Talk of linguistic universals has given cognitive scientists the impression that languages are all built to a common pattern. In fact, there are vanishingly few universals of language in the direct sense that all languages exhibit them. Instead, diversity can be found at almost every level of linguistic organization. This fundamentally changes the object of enquiry from a cognitive science perspective. This target article summarizes decades of cross-linguistic work by typologists and descriptive linguists, showing just how few and unprofound the (...) universal characteristics of language are, once we honestly confront the diversity offered to us by the world's 6,000 to 8,000 languages. After surveying the various uses of “universal,” we illustrate the ways languages vary radically in sound, meaning, and syntactic organization, and then we examine in more detail the core grammatical machinery of recursion, constituency, and grammatical relations. Although there are significant recurrent patterns in organization, these are better explained as stable engineering solutions satisfying multiple design constraints, reflecting both cultural-historical factors and the constraints of human cognition.Linguistic diversity then becomes the crucial datum for cognitive science: we are the only species with a communication system that is fundamentally variable at all levels. Recognizing the true extent of structural diversity in human language opens up exciting new research directions for cognitive scientists, offering thousands of different natural experiments given by different languages, with new opportunities for dialogue with biological paradigms concerned with change and diversity, and confronting us with the extraordinary plasticity of the highest human skills. (shrink)
In debates over the regulation of communication related to dual-use research, the risks that such communication creates must be weighed against against the value of scientific autonomy. The censorship of such communication seems justifiable in certain cases, given the potentially catastrophic applications of some dual-use research. This conclusion however, gives rise to another kind of danger: that regulators will use overly simplistic cost-benefit analysis to rationalize excessive regulation of scientific research. In response to this, we show how institutional design principles (...) and normative frameworks from free speech theory can be used to help extend the argument for regulating dangerous dual-use research beyond overly simplistic cost-benefit reasoning, but without reverting to an implausibly absolutist view of scientific autonomy. (shrink)
A recent controversy over the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity's recommendation to censor two publications on genetically modified H5N1 avian influenza has generated concern over the threat to scientific freedom such censorship presents. In this paper, I argue that in the case of these studies, appeals to scientific freedom are not sufficient to motivate a rejection of censorship. I then use this conclusion to draw broader concerns about the ethics of dual-use research.
In this paper, we highlight some problems for accounts of disability and enhancement that have not been sufficiently addressed in the literature. The reason, we contend, is that contemporary debates that seek to define, characterise or explain the normative valence of disability and enhancement do not pay sufficient attention to a wide range of cases, and the transition between one state and another. In section one, we provide seven cases that might count as disability or enhancement. We explain why each (...) case might count, and on what basis, and why it is been neglected. Each case is explained as a transition in what we call capacity space. We then argue that no definition of disability or enhancement addresses all of these cases, except for strict welfarist accounts of disability that do not rely on a depiction of any particular capacity. We argue further, however, that this is a serious deficiency of welfarist conceptions of disability. We then address objections to our account. (shrink)
Accounts of language evolution have largely suffered from a monolingual bias, assuming that language evolved in a single isolated community sharing most speech conventions. Rather, evidence from the small-scale societies who form the best simulacra available for ancestral human communities suggests that the combination of small societal scale and out-marriage pushed ancestral human communities to make use of multiple linguistic systems. Evolutionary innovations would have occurred in a number of separate communities, distributing the labor of structural invention between populations, and (...) would then have been pooled gradually through multilingually mediated horizontal transfer to produce the technological package we now regard as a natural ensemble. (shrink)
Across the world people in different societies structure their family relationships in many different ways. These relationships become encoded in their languages as kinship terminology, a word set that maps variably onto a vast genealogical grid of kinship categories, each of which could in principle vary independently. But the observed diversity of kinship terminology is considerably smaller than the enormous theoretical design space. For the past century anthropologists have captured this variation in typological schemes with only a small number of (...) model system types. Whether those types exhibit the internal co-selection of parts implicit in their use is an outstanding question, as is the sufficiency of typologies in capturing variation as a whole. We interrogate the coherence of classic kinship typologies using modern statistical approaches and systematic data from a new database, Kinbank. We first survey the canonical types and their assumed patterns of internal and external co-selection, then present two data-driven approaches to assess internal coherence. Our first analysis reveals that across parents’ and ego’s generation, typology has limited predictive value: knowing the system in one generation does not reliably predict the other. Though we detect limited co-selection between generations, “disharmonic” systems are equally common. Second, we represent structural diversity with a novel multidimensional approach we term kinship space. This approach reveals, for ego’s generation, some broad patterning consistent with the canonical typology, but diversity is considerably higher than classical typologies suggest. Our results strongly challenge the descriptive adequacy of the set of canonical kinship types. (shrink)
