Tall tales presents a sweeping survey of common myths about the mind and brain. In a lighthearted and accessible style, it exposes the truth behind these beliefs, how they are perpetuated, why people believe them, and why they might even exist in the first place.
Working-memory retention as activated long-term memory fails to capture orchestrated processing and storage, the hallmark of the concept of working memory. The event-related potential (ERP) data are compatible with working memory as a mental workspace that holds and manipulates information on line, which is distinct from long-term memory, and deals with the products of activated traces from stored knowledge.
This paper reports a study of planning processes in the five-disc Tower of London (TOL) task in 20 younger and 20 older adult participants. A concurrent direct ''think-aloud'' method was used to obtain data on planning processes prior to moving discs in the TOL. A check was made of the effects of verbalising by comparing performance data from the experimental groups with data from control groups who did not verbalise during planning or moving. Verbalising slowed down planning and moving but (...) did not appear to distort the participants' approaches to the task. Older and younger participants did not differ in average moves taken to solve the tasks. However, older participants' planning was less complete and more error-prone than that of younger participants. The planning processes were characterised as showing a means-ends ''goal selection'' strategy. In this strategy participants (1) identify a single active goal disc at the start, (2) select moves and move sequences to enable the placing of the current goal disc in its target position, and (3) continue in this way until all discs are in their target positions. Age differences were found in the planning stage, during which there was no stimulus support and hence a substantial working memory load. During the move phase there was stimulus support and hence little loading of working memory. Age differences in moves required were not found in the move phase. As older participants tend to have depleted working memory capacity the present results suggest that working memory is heavily loaded in TOL planning but less so in the move phase of TOL. (shrink)
Introduction. The book is a study in Adam Smith's system of ideas; its aim is to reconstruct the peculiar framework that Adam Smith’s work provided for the shaping of a semi-autonomous new discipline, political economy; the approach adopted lies somewhere in-between the history of ideas and the history of economic analysis. My two claims are: i) The Wealth of Nations has a twofold structure, including a `natural history' of opulence and an `imaginary machine' of wealth. The imaginary machine is a (...) kind of Newtonian theory, whose connecting links are principles; provided either by `partial' characteristics of human nature or by analoga of physical mechanisms transferred to the social world; ii) a domain of the economic, understood as a self-standing social sub-system, was discovered first by Adam Smith. His `discovery' of the new continent of the economic was an `unintended result' of a deviation in his voyage to the never-found archipelago of natural jurisprudence. -/- 1. Imaginary machines and invisible chains: natural philosophy and method. The first chapter reconstructs Smith's views on the method in natural philosophy, presented primarily in the History of Astronomy (HA). The peculiar kind of semi-sceptical Newtonianism which permeates the essay is highlighted. Its reconstruction of the history of one natural science is shown to be based on the assumptions of Hume’s epistemology, and to lead to a self-aware deadlock. Smith's dilemma is between an essentialist realism and sceptical instrumentalism; the Cartesian presuppositions he shares with Hume and with the 18th century as a whole make it impossible for him to overcome his dilemma. The following chapters will show how, on the one hand, Smith's skeptical methodology encourages him in the enterprise to `carve off' a new self-contained discipline and how, on the other hand, his epistemological dilemma is reflected in the inner tensions of his moral and political theory as well as in a number of basic oscillations concerning the status of the new discipline. -/- 2. Chessboards and clocks: moral philosophy and method. -/- The second chapter reconstructs Smith's views on the method in the parallel field of moral philosophy, including the theory of moral sentiments and natural jurisprudence. I argue that The Theory of Moral Sentiments, when considered together with with the Lectures on Jurisprudence, where Smith's peculiar version of a `weaker' form of natural law is presented, wins special interest, not only for the history of ethics but even more for the history of political theory and the social sciences. The two most striking features of Smith's work in this area are highlighted. First, his effort at reformulating the `practical science' is a methodologically self-aware attempt at applying the Newtonian method to moral subjects. Secondly, this attempt ends in a stalemate as two distinguished kinds of normative order are introduced: one ultimate order of Reason, ultimately justifiable but inaccessible, and one weaker order of our `natural sentiments', to which we have empirical access, but which is so variable as to lack any ultimate value as a basis for grounding our normative claims. These two parallel conundrums may arguably account for the author's inability to