Did Bayle write the Avis aux réfugiés? Although the long debate over this question might not be over, we are convinced that strong probability supports Gianluca Mori's position that Bayle was indeed its sole author. We are also convinced, however, that the significance that Mori assigns to Bayle's authorship gets it exactly the wrong way around, for while Mori is right that the Avis is not only consistent but also representative of the views espoused by Bayle in his subsequent work (...) (indeed, as we see it, throughout all his work), those views are not, as Mori claims, intended to be subversive of Christianity, indeed, of all religion, but supportive of it. (shrink)
thomaslennon has argued for an innovative “Eleatic” reading of Descartes. At its heart is the thesis that Descartes is a phenomenalist about motions; with this in place, Lennon goes on to argue that Descartes is also a phenomenalist about individual material bodies. Conjuring up the ghosts of Eleatics such as Parmenides, Lennon describes a Cartesian material world in which moving, individual bodies are appearances, not realities. This paper takes issue with Lennon’s thesis that Cartesian (...) motion is phenomenal.Section 2 of the paper details Lennon’s Eleatic reading, setting out his arguments and placing them in scholarly context. Lennon is aware that his reading is radical, and he considers various passages in.. (shrink)
i began my “eleatic descartes” with a reminder of, what nobody denies, that Descartes is a convinced mechanist. Therefore, he must, in some sense, recognize motion. No less widely accepted is that Descartes is a plenum theorist. The main argument of the Eleatic interpretation is that given his articulation of the corporeal plenum in part two of the Principles, he cannot recognize motion by conceiving of it as real. And, because motion is what individuates bodies, there cannot be a multiplicity (...) of real bodies. Thus, as far as the material world is concerned, the two Eleatic elements are in place: as for Parmenides, so for Descartes, there is but one thing, and it does not change.For Descartes, that one thing.. (shrink)
Nicolas Malebranche is now recognised as a major figure in the history of philosophy, occupying a crucial place in the Rationalist tradition of Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. The Search after Truth is his first, longest and most important work; this volume also presents the Elucidations which accompanied its third edition, the result of comments that Malebranche solicited on the original work and an important repository of his theories of ideas and causation. Together, the two texts constitute the complete expression of (...) his mature thought, and are written in his subtle, argumentative and thoroughly readable style. They are presented in the distinguished translations by Thomas M. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp, together with a historical introduction, a chronology of Malebranche's life, and useful notes on further reading. (shrink)
What rights govern heterosexual and homosexual behaviors? Two distinguished philosophers debate this important issue in Sexual Orientation and Human Rights. Laurence M. Thomas argues that a society which has the constitutional resources to protect hate groups can protect homosexuals without valorizing the homosexual life-style. He defends the view that the Bible cannot warrant the venom that, in the name of religion, is often expressed against homosexuals. Michael E. Levin defends the unorthodox view that the aversion some people experience (...) toward homosexuality deserves respect. He further argues that while homosexuals enjoy the same rights as others to be free of violence and discrimination, they do not have more extensive rights. (shrink)
At a key moment in the 1988 presidential debates, Michael Dukakis claimed that the issue in the campaign was not ideology but competency. A major reason for Bush’s victory was that Dukakis was most competent at creating the illusion that even George Bush was competent. Even so, a useful way to begin some reflections on the law and literature revival is to note that even a hardened political pragmatist like Bush felt that it was in his political interest to (...) declare that the issue was indeed ideology. Bush’s insistence on the importance of ideology is noteworthy for those interested in the humanities because it seems to much at odds with the conservative position in current cultural politics. Ideology might be the issue in political campaigns, but for the conservatives it has no role in the humanities, which properly understood are the repository of essential human values. As contradictory as this position might seem, it is actually quite consistent. The ideological function of government is to impart to its citizens the proper values, values that find expression in great humanistic documents. To turn the role of the humanities from that of guarding and defending these sacred documents to that of demystifying them as ideological products is to undermine the possibility of government performing its proper ideological function. Radicals in the current wars over culture thus stand accused of subverting the fundamental values that the country represents. Brook Thomas is professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Cross-Examinations of Law and Literature; Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, and Melville and The New Historicism and Other Old-Fashioned Topics. (shrink)
What are the processes, from conception to adulthood, that enable a single cell to grow into a sentient adult? Neuroconstructivism is a pioneering 2 volume work that sets out a whole new framework for considering the complex topic of development, integrating data from cognitive studies, computational work, and neuroimaging.
