The book suggests a new perspective on the essence of human language. This enormous achievement of our species is best characterized as a communication technology - not unlike the social media on the Net today - that was collectively invented by ancient humans for a very particular communicative function: the instruction of imagination. All other systems of communication in the biological world target the interlocutors' senses; language allows speakers to systematically instruct their interlocutors in the process of imagining the intended (...) meaning - instead of directly experiencing it. This revolutionary function has changed human life forever, and in the book it operates as a unifying concept around which a new general theory of language gradually emerges. Dor identifies a set of fundamental problems in the linguistic sciences - the nature of words, the complexities of syntax, the interface between semantics and pragmatics, the causal relationship between language and thought, language processing, the dialectics of universality and variability, the intricacies of language and power, knowledge of language and its acquisition, the fragility of linguistic communication and the origins and evolution of language - and shows with respect to all of them how the theory provides fresh answers to the problems, resolves persistent difficulties in existing accounts, enhances the significance of empirical and theoretical achievements in the field, and identifies new directions for empirical research. The theory thus opens a new way towards the unification of the linguistic sciences, on both sides of the cognitive-social divide. (shrink)
Intention Cognitivism – the doctrine that intending to V entails, or even consists in, believing that one will V – is an important position with potentially wide-ranging implications, such as a revisionary understanding of practical reason, and a vindicating explanation of 'Practical Knowledge'. In this paper, I critically examine the standard arguments adduced in support of IC, including arguments from the parity of expression of intention and belief; from the ability to plan around one's intention; and from the explanation provided (...) by the thesis for our knowledge of our intentional acts. I conclude that none of these arguments are compelling, and therefore that no good reason has been given to accept IC. (shrink)
The self-domestication hypothesis suggests that, like mammalian domesticates, humans have gone through a process of selection against aggression – a process that in the case of humans was self-induced. Here, we extend previous proposals and suggest that what underlies human social evolution is selection for socially mediated emotional control and plasticity. In the first part of the paper we highlight general features of human social evolution, which, we argue, is more similar to that of other social mammals than to that (...) of mammalian domesticates and is therefore incompatible with the notion of human self-domestication. In the second part, we discuss the unique aspects of human evolution and propose that emotional control and social motivation in humans evolved during two major, partially overlapping stages. The first stage, which followed the emergence of mimetic communication, the beginnings of musical engagement, and mimesis-related cognition, required socially mediated emotional plasticity and was accompanied by new social emotions. The second stage followed the emergence of language, when individuals began to instruct the imagination of their interlocutors, and to rely even more extensively on emotional plasticity and culturally learned emotional control. This account further illustrates the significant differences between humans and domesticates, thus challenging the notion of human self-domestication. (shrink)
The paper motivates a novel research programme in the philosophy of action parallel to the ‘Knowledge First’ programme in epistemology. It is argued that much of the grounds for abandoning the quest for a reductive analysis of knowledge in favour of the Knowledge First alternative is mirrored in the case of intentional action, inviting the hypothesis that intentional action is also, like knowledge, metaphysically basic. The paper goes on to demonstrate the sort of explanatory contribution that intentional action can make (...) once it is no longer taken to be a target for reductive analysis, in explaining other, non-intentional kinds of action and voluntariness. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate some properties of forcing which can be considered “nice” in the context of singularizing regular cardinals to have an uncountable cofinality. We show that such forcing which changes cofinality of a regular cardinal, cannot be too nice and must cause some “damage” to the structure of cardinals and stationary sets. As a consequence there is no analogue to the Prikry forcing, in terms of “nice” properties, when changing cofinalities to be uncountable.
I describe a new problem for metaethical constructivism. The problem arises when agents make conflicting judgments, so that the constructivist is implausibly committed to denying they have any reason for any of the available options. The problem is illustrated primarily with reference to Sharon Street’s version of constructivism. Several possible solutions to the problem are explained and rejected.
Living systems are characterized by unique properties that make them resistant to the ``information-processingperspective'' of traditional cognitive science.This paper details those unique properties andoffers a new theoretical framework forunderstanding the behavior of living systems.This framework leans heavily on ideas fromgeneral systems theory (specifically Bateson'sinteractionist perspective), semiotics, andMerleau-Ponty's phenomenology. The benefits ofusing this framework are illustrated withexamples from two different domains: immunologyand verbal interaction.
