Violent extremism is often explicitly motivated by commitment to abstract ideals such as the nation or divine law – so-called “sacred” values that are relatively insensitive to material incentives and define our primary reference groups. Moreover, extreme pro-group behavior seems to intensify after social exclusion. This fMRI study explores underlying neural and behavioral relationships between sacred values, violent extremism, and social exclusion. Ethnographic fieldwork and psychological surveys were carried out among young men from a European Muslim community in neighborhoods in (...) and around Barcelona, Spain. Candidates for an fMRI experiment were selected from those who expressed willingness to engage in or facilitate, violence associated with jihadist causes. In the scanner, participants were assessed for their willingness to fight and die for in-group sacred values before and after an experimental manipulation using Cyberball, a toss ball game known to yield strong feelings of social exclusion. Results indicate that neural activity associated with sacred value processing in a sample vulnerable to recruitment into violent extremism shows marked activity in the left inferior frontal gyrus, a region previously associated with sacred values and rule retrieval. Participants also behaviorally expressed greater willingness to fight and die for sacred versus non-sacred values, consistent with previous studies of combatants and noncombatants. The social exclusion manipulation specifically affected non-sacred values, increasing their similarities with sacred values in terms of heightened left inferior frontal activity and greater expressed willingness to fight and die. These findings suggest that sacralization of values interacts with willingness to engage in extreme behavior in populations vulnerable to radicalization. In addition, social exclusion may be a relevant factor motivating violent extremism and consolidation of sacred values. If so, counteracting social exclusion and sacralization of values should figure into policies to prevent radicalization. (shrink)
This book presents an original thesis about the notion of sensory experience and of the mind’s architecture, which is grounded in current trends in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Presented in the form of a dialogue, the book explores some of the psychological and philosophical consequences that the author derives from his proposal. "Provocative and imaginative, the first volume in the VIBS' Special Series in Cognitive Science is a critique of the traditional theoretical apparatus of the discipline. In The (...) Dissolution of Mind, neuroscientist Oscar Vilarroya undertakes the ambitious project of reformulating the traditional notions of "concept," "thought," "communication," "representation," "language" and eventually "mind." Metapsychology, May 2003. (shrink)
Some evolutionary psychologists contend that the best way to discover the functions of our present psychological systems is by appealing to the notion of functional mesh, that is, the assumed tight fit between a trait's design and the adaptive problem it is supposed to solve. In this paper, I argue that there exist theoretical considerations and empirical evidence that undermine this assumption of optimal design. Instead, I suggest that cognitive systems are constrained by what I call bounded functionality. This proposal (...) makes use of Jacob's (1977) notion of evolution as a bricoleur and Simon's (1981) idea that problems can have ``satisficing'' solutions. Functional mesh will thus be shown to neglect constraints that are necessary to explain the evolution of psychological mechanisms. (shrink)
In evolutionary biology, a trait is said to be optimal if it maximizes the fitness of the organism, that is, if the trait allows the organism to survive and reproduce better than any other competing trait would. In engineering, a design is said to be optimal if it complies with its functional requirements as well as possible. Cognitive science is both a biological and engineering discipline and hence it uses both notions of optimality. Unfortunately, the lack of a clear methodological (...) stance on this tissue has made it common for researchers to conflate these two kinds of optimality. In this paper, I argue that a strict distinction must kept in order to avoid inaccurate assumptions. (shrink)
The proposal of Steels & Belpaeme (S&B) is on the right track to solve the nativist/empiricist/culturalist controversy. However, their nativist model of colour categorization does not correspond to a proper genetic model. Colour perception is the outcome of a complex process of development. A direct correspondence between genes and colour categories cannot be the right approach to the problem.
The neogenome has indeed changed how to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. However, this does not imply a paradigm shift, but simply a normal development of a young science. Charney creates a straw man out of the myth of an immutable genetics, and conveys the wrong idea that heritability studies and gene association studies are no longer valid.
I agree with Anderson's approach to reuse theories. My main concern is twofold. Anderson assumes certain nomological regularities in reuse phenomena that are simply conjectures supported by thin evidence. On the other hand, a biological theory of reuse is insufficient, in and of itself, to address the evaluation of particular models of cognition, such as concept empiricism or conceptual metaphor.
It is difficult to see how one can support the continuum between rules and similarity, as Pothos proposes. A similarity theory could dispense with the rules end of the continuum. The only thing that we need is one (or more than one) theory of similarity that goes beyond the stimulus-carrying information and behavioristic restrictions that have usually been attributed to similarity theories.
This book examines philosophical and scientific implications of Neodarwinism relative to recent empirical data. It develops explanations of social behavior and cognition through analysis of mental capabilities and consideration of ethical issues. It includes debate within cognitive science among explanations of social and moral phenomena from philosophy, evolutionary and cognitive psychology, neurobiology, linguistics, and computer science. Cognitive Science (CS) provides an original corpus of scholarly work that makes explicit the import of cognitive-science research for philosophical analysis. Topics include the nature, (...) structure, and justification of knowledge, cognitive architectures and development, brain-mind theories, and consciousness. (shrink)