An emerging class of theories concerning the functional structure of the brain takes the reuse of neural circuitry for various cognitive purposes to be a central organizational principle. According to these theories, it is quite common for neural circuits established for one purpose to be exapted (exploited, recycled, redeployed) during evolution or normal development, and be put to different uses, often without losing their original functions. Neural reuse theories thus differ from the usual understanding of the role of neural plasticity (...) (which is, after all, a kind of reuse) in brain organization along the following lines: According to neural reuse, circuits can continue to acquire new uses after an initial or original function is established; the acquisition of new uses need not involve unusual circumstances such as injury or loss of established function; and the acquisition of a new use need not involve (much) local change to circuit structure (e.g., it might involve only the establishment of functional connections to new neural partners). Thus, neural reuse theories offer a distinct perspective on several topics of general interest, such as: the evolution and development of the brain, including (for instance) the evolutionary-developmental pathway supporting primate tool use and human language; the degree of modularity in brain organization; the degree of localization of cognitive function; and the cortical parcellation problem and the prospects (and proper methods to employ) for function to structure mapping. The idea also has some practical implications in the areas of rehabilitative medicine and machine interface design. (shrink)
The nature of cognition is being re-considered. Instead of emphasizing formal operations on abstract symbols, the new approach foregrounds the fact that cognition is, rather, a situated activity, and suggests that thinking beings ought therefore be considered first and foremost as acting beings. The essay reviews recent work in Embodied Cognition, provides a concise guide to its principles, attitudes and goals, and identifies the physical grounding project as its central research focus.
In this paper, I summarize an emerging debate in the cognitive sciences over the right taxonomy for understanding cognition – the right theory of and vocabulary for describing the structure of the mind – and the proper role of neuroscientific evidence in specifying this taxonomy. In part because the discussion clearly entails a deep reconsideration of the supposed autonomy of psychology from neuroscience, this is a debate in which philosophers should be interested, with which they should be familiar, and to (...) which they should contribute. Here, I outline some of the positions being advocated, and reflect on some of the possible implications of this work both for scientific and folk psychology. (shrink)
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between (...) the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task-specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics. (shrink)
When Thomas Nagel originally coined the expression “moral luck,” he used the term “luck” to mean lack of control. This use was a matter of stipulation, as Nagel’s target had little to do with luck itself, but the question of how control is related to moral responsibility. Since then, we have seen several analyses of the concept of luck itself, and recent contributors to the moral luck literature have often assumed that any serious contribution to the moral luck debate must (...) begin with a robust concept of luck simpliciter. I argue here that this assumption is a mistake, on the basis of three reasons: the issue was originally conceived as an issue about responsibility and control, analyses of luck tend to distort and needlessly to complicate what is at issue when shoehorned into the moral luck debate, and these analyses have very little (if anything) to contribute to the discussion. (shrink)
This book constitutes the first treatment of C. S. Peirce’s unique concept of habit. Habit animated the pragmatists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who picked up the baton from classical scholars, principally Aristotle. Most prominent among the pragmatists thereafter is Charles Sanders Peirce. In our vernacular, habit connotes a pattern of conduct. Nonetheless, Peirce’s concept transcends application to mere regularity or to human conduct; it extends into natural and social phenomena, making cohesive inner and outer worlds. Chapters in (...) this anthology define and amplify Peircean habit; as such, they highlight the dialectic between doubt and belief. Doubt destabilizes habit, leaving open the possibility for new beliefs in the form of habit-change; and without habit-change, the regularity would fall short of habit – conforming to automatic/mechanistic systems. This treatment of habit showcases how, through human agency, innovative regularities of behavior and thought advance the process of making the unconscious conscious. The latter materializes when affordances form the basis for modifications in action schemas and modes of reasoning. Further, the book charts how indexical signs in language and action are pivotal in establishing attentional patterns; and how these habits accommodate novel orientations within event templates. It is intended for those interested in Peirce’s metaphysic or semiotic, including both senior scholars and students of philosophy and religion, psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as mathematics, and the natural sciences. (shrink)
