We argue four points. First, perception always relies on environmental constraints, not only in special cases. Second, constraints are taken advantage of by detecting information granted by the constraints rather than by internalizing them. Third, apparent motion phenomena reveal reliance on constraints that are irrelevant in everyday perception. Fourth, constraints are selected through individual learning as well as evolution. The “perceptual-concept-of-velocity” phenomenon is featured as a relevant case. [Hecht; Kubovy & Epstein; Shepard].
Stoffregen & Bardy's proposal that perceptual systems can use information defined across two or more sensory domains is valuable and urgent in its own right. However, their claim of exclusive validity for global-array information is superfluous and perpetuated for incorrect reasons. The seeming ambiguities of individual arrays emanate from failures to consider relevant ecological constraints and higher-order variables.
Using as a springboard a three-way debate between theoretical physicist Lee Smolin, philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright and myself, I address in layman’s terms the issues of why we need a unified theory of the fundamental interactions and why, in my opinion, string and M-theory currently offer the best hope. The focus will be on responding more generally to the various criticisms. I also describe the diverse application of string/M-theory techniques to other branches of physics and mathematics which render the (...) whole enterprise worthwhile whether or not “a theory of everything” is forthcoming. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophers introduced the distinction between “objective rightness” and “subjective rightness” to achieve two primary goals. The first goal is to reduce the paradoxical tension between our judgments of what is best for an agent to do in light of the actual circumstances in which she acts and what is wisest for her to do in light of her mistaken or uncertain beliefs about her circumstances. The second goal is to provide moral guidance to an agent who may be (...) uncertain about the circumstances in which she acts, and hence is unable to use her standard moral principle directly in deciding what to do. This paper distinguishes two important senses of “moral guidance”; proposes criteria of adequacy for accounts of subjective rightness; canvasses existing definitions for “subjective rightness”; finds them all deficient; and proposes a new and more successful account. It argues that each comprehensive moral theory must include multiple principles of subjective rightness to address the epistemic situations of the full range of moral decision-makers, and shows that accounts of subjective rightness formulated in terms of what it would reasonable for the agent to believe cannot provide that guidance. (shrink)
We focus on two problems with the evolutionary scenario proposed: (1) It bypasses the question of the origins of the communicative and semiotic features that make language distinct from, say, pleasant but meaningless sounds. (2) It does little to explain the absence of language in, for example, chimpanzees: Most of the selection pressures invoked apply just as strongly to chimps. We suggest how these problems could possibly be amended.
Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
'Strategic research’ has become a goal of government policy throughout the industrial world. This paper follows the emergence of new approaches to the funding of 'strategic research’ in Sweden, by examining three research foundations created in the late 1990s, and considers their ambitions, limitations, and achievements.
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
A large body of literature agrees that persons with schizophrenia suffer from a Theory of Mind deficit. However, most empirical studies have focused on third-person, egocentric ToM, underestimating other facets of this complex cognitive skill. Aim of this research is to examine the ToM of schizophrenic persons considering its various aspects, to determine whether some components are more impaired than others. We developed a Theory of Mind Assessment Scale and administered it to 22 persons with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia (...) and a matching control group. Th.o.m.a.s. is a semi-structured interview which allows a multi-component measurement of ToM. Both groups were also administered a few existing ToM tasks and the schizophrenic subjects were administered the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale and the WAIS-R. The schizophrenic persons performed worse than control at all the ToM measurements; however, these deficits appeared to be differently distributed among different components of ToM. Our conclusion is that ToM deficits are not unitary in schizophrenia, which also testifies to the importance of a complete and articulated investigation of ToM. (shrink)
We regularly wield powers that, upon close scrutiny, appear remarkably magical. By sheer exercise of will, we bring into existence things that have never existed before. With but a nod, we effect the disappearance of things that have long served as barriers to the actions of others. And, by mere resolve, we generate things that pose significant obstacles to others' exercise of liberty. What is the nature of these things that we create and destroy by our mere decision to do (...) so? The answer: the rights and obligations of others. And by what seemingly magical means do we alter these rights and obligations? By making promises and issuing or revoking consent When we make promises, we generate obligations for ourselves, and when we give consent, we create rights for others. Since the rights and obligations that are affected by means of promising and consenting largely define the boundaries of permissible action, our exercise of these seemingly magical powers can significantly affect the lives and liberties of others. (shrink)
Recently two distinct forms of rule-utilitarianism have been introduced that differ on how to measure the consequences of rules. Brad Hooker advocates fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism, while Michael Ridge advocates variable-rate rule-utilitarianism. I argue that both of these are inferior to a new proposal, optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism. According to optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism, an ideal code is the code whose optimum acceptance level is no lower than that of any alternative code. I then argue that all three forms of rule-utilitarianism fall prey to two fatal (...) problems that leave us without any viable form of rule-utilitarianism. (shrink)
