Humans massively depend on communication with others, but this leaves them open to the risk of being accidentally or intentionally misinformed. To ensure that, despite this risk, communication remains advantageous, humans have, we claim, a suite of cognitive mechanisms for epistemic vigilance. Here we outline this claim and consider some of the ways in which epistemic vigilance works in mental and social life by surveying issues, research and theories in different domains of philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology and the social sciences.
In their recent paper, “Epistemology for Beginners: Two to Five-Year-Old Children’s Representation of Falsity,” OlivierMascaro and Olivier Morin study the ontogeny of a naïve understanding of truth in humans. Their paper is fascinating for several reasons, but most striking is their claim (given a rather optimistic reading of epistemology) that toddlers as young as two can, at times, recognize false from true assertions. Their Optimistic Epistemology Hypothesis holds that children seem to have an innate capacity to (...) represent a state of affairs truthfully. In the following paper, I investigate the problems this research poses for deflationist theories of truth. Richard Rorty and Huw Price hold that the best way to understand truth or “the truth” is to understand the necessary conditions required for assertoric practice. Both philosophers present unique and very different deflationary theories when it comes to construing truth. I argue that neither philosopher’s approach is successful because they focus on truth and fail to recognize truthfulness as a norm of assertoric practice. I show that truthfulness is the elusive third norm of claim-based discourse and is consistent with Mascaro and Morin’s findings. (shrink)
This book describes the application of Artificial Life simulation to evolutionary scenarios of wide ethical interest, including the evolution of altruism, rape and abortion, providing a new meaning to “experimental philosophy”. The authors also apply evolutionary ALife techniques to explore contentious issues within evolutionary theory itself, such as the evolution of aging. They justify these uses of simulation in science and philosophy, both in general and in their specific applications here.Evolving Ethics will be of interest to researchers, enthusiasts, students and (...) interested lay readers in the fields of Artificial Life, philosophy of science, ethics, agent- and individual-based modeling in ecology and the social sciences, computer simulation, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology and the social sciences.Dr Steven Mascaro is a researcher in computer simulation and Artificial Life.Dr Kevin Korb is a Reader in the Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University.Dr Ann Nicholson is an Associate Professor in the Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University.Owen Woodberry is a researcher in the Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University. (shrink)
In their target article, Mikhalevich & Powell (M&P) argue that we should extend moral protection to arthropods. In this commentary, we show that there are some unforeseen obstacles to applying the sort of individualistic welfare-based ethics that M&P have in mind to certain arthropods, namely, insects. These obstacles have to do with the fact that there are often many more individuals involved in our dealings with insects than our ethical theories anticipate, and also with the fact that, in some sense, (...) some insects count as more than an individual and, in another sense, they sometimes count as less than an individual. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that Newtonian forces are real, symmetrical and non-causal relations. First, I argue that Newtonian forces are real; second, that they are relations; third, that they are symmetrical relations; fourth, that they are not species of causation. The overall picture is anti-Humean to the extent that it defends the existence of forces as external relations irreducible to spatio-temporal ones, but is still compatible with Humean approaches to causation (and others) since it denies that forces are a (...) species of causation. (shrink)
This discussion paper responds to two recent articles in Biology and Philosophy that raise similar objections to cultural attraction theory, a research trend in cultural evolution putting special emphasis on the fact that human minds create and transform their culture. Both papers are sympathetic to this idea, yet both also regret a lack of consilience with Boyd, Richerson and Henrich’s models of cultural evolution. I explain why cultural attraction theorists propose a different view on three points of concern for our (...) critics. I start by detailing the claim that cultural transmission relies not chiefly on imitation or teaching, but on cognitive mechanisms like argumentation, ostensive communication, or selective trust, whose evolved or habitual function may not be the faithful reproduction of ideas or behaviours. Second, I explain why the distinction between context biases and content biases might not always be the best way to capture the interactions between culture and cognition. Lastly, I show that cultural attraction models cannot be reduced to a model of guided variation, which posits a clear separation between individual and social learning processes. With cultural attraction, the same cognitive mechanisms underlie both innovation and the preservation of traditions. (shrink)