Neural reuse is a form of neuroplasticity whereby neural elements originally developed for one purpose are put to multiple uses. A diverse behavioral repertoire is achieved by means of the creation of multiple, nested, and overlapping neural coalitions, in which each neural element is a member of multiple different coalitions and cooperates with a different set of partners at different times. Neural reuse has profound implications for how we think about our continuity with other species, for how we understand the (...) similarities and differences between psychological processes, and for how best to pursue a unified science of the mind.After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain surveys the terrain and advocates for a series of reforms in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. The book argues that, among other things, we should capture brain function in a multidimensional manner, develop a new, action-oriented vocabulary for psychology, and recognize that higher-order cognitive processes are built from complex configurations of already evolved circuitry. (shrink)
This essay introduces the massive redeployment hypothesis, an account of the functional organization of the brain that centrally features the fact that brain areas are typically employed to support numerous functions. The central contribution of the essay is to outline a middle course between strict localization on the one hand, and holism on the other, in such a way as to account for the supporting data on both sides of the argument. The massive redeployment hypothesis is supported by case studies (...) of redeployment, and compared and contrasted with other theories of the localization of function. (shrink)
Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and methods, sabotage of others’ (...) ability to use one’s work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science. (shrink)
The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. The guidance theory offers a way of fixing representational content that gives the causal and evolutionary history of the subject only an indirect role, and an account of representational error, based on failure of action, that does not rely on any such notions as proper functions, ideal conditions, or (...) normal circumstances. Moreover, because the notion of error is defined in terms of failure of action, the guidance theory meets the “meta-epistemological requirement” that representational error should be potentially detectable by the representing system itself. In this essay, we offer a brief account of the biological origins of representation, a formal characterization of the guidance theory, some examples of its use, and show how the guidance theory handles some traditional problem cases for representation: the representation of fictional and abstract entities. Being both representational and actiongrounded, the guidance theory may provide some common ground between embodied and cognitivist approaches to the study of the mind. (shrink)
Abstract: The massive redeployment hypothesis (MRH) is a theory about the functional topography of the human brain, offering a middle course between strict localization on the one hand, and holism on the other. Central to MRH is the claim that cognitive evolution proceeded in a way analogous to component reuse in software engineering, whereby existing components-originally developed to serve some specific purpose-were used for new purposes and combined to support new capacities, without disrupting their participation in existing programs. If the (...) evolution of cognition was indeed driven by such exaptation, then we should be able to make some specific empirical predictions regarding the resulting functional topography of the brain. This essay discusses three such predictions, and some of the evidence supporting them. Then, using this account as a background, the essay considers the implications of these findings for an account of the functional integration of cognitive operations. For instance, MRH suggests that in order to determine the functional role of a given brain area it is necessary to consider its participation across multiple task categories, and not just focus on one, as has been the typical practice in cognitive neuroscience. This change of methodology will motivate (even perhaps necessitate) the development of a new, domain-neutral vocabulary for characterizing the contribution of individual brain areas to larger functional complexes, and direct particular attention to the question of how these various area roles are integrated and coordinated to result in the observed cognitive effect. Finally, the details of the mix of cognitive functions a given area supports should tell us something interesting not just about the likely computational role of that area, but about the nature of and relations between the cognitive functions themselves. For instance, growing evidence of the role of “motor” areas like M1, SMA and PMC in language processing, and of “language” areas like Broca’s area in motor control, offers the possibility for significantly reconceptualizing the nature both of language and of motor control. (shrink)
