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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Innateness and the Situated Mind

By Robert Rupert 

Many advocates of situated approaches to the study of cognition (e.g., Griffiths and Stotz, 2000; Thelen and Smith, 1994) explicitly take exception to cognitive science’s pronounced nativist turn.

Other proponents of situated models seek to mitigate strong nativist claims, by, for example, finding ways to acknowledge innate contributions to cognitive processing while at the same time downplaying those contributions (Wilson, 2004, Chapter 3).

Still others leave implicit their apparent opposition to nativism: they emphasize the environment’s contribution to cognition so strongly as to suggest antinativist views but do not take up the issue explicitly (Clark, 1997; Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1991). Thus, situated theorists have reached something approximating an antinativist consensus.

In this chapter, I argue that they should not embrace the antinativist view so readily. To this end, I divide the situated approach into two species, extended and embedded views of cognition, arguing that each version of the situated view admits of a plausible nativist interpretation with respect to at least some important cognitive phenomena.

In contrast, I also argue for the nonnativist interpretation of certain cognitive phenomena; nevertheless, these antinativist recommendations come heavily hedged -- in some cases, at the expense of a robust reading of the situated program or one of its subdivisions.

Forthcoming in P. Robbins and M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge UP)

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 04:34 GMT
Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007 12:58 GMT
Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology


By Peter Murphy

This paper looks at an argument strategy for assessing the epistemic closure principle. This is the principle that says knowledge is closed under known entailment; or (roughly) if S knows p and S knows that p entails q, then S knows that q. The strategy in question looks to the individual conditions on knowledge to see if they are closed. According to one conjecture, if all the individual conditions are closed, then so too is knowledge. I give a deductive argument for this conjecture. According to a second conjecture, if one (or more) condition is not closed, then neither is knowledge. I give an inductive argument for this conjecture. In sum, I defend the strategy by defending the claim that knowledge is closed if, and only if, all the conditions on knowledge are closed. After making my case, I look at what this means for the debate over whether knowledge is closed.

Forthcoming in Erkenntnis

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:41 BST
Monday, 14 November 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Chimpanzee Theory of Mind: Looking in All the Wrong Places?

By Kristin Andrews

I respond to an argument presented by Daniel Povinelli and Jennifer Vonk that the current generation of experiments on chimpanzee theory of mind cannot decide whether chimpanzees have the ability to reason about mental states. I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's proposed experiment is subject to their own criticisms and that there should be a more radical shift away from experiments that ask subjects to predict behaviour. Further, I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's theoretical commitments should lead them to accept this new approach, and that experiments which offer subjects the opportunity to look for explanations for anomalous behaviour should be explored.

Appeared in Mind & Language, Volume 20, Issue 5, Page 521 - November 2005

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005 00:14 GMT
Sunday, 18 September 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Language, Logic and Ontology

Uncovering the Structure of Commonsense Knowledge

By Walid S. Saba

The purpose of this paper is twofold:
(i) we argue that the structure of commonsense knowledge must be discovered, rather than invented;
and (ii) we argue that natural language, which is the best known theory of our (shared) commonsense knowledge, should itself be used as a guide to discovering the structure of commonsense knowledge.

In addition to suggesting a systematic method to the discovery of the structure of commonsense knowledge, the method we propose seems to also provide an explanation for a number of phenomena in natural language, such as metaphor, intensionality, and the semantics of nominal compounds. Admittedly, our ultimate goal is quite ambitious, and it is no less than the systematic ‘discovery’ of a well-typed ontology of commonsense knowledge, and the subsequent formulation of the long-awaited goal of a meaning algebra.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005 08:43 BST
Saturday, 3 September 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Inateness and Brain-Wring Optimization:

Non-genomic nativism

by Chistopher Cherniak

The study of minimization of neural connections reveals interrelations between the Innateness Hypothesis and theses associated with the Central Dogma of genetics. The discussion of innateness here shifts from the usual focus upon abstract cognitive structure instead to underlying brain hardware structure, to hardwired neuroanatomy.