This paper defends a realist account of the composition of Newtonian forces, dubbed ‘residualism’. According to residualism, the resultant force acting on a body is identical to the component forces acting on it that do not prevent each other from bringing about its acceleration. Several reasons to favor residualism over alternative accounts of the composition of forces are advanced. (i) Residualism reconciles realism about component forces with realism about resultant forces while avoiding any threat of causal overdetermination. (ii) Residualism provides (...) a systematic semantics for the term ‘force’ within Newtonian mechanics. (iii) Residualism allows us to precisely apportion the causal responsibility of each component force in the ensuing acceleration. (iv) Residualism handles special cases such as null forces, single forces, and antagonistic forces in a natural way. (v) Residualism provides a neat picture of the causal powers of forces: each force essentially has two causal powers⎯the power to bring about accelerations (sometimes together with other co-directionnal forces) and the power to prevent other forces from doing so⎯exactly one of which is manifested at a time. (vi) Residualism avoids commitment to unobservable effects of forces: forces cause either stresses (tensile or compressive) or accelerations. (shrink)
The theory and practice of contemporary comparative biology and phylogeny reconstruction (systematics) emphasizes algorithmic aspects but neglects a concern for the evidence. The character data used in systematics to formulate hypotheses of relationships in many ways constitute a black box, subject to uncritical assessment and social influence. Concerned that such a state of affairs leaves systematics and the phylogenetic theories it generates severely underdetermined, we investigate the nature of the criteria of homology and their application to character conceptualization in the (...) context of transformationist and generative paradigms. Noting the potential for indeterminacy in character conceptualization, we conclude that character congruence (the coherence of character statements) relative to a hierarchy is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for phylogeny reconstruction. Specifically, it is insufficient due to the lack of causal grounding of character hypotheses. Conceptualizing characters as homeostatic property cluster natural kinds is in accordance with the empirical practice of systematists. It also accounts for the lack of sharpness in character conceptualization, yet requires character identification and re-identification to be tied to causal processes. (shrink)
Sixteen years after Kim’s seminal paper offering a welcomed analysis of the emergence concept, I propose in this paper a needed extension of Kim’s work that does more justice to the actual diversity of emergentism. Rather than defining emergence as a monolithic third way between reductive physicalism and substance pluralism, and this through a conjunction of supervenience and irreducibility, I develop a comprehensive taxonomy of the possible varieties of emergence in which each taxon—theoretical, explanatory and causal emergence—is properly identified and (...) defined. This taxonomy has two advantages. First, it is unificatory in the sense that the taxa it contains derive from a common unity principle, which consequently constitutes the very hallmark of emergentism. Second, it can be shown that the emergence taxa it contains are able to meet the challenges that are commonly considered as being the hot topics on the emergentists’ agenda, namely the positivity, the consistency and the triviality/liberality challenges. (shrink)
While the importance of employee initiatives for improving the environmental practices and performance of organizations has been clearly established in the literature, the precise nature of these initiatives has rarely been examined (particularly the issue of their discretionary or mandatory nature). The role of organizational citizenship behaviour in environmental management remains largely unexplored. The main objectives of this paper were to propose and validate an instrument for measuring organizational citizenship behaviour for the environment (OCBE). Exploratory (Study 1, N = 228) (...) and confirmatory (Study 2, N = 651) analyses were conducted to examine the factor structure of OCBEs. The factor structure that emerged from Study 1 indicated that the three main types of OCBEs were eco-initiatives, eco-civic engagement and eco-helping. The factor structure found in Study 1 was confirmed by Study 2. Analysis of the three types of OCBEs highlighted the complexity of discretionary initiatives for the environment in the workplace and points to a number of avenues for further research. (shrink)
This chapter defends an axiological theory of pain according to which pains are bodily episodes that are bad in some way. Section 1 introduces two standard assumptions about pain that the axiological theory constitutively rejects: (i) that pains are essentially tied to consciousness and (ii) that pains are not essentially tied to badness. Section 2 presents the axiological theory by contrast to these and provides a preliminary defense of it. Section 3 introduces the paradox of pain and argues that since (...) the axiological theory takes the location of pain at face value, it needs to grapple with the privacy, self-intimacy and incorrigibility of pain. Sections 4, 5 and 6 explain how the axiological theory may deal with each of these. (shrink)
A relação entre o vital e o social no pensamento de Georges Canguilhem envolve uma específica reestruturação filosófica, por ele empreendida em O normal e patológico, realizando um deslocamento teórico em face das análises quantitativas da saúde quanto, ao mesmo tempo, construindo uma problemática própria a respeito da normação, fazendo com que o vital seja pensado, inexoravelmente, como a imbricação do biológico com o social, acarretando, ainda, um reposicionamento político, crítico, no que tange à consideração sobre saúde e doença.
