Thinking about space is thinking about spatial things. The table is on the carpet; hence the carpet is under the table. The vase is in the box; hence the box is not in the vase. But what does it mean for an object to be somewhere? How are objects tied to the space they occupy? This book is concerned with these and other fundamental issues in the philosophy of spatial representation. Our starting point is an analysis of the interplay between (...) mereology (the study of part/whole relations), topology (the study of spatial continuity and compactness), and the theory of spatial location proper. This leads to a unified framework for spatial representation understood quite broadly as a theory of the representation of spatial entities. The framework is then tested against some classical metaphysical questions such as: Are parts essential to their wholes? Is spatial colocation a sufficient criterion of identity? What (if anything) distinguishes material objects from events and other spatial entities? The concluding chapters deal with applications to topics as diverse as the logical analysis of movement and the semantics of maps. (shrink)
Consider the following argument If panpsychism is true, then the hard problem of consciousness is solved Physicalism is true Physicalism entails panpsychism. We conclude that The hard problem of consciousness is solved. This is a valid argument, and one whose conclusion has a certain appeal. What about the premisses? How exactly is panpsychism a solution to the problem of phenomenal consciousness? Who can take panpsychism seriously, and how can panpsychism be entailed by physicalism? A little forcing is assumed in suggesting (...) to consider a philosophical argument whose conclusion is panpsychism. But I think the exercise is worthwhile, provided we spell out all the consequences of forcing. (shrink)
Holes are a good example of the sort of entity that down-to-earth philosophers would be inclined to expel from their ontological inventory. In this work we argue instead in favor of their existence and explore the consequences of this liberality—odd as they might appear. We examine the ontology of holes, their geometry, their part-whole relations, their identity and their causal role, the ways we perceive them. We distinguish three basic kinds of holes: blind hollows, perforating tunnels, and internal cavities, treating (...) these uniformly as immaterial bodies. We develop a morphology of holes, focusing on the way a hole can be filled, and then look at the main properties of the resulting conceptual framework: holes are parasitic upon the surfaces of their hosts; holes can move, fuse into each other, split; they can be born, develop, and die. Finally, we examine how some morphological features of holes are represented in perception, including the conditions whereby we have the impression that we see, feel, or even hear a hole. The book has over 150 pictures and is completed by a formal appendix, a section with puzzles and exercises, and a extensive annotated bibliography. (shrink)
A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events; Negative Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
A philosophical dialogue on the functioning, the limits, and the paradoxes of our electoral practices, dealing with such basic questions as: What is a vote? How do we count votes? And do votes really count?
Argle claimed that holes supervene on their material hosts, and that every truth about holes boils down to a truth about perforated things. This may well be right, assuming holes are perforations. But we still need an explicit theory of holes to do justice to the ordinary way of counting holes--or so says Cargle.
This paper is concerned with certain ontological issues in the foundations of geographic representation. It sets out what these basic issues are, describes the tools needed to deal with them, and draws some implications for a general theory of spatial representation. Our approach has ramifications in the domains of mereology, topology, and the theory of location, and the question of the interaction of these three domains within a unified spatial representation theory is addressed. In the final part we also consider (...) the idea of non-standard geographies, which may be associated with geography under a classical conception in the same sense in which non-standard logics are associated with classical logic. (shrink)
The project of a 'naive physics' has been the subject of attention in recent years above all in the artificial intelligence field, in connection with work on common-sense reasoning, perceptual representation and robotics. The idea of a theory of the common-sense world is however much older than this, having its roots not least in the work of phenomenologists and Gestalt psychologists such as K hler, Husserl, Schapp and Gibson. This paper seeks to show how contemporary naive physicists can profit from (...) a knowledge of these historical roots of their discipline, which are shown to imply above alla critique of the set-theory-based models of reality typically presupposed by contemporary work in common-sense ontology . (shrink)
Ordinary reasoning about space—we argue—is first and foremost reasoning about things or events located in space. Accordingly, any theory concerned with the construction of a general model of our spatial competence must be grounded on a general account of the sort of entities that may enter into the scope of the theory. Moreover, on the methodological side the emphasis on spatial entities (as opposed to purely geometrical items such as points or regions) calls for a reexamination of the conceptual categories (...) required for this task. Building on material presented in an earlier paper, in this work we offer some examples of what this amounts to, of the difficulties involved, and of the main directions along which spatial theories should be developed so as to combine formal sophistication with some affinity with common sense. (shrink)
Surprise has been characterized has an emotional reaction to an upset belief having a heuristic role and playing a criterial role for belief ascription. The discussion of cases of diachronic and synchronic violations of coherence suggests that surprise plays an epistemic role and provides subjects with some sort of phenomenological access to their subpersonal doxastic states. Lack of surprise seems not to have the same epistemic power. A distinction between belief and expectation is introduced in order to account for some (...) aspects of surprise: expectations are construed as volatile representations that tie belief to action. In the cases in which action is not involved, general, “ideological,” expectations are generate in strict connection with the context and with the possibilities of action. (shrink)
Dear ‘Time Machine’ Research Group; if in order to travel to the past one has to have been there already, and if one can only do what has already been done, then why build a time machine in the first place? À quoi bon l'effort?