There has been a resurgence of interest lately within philosophy of mind and action in the category of mental action. Against this background, the present paper aims to question the very possibility, or at least the theoretical significance, of teasing apart mental and bodily acts. After raising some doubts over the viability of various possible ways of drawing the mental act/bodily act distinction, the paper draws some lessons from debates over embodied cognition, which arguably further undermine the credibility of the (...) distinction. The insignificance of the distinction is demonstrated in part by showing how the focus on ‘inner’ acts hampers fruitful discussion of Galen Strawson’s skepticism of mental agency. Finally, the possibility is discussed that a distinction between covert and overt action should supplant the one between mental and bodily action. (shrink)
Mental acts are conspicuously absent from philosophical debates over the nature of action. A typical protagonist of a typical scenario is far more likely to raise her arm or open the window than she is to perform a calculation in her head or talk to herself silently. One possible explanation for this omission is that the standard ‘causalist’ account of action, on which acts are analyzed in terms of mental states causing bodily movements, faces difficulties in accommodating some paradigmatic cases (...) of mental action – or so I argue. After drawing out these objections to causalism, I outline a more promising approach. Building on previous work, I show how the approach I favour, on which the attempt to analyze action is dispensed with, provides a unified account of both mental and physical action. (shrink)
What is reductionism? -- Who is reading the book of life? -- Genetics : from grammar to meaning making -- A point for thought : why are organisms irreducible? -- A point for thought : does the genetic system include a meta-language? -- Immunology : from soldiers to housewives -- A point for thought : immune specificity and Brancusi's kiss -- A point for thought : reflections on the immune self -- Meaning making in language and biology -- A point (...) for thought : meaning : bridging the gap between physics and semantics -- The rest is silence -- The polysemy of the sign : a quantum lesson -- Recursive-hierarchy : a lesson from the tardigrade -- Context and memory : a lesson from funes the memorious -- Transgradience : a lesson from Bakhtin -- The poetry of living. (shrink)
Consistent with numerous electrophysiological studies, we recently reported that conscious perception is associated with a widely distributed modulation of the P3 component . We also showed that correct objective performance in the absence of subjective awareness is associated with a spatially more restricted modulation of the P3. The relatively late occurrence of the P3 along with lack of control for post-perceptual processes suggests that this component might reflect processes related to stimulus evaluation or confidence rather than to visual awareness or (...) objective performance. The main aim of the current study was to test this hypothesis. While EEG was recorded, participants performed a forced-choice localization task and reported their subjective perception of the target on a 3-level scale that also indexed their confidence. The results showed that our previous findings are replicated when confidence is controlled for. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunking arguments appeal to selective etiologies of human morality in an attempt to undermine moral realism. But is morality actually the product of evolution by natural selection? Although debunking arguments have attracted considerable attention in recent years, little of it has been devoted to whether the underlying evolutionary assumptions are credible. In this paper, we take a closer look at the evolutionary hypotheses put forward by two leading debunkers, namely Sharon Street and Richard Joyce. We raise a battery of (...) considerations, both empirical and theoretical, that combine to cast doubt on the plausibility of both hypotheses. We also suggest that it is unlikely that there is in the vicinity a plausible alternative hypothesis suitable for the debunker’s cause. (shrink)
Assuming the existence of a proper class of supercompact cardinals, we force a generic extension in which, for every regular cardinal [Formula: see text], there are [Formula: see text]-Aronszajn trees, and all such trees are special.