In this paper, we offer an argument in favor of the modular character of mind, based on a more detailed proof of the modular character of the linguistic capacity: in comparing the properties of different components of grammar in a specific area we will draw general consequences about the properties of the cognitive system. More specifically, we analyze and compare the properties, in logical form (LF)and in phonology, of “empty eIements” - eIements that are “visible” or “full” at some level (...) of representation, but not at another level.Our analysis shows that empty eIements are governed at LF by principIes on variables. binding conditions, and thematic principles, that relate eIements at a distance. In phonology, on the other hand, empty elements, i.e., empty segments and empty properties, can be obtaines by deletion and are governed by very different principles (underspecification, principles relating to recoverability of deletion effects), andthese principles relates eIements under strict adjacency. In addition, when a principle seems to be operating in a similar fashion in both components, as in the case of the Projection Principle, it involves lexical properties, which are properties affecting all components. We conclude, hence, that grammar is a modular system, with different components following different principles but related of course, among other things, by the properties of lexical structure.It follows from this analysis that a theory that views language as part of a homogeneous cognitive capacity cannot be mantained: cognition cannot be nonmodular in a strict sense, since a subpart of it, the linguistic capacity is modular itself. We conclude also that the linguistic capacity being modular, we ean only expect that, when studied in more detail, other cognitive capacities will be shown to differ intheir structure still more from the language system. (shrink)
The thesis defended, the “guise of the ought”, is that the formal objects of desires are norms (oughts to be or oughts to do) rather than values (as the “guise of the good” thesis has it). It is impossible, in virtue of the nature of desire, to desire something without it being presented as something that ought to be or that one ought to do. This view is defended by pointing to a key distinction between values and norms: positive and (...) negative norms (obligation and interdiction) are interdefinable through negation; positive and negative values aren’t. This contrast between the norms and values, it is argued, is mirrored, within the psychological realm, by the contrast between the desires and emotions. Positive and negative desires are interdefinable through negation, but positive and negative emotions aren’t. The overall, Meinongian picture suggested is that norms are to desires what values are to emotions. (shrink)
Organizational citizenship behaviors have been the topic of much research attempting to understand the motivations, manifestations, and impacts of these behaviors on organizational development. However, studies have been based essentially on an anthropocentric and intra-organizational perspective that tends to ignore broader environmental issues. Due to the complexity of environmental issues and their human, informal, and preventive aspects, consideration of these issues requires voluntary and decentralized initiatives that draw on organizational citizenship behaviors. The role of these behaviors has been neglected, or (...) even ignored, in studies of environmental management, which have focused mainly on the explicit, formal, and prescriptive aspects of organizations. The aim of this article is to shed light on the pertinence of organizational citizenship behaviors in improving the efficacy and efficiency of environmental management. The article discusses how the principal dimensions of these behaviors can be applied to the environmental practices of organizations and underlines their importance in responding to essential challenges of environmental management, including the complexity of environmental issues, limitations of formal management systems, the need to consider tacit knowledge, the importance of helping relationships, and the promotion of␣social legitimacy among organizations. Measures to encourage eco-efficiency and establish a favorable context for the emergence of citizenship behaviors are also proposed. (shrink)
What is the contrary of pleasure? “Pain” is one common answer. This paper argues that pleasure instead has two natural contraries: unpleasure and hedonic indifference. This view is defended by drawing attention to two often-neglected concepts: the formal relation of polar opposition and the psychological state of hedonic indifference. The existence of mixed feelings, it is argued, does not threaten the contrariety of pleasure and unpleasure.
