This paper provides a method for characterizing space events using the framework of conceptual spaces. We focus specifically on estimating and ranking the likelihood of collisions between space objects. The objective is to design an approach for anticipatory decision support for space operators who can take preventive actions on the basis of assessments of relative risk. To make this possible our approach draws on the fusion of both hard and soft data within a single decision support framework. Contextual data is (...) also taken into account, for example data about space weather effects, by drawing on the Space Domain Ontologies, a large system of ontologies designed to support all aspects of space situational awareness. The framework is coupled with a mathematical programming scheme that frames a mathematically optimal approach for decision support, providing a quantitative basis for ranking potential for collision across multiple satellite pairs. The goal is to provide the broadest possible information foundation for critical assessments of collision likelihood. (shrink)
This presentation discusses a notion encountered across disciplines, and in different facets of human activity: autonomous activity. We engage it in an interdisciplinary way. We start by considering the reactions and behaviors of biological entities to biotechnological intervention. An attempt is made to characterize the degree of freedom of embryos & clones, which show openness to different outcomes when the epigenetic developmental landscape is factored in. We then consider the claim made in programming and artificial intelligence that automata could show (...) self-directed behavior as to the determination of their step-wise decisions on courses of action. This question remains largely open and calls for some important qualifications. We try to make sense of the presence of claims of freedom in agency, first in common sense, then by ascribing developmental plasticity in biology and biotechnology, and in the mapping of programmed systems in the presence of environmental cues and self-referenced circuits as well as environmental coupling. This is the occasion to recall attempts at working out a logical and methodological approach to the openness of concepts that are still to be found, and assess whether they can operate the structuring intelligibility of a yet undeveloped or underdeveloped field of study, where a “bisociation" and a unification of knowledge might be possible. (shrink)
No Moonlight in My Cup: Sinitic Poetry from the Japanese Court, Eighth to the Twelfth Centuries. Edited and translated by Judith N. Rabinovitch and Timothy R. BradstocK. East Asian Comparative Literature and Culture, vol. 10. Leiden: Brill, 2019. Pp. xxvi + 474. $232.
The overall goal of the approach developed in this paper is to estimate the likelihood of a given kinetic kill scenario between hostile spacebased adversaries using the mathematical framework of Complex Conceptual Spaces Single Observation. Conceptual spaces are a cognitive model that provide a method for systematically and automatically mimicking human decision making. For accurate decisions to be made, the fusion of both hard and soft data into a single decision framework is required. This presents several challenges to this data (...) fusion framework. The first is the challenge involved in handling multiple complex terminologies, which is addressed by drawing on a set of Space Domain Ontologies. Another challenge is the complex combinatorics involved when considering all possible feature combinations. This can be mitigated by using integer linear programming optimization that is outlined by the Complex Conceptual Spaces Single Observation mathematical model framework. A third challenge is the complicated physics that is involved in a spacecraft collision that must be addressed to obtain a better understanding of threat assessment. Overcoming these various challenges allows for a quantitative ranking for the potential of a kinetic kill collision across multiple spacecraft pairs. In addition to overcoming these challenges this paper will break down threat assessment into four domains and identify a ranking of threat both for each individual domain and for the four domains combined. Simulation results are shown to verify the developed concepts. (shrink)
Learning a novel environment involves integrating first-person perceptual and motoric experiences with developing knowledge about the overall structure of the surroundings. The present experiments provide insights into the parallel development of these egocentric and allocentric memories by intentionally conflicting body- and world-centered frames of reference during learning, and measuring outcomes via online and offline measures. Results of two experiments demonstrate faster learning and increased memory flexibility following route perspective reading (Experiment 1) and virtual navigation (Experiment 2) when participants begin exploring (...) the environment on a northward (vs. any other direction) allocentric heading. We suggest that learning advantages due to aligning body-centered (left/right/forward/back) with world-centered (NSEW) reference frames are indicative of three features of spatial memory development and representation. First, memories for egocentric and allocentric information develop in parallel during novel environment learning. Second, cognitive maps have a preferred orientation relative to world-centered coordinates. Finally, this preferred orientation corresponds to traditional orientation of physical maps (i.e., north is upward), suggesting strong associations between daily perceptual and motor experiences and the manner in which we preferentially represent spatial knowledge. (shrink)
Two essays in literary philosophy, separated by thirty-five years. Both are concerned in a general way with the mind-body problem, and contain many interesting and original philosophical ideas—though the reader unfamiliar with the late physicists's other philosophical writings will be surprised to find them wholly unconnected with his scientific work.—R. H. T.