New advances in neuroscience promise innovations in national security, especially in the areas of law enforcement, intelligence collection, and armed conflict. But ethical questions emerge about how we can, and should, use these innovations. This book draws on the open literature to map the development of neuroscience, particularly through funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in certain areas like behavior prediction, behavior modification, and neuroenhancement, and its use in the creation of novel weapons. It shows how advances in (...) neuroscience and new technologies raise ethical issues that challenge the norms of law enforcement, intelligence collection, and armed conflict, broadly grouped under the term "national security." Increasing technological sophistication without attention to ethics, this book argues, risks creating conditions for the development of "dual-use" technologies that may be prone to misuse, are grounded in an incomplete understanding of the brain, or are based on a limited view of the political contexts in which these technologies arise. A concluding section looks at policy and regulatory options that might promote the benefits of emerging neuroscience, while mitigating attendant risks. Key Features: First broad survey of the ethics of neuroscience as it applies to national security Innovative ethical analysis over a range of cross-cutting technologies including behavior prediction and modification tools, human enhancement, and novel lethal and nonlethal weapons Ethical analysis covering all stages from the development, testing, and use of these technologies; and decisions from the individual scientist to the nation state Strong policy focus at multiple levels, from self-governance to international regulation Combination of philosophical analysis with grounded, practical recommendations. (shrink)
Rather than treating them as discrete and incommensurable ideas, we sketch some connections between human flourishing and human dignity, and link them to human rights. We contend that the metaphor of flourishing provides an illuminating aspirational framework for thinking about human development and obligations, and that the idea of human dignity is a critical element within that discussion. We conclude with some suggestions as to how these conceptions of human dignity and human flourishing might underpin and inform appeals to human (...) rights. (shrink)
In this article, we raise ethical concerns about the potential misuse of open-source biology : biological research and development that progresses through an organisational model of radical openness, deskilling, and innovation. We compare this organisational structure to that of the open-source software model, and detail salient ethical implications of this model. We demonstrate that OSB, in virtue of its commitment to openness, may be resistant to governance attempts.
This new Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of contemporary extensions and alternatives to the just war tradition in the field of the ethics of war. -/- The modern history of just war has typically assumed the primacy of four particular elements: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, the state actor, and the solider. This book will put these four elements under close scrutiny, and will explore how they fare given the following challenges: -/- • What role do the traditional elements (...) of jus ad bellum and jus in bello—and the constituent principles that follow from this distinction—play in modern warfare? Do they adequately account for a normative theory of war? -/- • What is the role of the state in warfare? Is it or should it be the primary actor in just war theory? -/- • Can a just war be understood simply as a response to territorial aggression between state actors, or should other actions be accommodated under legitimate recourse to armed conflict? -/- • Is the idea of combatant qua state-employed soldier a valid ethical characterization of actors in modern warfare? -/- • What role does the technological backdrop of modern warfare play in understanding and realizing just war theories? -/- Over the course of three key sections, the contributors examine these challenges to the just war tradition in a way that invigorates existing discussions and generates new debate on topical and prospective issues in just war theory. -/- This book will be of great interest to students of just war theory, war and ethics, peace and conflict studies, philosophy and security studies. (shrink)
Debates about dual-use research often turn on the potential for scientific research to be used to benefit or harm humanity. This dual-use potential is conventionally understood as the product of the magnitude of the harms and benefits of dual-use research, multiplied by their likelihood. This account, however, neglects important social aspects of the use of science and technology. In this paper, I supplement existing conceptions of dual-use potential to account for the social context of dual-use research. This account incorporates relational (...) and positional concerns that feature in the success or failure of dual-use. I then defend this account against foreseeable objections. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss the responsibilities that scientists have for ensuring their work is interpreted correctly. I will argue that there are three good reasons for scientists to work to ensure the appropriate communication of their findings. First, I will argue that scientists have a general obligation to ensure scientific research is communicated properly based on the vulnerability of others to the misrepresentation of their work. Second, I will argue that scientists have a special obligation to do so (...) because of the power we as a society invest in them as specialists and professionals. Finally, I will argue that scientists ought to ensure their work is interpreted correctly based on prudential, self-interested considerations. I will conclude by offering suggestions regarding policy considerations. (shrink)
Generative linguistics' search for linguistic universals (1) is not comparable to the vague explanatory suggestions of the article; (2) clearly merits a more central place than linguistic typology in cognitive science; (3) is fundamentally untouched by the article's empirical arguments; (4) best explains the important facts of linguistic diversity; and (5) illuminates the dominant component of language's nature: biology.