We discuss the distinction between the sensory modalities; the metaphysics of sounds; and the structure of sound space. We defend a physicalist conception of sounds, without accepting the identification of sounds with sound-waves in the medium. Sounds, we hold, are events in resonating objects. We evaluate the two main accounts of orientation in perceptual space: relationism and absolutism. We then address Strawson's problem of whether the logical space of sounds could be spatial in the full sense of the term. In (...) the Appendix, we discuss the logic of perceptual auditory reports, and show their compatibility with our theory of sounds. (shrink)
Minor entities provide an interesting testbed for metaphysical theories, but also for investigating the structure of concepts, as their concepts appear to be tributary of different representational systems.
This review article explores several senses in which it can be held that the (actual, psychological) concept of an object is a formal concept, as opposed, here, to being a sortal concept. Some recent positions both from the philosophical and psychological literature are analyzed: Object-sortalism (Xu), quasi-sortalist reductive strategies (Bloom), qualified sortalism (Wiggins), demonstrative theories (Fodor), and anti-sortalism (Ayers).
Events are center stage in several fields of psychological research. There is a long tradition in the study of event perception, event recognition, event memory, event conceptualization and segmentation. There are studies devoted to the description of events in language and to their representation in the brain. There are also metapsychological studies aimed at assessing the nature of mental events or the grounding of intentional action. Outside psychology, the notion of an event plays a prominent role in various areas of (...) philosophy as well as in such diverse disciplines as linguistics, probability theory, artifical intelligence, physics, and�of course� history. This plethora of concerns and applications is indicative of the prima facie centrality of the notion of an event in our conceptual scheme, but it also gives rise to some important methodological questions. Can we identify a core notion that is preserved across disciplines? Does this notion, or some such notion, correspond to the pre-theoretical conception countenanced by common sense? Does it correspond to a genuine metaphysical category? (shrink)
What are the relationships between an entity and the space at which it is located? And between a region of space and the events that take place there? What is the metaphysical structure of localization? What its modal status? This paper addresses some of these questions in an attempt to work out at least the main coordinates of the logical structure of localization. Our task is mostly taxonomic. But we also highlight some of the underlying structural features and we single (...) out the interactions between the notion of localization and nearby notions, such as the notions of part and whole, or of necessity and possibility. A theory of localization—we argue—is needed in order to account for the basic relations between objects and space, and runs afoul a pure part-whole theory. We also provide an axiomatization of the relation of localization and examine cases of localization involving entities different from material objects. (shrink)
Hallucinatory pictures are yet to be found picture-like artifacts that induce a hallucination of their content that cannot be intuitively explained by a look at the structure of the pictorial vehicle. Different accounts of depiction make different predictions about the possibility that such artifacts be considered as pictures. Some cases are presented that point towards the intuitive acceptability of hallucinatory pictures.