What makes us conscious? Many theories that attempt to answer this question have appeared recently in the context of widespread interest about consciousness in the cognitive neurosciences. Most of these proposals are formulated in terms of the information processing conducted by the brain. In this overview, we survey and contrast these models. We first delineate several notions of consciousness, addressing what it is that the various models are attempting to explain. Next, we describe a conceptual landscape that addresses how the (...) theories attempt to explain consciousness. We then situate each of several representative models in this landscape and indicate which aspect of consciousness they try to explain. We conclude that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness should be usefully complemented by a search for the computational correlates of consciousness. (shrink)
It is often assumed that similar domain-specific behavioural impairments found in cases of adult brain damage and developmental disorders correspond to similar underlying causes, and can serve as convergent evidence for the modular structure of the normal adult cognitive system. We argue that this correspondence is contingent on an unsupported assumption that atypical development can produce selective deficits while the rest of the system develops normally (Residual Normality), and that this assumption tends to bias data collection in the field. Based (...) on a review of connectionist models of acquired and developmental disorders in the domains of reading and past tense, as well as on new simulations, we explore the computational viability of Residual Normality and the potential role of development in producing behavioural deficits. Simulations demonstrate that damage to a developmental model can produce very different effects depending on whether it occurs prior to or following the training process. Because developmental disorders typically involve damage prior to learning, we conclude that the developmental process is a key component of the explanation of endstate impairments in such disorders. Further simulations demonstrate that in simple connectionist learning systems, the assumption of Residual Normality is undermined by processes of compensation or alteration elsewhere in the system. We outline the precise computational conditions required for Residual Normality to hold in development, and suggest that in many cases it is an unlikely hypothesis. We conclude that in developmental disorders, inferences from behavioural deficits to underlying structure crucially depend on developmental conditions, and that the process of ontogenetic development cannot be ignored in constructing models of developmental disorders. Key Words: Acquired and developmental disorders; connectionist models; modularity; past tense; reading. (shrink)
Neuroconstructivism: How the Brain Constructs Cognition proposes a unifying framework for the study of cognitive development that brings together (1) constructivism (which views development as the progressive elaboration of increasingly complex structures), (2) cognitive neuroscience (which aims to understand the neural mechanisms underlying behavior), and (3) computational modeling (which proposes formal and explicit specifications of information processing). The guiding principle of our approach is context dependence, within and (in contrast to Marr ) between levels of organization. We propose that three (...) mechanisms guide the emergence of representations: competition, cooperation, and chronotopy; which themselves allow for two central processes: proactivity and progressive specialization. We suggest that the main outcome of development is partial representations, distributed across distinct functional circuits. This framework is derived by examining development at the level of single neurons, brain systems, and whole organisms. We use the terms encellment, embrainment, and embodiment to describe the higher-level contextual influences that act at each of these levels of organization. To illustrate these mechanisms in operation we provide case studies in early visual perception, infant habituation, phonological development, and object representations in infancy. Three further case studies are concerned with interactions between levels of explanation: social development, atypical development and within that, developmental dyslexia. We conclude that cognitive development arises from a dynamic, contextual change in embodied neural structures leading to partial representations across multiple brain regions and timescales, in response to proactively specified physical and social environment. (shrink)
Many proposals for logic-based formalisations of argumentation consider an argument as a pair (Φ,α), where the support Φ is understood as a minimal consistent subset of a given knowledge base which has to entail the claim α. In case the arguments are given in the full language of classical propositional logic reasoning in such frameworks becomes a computationally costly task. For instance, the problem of deciding whether there exists a support for a given claim has been shown to be -complete. (...) In order to better understand the sources of complexity (and to identify tractable fragments), we focus on arguments given over formulæ in which the allowed connectives are taken from certain sets of Boolean functions. We provide a complexity classification for four different decision problems (existence of a support, checking the validity of an argument, relevance and dispensability) with respect to all possible sets of Boolean functions. Moreover, we make use of a general schema to enumerate all arguments to show that certain restricted fragments permit polynomial delay. Finally, we give a classification also in terms of counting complexity. (shrink)
Our interpretations of experience determine the limits of what we can do with the world.Jorge Luis Borges's short stories act as narrative experiments with the potential to alter the reader's experience. They provide momentary glimpses into a remixed reality that, through their vivacity, allow us to wonder at the immanent possibilities that emerge when we acknowledge the irreality of language. This function of Borges's writing follows from his understanding of fictions as imaginative verbal constructions that are effective due to their (...) aesthetic quality, the capacity to evoke emotional responses through play with narrative form. Borges does not write to produce truths. He is doubtful of the ability of any given... (shrink)
We address two points in this commentary. First, we question the extent to which O'Brien & Opie have established that the classical approach is unable to support a viable vehicle theory of consciousness. Second, assuming that connectionism does have the resources to support a vehicle theory, we explore how the activity of the units of a PDP network might sum together to form phenomenal experience (PE).