Conflation of our unique human endowment for language with innate, so-called universal, grammar has banished language from its biological home. The facts reviewed by Evans & Levinson (E&L) fit the biology of cultural transmission. My commentary highlights our dedicated learning capacity for vocal production learning as the form of our language endowment compatible with those facts.
So-called ‘gain-of-function’ (GOF) research is virological research that results in a virus substantially more virulent or transmissible than its wild antecedent. GOF research has been subject to ethical analysis in the past, but the methods of GOF research have to date been underexamined by philosophers in these analyses. Here, we examine the typical animal used in influenza GOF experiments, the ferret, and show how despite its longstanding use, it does not easily satisfy the desirable criteria for ananimal model. We then (...) discuss the limitations of the ferret model, and how those epistemic limitations bear on ethical and policy questions around the risks and benefits of GOF research. We conclude with a reflection on how philosophy of science can contribute to ethical and policy debates around the risks, benefits and relative priority of life sciences research. (shrink)
Our response takes advantage of the wide-ranging commentary to clarify some aspects of our original proposal and augment others. We argue against the generative critics of our coevolutionary program for the language sciences, defend the use of close-to-surface models as minimizing cross-linguistic data distortion, and stress the growing role of stochastic simulations in making generalized historical accounts testable. These methods lead the search for general principles away from idealized representations and towards selective processes. Putting cultural evolution central in understanding language (...) diversity makes learning fundamental in the cognition of language: increasingly powerful models of general learning, paired with channelled caregiver input, seem set to manage language acquisition without recourse to any innate “universal grammar.” Understanding why human language has no clear parallels in the animal world requires a cross-species perspective: crucial ingredients are vocal learning (for which there are clear non-primate parallels) and an intention-attributing cognitive infrastructure that provides a universal base for language evolution. We conclude by situating linguistic diversity within a broader trend towards understanding human cognition through the study of variation in, for example, human genetics, neurocognition, and psycholinguistic processing. (shrink)
The United States Department of Defense has, for at least 20 years, held the stated intention to enhance active military personnel (“warfighters”). This intention has become more acute in the face of dropping recruitment, an aging fighting force, and emerging strategic challenges. However, developing and testing enhancements is clouded by the ethically contested status of enhancements, the long history of abuse by military medical researchers, and new legislation in the guise of “health security” that has enabled the Department of Defense (...) to apply medical interventions without appropriate oversight. This paper aims to reconcile existing legal and regulatory frameworks on military biomedical research with ethical concerns about military enhancements. In what follows, we first outline one justification for military enhancements. The authors then briefly address existing definitional issues over what constitutes enhancement before addressing existing research ethics regulations governing military biomedical research. Next, they argue that two common justifications for rapid military innovation in science and technology, including enhancement, fail. These justifications are (a) to satisfy a compelling military need and (b) strategic dominance. The authors then turn to an objection that turns on the idea that we need not have these justifications if warfighters are willing to adopt enhancement, and argue that laissez-faire approaches to enhancement fail in the context of the military due to pressing and historically significant concerns about coercion and exploitation. The paper concludes with what is referred to as the “least-worst” justification: Given the rise of untested enhancements in civilian and military life, we have good reason to validate potential enhancements even if they do not satisfy reasons (a) or (b) above. (shrink)
This new Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of contemporary extensions and alternatives to the just war tradition in the field of the ethics of war. The modern history of just war has typically assumed the primacy of four particular elements: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, the state actor, and the solider. This book will put these four elements under close scrutiny, and will explore how they fare given the following challenges: • What role do the traditional elements of jus (...) ad bellum and jus in bello—and the constituent principles that follow from this distinction—play in modern warfare? Do they adequately account for a normative theory of war? • What is the role of the state in warfare? Is it or should it be the primary actor in just war theory? • Can a just war be understood simply as a response to territorial aggression between state actors, or should other actions be accommodated under legitimate recourse to armed conflict? • Is the idea of combatant qua state-employed soldier a valid ethical characterization of actors in modern warfare? • What role does the technological backdrop of modern warfare play in understanding and realizing just war theories? Over the course of three key sections, the contributors examine these challenges to the just war tradition in a way that invigorates existing discussions and generates new debate on topical and prospective issues in just war theory. This book will be of great interest to students of just war theory, war and ethics, peace and conflict studies, philosophy and security studies. (shrink)