publish during his lifetime both The History of Astronomy and the projected history and theory of law and government. -/- 3. Wheels, dams, and gravitation: the structure of scientific argument in The Wealth of Nations. -/- The third chapter provides the core of the book, dealing with the structure of the argument in WN. I argue that the main presupposition that makes the shift possible from a `natural history' to a `system' approach is the Newtonian contrast of `mathematical' with `physical' explanation; that is, Smith drops any discussion of the "original qualities" of human nature that could account for economic behaviour, while introducing, as `principles' for the system, a set of `hypothetical' statements of `observed' regularities in human behaviour and of `observed' super-individual self-regulating mechanisms. In bringing this presupposition to light, the coexistence of a teleological with a mechanistic approach is clarified; fresh light is shed on the notion of the invisible hand by a comparison of its occurrence in Smith with the occurrence of the same expression (until now overlooked) in the correspondence between Newton and Cotes. Finally, the peculiar semi-prescriptive and semi-descriptive character of political economy are highlighted, and the consistency of Smith's `impure' semi-prescriptive social science, when understood in his own terms, is defended against familiar charges with inconsistency and against even more familiar strained modernizations. -/- 4. Apples, deer, and frivolous trinkets: the construction of the economic. -/- The fourth chapter draws consequences from the third, examining how Smith's achievement in political economy, marking its transition to scientific status, carried a re-description of the phenomena, creating the comparatively independent and unified field of the economic. Smith's achievement is interpreted not as the `discovery' of an autonomous character already possessed by the economy out there, so much as a Gestalt-switch by which our perception of social phenomena is modified making us `see' the partial order of the economy as an isolated system. To sum up, the autonomy of the economic in social reality and the autonomy of the economic in social consciousness are shown to be two sides of one process. -/- 5. Concluding considerations: Political economy and the Enlightenment halved. -/- A few suggestions on the status of economic theory two centuries after The Wealth of Nations in its relationship to ‘practical philosophy’ are illustrated. (shrink)
I argue that Malthus’s Essay on Population is more a treatise in applied ethics than the first treatise in demography. I argue also that, as an ethical work, it is a highly innovative one. The substitution of procreation for sex as the focus makes for a drastic change in the agenda. what had been basically lacking in the discussion up to Malthus’s time was a consideration of human beings’ own responsibility in the decision of procreating. This makes for a remarkable (...) change also in the approach, namely, the discussion becomes an examination of a well-identified issue, taking cause-effect relationships into account in order to assess possible lines of conduct in the light of some, widely shared and comparatively minimal, value judgements. This is more or less the approach of what is now called applied ethics, at least according to one of its accounts, or perhaps to the account shared by a vast majority of its practitioners. In a sense, both the subject matter, sexuality, was substituted with a more restricted issue, namely reproduction, and the traditional approach, moral doctrine, was substituted with a more modest approach, in Malthus’s own words, the “moral and political science”. Such a drastic transformation brought about a viable framework, for a discussion of ethical issues that were still unforeseen by Malthus, namely those having to do first with the technical feasibility of eugenics programs and secondly with the scientific discovery of genetics as a field of study but also of possible intervention. Malthus’s ethics had obviously enough nothing to say on those unforeseen issues in so far as it was meant to treat just the ‘quantitative’ dimension of procreation, that is, ‘how many’. Later discussions and controversies will arise around different dimensions, that is, not just ‘how many’ but also ‘how healthy, how strong, hoe empowered’, but what Malthus’s lesson could have taught and still can teach to partners defending opposite views in these controversies is that such issues may be framed in a way that possibly avoids unending controversy on incompatible ultimate principles once the strategy is turned upside down and a principle of responsibility becomes the overriding rule in the treatment of such ethical issues. -/- . (shrink)