The history of biological systematics documents a continuing tension between classifications in terms of nested hierarchies congruent with branching diagrams (the ‘Tree of Life’) versus reticulated relations. The recognition of conflicting character distribution led to the dissolution of the scala naturae into reticulated systems, which were then transformed into phylogenetic trees by the addition of a vertical axis. The cladistic revolution in systematics resulted in a representation of phylogeny as a strictly bifurcating pattern (cladogram). Due to the ubiquity of character (...) conflict—at the genetic or morphological level, or at any level in between—some characters will necessarily have to be discarded ( qua noise) in favor of others in support of a strictly bifurcating phylogenetic tree. Pattern analysts will seek maximal congruence in the distribution of characters (ultimately of any kind) relative to a branching tree-topology; process explainers will call such tree-topologies into question by reference to incompatible evolutionary processes. Pattern analysts will argue that process explanations must not be brought to bear on pattern reconstruction; process explainers will insist that the reconstructed pattern requires a process explanation to become scientifically relevant, i.e., relevant to evolutionary theory. The core question driving the current debate about the adequacy of the ‘Tree of Life’ metaphor seems to be whether the systematic dichotomization of the living world is an adequate representation of the complex evolutionary history of global biodiversity. In ‘Questioning the Tree of Life’, it seems beneficial to draw at least four conceptual distinctions: pattern reconstruction versus process explanation as different epistemological approaches to the study of phylogeny; open versus closed systems as expressions of different kinds of population (species) structures; phylogenetic trees versus cladograms as representations of evolutionary processes versus patterns of relationships; and genes versus species as expressions of different levels of causal integration and evolutionary transformation. (shrink)
Emergentism is often misleadingly described as a monolithic “third way” between radical monism and pluralism. In the particular case of biology, for example, emergentism is perceived as a middle course between mechanicism and vitalism. In the present paper I propose to show that the conceptual landscape between monism and pluralism is more complex than this classical picture suggests. On the basis of two successive analyses—distinguishing three forms of tension between monism and pluralism and a distinction between derivational and functional reduction—I (...) define three different versions of emergentism that can be considered as consistent middle courses between monism and pluralism . I then emphasise the advantage of this taxonomy of the concepts of emergence by applying the results of my analysis to the historical controversy that pertains to the relationship between life and matter. (shrink)
A long-standing debate has dominated systematic biology and the ontological commitments made by its theories. The debate has contrasted individuals and the part – whole relationship with classes and the membership relation. This essay proposes to conceptualize the hierarchy of higher taxa is terms of a hierarchy of homeostatic property cluster natural kinds (biological species remain largely excluded from the present discussion). The reference of natural kind terms that apply to supraspecific taxa is initially fixed descriptively; the extension of those (...) natural kind terms is subsequently established by empirical investigation. In that sense, classification precedes generalization, and description provides guidance to empirical investigation. The reconstruction of a hierarchy of (homeostatic property cluster) natural kinds is discussed in the light of cladistic methods of phylogeny reconstruction. (shrink)