Modern warfare has shifted from the traditional conception of states involved in self-defensive wars to include peacekeeping missions, humanitarian intervention, regional stabilisation in the face of natural disasters, and more. A central criterion from just war traditions is the probability of success—given the magnitude of harms that large military operations are expected to cause; there must be some likelihood that the military operation will be successful. However, how likely a given military operation will be is dependent, in part at least, (...) on the capacities of those acting in the given military operation. Our paper shows that the capacities of those involved in a military action bear upon the likelihood of that operation being successful. A central goal of this paper is to argue for the recognition of the training of soldiers as a moral requirement for the just war. (shrink)
The use of autonomous weaponry in warfare has increased substantially over the last twenty years and shows no sign of slowing. Our chapter raises a novel objection to the implementation of autonomous weapons, namely, that they eliminate moral cost-sharing. To grasp the basics of our argument, consider the case of uninhabited aerial vehicles that act autonomously (i.e., LAWS). Imagine that a LAWS terminates a military target and that five civilians die as a side effect of the LAWS bombing. Because LAWS (...) lacks moral agency, and in particular the capacity for moral emotions, moral cost-sharing is limited to dead civilians and their loved ones. We argue that's unjust insofar as those responsible for unjust harm to others ought to share in those costs. Our worry expands to other strategic uses of AI, e.g., cyber warfare. This presents a dilemma: Either we design autonomous weaponry capable of moral emotions, or we limit the use of autonomous weaponry. The former undermines the risk-mitigation purpose of creating autonomous weaponry and expands the number of sentient individuals whose welfare is risked in war. The latter risks worsening combatant casualties and achieving strategic aims. (shrink)
Though it draws on the grammatical metaphor of person (first, third, second) in terms of representations, Schilbach et al.'s target article does not consider an orthogonal line of evidence for the centrality of interaction to social cognition: the many grammatical phenomena, some widespread cross-linguistically and some only being discovered, which are geared to supporting real-time interaction. My commentary reviews these, and the contribution linguistic evidence can make to a fuller account of social cognition.
Deals with the dark side of the medieval theory of knowledge, the pursuit of knowldge in 'wrong' ways, 'common knowledge' and departures from it, wisdom and folly, incomplete knowledge, truth and lies.
Motor training to improve walking and balance function is a common aspect of rehabilitation following motor-incomplete spinal cord injury. Evidence suggests that moderate- to high-intensity exercise facilitates neuroplastic mechanisms that support motor skill acquisition and learning. Furthermore, enhancing corticospinal drive via transcranial direct current stimulation may augment the effects of motor training. In this pilot study, we investigated whether a brief moderate-intensity locomotor-related motor skill training circuit, with and without tDCS, improved walking and balance outcomes in persons with MISCI. In (...) addition, we examined potential differences between within-day and between-day effects of MST. Twenty-six adults with chronic MISCI, who had some walking ability, were enrolled in a 5-day double-blind, randomized study with a 3-day intervention period. Participants were assigned to an intensive locomotor MST circuit and concurrent application of either sham tDCS or active tDCS. The primary outcome was overground walking speed measured during the 10-meter walk test. Secondary outcomes included spatiotemporal gait characteristics, peak trailing limb angle, intralimb coordination, the Berg Balance Scale, and the Falls Efficacy Scale-International questionnaire. Analyses revealed a significant effect of the MST circuit, with improvements in walking speed, cadence, bilateral stride length, stronger limb TLA, weaker limb ACC, BBS, and FES-I observed in both the MST+tDCSsham and MST+tDCS groups. No differences in outcomes were observed between groups. Between-day change accounted for a greater percentage of the overall change in walking outcomes. In persons with MISCI, brief intensive MST involving a circuit of ballistic, cyclic locomotor-related skill activities improved walking outcomes, and selected strength and balance outcomes; however, concurrent application of tDCS did not further enhance the effects of MST.Clinical Trial Registration[ClinicalTrials.gov], identifier [NCT03237234]. (shrink)