If syllables are the link between nonhuman calls and human speech, as MacNeilage suggests, then that link is actually revealed in the sounds of the 3-month-old infant, well before the reduplicative babbling of the 8-month-old. Anatomical, acoustic, cognitive, and social perceptual evidence supports this earlier landmark.
A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with (...) a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justice. -/- Still, this innate morality is limited, sometimes tragically. We are naturally hostile to strangers, prone to parochialism and bigotry. Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race. In his analysis of the morality of children and adults, Bloom rejects the fashionable view that our moral decisions are driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases. Just as reason has driven our great scientific discoveries, he argues, it is reason and deliberation that makes possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Ultimately, it is through our imagination, our compassion, and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we were born with, becoming more than just babies. -/- Paul Bloom has a gift for bringing abstract ideas to life, moving seamlessly from Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith to The Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing, Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives. (shrink)
The strong word and stance issue only from a strict will, a will that dares the error of reading all of reality as a text, and all prior texts as openings for its own totalizing and unique interpretations. Strong poets present themselves as looking for truth in the world, searching in reality and in tradition, but such a stance, as Nietzsche said, remains under the mastery of desire, of instinctual drives. So, in effect, the strong poet wants pleasure and not (...) truth; he wants what Nietzsche named as "the belief in truth and the pleasurable effects of this belief." No strong poet can admit that Nietzsche was accurate in this insight, and no critic need fear that any strong poet will accept and so be hurt by demystification. The concern of this book, as of my earlier studies in poetic misprision, is only with strong poets, which in this series of chapters is exemplified by the major sequence of High Romantic British and American poets: Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, Emerson, Whitman, and Stevens, but also throughout by two of the strongest poets in the European Romantic tradition: Nietzsche and Freud. By "poet" I therefore do not mean only verse-writer, as the instance of Emerson also should make clear. Harold Bloom is DeVane Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. This article is the first chapter of his new book, Poetry and Repression, to be published by the Yale University Press. The book completes a tetralogy, of which the earlier volumes are The Anxiety of Influence, A Map of Misreading, and Kabbalah and Criticism. See also: "Formalism, Savagery, and Care; or, The Function of Criticism Once Again" by Jerome J. McGann in Vol. 2, No. 3; "The Poet as Elaborator: Analytical Psychology as a Critical Paradigm" by David D. Cooper in Vol. 6, No. 1. (shrink)
In this paper Bloom analyzes the popular magazine, Men's Health, from a feminist perspective, locating ways that the magazine participates in an insidious form of anti-feminist backlash. She specifically analyzes the magazine to make sense of how its writers discursively position women in their relationships to heterosexual men and how they use the voices of women who call themselves feminists to promote an anti-feminist, pro-patriarchy agenda. She demonstrates that the “health” of men being promoted in this magazine is a (...) mental health grounded in the maintenance of male privilege and power. (shrink)
Many people have argued that the evolution of the human language faculty cannot be explained by Darwinian natural selection. Chomsky and Gould have suggested that language may have evolved as the by-product of selection for other abilities or as a consequence of as-yet unknown laws of growth and form. Others have argued that a biological specialization for grammar is incompatible with every tenet of Darwinian theory – that it shows no genetic variation, could not exist in any intermediate forms, confers (...) no selective advantage, and would require more evolutionary time and genomic space than is available. We examine these arguments and show that they depend on inaccurate assumptions about biology or language or both. Evolutionary theory offers clear criteria for when a trait should be attributed to natural selection: complex design for some function, and the absence of alternative processes capable of explaining such complexity. Human language meets these criteria: Grammar is a complex mechanism tailored to the transmission of propositional structures through a serial interface. Autonomous and arbitrary grammatical phenomena have been offered as counterexamples to the position that language is an adaptation, but this reasoning is unsound: Communication protocols depend on arbitrary conventions that are adaptive as long as they are shared. Consequently, language acquisition in the child should systematically differ from language evolution in the species, and attempts to analogize them are misleading. Reviewing other arguments and data, we conclude that there is every reason to believe that a specialization for grammar evolved by a conventional neo-Darwinian process. (shrink)
Causation is one of philosophy's most venerable and thoroughly-analyzed concepts. However, the study of how ordinary people make causal judgments is a much more recent addition to the philosophical arsenal. One of the most prominent views of causal explanation, especially in the realm of harmful or potentially harmful behavior, is that unusual or counternormative events are accorded privileged status in ordinary causal explanations. This is a fundamental assumption in psychological theories of counterfactual reasoning, and has been transported to philosophy by (...) Hitchcock and Knobe (2009). A different view--the basis of the culpable control model of blame (CCM)--is that primary causal status is accorded to behaviors that arouse negative evaluative reactions, including behaviors that stem from nefarious motives, negligence or recklessness, a faulty character, or behaviors that lead to harmful or potentially harmful consequences. This paper describes four empirical studies that show consistent support for the CCM. (shrink)
Despite its considerable intellectual interest and great social relevance, religion has been neglected by contemporary develop- mental psychologists. But in the last few years, there has been an emerging body of research exploring children’s grasp of certain universal religious ideas. Some recent findings suggest that two foundational aspects of religious belief – belief in divine agents, and belief in mind–body dualism – come naturally to young children. This research is briefly reviewed, and some future directions..