This paper lays out some of the empirical evidence for the importance of neural reuse—the reuse of existing (inherited and/or early-developing) neural circuitry for multiple behavioral purposes—in defining the overall functional structure of the brain. We then discuss in some detail one particular instance of such reuse: the involvement of a local neural circuit in finger awareness, number representation, and other diverse functions. Finally, we consider whether and how the notion of a developmental homology can help us understand the relationships (...) between the cognitive functions that develop out of shared neural supports. (shrink)
This essay – a collection of contributions from 10 scholars working in the field of biosemiotics and the humanities – considers nature in culture. It frames this by asking the question ‘Why does biosemiotics need the humanities?’. Each author writes from the background of their own disciplinary perspective in order to throw light upon their interdisciplinary engagement with biosemiotics. We start with Donald Favareau, whose originary disciplinary home is ethnomethodology and linguistics, and then move on to Paul Cobley’s contribution on (...) general semiotics and Kalevi Kull’s on biosemiotics. This is followed by Cobley with Frederick Stjernfelt who contribute on biosemiotics and learning, then Gerald Ostdiek from philosophy, and Morten Tønnessen focusing upon ethics in particular. Myrdene Anderson writes from anthropology, while Timo Maran and Louise Westling provide a view from literary study. The essay closes with Wendy Wheeler reflecting on the movement of biosemiotics as a challenge, often via the ecological humanities, to the kind of so-called ‘postmodern’ thinking that has dominated humanities critical thought in the universities for the past 40 years. Virtually all the matters gestured to in outline above are discussed in much more satisfying detail in the topics which follow. (shrink)
Organizations are making massive investments in artificial intelligence, and recent demonstrations and achievements highlight the immense potential for AI to improve organizational and human welfare. Yet realizing the potential of AI necessitates a better understanding of the various ethical issues involved with deciding to use AI, training and maintaining it, and allowing it to make decisions that have moral consequences. People want organizations using AI and the AI systems themselves to behave ethically, but ethical behavior means different things to different (...) people, and many ethical dilemmas require trade-offs such that no course of action is universally considered ethical. How should organizations using AI—and the AI itself—process ethical dilemmas where humans disagree on the morally right course of action? Though a variety of ethical AI frameworks have been suggested, these approaches do not adequately address how people make ethical evaluations of AI systems or how to incorporate the fundamental disagreements people have regarding what is and is not ethical behavior. Drawing on moral foundations theory, we theorize that a person will perceive an organization’s use of AI, its data procedures, and the resulting AI decisions as ethical to the extent that those decisions resonate with the person’s moral foundations. Since people hold diverse moral foundations, this highlights the crucial need to consider individual moral differences at multiple levels of AI. We discuss several unresolved issues and suggest potential approaches for thinking about conflicts in moral judgments concerning AI. (shrink)
Against the standard view that the Republic’s division of goods distinguishes between intrinsic and instrumental value, a growing number of scholars have correctly argued that goods possess value δι᾽ αὑτό in virtue of some of their causal effects. However, these scholars have not yet given a convincing and principled account of what it means to be valuable διὰ τὰ γιγνόμενα ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ such that some effects can contribute to the value a good has δι᾽ αὑτό. In this paper I offer (...) such an account. (shrink)
In the 5th century a number of sophists challenged the orthodox understanding of morality and claimed that practicing injustice was the best and most profitable way for an individual to live. Although a number of responses to sophistic immoralism were made, one argument, in fact coming from a pair of sophists, has not received the attention it deserves. According to the argument I call Immortal Repute, self-interested individuals should reject immorality and cultivate virtue instead, for only a virtuous agent can (...) win the sort of everlasting reputation that makes a life truly admirable and successful. (shrink)
It is sometimes claimed by open theists that, on Molinism, God controls who is saved and who is damned and that, as a consequence, God's judgement of us is unjust. While this charge is usually lumped under the problem of evil, it could easily be classified under the problem of soteriological luck. I argue that the open theist is impugned by this latter problem. I then show that the Molinist has a solution to both problems and consider objections to that (...) solution. (shrink)
