Nobilitas is a study of the history of aristocratic philosophy from ancient Greece to the early twentieth century that aims at providing an alternative to the liberal democratic norms, which are propagated today as the only viable socio-political system for the world community. Jacob reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the social and cultural development of European civilization has, for twenty-five centuries, been based not on democratic or communist notions but, rather on aristocratic and nationalist notions. Beginning with the (...) political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and continuing through Renaissance and Baroque aristocratic philosophers, the German Idealists, and English and Italian nationalists, the study ends with the transformation of aristocratic philosophy in nineteenth century Germany into racist elitism. As such, the study includes a survey of the philosophical bases of racism and anti-Semitism. These topics have been systematically excluded from academic and political debate since the end of the last Great War. This study is a pioneering work in understanding and changing political ideologies. (shrink)
According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity (...) of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
The tuning-fork model of human social cognition, based on the discovery of mirror neurons (MNs) in the ventral premotor cortex of monkeys, involves the four following assumptions: (1) mirroring processes are processes of resonance or simulation. (2) They can be motor or non-motor. (3) Processes of motor mirroring (or action-mirroring), exemplified by the activity of MNs, constitute instances of third-person mindreading, whereby an observer represents the agent's intention. (4) Non-motor mirroring processes enable humans to represent others' emotions. After questioning all (...) four assumptions, I point out that MNs in an observer's brain could not synchronically resonate with MNs in an agent's brain unless they discharged in a single brain in two distinct tasks at different times. Finally, I sketch a conceptualist alternative to the resonance model according to which a brain mechanism active in both the execution and the perception of e.g., the act of grasping is the neural basis of the concept of e.g., grasping. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s version of the enactive conception in _Action in Perception_ is an important contribution to the study of visual perception. First, I argue, however, that it is unclear (at best) whether, as the enactivists claim, work on change blindness supports the denial of the existence of detailed visual representations. Second, I elaborate on what Noë calls the ‘puzzle of perceptual presence’. Thirdly, I question the enactivist account of perceptual constancy. Finally, I draw attention to the tensions between enactivism and (...) two trends in cognitive neuroscience: the two-visual systems model of human vision and the theory of internal forward models of action. (shrink)
Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. The puzzles of intentionality lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The word itself, which is of medieval Scholastic origin, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano towards the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb (...) intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing. The entry falls into eleven sections. (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.
I examine and discuss Jaegwon Kim's arguments against non-reductive physicalism in his book, Mind in a Physical World. I first examine the supervenience argument and then the multiple realization argument. Finally, I raise some questions about Kim's overall attitude towards mental realism, i.e., realism about mental properties.
The new prominence given to science for economic growth and industry comes with an increased policy focus on the promotion of commodification and commercialization of academic science. This paper posits that this increased interest in commodification is a new steering mechanism for governing science. This is achieved by first outlining what is meant by the commodification of scientific knowledge through reviewing a selection of literatures on the concept of commodification. The paper concludes with a discussion of how commodification functions as (...) a means for governing science. (shrink)
As more and more historians acknowledge the central signifcance of science and technology with that of modern society, the need for a good, general history of the achievements of the Scientific Revolution has grown. Scientific Culture and The Making of the Industrial West seeks to explain this historical process by looking at how and why scientific knowledge became such an integral part of the culture of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and how this in turn lead to the (...) Industrial Revolution. This comparative study not only looks at England, and its success, but follows through with the history of France, the Netherlands, and Germany. (shrink)
First, I argue that the narrow content of a thought cannot be identical with the linguistic meaning of the sentence used to express it. Secondly, I argue that the distinction between narrow content and linguistic meaning is not fatal to content-dualism. Thirdly I argue for the view that the proposition contributed by the clause prefixed by "that" is an interpretation of the believer's thought. Finally, I use this insight to provide an individualist account of Burge's thought-experiments such that recognition that (...) the truth-conditions of belief-ascriptions include aspects of the believer's environment does not entail that those environmental aspects are thereby parts of the contents of the person's thoughts. (shrink)
There are presently three broad approaches the project of naturalizing intentionality: a purely informational approach (Dretske and Fodor), a purely teleological approach (Millikan and Papineau), and a mixed informationally-based teleological approach (Dretske again). I will argue that the last teleosemantic theory offers the most promising approach. I also think, however, that the most explicit version of a pure teleosemantic theory of content, namely Millikan’s admirable theory, faces a pair of objections. My goal in this paper is to spell out Millikan’s (...) pure teleosemantic theory; then to present two objections; and finally to ask the question whether a teleosemantic framework can be saved from the objections. (shrink)
Dretske has argued that, unlike the content of beliefs and desires, the contents of innate representations cannot in principle play a role in the causal explanation of an individual's behavior. I examine this "asymmetry" and against it, I argue that the content of innate mental representations too can play a causal role in the explanation of behavior.
Jerry Fodor argued for an account of belief attribution very close to the theory of direct reference. I argue that his account conflicts with constraints on psychological explanation which he ought to accept.
This paper investigates the interface between philosophy and biochemistry. While it is problematic to justify the application of a particular philosophical model to biochemistry, it seems to be even more difficult to develop a special “Philosophy for Biochemistry”. Alternatively, philosophy can be used in biochemistry based on an alternative approach that involves an interdependent iteration process at a philosophical and (bio)chemical level (“Exeter Method”). This useful iteration method supplements more abstract approaches at the interface between philosophy and natural sciences, and (...) serves the biochemical community to systematically locate logical inconsistencies that arise from more theoretical aspects of the scientific process. Initial cycles of this iteration process identify the in vitro–in vivo problem as a central epistemological difficulty in biochemical research. While previous attempts have generated ad hoc rules to mend the gap between chemistry, biochemistry and biology in order to justify in vitro experimentation, this paper concludes that in vitro experimentation is heavily based on chemistry and cannot derive definite statements about biological processes. It can, however, generate results that will influence the direction of future biological research. The consequence is that the relationship between in vitro and in vivo experimentation is more of a psychological or social one than of a logical nature. Apart from highlighting these inconsistencies in biochemical thinking (“problem awareness”), the Exeter Method demands an improvement of biochemical terminology that contains separate and unequivocally defined terms for in vitro and in vivo systems. (shrink)
We consider a special case of heuristics, namely numeric heuristic evaluation functions, and their use in artificial intelligence search algorithms. The problems they are applied to fall into three general classes: single-agent path-finding problems, two-player games, and constraint-satisfaction problems. In a single-agent path-finding problem, such as the Fifteen Puzzle or the travelling salesman problem, a single agent searches for a shortest path from an initial state to a goal state. Two-player games, such as chess and checkers, involve an adversarial relationship (...) between two players, each trying to win the game. In a constraint-satisfaction, problem, such as the 8-Queens problem, the task is to find a state that satisfies a set of constraints. All of these problems are computationally intensive, and heuristic evaluation functions are used to reduce the amount of computation required to solve them. In each case we explain the nature of the evaluation functions used, how they are used in search algorithms, and how they can be automatically learned or acquired. (shrink)