Experimental work in computational neuroanatomy has uncovered distinctively efficient layout of wiring in nervous systems. When mechanisms are investigated by which such "best of all possible brains" design is attained, significant instances turn out to emerge "for free, directly from physics": Such generation of optimal brain structure appears to arise simply by exploiting basic physical processes, without need for intervention of genes. An idea that physics suffices here--of complex biological structure as self-organizing, generated without genomic activity--turns attention to the role of the genome in morphogenesis. The familiar "nature / nurture" alternatives for origins of basic internal mental structure are that it arises either from the genome or from invariants of the external environment. A third alternative is explored for the cases here, a non-genomic nativism.


See also the Baldwin Effect.
The Nature of the Language Faculty and its Implications for Evolution of Language
The Fodor-Pinker Debate
Formal grammar and information theory: together again?

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005 23:07 BST
Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Machine Learning and the Cognitive Basis of Natural Language

By Shalom Lappin

Machine learning and statistical methods have yielded impressive results in a wide variety of natural language processing tasks. These advances have generally been regarded as engineering achievements. In fact it is possible to argue that the success of machine learning methods is significant for our understanding of the cognitive basis of language acquisition and processing. Recent work in unsupervised grammar induction is particularly relevant to this issue. It suggests that knowledge of language can be achieved through general learning procedures, and that a richly articulated language faculty is not required to explain its acquisition.

Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:20 BST
Saturday, 2 July 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Reference Determination and Conceptual Change

By Ingo Brigandt

The paper discusses reference determination from the point of view of conceptual change in science. The first part of the discussion uses the homology concept, a natural kind term from biology, as an example. It is argued that the causal theory of reference gives an incomplete account of reference determination even in the case of natural kind terms. Moreover, even if descriptions of the referent are taken into account, this does not yield a satisfactory account of reference in the case of the homology concept. I suggest that in addition to the factors that standard theories of reference invoke the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of scientific concepts. In the second part, I argue for a moderate holism about reference determination according to which the set of conditions that determine the reference of a concept is relatively open and different conditions may be reference fixing depending on the context in which this concept is used. It is also suggested that which features are reference determining in a particular case may depend on the philosophical interests that underlie reference ascription and the study of conceptual change.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 07:20 BST
Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Knowledge and Explanation

By Carrie Jenkins

In this paper I attempt a project of this kind. I propose a necessary and sufficient condition for A knows that p which is, although recognizably similar to the traditional sets of conditions, arguably immune to the kind of counterexample which tends to deter philosophers from thinking that any illuminating conditions can be found. I present this condition, however, not as an analysis of knowledge, but rather as a way of getting a handle on the concept and furthering the effort to understand what its role in our lives might be. Taken in this spirit, the current proposal is not at odds with the principles that motivate Craig?s view.
In denying my proposal the status of a reductive analysis, I am mindful of the fact that it will tell us little more than that knowledge is ?non-accidental true belief?. What it offers is a (hopefully fruitful) way of spelling out what is meant by ?non-accidental? in this context. In what follows, I shall write ?KAp? for ?A knows that p? and ?BAp? for ?A believes that p.? I shall propose that KAp just in case BAp and it can be said (under specific circumstances, to be described shortly) that A believes p because p is true. But this is not a causal account of knowledge. The ?because? signals not causation, but explanation.

To appear in the Canadian Journal of Philosophy
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:41 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2005 17:53 BST
Monday, 18 April 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Probability, Modality and Triviality

By Antony Eagle

Many philosophers accept the following three theses:
(1) that probability is a modal concept;
(2) that, if determinism is true, therewould still be objective modal facts; and
(3) that if determinism is true, there are no genuine objective probabilities (chances).

I argue that these 3 claims are inconsistent, and that their widespread acceptance is thus quite troubling. I suggest, as others have, that we should reject the last thesis: objective probability is perfectly compatible with determinism. Nevertheless we must still explain why this thesis seems attractive; I suggest that a subtle equivocation is to blame.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 14:01 BST
Updated: Monday, 18 April 2005 14:03 BST
Friday, 15 April 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

What justifies that?

By Patrick Hawley

I clarify and defuse an argument for skepticism about justification with the aid of some results from recent linguistic theory. These considerations shed light on discussion about the structure of justification.