This paper reports a study of the roles of visuo-spatial and verbal working memory capacities in solving a planning task - the five-disc Tower of London (TOL) task. An individual differences approach was taken. Sixty adult participants were tested on 20 TOL tasks of varying difficulty. Total moves over the 20 TOL tasks was taken as a measure of performance. Participants were also assessed on measures of fluid intelligence (Raven's matrices), verbal short-term storage (Digit span), verbal working memory span (Silly (...) Sentence span), visuo-spatial short-term storage (Visual Pattern span and Corsi Block span), visuo-spatial working memory (Corsi Distance Estimation), visuo-spatial processing speed (Manikin test), and verbal speed (Rehearsal speed). Exploratory factor analysis using an oblique rotation method revealed three factors which were interpreted as (1) a visuo-spatial working memory factor, (2) an age-speed factor, and (3) a verbal working memory factor. The visuo-spatial and verbal factors were only moderately correlated. Performance on the TOL task loaded on the visuo-spatial factor but did not load on the other factors. It is concluded that the predominant goal-selection strategy adopted in solving the TOL relies on visuo-spatial working memory capacity and particularly involves the active ''inner scribe'' spatial rehearsal mechanism. These correlational analyses confirm and extend results previously obtained by use of dual task methods, (Phillips, Wynn, Gilhooly, DellaSala, & Logie, 1999). (shrink)
I reconstruct a few themes of the early twentieth-century discussion that headed to the claim of a value-free character of economic theory and of the subsequent discussion that headed to a resumption of a rich discussion of economic ethics and of applied ethics with regard to economic practices. I examine the discussion on value-freedom from classical political economy to Robbins, the role played by utilitarianism in economic theory and the puzzles connected to the idea of utility and several recent discussions (...) on social choice, welfare, and collective choice. I end by discussing a few good reasons for the revival of business ethics. (shrink)
I discuss first Adam Smith’s ethical theory and the peculiar function played by the quadrangle of sympathy, the social function of sympathy with the rich and powerful and the unavoidable corruption of moral sentiments it carries. Secondly, I examine human nature in Smith’s work, and show how diverging tendencies are carried by different social roles. Thirdly I discuss the modest normative claims advanced by his ethical theory and show how these are not from utilitarian ones, how ethical pluralism is mirrored (...) in Smith’s triad of private virtues, prudence, justice, benevolence and of public virtues, liberty, justice, equality, how these are far from being utilitarian virtues, being rather the result of overlapping between several reasonable normative ethics. Fourthly I discuss Smith’s attitude to merchants and master-manufacturers, showing how, far being the theorist of ‘bourgeois virtues’, he was a radical critic of both the aristocratic establishment and the new emerging class in the name of oppressed. My conclusion is that ‘The Wealth of Nations’ is not an argument for self-regulating markets but instead an argument for a less authoritarian society where political authority, under pressure from a newly formed public opinion made by people in the middling ranks of life, would cease favouring the most powerful pressure group and leave ‘civil society’ in a condition where an adjustment in the distribution of wealth, revenue, knowledge and power could take place through a quasi-spontaneous process. (shrink)
Galiani discusses a subject much debated in the eighteenth century, namely, the nature of the currency. He also includes considerations of economic theory and political philosophy around the main motif. He supports the following theses of monetary theory: currency has the function of a sort of register of credits that every individual can have towards the warehouses of goods of which the society is supplied, and precisely in the measure of the contribution he has given to their supply; the metallic (...) currency has the merit, with respect to a hypothetical system of artificial accounting, to be safe from frauds and not to require a bureaucratic apparatus; the value of currency depends on the value of metals, not on legislative interventions. (shrink)
I argue that the idea of virtue has become central after the Fifties in both Anglo-Saxon and German moral philosophy and that this revival has come together with recognition of the legitimacy of discussion of issues in normative ethics, something that philosophers both on the Continent and in the Anglo-Saxon world used to overlook in the first half of the twentieth-century. I point at examples such as Stuart Hampshire and Elizabeth Anscombe as proof of the centrality of virtue ethics in (...) the first phase of the normative turn. I also argue that, far from being a radical alternative to ‘modern moral philosophy’ as its proponents believe, virtue ethics is precisely moral argument of the kind both Kantian ethics at its best and less dogmatic versions of utilitarianism have brought to the fore of philosophical discussion. (shrink)
A review of Calabi's work on the emotions. The author chooses to remain neutral with respect to the theoretical options currently adopted in the philosophy of mind: reductionism and functionalism. This choice makes it easier to stress the intentional dimension of emotions and to shed light on the bodily dimension of the emotional life.
Amerini declares that by this book he did not want to make any contribution to the contemporary bioethical debate, or in another way, he wanted to give a preliminary contribution of great importance. His opinion on the implications of Aquinas's embryological theory for today's bioethical debate is in fact that it "certainly has some bioethical consequences, but it does not give rise to one particular bioethical theory rather than another. It is, as said, a philosophical explanation, traced in terms of (...) Aristotelian metaphysics, and as such can only be of support for the elaboration of a bioethical theory". (shrink)
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