This paper defends hedonic intentionalism, the view that all pleasures, including bodily pleasures, are directed towards objects distinct from themselves. Brentano is the leading proponent of this view. My goal here is to disentangle his significant proposals from the more disputable ones so as to arrive at a hopefully promising version of hedonic intentionalism. I mainly focus on bodily pleasures, which constitute the main troublemakers for hedonic intentionalism. Section 1 introduces the problem raised by bodily pleasures for hedonic intentionalism and (...) some of the main reactions to it. Sections 2 and 3 rebut two main approaches equating bodily pleasures with non- intentional episodes. More precisely, section 2 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be purely non-intentional self-conscious feelings, by relying on Brentano’s objection to Hamilton’s theory of pleasure. Section 3 argues that bodily pleasures cannot be non-intentional sensory qualities by relying on Brentano’s objections to Stumpf’s theory of pleasure. Section 4 develops a brentanian view of the intentionality of bodily pleasures by claiming bodily pleasures are directed at a sui generis class of sensory qualities. Section 5 presents an objection to Brentano’s later theory of pleasure according to which all sensory pleasures are directed at sensing acts. (shrink)
The “species-as-individuals” thesis takes species, or taxa, to be individuals. On grounds of spatiotemporal boundedness, any biological entity at any level of complexity subject to evolutionary processes is an individual. From evolutionary theory flows an ontology that does not countenance universal properties shared by evolving entities. If austere nominalism were applied to evolving entities, however, nature would be reduced to a mere flow of passing events, each one a blob in space–time and hence of passing interest only. Yet if there (...) is genuine biodiversity in nature, if nature is genuinely carved into species, and taxa, then these evolutionary entities will be genuinely differentiated into specific kinds, each species being one of its kind. Given the fact that evolving entities have un-sharp boundaries, an appropriately weak, “non-essentialist” concept of natural kind has to be invoked that does not allow for strong identity conditions. The thesis of this paper is that species are not either individuals, or natural kinds. Instead, species are complex wholes (particulars, individuals) that instantiate a specific natural kind. (shrink)
Ingvar Johansson has argued that there are not only determinate universals, but also determinable ones. I here argue that this view is misguided by reviving a line of argument to the following effect: what makes determinates falling under a same determinable similar cannot be distinct from what makes them different. If true, some similarities — imperfect similarities between simple determinate properties — are not grounded in any kind of property-sharing. I suggest that determinables are better understood as maximal disjunctions of (...) brutely and imperfectly similar determinates. Such brute similarities have been thought to clash with realism about universals. I argue that this worry stems from the mistaken assumption that perfect and imperfect similarities are relations of a same kind. If exact and inexact resemblances are distinct and heterogeneous explananda, the realist about universals might explain the first thanks to property-sharing, while happily leaving imperfect similarities between properties unexplained. (shrink)
This book is a long-term history of optics, from early Greek theories of vision to the nineteenth-century victory of the wave theory of light. It is a clear and richly illustrated synthesis of a large amount of literature, and a reliable and efficient guide for anyone who wishes to enter this domain.
In this paper, I put forward a benchmark account of emergence in terms of non-explainability and explicate the relationship that exists between its synchronic and diachronic declinations. I develop an argument whose conclusion is that emergence is essentially a “two-faceted” notion, i.e. it always encapsulates both synchronic and diachronic dimensions. I then compare this account with alternative recent accounts of emergence that define the concept through the notion of unpredictability or topological non-equivalence.