Food security, health, decent livelihoods, gender equity, safe working conditions, cultural identity and participation in cultural life are basic human rights that can be achieved at least in part through the food system. But current trends in the US prevent full realization of these economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) for residents, farmers, and wageworkers in the food system. Supply chains that strive to meet the goals of social justice, economic equity, and environmental quality better than the dominant globalized food (...) value networks are gaining popularity in the US. However, achieving important human rights has become conflated with other goals of food system reform over the past decade, such as being “community-based,” local, and sustainable. This conflation confuses means, ends, and complementary goals; and it may lead activists trying to help communities to regain control of their food system choices into less productive strategies. This paper introduces a new concept, rights-based food systems (RBFS), and explores its connection with localization and sustainability. The core criteria of RBFS are democratic participation in food system choices affecting more than one sector; fair, transparent access by producers to all necessary resources for food production and marketing; multiple independent buyers; absence of human exploitation; absence of resource exploitation; and no impingement on the ability of people in other locales to meet this set of criteria. Localization and a community base can help achieve RBFS by facilitating food democracy and reducing environmental exploitation, primarily by lowering environmental costs due to long-distance transportation. Sustainability per se is an empty goal for food system reform, unless what will be sustained and for whom are specified. The RBFS concept helps to clarify what is worth sustaining and who is most susceptible to neglect in attempts to reform food systems. Localization can be a means toward sustainability if local food systems are also RBFS. (shrink)
This paper is a summary and evaluation of work presented at the AAAI 2005 Fall Symposium on Machine Ethics that brought together participants from the fields of Computer Science and Philosophy to the end of clarifying the nature of this newly emerging field and discussing different approaches one could take towards realizing the ultimate goal of creating an ethical machine.
In this 2020 AFHVS Presidential Address, Molly Anderson suggests that we must push beyond the boundaries imposed by our training, institutional reward systems, political system and comfort zones in order to solve global challenges. She lists five challenges facing those who are trying to build more sustainable food systems: overcoming the technocratic and productivist approach of industrial agriculture, avoiding future pandemics, restoring degraded and depleted systems and resources, remaining united as a movement while creating collaborations with other movements, and redistributing (...) power across food system actors so that everyone can realize their human rights, including the right to food. She describes three ways that she has found to be effective in pushing beyond boundaries: international collaborations, interactions with global social movements, and anti-racist work. She links these “moments” of opportunity back to the five challenges, and concludes with advice to young scholars. (shrink)
In this paper, I oppose the now-dominant view that Thrasymachus offers a definition of justice in Book I of the Republic. This way of interpretation Thrasymachus does not pay sufficient attention to the methodological assumptions he makes during his disagreement with Socrates. To better understand Socrates’ antagonist, it is crucial to remember that he was, in fact, a sophist. I argue that what the character Thrasymachus is doing in Book I is importantly akin to a certain genre of sophistic arguments (...) from the 5th century. In his discussion with Socrates, Thrasymachus attempts a genealogical unmasking of justice, which he hopes will change the action-guiding beliefs of his audience. Although my discussion is primarily about the methodology or structure of Thrasymachus’ argument, I conclude by offering a brief discussion of its substance, as well. (shrink)
The trouble with business schools -- The great, but delicate experiment -- A hippocratic oath for business -- Six more arguments for the MBA oath -- The purpose of a manager -- Ethics and integrity -- No man is an island : stakeholders -- Ambition and good faith -- The letter and the spirit : law -- The sunlight of responsibility : transparency -- Personal and professional growth -- Sustainable prosperity : a partnership for living well -- Accountability.
b>. Recent findings in cognitive science suggest that the epistemic subject is more complex and epistemically porous than is generally pictured. Human knowers are open to the world via multiple channels, each operating for particular purposes and according to its own logic. These findings need to be understood and addressed by the philosophical community. The current essay argues that one consequence of the new findings is to invalidate certain arguments for epistemic anti-realism.