In this article I assess some results that purport to show the existence of a type of 'topological perception', i.e., perceptually based classification of topological features. Striking findings about perception in insects appear to imply that (1) configural, global properties can be considered as primitive perceptual features, and (2) topological features in particular are interesting as they are amenable to formal treatment. I discuss four interrelated questions that bear on any interpretation of findings about the perception of topological properties: what (...) exactly are topological properties, what makes them global , in what sense the quoted findings makes them primitive, and what are the hopes of a formal theory of perception based upon them. I suggest that mathematical topology is not the correct model for cognition topological properties, hence that some other formalism ought to be used—a form of “internalized topology.” However, once the principles of this type of topology are spelled out, they may not be as globalistic as one may have expected. (shrink)
Considering topology as an extension of mereology, this paper analyses topological variants of mereological essentialism (the thesis that an object could not have different parts than the ones it has). In particular, we examine de dicto and de re versions of two theses: (i) that an object cannot change its external connections (e.g., adjacent objects cannot be separated), and (ii) that an object cannot change its topological genus (e.g., a doughnut cannot turn into a sphere). Stronger forms of structural essentialism, (...) such as morphological essentialism (an object cannot change shape) and locative essentialism (an object cannot change position) are also examined. (shrink)
Preface: The Review of Philosophy and Psychology Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s13164-010-0024-1 Authors Dario Taraborelli, University of Surrey Centre for Research in Social Simulation Guilford GU2 7XH United Kingdom Roberto Casati, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure 29 rue d’Ulm 75005 Paris France Paul Egré, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure 29 rue d’Ulm 75005 Paris France Christophe Heintz, Central European University Budapest Hungary Journal Review of Philosophy and Psychology Online ISSN 1878-5166 Print ISSN 1878-5158 Journal Volume (...) Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 1. (shrink)
The relationships between art and cognition constitute a very wide set of largely unexplored and at times undefined or much too speculative problems. The field is narrowed down by imposing some constraints. It is proposed that the depiction of cast shadows, in its early history, could provide an ideal case study which conforms to the constraints. This paper addresses some methodological problems of the study of this case. A sample of relevant Renaissance images is discussed. A typology of depicted cast (...) shadows is proposed upon which further empirical research could be built. (shrink)
Classically, truth and falsehood are opposite, and so are logical truth and logical falsehood. In this paper we imagine a situation in which the opposition is so pervasive in the language we use as to threaten the very possibility of telling truth from falsehood. The example exploits a suggestion of Ramsey’s to the effect that negation can be expressed simply by writing the negated sentence upside down. The difference between ‘p’ and ‘~~p’ disappears, the principle of double negation becomes trivial, (...) and the truth/falsehood opposition is up for grabs. Our moral is that this indeterminacy undermines the idea of inferential role semantics. (shrink)
We provide some meta-theoretical constraints for the evaluation of a-spatial theories of sounds and auditory perception. We point out some forms of spatial content auditory experience can have. If auditory experience does not necessarily have a rich egocentric spatial content, it must have some spatial content for the relevant mode of perception to be recognizably auditory. An auditory experience devoid of any spatial content, if the notion makes sense at all, would be very different from the auditory experiences we actually (...) enjoy. This is enough to dismiss current a-spatial theories of auditory perception. As a consequence, our initial taxonomy of proximal, medial, and distal theories, as well as our phenomenological argument in favor of distal theories, are still topical. (shrink)
This issue of The Monist is devoted to the metaphysics of lesser kinds, which is to say those kinds of entity that are not generally recognized as occupying a prominent position in the categorial structure of the world. Why bother? We offer two sorts of reason. The first is methodological. In mathematics, it is common practice to study certain functions (for instance) by considering limit cases: What if x = 0? What if x is larger than any assigned value? Physics, (...) too, often studies the (idealized) initial and boundary conditions of a given system: What would happen in the case of a perfect sphere, or a perfectly black body? In the cognitive sciences, research often thrives on the analysis of cognitive errors, perceptual illusions, brain pathologies. Also in logic one can learn a lot by studying special, anomalous scenarios such as those exhibited by the paradoxes: it is unlikely that we actually find ourselves in a soritical context, or in a liar-like situation, but the fact that we might—or simply the fact that we can conceive of such a possibility—is important enough to deserve careful consideration. In short, the odd, the unfamiliar, the extra-ordinary, the limit cases are perfectly at home in scientific and more broadly intellectual discourse at various levels, where they can be fruitfully engaged in a sophisticated way (witness the existence of specific confining and managing strategies for dealing with them); and they are important precisely because they instruct us concerning the normal, the obvious, and the paradigmatic. The same goes for metaphysics, we submit. Although its major concern is, naturally, with such core entities as substances, properties, or hunks of solid matter, a lot may be learned by paying attention to those limit cases where we find ourselves dealing with entities of much lesser kinds, whether real or putative. (shrink)
we propose a revised version of Black's original argument against the principle of identity of indiscernibles. Our aim is to examine a puzzle regarding the intuitiveness of arguments, by showing that the revised version is clearly less intuitive than Black's original one, and appears to be unjustified by our ordinary means of assessment of intuitions.