The main contention of this article is that current approaches to ontological emergence are not comprehensive, in that they share a common bias that make them blind to some conceptual space available to emergence. In this article, I devise an alternative perspective on ontological emergence called ‘flat emergence’, which is free of such a bias. The motivation is twofold: not only does flat emergence constitute another viable way to fulfill the initial emergentist promise, but it also allows for making sense (...) of some emergence ascriptions that traditional accounts are unable to accommodate. (shrink)
The increasing pressures to conserve biodiversity—particularly for industries based on the exploitation of natural resources—have reinforced the need to implement specific measures in this area. Corporate commitment to preserving biodiversity is increasingly scrutinized by stakeholders and now represents an important aspect of business ethics. Although stakeholder involvement is often essential to the management of biodiversity, very few studies in the literature have focused on the details of this involvement. The objective of this paper is to analyze how mining and forestry (...) companies can manage biodiversity issues through stakeholder involvement based on a content analysis of 430 sustainability reports using the Global Reporting Initiative framework. The paper elucidates the reasons for such involvement, the nature of stakeholders involved, and the types of measures employed to manage biodiversity. Stakeholders’ motives for becoming involved revolve around four main issues: complexity and knowledge management; self-regulation and relationships with public authorities; legitimacy and social responsiveness; and commercial and strategic objectives. The stakeholders involved in biodiversity initiatives are essentially non-governmental organizations, experts and universities, public authorities, and coalitions of companies. In the end, the initiatives identified can be grouped into three categories: management practices, socio-political actions, and research and conservation measures. The paper provides various examples of these initiatives and shows how they can be implemented in collaboration with different stakeholders depending on the company’s objectives. The contributions the study makes to the literature on biodiversity management and the managerial implications of the study are analyzed in the discussion section. (shrink)
Educational authority is an issue in contemporary democracies. Surprisingly, little attention has been given to the problem of authority in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile and his work has not been addressed in the contemporary debate on the issue of authority in democratic education. Olivier Michaud's goals are, first, to address both of these oversights by offering an original reading of the problem of authority in Emile and then to rehabilitate the notion of “educational authority” for democratic educators today. Contrary to (...) progressive readings of Emile, he argues, Rousseau's position on this issue is not reducible to “education against authority.” What appears at first glance to be an education against authority is, in a deeper sense, an education toward and even within authority. Michaud contends that we have to embrace these complexities and contradictions that inform Rousseau's work in order to gain insights into the place and role of authority in democratic education. Michaud sheds light on Rousseau's stance on authority through a close study of specific topics addressed in Emile, including negative education, opinion, one's relation to God, friendship and loving relationships, and, finally, the relation Rousseau established with his reader. (shrink)
The current metaphysical race debate is very much focused on the realism question whether races exist. In this paper I argue against the importance of this question. Philosophers, biologists and anthropologists expect that answering this question will tell them something substantive about the metaphysics of racial classifications, and will help them to decide whether it is justified to use racial categories in scientific research and public policy. I argue that there are two reasons why these expectations are not fulfilled. First (...) of all, the realism question about race leads to a very broad philosophical debate about the semantics of general terms and the criteria for real kinds, rather than to a debate about the metaphysics of racial categories specifically. Secondly, there is a type of race realism that is so toothless that it is almost completely uninformative about the metaphysics of race. In response to these worries, I argue that the metaphysical race debate should rather be focused on the question in what way and to what extent ‘racial’ distinctions can ground the epistemic practices of various scientific disciplines. I spell out what I mean by this and go on to demonstrate that trying to answer this question leads to a more fruitful metaphysical debate. (shrink)
The architects of the modern synthesis banned essentialism from evolutionary theory. This rejection of essentialism was motivated by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and the continuity of evolutionary transformation. Contemporary evolutionary biology witnesses a renaissance of essentialism in three contexts: “origin essentialism” with respect to species and supraspecific taxa, the bar coding of species on the basis of discontinuities of DNA variation between populations, and the search for laws of evolutionary developmental biology. Such “new essentialism” in contemporary biology must be (...) of a new kind that accommodates relational (extrinsic) properties as historical essences and cluster concepts of natural kinds. (shrink)