Take a look

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2005 23:55 GMT
Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Content and context effects in childrens and adults' conditional reasoning

By Pierre Barrouillet & Jean-Francois Lecas

We have recently shown that children [i.e. adolescents] interpret conditional sentences with binary terms (e.g., male/female) in both the antecedent and the consequent as biconditionals (Barrouillet & Lecas, 1998). We hypothesized that the same effect can be obtained with conditionals that do not contain binary terms provided that they are embedded in a context that restricts to only two the possible values on both the antecedent and the consequent. In the present experiment, we asked 12-year- old children, 15-year-old children, and adults to draw conclusions from conditional syllogisms that involved three types of conditional sentence:
(1) conditionals with binary terms (BB),

(2) conditionals with non-binary terms (NN), and

(3) conditionals with non-binary terms embedded in a restrictive context (NNR).

As we predicted, BB conditionals elicited more biconditional response patterns than did NN conditionals in all age groups. On the other hand, manipulating the context had the same effect in children but not in adults. Content and context constraints on conditional reasoning along with developmental issues are discussed within the framework of the mental models theory.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 10:21 GMT
Sunday, 6 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Counterfactual conditionals and false belief: a developmental dissociation

By Josef Perner, Manuel Sprung & Bettina Steinkogler

The objective of this study was to explore factors that affect the difficulty of counterfactual reasoning in 3-5-year-old children and to shed light on the reason why counterfactual reasoning relates to understanding false belief [Cognitive Development, 13 (1998) 73-90]. Using travel scenarios, the difference between simple scenarios, in which each departure point led to exactly one destination, and complex scenarios, in which each of the departure points was cross-connected with all destination points, proved very important. In simple scenarios even 3 and 1/2 -year olds gave 75% correct answers to counterfactual questions, a level achieved on complex scenarios a year, and on false belief questions, irrespective of scenario, 1 and 1/2 years later. Since simple scenarios require the same kind of reasoning as complex scenarios, this calls into question the suggestion by Peterson and Riggs [Mind & Language 14 (1999) 80-112] that modified derivation is the common denominator for answering counterfactual questions and questions about false belief.

Keywords: Counterfactual conditionals; False belief; Conditional reasoning

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:25 GMT
Saturday, 5 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Contradictions and Counterfactuals:
Generating Belief Revisions in Conditional Inference

By Ruth M.J. Byrne & Clare R. Walsh

Reasoners revise their beliefs in the premises when an inference they have made is contradicted. We describe the results of an experiment that shows that the belief they revise depends on the inference they have made. They revise their belief in a conditional (if A then B) when they make a modus tollens inference (from not-B to not-A) that is subsequently contradicted (A). But when they make a modus ponens inference (from A to B) that is contradicted (not-B) they revise their belief in the categorical assertion (A). The experiment shows that this inference contradiction effect occurs not only for factual conditionals but also for counterfactual conditionals. However, reasoners revise their beliefs in factual conditionals more than counterfactuals.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 5 March 2005 09:22 GMT
Saturday, 19 February 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Indexicality and A Prioricity

By James Pryor

I consider beliefs that are claimed to be a priori in virtue of (i) their indexical character--beliefs like "I am here now", or in virtue of (ii) their self-verifying character--beliefs like "I exist" and "I am now thinking about myself." I argue that none of these beliefs really are a priori.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 19 February 2005 06:48 GMT
Wednesday, 12 January 2005

Now Playing: REPOSTED
Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

A Puzzle Concerning Time Perception

By Robin Le Poidevin

According to a plausible and influential account of perceptual knowledge, the truth-makers of beliefs that constitute perceptual knowledge must feature in the causal explanation of how we acquire those beliefs. However, this account runs into difficulties when it tries to accommodate time perception --specifically perception of order and duration -since the features we are apparently tracking in such perception are (it is argued) not causal. The central aim of the paper is to solve this epistemological puzzle. Two strategies are examined. The first strategy locates the causal truth-makers within the psychological mechanism underlying time perception, thus treating facts about time order and duration as mind-dependent. This strategy, however, is problematic. The second strategy modifies the causal account of perceptual knowledge to include a non-causal component in the explanation of belief-acquisition, namely chronometric explanation. Applying this much more satisfactory approach to perceptual knowledge of time, we can preserve the mind-independence of order and duration, but not that of time's flow.

For subscribers

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 12 January 2005 03:32 GMT

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