"Perhaps not all the stories that follow are true. They could, however, be true, and the Reader is invited to ponder this." So begins _Insurmountable Simplicities_, Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi's colorful incarnation of the many philosophical conundrums that hide in the wrinkles of everyday life. Why do mirrors seem to invert left and right but not up and down? How do we know whether strawberries taste the same for everyone? Where is it written that we must observe the law, (...) and if it is not written, why should we observe it? What if we could swap brains-or the rest of our bodies? _Insurmountable Simplicities_ is filled with stories, dialogues, and epistolary exchanges that cover a range of themes-such as personal identity, causality and responsibility, fortune, the nature of things, the paradoxes of time and space, the interface between logic and language-in captivating and inventive ways. Clear, concise, and intellectually engaging, this internationally acclaimed book brilliantly demonstrates that the beauty of philosophy resides in its thorough engagement with the simplicities of the world, insurmountable as they might initially appear. (shrink)
Descriptive metaphysics investigates our naïve ontology as this is articulated in the content of our perception or of our pre-reflective thought about the world. But is access to such content reliable? Sceptics about the standard modes of access (introspection, or language-driven intuitions) may think that investigations in descriptive metaphysics can be aided by the controlled findings of cognitive science. Cognitive scientists have studied a promising range of representational advantages, that is, ways in which cognition favours one type of entity over (...) another. The notion of representational advantage is investigated and some scepticism is expressed as to its appropriateness for use in descriptive metaphysics. (shrink)
This paper investigates a the cognitive foundations of a pragmatic account of line drawings. It sets to highlight those features of line drawings that make them, as opposed to other types of visual representations, particularly conducive to communication. It is argued that representational and artifactual properties of drawings must be investigated together in order to understand the peculiarities of drawings as communicative tools.
This is a position article summarizing our approach to the philosophy of space and spatial representation. Our concern is mostly methodological: above all, we argue that a number of philosophical puzzles that arise in this field—puzzles concerning the nature of spatial entities, their material and mereological constitution, their relationship with the space that they occupy—stem from a confusion between semantic issues and true metaphysical concerns.
Alexandre Koyré wrote that Newton and the science that followed led to a splitting of the world: on the one hand is the “world of qualities and of sensible perceptions”, on the other is the “world of quantities and of reified geometry”. A comparison between facts held true by common sense and false by the scientific image of the world (or vice versa) seems to confirm this view. But is the dichotomy a real one? Is the world of common sense (...) really “another world” relative to the world of the natural sciences? In this paper we argue in support of a negative answer. (shrink)
Some philosochical and cognitive aspects of political gerrymandering are investigated. The basic assumption of gerrymandering practices is that regions be connected. This assumption is questioned, as it seems to result for a cognitive bias for connectedness (a preference for unitary objects).
The methodological anarchy that characterizes much recent research in artificial intelligence and other cognitive sciences has brought into existence (sometimes resumed) a large variety of entities from a correspondingly large variety of (sometimes dubious) ontological categories. Recent work in spatial representation and reasoning is particularly indicative of this trend. Our aim in this paper is to suggest some ways of reconciling such a luxurious proliferation of entities with the sheer sobriety of good philosophy.