This article examines how the action logics associated with the stages of consciousness development of organizational leaders can influence the meaning, which these leaders give to corporate greening and their capacity to consider the specific complexities, values, and demands of environmental issues. The article explores how the seven principal action logics identified by Rooke and Torbert (2005, Harvard Business Review 83 (4), 66–76; Opportunist, Diplomat, Expert, Achiever, Individualist, Strategist and Alchemist) can affect environmental leadership. An examination of the strengths and (...) limitations of these action logics reveals the relevance of the so-called post-conventional stages of consciousness to the recognition and effective management of complex environmental issues. Suggestions are also made for promoting organizational contexts conducive to the development of a post-conventional environmental leadership. (shrink)
In the current article and contrary to a widespread assumption, I argue that Humeanism and ontological emergence can peacefully coexist. Such a coexistence can be established by reviving elements of John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science, in which an idiosyncratic account of diachronic emergence is associated with extensions of the Humean mosaic and the correlative coming into being of new best system laws, which have the peculiarity of being temporally indexed. Incidentally, this reconciliation of Humeanism and emergence allows for conceiving (...) the autonomy of the special sciences in an interesting way, consistently with the reductionist ideal of a unified science. (shrink)
State Violence, Coalitions, Subjects After a consideration of the reception of her work in France , Judith Butler assesses the political contribution of queer movements and minority struggles. She addresses the need for the left to reappropriate the forthright critique of the State and its violence and to examine the way minorities are produced. To do so, her analysis starts from the question of immigrant persons. She highlights the issues and the difficulties which are involved, if there is to be (...) a productive critique of the State, the aim of which is to contest it. As part of a dynamic political perspective, she proposes the creation of coalitions. She outlines the main lines of such a coalition, its dynamics and singularities, its articulation with the subject, but also its limits. In conclusion, she examines the issue of revolution and her relation to Marxist thought, indicating the outlines of her current thinking. (shrink)
The definition of taxon names as formalized by the PhyloCode is based on Kripke's thesis of “rigid designation” that applies to Millian proper names. Accepting the thesis of “rigid designation” into systematics in turn is based on the thesis that species, and taxa, are individuals. These largely semantic and metaphysical issues are here contrasted with an epistemological approach to taxonomy. It is shown that the thesis of “rigid designation” if deployed in taxonomy introduces a new essentialism into systematics, which is (...) exactly what the PhyloCode was designed to avoid. Rigidly designating names are not supposed to change their meaning, but if the shifting constitution of a clade is thought to cause a shift of meaning of the taxon name, then the taxon name is not a “rigid designator”. Phylogenetic nomenclature either fails to preserve the stability of meaning of taxon names that it propagates, or it is rendered inconsistent with its own philosophical background. The alternative explored here is to conceptualize taxa as natural kinds, and to replace the analytic definition of taxon names by their explanatory definition. Such conceptualization of taxa allows taxon names to better track the results of ongoing empirical research. The semantic as well as epistemic gain is that if taxon names are associated with natural kind terms instead of being proper names, the composition of the taxon will naturally determine the meaning of its name. (shrink)
Cultural forms are constrained by cognitive biases, and writing is thought to have evolved to fit basic visual preferences, but little is known about the history and mechanisms of that evolution. Cognitive constraints have been documented for the topology of script features, but not for their orientation. Orientation anisotropy in human vision, as revealed by the oblique effect, suggests that cardinal orientations, being easier to process, should be overrepresented in letters. As this study of 116 scripts shows, the orientation of (...) strokes inside written characters massively favors cardinal directions, and it is organized in such a way as to make letter recognition easier: Cardinal and oblique strokes tend not to mix, and mirror symmetry is anisotropic, favoring vertical over horizontal symmetry. Phylogenetic analyses and recently invented scripts show that cultural evolution over the last three millennia cannot be the sole cause of these effects. (shrink)
Species are generally considered to be the basic units of evolution, and hence to constitute spatio-temporally bounded entities. In addition, it has been argued that species also instantiate a natural kind. Evolution is fundamentally about change. The question then is how species can remain the same through evolutionary change. Proponents of the species qua individuals thesis individuate species through their unique evolutionary origin. Individuals, or spatio-temporally located particulars in general, can be bodies, objects, events, or processes, or a combination of (...) these. It is here argued that species are best understood as open or closed, causally integrated processual systems that also instantiate an historically conditioned homeostatic property cluster natural kind. (shrink)
This book recounts a few ingenious attempts to derive physical theories by reason only, beginning with Descartes' geometric construction of the world, and finishing with recent derivations of quantum mechanics from natural axioms.