Compensation systems are an integral part of the relationships organizations establish with their employees. For many years, researchers viewed pay systems as an efficient way to bring market-like labour exchanges inside organizations. This view suggested that only economic considerations matter for understanding how compensation systems effect organizations and their employees. Advances in organizational research, particularly those focused on issues of justice and fairness, suggest that the fully understanding the outcomes of compensation systems requires examining their psychological, social, and moral effects.
What would it be like to have never learned English, but instead only to know Hopi, Mandarin Chinese, or American Sign Language? Would that change the way you think? Imagine entirely losing your language, as the result of stroke or trauma. You are aphasic, unable to speak or listen, read or write. What would your thoughts now be like? As the most extreme case, imagine having been raised without any language at all, as a wild child. What—if anything—would it be (...) like to be such a person? Could you be smart; could you reminisce about the past, plan the future? (shrink)
Recent work within psychology demonstrates that unconscious cognition plays a central role in the judgments and actions of individuals. We distinguish between two basic types unconscious social cognition: unconsciousness of the influences on judgments and actions, and unconscious of the mental states that give rise to judgments and actions. Influence unconsciousness is corroborated by strong empirical evidence, but unconscious states are difficult to verify. We discuss procedures aimed at providing conclusive evidence of state unconsciousness, and apply them to recent empirical (...) findings. (shrink)
There are two facts about word learning that everyone accepts. The ﬁrst is that words really do have to be learned. There is controversy over how much conceptual structure and linguistic knowledge is innate, but nobody thinks that this is the case for the speciﬁc mappings between sounds (or signs) and meanings. This is because these mappings vary arbitrarily from culture to culture. No matter how intelligent a British baby is, for instance, she still has to learn, by attending to (...) the language of the people around her, that rabbits are called ‘rabbits’, that sleeping is called ‘sleeping’, and so on. (shrink)
College students implicitly judge interracial sex and gay sex to be morally wrong Some moral intuitions arise from psychological processes that are not fully accessible to consciousness. For instance, most people disapprove of consensual adult incest between siblings, but are unable to articulate why—they just feel that it is wrong (Haidt, 2001). More generally, there is evidence for at least two sources of moral judgment: explicit conscious reasoning and tacit intuitions, which are motivated by emotional responses (Greene et al., 2001) (...) and learned associations (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). (shrink)
This essay examines Joseph Carens' open borders argument in the light of a case study of recent Somali migrants to the UK. It argues that, although arguments for significantly more open borders are compelling, they must take into account existing domestic injustice in receiving states as well as existing global injustice.
Normal children learn tens of thousands of words, and do so quickly and efficiently, often in highly impoverished environments. In How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, I argue that word learning is the product of certain cognitive and linguistic abilities that include the ability to acquire concepts, an appreciation of syntactic cues to meaning, and a rich understanding of the mental states of other people. These capacities are powerful, early emerging, and to some extent uniquely human, but they are (...) not special to word learning. This proposal is an alternative to the view that word learning is the result of simple associative learning mechanisms, and it rejects as well the notion that children possess constraints, either innate or learned, that are specifically earmarked for word learning. This theory is extended to account for how children learn names for objects, substances, and abstract entities, pronouns and proper names, verbs, determiners, prepositions, and number words. Several related topics are also discussed, including naïve essentialism, children's understanding of representational art, the nature of numerical and spatial reasoning, and the role of words in the shaping of mental life. Key Words: cognitive development; concepts; meaning; semantics; social cognition; syntax; theory of mind; word learning. (shrink)
Ren-xing can be aptly translated as "human nature," representing as it does the Mencian conviction of and sympathy for a common humanity. The enterprise of comparative philosophy is furthered by drawing attention to the large and important conceptual sphere within which Mencius was working, to his concern for the most fundamental realities of human life, and to his translatability across time and cultures.
