A critically important development in the tradition of philosophy, as understood by Arabic authors, was the inclusion of both rhetoric and poetics within logic. While these writers' conception of the logical Organon gave appropriate place to the theory of demonstration as found and defined in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, they added to it the syllogism not only of dialectic, but of rhetoric and poetry as well. By attaching the latter two arts to logic, the Arabic philosophers created a contextual claim about (...) rhetoric and poetry which tended both to weaken the status of either one as a mode of nonlogical discourse and yet potentially to enhance their importance as tools of cognitive activity by recognizing in them some form of syllogistic reasoning. (shrink)
We agree with Shors & Matzel's general hypothesis that the proposed link between NMDA-dependent LTP and memory is weak. They suggest that NMDA-dependent LTP is important to arousal or attentional processes which influence learning in an anterograde manner. However, current evidence is also consistent with the view that NMDA receptors modulate memory consolidation retroactively, as occurs in several other receptor classes.
The etiological approach to ‘proper functions’ in biology can be strengthened by relating it to Robert Cummins' general treatment of function ascription. The proper functions of a biological trait are the functions it is assigned in a Cummins-style functional explanation of the fitness of ancestors. These functions figure in selective explanations of the trait. It is also argued that some recent etiological theories include inaccurate accounts of selective explanation in biology. Finally, a generalization of the notion of selective explanation allows (...) an analysis of the proper functions of human artifacts. (shrink)
In behavioral ecology some authors regard the innateness concept as irretrievably confused whilst others take it to refer to adaptations. In cognitive psychology, however, whether traits are 'innate' is regarded as a significant question and is often the subject of heated debate. Several philosophers have tried to define innateness with the intention of making sense of its use in cognitive psychology. In contrast, I argue that the concept is irretrievably confused. The vernacular innateness concept represents a key aspect of 'folkbiology', (...) namely, the explanatory strategy that psychologists and cognitive anthropologists have labeled 'folk essentialism'. Folk essentialism is inimical to Darwinism, and both Darwin and the founders of the modern synthesis struggled to overcome this way of thinking about living systems. Because the vernacular concept of innateness is part of folkbiology, attempts to define it more adequately are unlikely to succeed, making it preferable to introduce new, neutral terms for the various, related notions that are needed to understand cognitive development. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that causes differ in the degree to which they are ‘specific’ to their effects. Woodward has used this idea to enrich his influential interventionist theory of causal explanation. Here we propose a way to measure causal specificity using tools from information theory. We show that the specificity of a causal variable is not well-defined without a probability distribution over the states of that variable. We demonstrate the tractability and interest of our proposed measure by measuring the (...) specificity of coding DNA and other factors in a simple model of the production of mRNA. (shrink)
Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is (...) illustrated by showing how life-history theory clarifies the status of so-called diseases of old age. The selected effect account of function deserves a more prominent place in the philosophy of medicine than it currently occupies. _1_ Introduction _2_ Biostatistical and Selected Effect Accounts of Function _3_ Objections to the Selected Effect Account _3.1_ Boorse _3.2_ Kingma _3.3_ Hausman _3.4_ Murphy and Woolfolk _4_ Problems for the Biostatistical Account _4.1_ Schwartz _5_ Analysis versus Explication _6_ Explicating Dysfunction: Life History Theory and Senescence _7_ Conclusion. (shrink)
Many of the most important properties of human groups – including properties that may give one group an evolutionary advantage over another – are properly defined only at the level of group organization. Yet at present, most work on the evolution of culture has focused solely on the transmission of individual-level traits. I propose a conceptual extension of the theory of cultural evolution, particularly related to the evolutionary competition between cultural groups. The key concept in this extension is the emergent (...) group-level trait. This type of trait is characterized by the structured organization of differentiated individuals and constitutes a unit of selection that is qualitatively different from selection on groups as defined by traditional multilevel selection theory. As a corollary, I argue that the traditional focus on cooperation as the defining feature of human societies has missed an essential feature of cooperative groups. Traditional models of cooperation assume that interacting with one cooperator is equivalent to interacting with any other. However, human groups involve differential roles, meaning that receiving aid from one individual is often preferred to receiving aid from another. In this target article, I discuss the emergence and evolution of group-level traits and the implications for the theory of cultural evolution, including ramifications for the evolution of human cooperation, technology, and cultural institutions, and for the equivalency of multilevel selection and inclusive fitness approaches. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors show that there is a reading of St. Anselm's ontological argument in Proslogium II that is logically valid (the premises entail the conclusion). This reading takes Anselm's use of the definite description "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" seriously. Consider a first-order language and logic in which definite descriptions are genuine terms, and in which the quantified sentence "there is an x such that..." does not imply "x exists". Then, using an ordinary logic (...) of descriptions and a connected greater-than relation, God's existence logically follows from the claims: (a) there is a conceivable thing than which nothing greater is conceivable, and (b) if <em>x</em> doesn't exist, something greater than x can be conceived. To deny the conclusion, one must deny one of the premises. However, the argument involves no modal inferences and, interestingly, Descartes' ontological argument can be derived from it. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Zachary Ardern criticizes our view that the most promising candidate for a naturalized criterion of disease is the "selected effects" account of biological function and dysfunction. Here we reply to Ardern’s criticisms and, more generally, clarify the relationship between adaptation and dysfunction in the evolution of health and disease.
