The notions of purpose, goal, end and function are used in descriptions of a very wide range of human, animal and machine behaviour. Andrew Woodfield provides here a unified account of such teleological descriptions and explanations, their varieties, their logical structure and their proper uses. He concentrates his argument on the concepts of 'goal-directed behaviour' and 'natural function', and combines original philosophical criticism with a meticulous, detailed survey of the main competing theories in this diffuse and difficult field.
According to Putnam, meaning and reference depend on acts of structured cooperation between language‐users. For example, laypeople defer to experts regarging the conditions under which something may be called ’gold’. A modest expert may defer to a greater expert. Question: can deference be never‐ending? Two theories say no. I expound these, then criticize them. The theories deal with semantic processes bound by a ’stopping’ constraint which are not cases of ordimary deferring. Deferring is normally done for a reason, and a (...) rational person is always disposed to defer if there is good reason. (shrink)
‘Psychological structures may be shown to grow and differentiate throughout life. Correspondingly, the brain has a much more lengthy and involved development than any other mechanism of the body. We know little yet of how this uniquely complex process is determined, but it is certain that the principles of embryogenesis apply in all growth, including psychological growth, and not just to the morphogenesis of the body of the embryo.’.
The anti?Cartesian idea that a person's thoughts are not entirely fixed by what goes on inside that person's head is suggested by Hegel, and echoed in Wittgenstein and Frege. An argument for the view has recently been given by Tyler Burge. This paper claims that Burge's data can be explained better by an individualistic theory. The basic idea is that an individual's thoughts are specified analogically, in ordinary discourse, through the model of a language. Though the modelling?sentences are public, the (...) thoughts of the individual are inner states whose identity does not depend upon those sentences. They have content naturally, whether or not content happens to be ascribed to them. (shrink)
Social externalism is a thesis about the individuation-conditions of thoughts. Actually, the thesis applies only to a special category of ‘trained’ thoughts, thoughts which issue from trained thinking. It isn't that the thinker of such a thought has to have had special training about the subject-matter. It is rather that he or she needs to have acquired certain basic linguistic skills and values. For trained thoughts are thoughts whose contents are tailored to the demands of communication. Social externalism, as I (...) understand it, says that people who are competent in a public language are equipped to have certain thoughts whose contents are fixed by the lexical semantic norms of their language. (shrink)
The title and blurb suggest that this book makes a case for eliminating concepts. The suggestion is misleading, however. What Machery really does is multiply them.Here is his characterization of what concepts are. He says that a concept is ‘a body of knowledge about x that is stored in long-term memory and that is used by default in the processes underlying most, if not all, higher cognitive competences when these processes result in judgements about x’. He holds that people represent (...) categories through exemplars, prototypes and theories, that these types of representations really exist, and that they all count as concepts according to the above characterization.Machery offers an interesting new take on the concept research undertaken by cognitive psychologists over the past three or four decades. Psychology textbooks tend to classify the main theories of concepts as follows. They draw a contrast between the ‘classical definition’ theory and late 20th century ‘probabilistic’ theories. They distinguish, within the probabilistic camp, between ‘prototype-based’ theories and ‘exemplar-based’ theories, and they admit a further family of ‘theory–theories’, according to which a concept of x is a mini-theory about x. Within each camp, different specific …. (shrink)
Not all categorization is conceptual. Many of the experimental findings concerning infant and animal categorization invite the hypothesis that the subjects form abstract perceptual representations, mental models or cognitive maps that are not composed of concepts. The paper is a reflection upon the idea that conceptual categorization involves the ability to make categorical judgements under the guidance of norms of rationality. These include a norm of truth-seeking and a norm of good evidence. Acceptance of these norms implies willingness to defer (...) to cognitive authorities, unwillingness to commit oneself to contradictions, and knowledge of how to reorganize one's representational system upon discovering that one has made a mistake. It is proposed that the cognitive architecture required for basic rationality is similar to that which underlies pretend-play. The representational system must be able to make room for separate 'mental spaces' in which alternatives to the actual world are entertained. The same feature underlies the ability to understand modalities, time, the appearance-reality distinction, other minds, and ethics. Each area of understanding admits of degrees, and mastery takes years. But rational concept-management, at least in its most rudimentary form, does not require a capacity to form second-order representations. It requires knowledge of how to operate upon, and compare, the contents of different mental spaces.Nem toda categorização é conceitual. Muitas das descobertas experimentais sobre o processo de categorização nas crianças e animais sugerem a hipótese segundo a qual os sujeitos formam representações perceptuais abstratas, modelos mentais ou mapas cognitivos que não são compostos de conceitos. Este artigo é uma reflexão acerca da ideia de que categorização conceitual envolve a habilidade de fazer julgamentos categoriais, tender como guia as normas de racionalidade. Estas incluem uma norma de busca da verdade e uma norma de evidência adequada. A aceitação dessas normas implica boa vontade em respeitar as autoridades cognitivas, o desejo de evitar as contradições e o conhecimento de como reorganizar seu sistema representacional após descobrir que se cometeu um erro. Sugere-se que a arquitetura cognitiva requerida pela racionalidade básica é semelhante àquela subjacente ao jogo do "faz de conta". O sistema representacional deve ser capaz de arrumar lugar para "espaços mentais", nos quais alternativas para o mundo real são consideradas. A mesma característica subjaz à habilidade de compreender modalidades, tempo, a distinção entre aparência e realidade, outras mentes e éticas. Cada área de compreensão admite graus, e o seu domínio leva anos. Contudo a manipulação racional de conceitos, pelo menos na sua forma mais rudimentar, não requer a capacidade de formar representações de segunda ordem. Ela requer conhecimento do procedimento de como operar e comparar os conteúdos dos diferentes espaços mentais. (shrink)
Darwinism is ‘much more than a theory’, said the German botanist Albert Wigand in 1875; ‘it is a frame of mind which dominates thought, a resuscitated “Naturphilosophie”, in which the terms “Polarity”, “Totality”, “Subject”, “Object” are replaced by terms such as “Struggle for Existence”, “Inheritance”, “Selection”, and so on.’ Subsequent events have indicated that Wigand had a point. But it is not clear to us yet what exactly the point is. Interest in Man's Place in Nature, and in his alleged (...) biological uniqueness as a language-user and tool-maker, is as great now as it was in 1871 when Darwin's Descent of Man was first published. We now have access to well over a hundred years' worth of material sparked off by The Origin of Species , linking Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection to almost every field under the sun. Yet the precise status of his theory is still the subject of vigorous controversy in philosophy of science. (shrink)