In response to our target article, many of the commentators concentrated on our notion of Residual Normality. In our response, we focus on the questions raised by this idea. However, we also examine broader issues concerning the importance of incorporating a realistic theory of the process of development into explanations of developmental deficits.
In the multidisciplinary field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, statistical associations between levels of description play an increasingly important role. One example of such associations is the observation of correlations between relatively common gene variants and individual differences in behavior. It is perhaps surprising that such associations can be detected despite the remoteness of these levels of description, and the fact that behavior is the outcome of an extended developmental process involving interaction of the whole organism with a variable environment. Given (...) that they have been detected, how do such associations inform cognitive-level theories? To investigate this question, we employed a multiscale computational model of development, using a sample domain drawn from the field of language acquisition. The model comprised an artificial neural network model of past-tense acquisition trained using the backpropagation learning algorithm, extended to incorporate population modeling and genetic algorithms. It included five levels of description—four internal: genetic, network, neurocomputation, behavior; and one external: environment. Since the mechanistic assumptions of the model were known and its operation was relatively transparent, we could evaluate whether cross-level associations gave an accurate picture of causal processes. We established that associations could be detected between artificial genes and behavioral variation, even under polygenic assumptions of a many-to-one relationship between genes and neurocomputational parameters, and when an experience-dependent developmental process interceded between the action of genes and the emergence of behavior. We evaluated these associations with respect to their specificity, to their developmental stability, and to their replicability, as well as considering issues of missing heritability and gene–environment interactions. We argue that gene–behavior associations can inform cognitive theory with respect to effect size, specificity, and timing. The model demonstrates a means by which researchers can undertake multiscale modeling with respect to cognition and develop highly specific and complex hypotheses across multiple levels of description. (shrink)
Default logic is one of the most popular and successful formalisms for non-monotonic reasoning. In 2002, Bonatti and Olivetti introduced several sequent calculi for credulous and skeptical reasoning in propositional default logic. In this paper we examine these calculi from a proof-complexity perspective. In particular, we show that the calculus for credulous reasoning obeys almost the same bounds on the proof size as Gentzen’s system LK. Hence proving lower bounds for credulous reasoning will be as hard as proving lower bounds (...) for LK. On the other hand, we show an exponential lower bound to the proof size in Bonatti and Olivetti’s enhanced calculus for skeptical default reasoning. (shrink)
Conflicts have arisen between communities and operators of confined animal feeding as farms have become bigger in order to maintain their competitiveness. These conflicts have been difficult to resolve because measuring and allocating the benefits and costs of livestock production is difficult. This papers demonstrates a policy tool for promoting compromise whereby the community gets reduced negative impacts from livestock while at the same time continues to benefit from livestock jobs, taxes, and related economic activity. Public economic benefits and public (...) economic costs of confined animal feeding operations are estimated for every farm and affected house in Craven County, North Carolina. The results show public economic benefits of $5.7 million and public economic costs of $2.2 million, but that the ratio of benefits to costs for individual farm-house pairs varies in important ways across the 26 hog farms in Craven County. (shrink)