One of the most foundational and continually contested questions in the cognitive sciences is the degree to which the functional organization of the brain can be understood as modular. In its classic formulation, a module was defined as a cognitive sub-system with nine specific properties; the classic module is, among other things, domain specific, encapsulated, and implemented in dedicated neural substrates. Most of the examinations—and especially the criticisms—of the modularity thesis have focused on these properties individually, for instance by finding (...) counterexamples in which otherwise good candidates for cognitive modules are shown to lack domain specificity or encapsulation. The current paper goes beyond the usual approach by asking what some of the broad architectural implications of the modularity thesis might be, and attempting to test for these. The evidence does not favor a modular architecture for the cortex. Moreover, the evidence suggests that best way to approach the understanding of cognition is not by analyzing and modelling different functional domains in isolation from the others, but rather by looking for points of overlap in their neural implementations, and exploiting these to guide the analysis and decomposition of the functions in question. This has significant implications for the question of how to approach the design and implementation of intelligent artifacts in general, and language-using robots in particular. (shrink)
Recent trends in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science can be fruitfully characterized as part of the ongoing attempt to come to grips with the very idea of homo sapiens--an intelligent, evolved, biological agent--and its signature contribution is the emergence of a philosophical anthropology which, contra Descartes and his thinking thing, instead puts doing at the center of human being. Applying this agency-oriented line of thinking to the problem of representation, this paper introduces the Guidance Theory, according to which (...) the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. We offer a brief account of the motivation for the theory, and a formal characterization. (shrink)
The number of training programs for the responsible conduct of research has increased substantially over the past few decades as the importance of research ethics has received greater attention. It is unclear, however, whether the proliferation of RCR training programs has improved researcher integrity or the public's trust in science. Rather than training researchers simply to comply with regulations, we could use the opportunity to develop researchers' ability to understand and appreciate the ethical ideals that inform the regulations in order (...) to help them integrate ethical decision-making into their work on a regular basis. Incorporating ethical principles into research training requires a new way of teaching RCR and the development of support materials to facilitate its adoption. The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, a panel established to advise the President on bioethical issues arising from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology, developed and provides pedagogical materials based on its published reports to facilitate the integration of ethics education across the curriculum and in support of RCR and general bioethics education. (shrink)
This essay describes a general approach to building perturbation-tolerant autonomous systems, based on the conviction that artificial agents should be able to notice when something is amiss, assess the anomaly, and guide a solution into place. This basic strategy of self-guided learning is termed the metacognitive loop; it involves the system monitoring, reasoning about, and, when necessary, altering its own decision-making components. This paper (a) argues that equipping agents with a metacognitive loop can help to overcome the brittleness problem, (b) (...) details the metacognitive loop and its relation to our ongoing work on time-sensitive commonsense reasoning, (c) describes specific, implemented systems whose perturbation tolerance was improved by adding a metacognitive loop, and (d) outlines both short-term and long-term research agendas. (shrink)
As part of the ongoing attempt to fully naturalize the concept of human being--and, more specifically, to re-center it around the notion of agency--this essay discusses an approach to defining the content of representations in terms ultimately derived from their central, evolved function of providing guidance for action. This 'guidance theory' of representation is discussed in the context of, and evaluated with respect to, two other biologically inspired theories of representation: Dan Lloyd's dialectical theory of representation and Ruth Millikan's biosemantics.
Hunger continues to be one of humanity's greatest challenges despite the existence of a more-than-adequate global food supply equal to 2,800 kilocalories for every person every day. In measuring progress, policy-makers and concerned citizens across the globe rely on information supplied by the Food and Agriculture Organization , an agency of the United Nations. In 2010 the FAO reported that in the wake of the 2007–2008 food-price spikes and global economic crisis, the number of people experiencing hunger worldwide since 2005–2007 (...) had increased by 150 million, rising above 1 billion in 2009. However, in its State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 the FAO presented new estimates, having revamped its methods and reinterpreted its hunger data back to 1990. The revised numbers for the period 1990–1992 to 2010–2012 reverse the trend to a steadily falling one. Based on the FAO's new calculations, extreme undernourishment peaked in 1990 at a record-breaking one billion, followed by a significant decline through 2006, when progress stalled but did not reverse. (shrink)