In his article ‘Saints and Heroes’, Urmson argues that traditional moral theories allow at most for a threefold classification of actions in terms of their worth, and that they are therefore unsatisfactory. Since the conclusion of his argument has led to the widespread use of the term ‘acts of supererogation’, and since I do not believe that such acts exist, I propose to argue that the actions with which he is concerned not only can, but should, be contained within the (...) traditional classification. (shrink)
In the years 1878 and 1879 the American physicist Alfred Marshall Mayer published his experiments with floating magnets as a didactic illustration of molecular actions and forms. A number of physicists made use of this analogy of molecular structure. For William Thomson they were a mechanical illustration of the kinetic equilibrium of groups of columnar vortices revolving in circles round their common centre of gravity . A number of modifications of Mayer's experiments were described, which gave configurations which were more (...) or less analogous to Mayer's arrangements. It was Joseph John Thomson who, in publications between 1897 and 1907, used Mayer's results to obtain a good deal of insight into the general laws which govern the configuration of the electrons in his atomic model. This article is mainly concerned with Mayer's experiments with floating magnets and their use by a number of physicists. Through his experiments Mayer made a significant, although small, contribution to the theory of atomic structure. (shrink)
R. M. Adams’s essay, “Must God Create the Best?” can be interpreted as offering a theodicy for God’s creating morally less perfect beings than he could have created. By creating these morally less perfect beings, God is bestowing grace upon them, which is an unmerited or undeserved benefit. He does so, however, in advance of the free moral misdeeds that render them undeserving. This requires that God have middle knowledge, pace Adams’s version of the Free Will Theodicy, of what would (...) result from his actualization of possible free persons. It is argued that God’s possession of such middle knowledge negates the freedom of created beings, since God completely determines every action of every created person. And since they are not free, they cannot qualify as morally unmeritorious or undeserving. And, with that, Adams’s theodicy of grace-in-advance collapses. (shrink)
Theaetetus, asked what knowledge is, replies that geometry and the other mathematical disciplines are knowledge, and so are crafts like cobbling. Socrates points out that it does not help him to be told how many kinds of knowledge there are when his problem is to know what knowledge itself is, what it means to call geometry or a craft knowledge in the first place—he insists on the generality of his question in the way he often does when his interlocutor, asked (...) for a definition, cites instead cases of the concept to be defined. (shrink)
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)
Much has been made of the Kierkegaardian flavour of Wittgenstein's thought on religion, both with respect to its explicit allusions to Kierkegaard and its implicit appeals. Even when significant disparities between the two are noted, there remains an important core of de facto methodological agreement between them, addressing the limits of theory and the dispelling of illusion. The categories of ‘nonsense’ and ‘paradox’ are central to Wittgenstein's therapeutic enterprise, while the categories of ‘paradox’ and the ‘absurd’ are central to much (...) of Kierkegaard's attempt to dispel religious illusion. Writing of how the ‘urge to thrust against the limits of language’ yields ‘nonsense’, Wittgenstein explicitly appealed to Kierkegaard: ‘Kierkegaard, too, recognized this thrust and even described it in much the same way ’. 1 I want to consider whether Kierkegaard's category of paradox of the absurd is assimilable to Wittgenstein's view of nonsense and paradox. I shall argue that a consideration of Wittgenstein's view of paradox can highlight contrasting strands in Kierkegaard's writings on religious faith, strands which take paradox more or less strictly – in particular, it can clarify several different opinions concerning the status of religious claims. My exploration will bring to the fore some implications of the attempt to make room, in the religious employment of language, for a ‘higher understanding’ of truths which we are said to be able to grasp but cannot express. (shrink)
The Triple Helix model of innovation systems is widely diffused. The fundamental idea of the model is that ‘university’ can play an enhanced role in innovation in knowledge-based societies and that the three helices – ‘university’, ‘industry’ and ‘government’ – interact in order to produce innovation and therefore regional and national economic growth. This is, however, only one model among several different systemic approaches for explaining regional differences in innovativeness. While the triple helix model emphasizes the role of the university (...) for regional innovativeness, the other systemic approaches call attention to either industry or government as having the lead role in innovation. Further, the triple helix model is developed and primarily explored from a macro-level perspective and not from a firm-level perspective. Finally, while the theoretical value of triple helix interactions are reasonably confirmed, there are still gaps in the triple helix concept, and the practical value is only just beginning to realize its potential. From a firm-level perspective, the purpose of this article is therefore to test the applicability and practical value of the triple helix model when exploring the formation and growth of firms using the case of Google Inc. Useful when exploring a firm’s formation and growth, the triple helix model forces the exploration to start even before the entrepreneur enters the scene, which provides a more holistic picture of firm formation. The three helices were all found to play important but changing roles in the different phases of firm formation and growth. The Google case contributes further understanding of the nature and historical evolution of interactions between the three helices, thereby filling some gaps in the triple helix concept. The Google case also identifies a number of mechanisms for interaction and the important role of the bridging organizations that connect the helices and contribute to the development of interactions. Finally, the concept of ‘spaces’ proved relevant and useful, although in the perspective of a firm, the concept has a broader meaning and exists on different levels. (shrink)