It has been proposed by Dawkins, Dennett and others that memes are the units of cultural evolution. We here concentrate on Dennett's account because of the role it plays in his explanation of human consciousness - which is our principal target. Memes are claimed to be replicators that work on Darwinian principles. But in what sense are they replicators, and in what way are they responsible for their own propagation? We argue that their ability to replicate themselves is severely limited, (...) particularly in the case of language-borne memes. We contend, too, that the theory has unacceptable consequences for the role of design in accounting for cultural change, unless we seriously want to entertain the thought that design has as little relevance to cultural evolution as it does to the evolution of species. Finally, we argue that the account fails to do justice to the complexities of social practices. (shrink)
The problem of consciousness arises when we accept that humans are subject to conscious experiences, and that these experiences resist explanations of a kind that other puzzling phenomena permit. I first consider the case that such experiences exist and then the reasons for taking a pessimistic view of our chances of explaining them. I argue that the fact that conscious experience is ineffable makes the problem even harder than Chalmers allows, as it undermines a presentation of the problem of reductive (...) explanation in this case. The fact that conscious phenomena require a first-person perspective provides a further reason for taking a pessimistic view of the chances for the kind of theory that Chalmers seeks. In a final section I consider what form solutions to the problem, as revised, might take. (shrink)
A Krom formula of pure quantification theory is a formula in conjunctive normal form such that each conjunct is a disjunction of at most two atomic formulas or negations of atomic formulas. Every class of Krom formulas that is determined by the form of their quantifier prefixes and which is known to have an unsolvable decision problem for satisfiability is here shown to be a conservative reduction class. Therefore both the general satisfiability problem, and the problem of satisfiability in finite (...) models, can be effectively reduced from arbitrary formulas to Krom formulas of these several prefix types. (shrink)
This book taps the best American thinkers to answer the essential American question: How do we sustain our experiment in government of, by, and for the people? Authored by an extraordinary and politically diverse roster of public officials, scholars, and educators, these chapters describe our nation's civic education problem, assess its causes, offer an agenda for reform, and explain the high stakes at risk if we fail.