We outline three very different concepts of the gene—instrumental, nominal, and postgenomic. The instrumental gene has a critical role in the construction and interpretation of experiments in which the relationship between genotype and phenotype is explored via hybridization between organisms or directly between nucleic acid molecules. It also plays an important theoretical role in the foundations of disciplines such as quantitative genetics and population genetics. The nominal gene is a critical practical tool, allowing stable communication between bioscientists in a wide (...) range of fields grounded in well-defined sequences of nucleotides, but this concept does not embody major theoretical insights into genome structure or function. The post-genomic gene embodies the continuing project of understanding how genome structure supports genome function, but with a deflationary picture of the gene as a structural unit. This final concept of the gene poses a significant challenge to conventional assumptions about the relationship between genome structure and function, and between genotype and phenotype. (shrink)
I defend the view that many biological categories are defined by homology against a series of arguments designed to show that all biological categories are defined, at least in part, by selected function. I show that categories of homology are `abnormality inclusive'—something often alleged to be unique to selected function categories. I show that classifications by selected function are logically dependent on classifications by homology, but not vice-versa. Finally, I reject the view that biologists must use considerations of selected function (...) to abstract away from variation and pathology to form a canonical description of a class of biological systems. (shrink)
It is unreasonable to assume that our pre-scientific emotion vocabulary embodies all and only those distinctions required for a scientific psychology of emotion. The psychoevolutionary approach to emotion yields an alternative classification of certain emotion phenomena. The new categories are based on a set of evolved adaptive responses, or affect-programs, which are found in all cultures. The triggering of these responses involves a modular system of stimulus appraisal, whose evoluations may conflict with those of higher-level cognitive processes. Whilst the structure (...) of the adaptive responses is innate, the contents of the system which triggers them are largely learnt. The circuits subserving the adaptive responses are probably located in the limbic system. This theory of emotion is directly applicable only to a small sub-domain of the traditional realm of emotion. It can be used, however, to explain the grouping of various other phenomena under the heading of emotion, and to explain various characteristic failings of the pre-scientific conception of emotion. (shrink)
In earlier work I have claimed that emotion and some emotions are not `natural kinds'. Here I clarify what I mean by `natural kind', suggest a new and more accurate term, and discuss the objection that emotion and emotions are not descriptive categories at all, but fundamentally normative categories.
Human experts are the source of knowledge required to develop computer systems that perform at an expert level. Human beings are not, however, able to reliably express what they know. As a result, experts often develop non-authentic accounts of their own expertise. These accounts, here termed reconstructed methods of reasoning, lead to computer systems that perform at a high level of proficiency but have the disadvantage that they often do not reflect the heuristics and processing constraints of a system user. (...) Reconstructed methods of reasoning are compared with authentic methods derived from the study of expert human behavior. Tests are proposed to establish the authenticity of reasoning methods and examples from medical diagnosis are used to illustrate how authentic methods of reasoning can be incorporated into an expert computer system. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Because physical theories typically predict numerical values, an improvement in experimental precision reduces the tolerance range and hence increases corroborability. In most psychological research, improved power of a statistical design leads to a prior probability approaching 1/2 of finding a significant difference in the theoretically predicted direction. Hence the corroboration yielded by "success" is very weak, and becomes weaker with increased precision. "Statistical significance" plays a logical role in psychology precisely the reverse of its role in physics. This problem is (...) worsened by certain unhealthy tendencies prevalent among psychologists, such as a premium placed on experimental "cuteness" and a free reliance upon ad hoc explanations to avoid refutation. (shrink)
The VIA Classification of Strengths and Virtues attempts to provide a comprehensive model of character based on 24 character strengths. The present study is the largest study to date exploring the structure of the 24 strengths in youth. One sample completed the VIA-Youth, a teen measure of the VIA Classification. Based on a random subsample, it was determined the data were best modeled using four factors. The remainder of the sample was used to demonstrate measurement invariance for the four-factor model (...) across ages 10–17 and country. Comparison with 471 English academy school students who completed two alternate measures of the VIA Classification also demonstrated measurement invariance. The results suggest a four-factor model that includes two primarily interpersonal factors, one reflecting general engagement, the second other-directedness. Other factors involved intellectual and self-control strengths. Implications for the understanding of character strengths in youth versus adults are discussed. (shrink)
A number of philosophers and ‘evolutionary psychologists’ have argued that attacks on adaptationism in contemporary biology are misguided. These thinkers identify anti-adaptationism with advocacy of non-adaptive modes of explanation. They overlook the influence of anti-adaptationism in the development of more rigorous forms of adaptive explanation. Many biologists who reject adaptationism do not reject Darwinism. Instead, they have pioneered the contemporary historical turn in the study of adaptation. One real issue which remains unresolved amongst these methodological advances is the nature of (...) ‘phylogenetic inertia’. To what extent is an adaptive explanation needed for the persistence of a trait as well as its origin? (shrink)