representation and partial awareness.
A prominent hypothesis holds that by speaking to infants in infant‐directed speech (IDS) as opposed to adult‐directed speech (ADS), parents help them learn phonetic categories. Specifically, two characteristics of IDS have been claimed to facilitate learning: hyperarticulation, which makes the categories more separable, and variability, which makes the generalization more robust. Here, we test the separability and robustness of vowel category learning on acoustic representations of speech uttered by Japanese adults in ADS, IDS (addressed to 18‐ to 24‐month olds), or (...) read speech (RS). Separability is determined by means of a distance measure computed between the five short vowel categories of Japanese, while robustness is assessed by testing the ability of six different machine learning algorithms trained to classify vowels to generalize on stimuli spoken by a novel speaker in ADS. Using two different speech representations, we find that hyperarticulated speech, in the case of RS, can yield better separability, and that increased between‐speaker variability in ADS can yield, for some algorithms, more robust categories. However, these conclusions do not apply to IDS, which turned out to yield neither more separable nor more robust categories compared to ADS inputs. We discuss the usefulness of machine learning algorithms run on real data to test hypotheses about the functional role of IDS. (shrink)
In this article, we apply a special case of holographic representations to letter position coding. We translate different well-known schemes into this format, which uses distributed representations and supports constituent structure. We show that in addition to these brain-like characteristics, performances on a standard benchmark of behavioral effects are improved in the holographic format relative to the standard localist one. This notably occurs because of emerging properties in holographic codes, like transposition and edge effects, for which we give formal demonstrations. (...) Finally, we outline the limits of the approach as well as its possible future extensions. (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
Generative linguistics' search for linguistic universals (1) is not comparable to the vague explanatory suggestions of the article; (2) clearly merits a more central place than linguistic typology in cognitive science; (3) is fundamentally untouched by the article's empirical arguments; (4) best explains the important facts of linguistic diversity; and (5) illuminates the dominant component of language's nature: biology.
Infants learn from adults readily and cooperate with them spontaneously, but how do they select culturally appropriate teachers and collaborators? Building on evidence that children demonstrate social preferences for speakers of their native language, Experiment 1 presented 10- month-old infants with videotaped events in which a native and a foreign speaker introduced two different toys. When given a chance to choose between real exemplars of the objects, infants preferentially chose the toy modeled by the native speaker. In Experiment 2, 2.5-year-old (...) children were presented with the same videotaped native and foreign speakers, and played a game in which they could offer an object to one of two individuals. Children reliably gave to the native speaker. Together, the results suggest that infants and young children are selective social learners and cooperators, and that language provides one basis for this selectivity. (shrink)
Second person social cognition cannot be restricted to dyadic interactions between two persons (the and the ). Many instances of social communication are triadic, and involve a third person (the ), which is the object of the interaction. We discuss neuropsychological and brain imaging data showing that triadic interactions involve dedicated brain networks distinct from those of dyadic interactions.