The paper criticizes two prominent accounts which purport to explain normativity by appealing to some relation that one bears to oneself. Michael Bratman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would fail to govern oneself. And David Velleman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would be less intelligible to oneself. Both Bratman and Velleman argue in quite different ways that rational coherence is normative because it is necessary for the (...) instantiation or promotion of the independently normative self-relation they invoke. But the paper presents a similar scenario which arguably exposes a failure of extensional adequacy common to both accounts: one can instantiate the self-relation in question without being formally coherent. A brief diagnosis is offered for why two such different accounts turn out to be vulnerable to a similar counterexample, suggesting that other accounts which appeal to self-relations in a broadly similar way might also suffer from the problem identified here. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs) have attracted extensive attention in meta-ethics, as they pose an important challenge to moral realism. Mogensen (2015) suggests that EDAs contain a fallacy, by confusing two distinct forms of biological explanation – ultimate and proximate. If correct, the point is of considerable importance: evolutionary genealogies of human morality are simply irrelevant for debunking. But we argue that the actual situation is subtler: while ultimate claims do not strictly entail proximate ones, there are important evidential connections between (...) the two. Attending to these connections clears ground for a new and improved EDA. However, it also brings into view some possible problems with EDAs that have been largely neglected so far. (shrink)
This paper presents an analysis of the sorites paradox for collective nouns and gradable adjectives within the framework of classical logic. The paradox is explained by distinguishing between qualitative and quantitative representations. This distinction is formally represented by the use of a different mathematical model for each type of representation. Quantitative representations induce Archimedean models, but qualitative representations induce non-Archimedean models. By using a non-standard model of \ called \, which contains infinite and infinitesimal numbers, the two paradoxes are shown (...) to have distinct structures. The sorites paradox for collective nouns arises from the use of infinite numbers, whereas the sorites paradox for gradable adjectives arises from the use of infinitesimal numbers. Each paradox can be traced to a different source of vagueness. The sorites paradox for collective nouns is caused by \, and the sorites paradox for gradable adjectives is caused by \ \. If correct, this analysis implies that infinite and infinitesimal numbers are cognitively real, and that they play a role in the semantic interpretation of natural language. (shrink)
The idea of creation in the divine image has a long and complex history. While its roots apparently lie in the royal myths of Mesopotamia and Egypt, this book argues that it was the biblical account of creation presented in the first chapters of Genesis and its interpretation in early rabbinic literature that created the basis for the perennial inquiry of the concept in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yair Lorberbaum reconstructs the idea of the creation of man in the image (...) of God attributed in the Midrash and the Talmud. He analyzes meanings attributed to tselem Elohim in early rabbinic thought, as expressed in Aggadah, and explores its application in the normative, legal, and ritual realms. (shrink)
The relational structure of RNA, DNA, and protein bears an interesting similarity to the determination problem in category theory. In this paper, we present this deep-structure similarity and use it as a springboard for discussing some abstract properties of coding in various systems. These abstract properties, in turn, may shed light on the evolution of the DNA world from a semiotic perspective. According to the perspective adopted in this paper, living systems are not information processing systems but “meaning-making” systems. Therefore, (...) what flows in the genetic system is not “information” but “value.” We define meaning, meaning-making, and value and then use these terms to explain the abstract dynamics of coding, which can illuminate many forms of sign-mediated activities in biosystems. (shrink)
Introduction With an ageing population, end-of-life care is increasing in importance. The present work investigated characteristics and time trends of older peoples' attitudes towards euthanasia and an end-of-life pill. Methods Three samples aged 64 years or older from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam (N=1284 (2001), N=1303 (2005) and N=1245 (2008)) were studied. Respondents were asked whether they could imagine requesting their physician to end their life (euthanasia), or imagine asking for a pill to end their life if they became tired (...) of living in the absence of a severe disease (end-of-life pill). Using logistic multivariable techniques, changes of attitudes over time and their association with demographic and health characteristics were assessed. Results The proportion of respondents with a positive attitude somewhat increased over time, but significantly only among the 64–74 age group. For euthanasia, these percentages were 58% (2001), 64% (2005) and 70% (2008) (OR of most recent versus earliest period (95% CI): 1.30 (1.17 to 1.44)). For an end-of-life pill, these percentages were 31% (2001), 33% (2005) and 45% (2008) (OR (95% CI): 1.37 (1.23 to 1.52)). For the end-of-life pill, interaction between the most recent time period and age group was significant. Conclusions An increasing proportion of older people reported that they could imagine desiring euthanasia or an end-of-life pill. This may imply an increased interest in deciding about your own life and stresses the importance to take older peoples' wishes seriously. (shrink)
Multicellular organisms are ensembles of quasi-two-dimensional structures (sheets) of various kinds. Why should the development of all organisms be mediated by a quasi-two-dimensional structure? Why does such development avoid a direct confrontation with the third dimension? In this paper, we accept the challenge of addressing this question from the perspective of computational geometry and suggest that the construction of three-dimensional organisms may be explained by the constraints imposed on a bottom-up construction process.