Over the past few decades, there has been increasing attention focused on the ethics of health research, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Despite the increasing focus on the literature addressing human protection, community engagement, appropriate consent procedures and ways to mitigate concerns around exploitation, there has been little discussion about how the duration of the research engagement may affect the ethical design and implementation of studies. In other words, what are the unique ethical challenges when researchers engage with host (...) communities for longer periods (10 years or more), and what special considerations does this time commitment generate when applying ethical principles to these kinds of studies? This article begins to outline key areas of ethical concern that arise during long-term, sustained research activities with communities in low-resource settings. Through a review of the literature and consultations with experts in health systems, we identified the following key themes: fair benefits and long-term beneficence; community autonomy, consultation and consent; impacts on local health systems; economic impacts of research participation; ethical review processes; and institutional processes and oversight within research organizations. We hope that this preliminary exploration will stimulate further dialogue and help inform ethical guidance around long-term research engagements in the developing world. (shrink)
Although our concepts of “Mama,” “milk,” and “mice” have much in common, the suggestion that they are identical in structure in the mind of the prelinguistic child is mistaken. Even infants think about objects as different from substances and appreciate the distinction between kinds (e.g., mice) and individuals (e.g., Mama). Such cognitive capacities exist in other animals as well, and have important adaptive consequences.
Two studies demonstrate that a dispositional proneness to disgust (“disgust sensitivity”) is associated with intuitive disapproval of gay people. Study 1 was based on previous research showing that people are more likely to describe a behavior as intentional when they see it as morally wrong (see Knobe, 2006, for a review). As predicted, the more disgust sensitive participants were, the more likely they were to describe an agent whose behavior had the side effect of causing gay men to kiss in (...) public as having intentionally encouraged gay men to kiss publicly— even though most participants did not explicitly think it wrong to encourage gay men to kiss in public. No such effect occurred when subjects were asked about heterosexual kissing. Study 2 used the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald, 2006) as a dependent measure. The more disgust sensitive participants were, the more they showed.. (shrink)
In Moral Minds, Marc Hauser makes an audacious claim about moral thought. He argues that morality is best understood in much the same way as Noam Chomsky described language: as the product of an innate and universal mental faculty. For Hauser, moral intuition is not the product of culture and education, nor is it the result of rational and deliberative thought, nor doesitreduce to the workings of the emotions. Instead, it is human nature to unconsciously and automatically evaluate the moral (...) status of human actions: to judge them as right or wrong, allowed or forbidden, optional or obligatory. (shrink)
Ronna Burger offers a reading of the Ethics that views the text as a dialogue with, and very much in the spirit of, the Platonic Socrates. In reading the text as a dialogue, Burger is not making a claim about Aristotle’s intentions. She is proposing “a tool of interpretation, to be judged by the philosophical result it yields, in particular, the underlying argument it discloses whose movement makes the work a whole” . Treating the text this way entails focusing as (...) much on the action, or, as she refers to it, the deed of the text, as on any alleged conclusions or doctrines. This deed turns out to be the very energeia of theoria concerning the best life for a human being that Aristotle, like Socrates, takes to be the activity conducive to living the happiest human life. Consequently, Burger is far more inclined to open issues up than she is to close them off.The dialogue with Socrates, Burger argues, has two distinct but related phases. Each phase begins by putting forward a view that differs from the Socratic view but which, upon examination, ends up motivating a position much like that of Socrates. The first phase begins with an understanding of ethics that separates the. (shrink)
Are current theories of moral responsibility missing a factor in the attribution of blame and praise? Four studies demonstrated that even when cause, intention, and outcome (factors generally assumed to be sufficient for the ascription of moral responsibility) are all present, blame and praise are discounted when the factors are not linked together in the usual manner (i.e., cases of ‘‘causal deviance’’). Experiment 4 further demonstrates that this effect of causal deviance is driven by intuitive gut feelings of right and (...) wrong, not logical deliberation. Ó 2003 Published by Elsevier Science (USA). (shrink)
An abstract logic A, C consists of a finitary algebraA and a closure systemC onA. C induces two other closure systems onA, C P andC I, by projective and inductive generation respectively. The various relations amongC, C P andC I are determined. The special case thatC is the standard equational closure system on monadic terms is studied in detail. The behavior of Boolean logics with respect to projective and inductive generation is determined.
Shaun Nichols (this issue) correctly points out that current theories of the development of mindreading say nothing about children's intuitions concerning indeterminist choice. That is, there are numerous theories of how children make sense of belief, desire, and action, but none that appeal to any notion of free will. Nichols suggests two alternatives for why this is the case. It could either be (a) an --outrageous oversight-- on the part of developmental psychologists or (b) a principled omission, reﬂecting a consensus (...) that the notion of indeterminist choice is absent from children's mindreading processes. Nichols charitably favors the sec- ond alternative. (shrink)