Using astrology as a case study, this paper attempts to establish a criterion for demarcating science from pseudoscience. Numerous reasons for considering astrology to be a pseudoscience are evaluated and rejected; verifiability and falsifiability are briefly discussed. A theory is said to be pseudoscientific if and only if (1) it has been less progressive than alternative theories over a long period of time, and faces many unsolved problems, but (2) the community of practitioners makes little attempt to develop the theory (...) towards solutions of the problems, shows no concern for attempts to evaluate the theory in relation to others, and is selective in considering confirmations and disconfirmations. This criterion has the interesting consequence that a theory can be scientific at one time but pseudoscientific at another. (shrink)
Since Plato, most philosophers have drawn a sharp line between reason and emotion, assuming that emotions interfere with rationality and have nothing to contribute to good reasoning. In his dialogue the Phaedrus, Plato compared the rational part of the soul to a charioteer who must control his steeds, which correspond to the emotional parts of the soul (Plato 1961, p. 499). Today, scientists are often taken as the paragons of rationality, and scientific thought is generally assumed to be independent of (...) emotional thinking. (shrink)
This paper argues that questions concerning the nature of concepts that are central in cognitive psychology are also important to epistemology and that there is more to conceptual change than mere belief revision. Understanding of epistemic change requires appreciation of the complex ways in which concepts are structured and organized and of how this organization can affect belief revision. Following a brief summary of the psychological functions of concepts and a discussion of some recent accounts of what concepts are, I (...) propose a view of concepts as complex computational structures. This account suggests that conceptual change can come in varying degrees, with the most extreme consisting of fundamental conceptual reorganizations. These degrees of conceptual change are illustrated by the development of the concept of an acid. (shrink)
This paper proposes that self-deception results from the emotional coherence of beliefs with subjective goals. We apply the HOTCO computational model of emotional coherence to simulate a rich case of self-deception from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.We argue that this model is more psychologically realistic than other available accounts of self-deception, and discuss related issues such as wishful thinking, intention, and the division of the self.
Conceptual combinations range from the utterly mundane to the sublimely creative. Mundane combinations include a myriad of adjective-noun and noun-noun juxtapositions that crop up in everyday speaking and writing, such as blue car, cooked carrots, and radio phone. Creative combinations include some of the most important theoretical constructions in science, such as sound wave, bacterial infection, and natural selection. Both mundane and creative conceptual combinations are essential to our attempts to make sense of the world and people's utterances about it. (...) This paper will show how the various aspects of conceptual combination discussed by Hampton (this volume), Shoben and Gagn. (shrink)