Standpoint theorists have long been clear that marginalization does not make better understanding a given. They have been less clear, though, that social dominance does not make ignorance a given. Indeed, many standpoint theorists have implicitly committed themselves to what I call the strong epistemic disadvantage thesis. According to this thesis, there are strong, substantive limits on what the socially dominant can know about oppression that they do not personally experience. I argue that this thesis is not just implausible but (...) politically pernicious; it is an excuse for ignorance and silence that stifles our ability to address many injustices. Moreover, I argue that if we are to avoid lending support to the SEDT while working within a standpoint theory framework, we must hold that the socially dominant can achieve marginalized standpoints. So, we must hold that men can achieve feminist standpoints, that white women (and men) can achieve black feminist standpoints, and so on. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to critique the primary arguments given by Paul Bloom and Jesse Prinz against empathy, and to argue instead that empathy is best understood as a virtue that plays an important but complicated role in the moral life. That it is a virtue does not mean that it always functions well, and empathy sometimes contributes to behavior that is partial and unfair. In some of their writings, both Bloom and Prinz endorse the view that empathy (...) is a fixed trait, but there is little reason to think this, and the studies that they cite do not support this view. Further, a number of recent studies suggest the opposite: our empathic reactions are malleable and subject to environmental effects and learning. Although our capacities for cognitive and emotional empathy are clearly not sufficient for being moral, I argue that they are functionally necessary traits that, like other virtues, must be cultivated correctly. (shrink)
The present studies examined whether implied tactile properties during language comprehension influence subsequent direct tactile perception, and the specificity of any such effects. Participants read sentences that implicitly conveyed information regarding tactile properties (e.g., Grace tried on a pair of thick corduroy pants while shopping) that were either related or unrelated to fabrics and varied in implied texture (smooth, medium, rough). After reading each sentence, participants then performed an unrelated rating task during which they felt and rated the texture of (...) a presented fabric. Results demonstrated that the texture properties implied in sentences influence direct tactile perception. Specifically, after reading about a smooth or rough texture, subsequent fabric ratings became notably smoother or rougher, respectively. However, we also show that there was some specificity to these effects: Fabric-related sentences elicited more specific and interactive effects on subsequent ratings. Together, we demonstrate that under certain circumstances, language comprehension can prime tactile representations and affect direct tactile perception. Results are discussed with regard to the nature and scope of multimodal mental simulation during reading. (shrink)
J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was thought by many to be a modern-day equivalent of the Buddha. In fact, he was once even considered to be the second coming of Christ. While many think it wonderful to live and work in close proximity with such a person, it's difficult to understand the depth of what this means and how challenging this might be. In Knocking at the Open Door, author R.E. Mark Lee provides an ordinary person view of what being close-up and (...) working together with such a man means, how it challenges one at every turn, and how it causes one to question ceaselessly, even more deeply than one ordinarily would. Lee offers an insightful, candid, and heartfelt narrative that reveals various unknown facets of the eminent world teacher J. Krishnamurti and highlights his distinctive vision for education worldwide. This comprehensive volume brings alive the practical and everyday interactions Lee had with Krishnamurti during a twenty-year period in India and the United Sates. Knocking at the Open Door shares a clear and honest account that demonstrates the challenges of working with Krishnamurti in running a school that is true to the teaching and yet able to function in the reality of modern parental, student, and educational establishment expectations. (shrink)
The live-action comedies Hotel for Dogs and Marley and Me illustrate the prominent American stereotypes of canines as surrogate children and models of human behavior. Both adopt a human perspective on nonhuman animals, particularly dogs. An ethic of caring goes awry, to become pampering and permissiveness, and precludes empathetic training that would help dogs to prosper as canines in a human world.
How should ethics help decide the morality of enhancing morality? The idea of morally enhancing the human brain quickly emerged when the promise of cognitive enhancement in general began to seem realizable. However, on reflection, achieving moral enhancement must be limited by the practical challenges to any sort of cognitive modification, along with obstacles particular to morality’s bases in social cognition. The objectivity offered by the brain sciences cannot ensure the technological achievement of moral bioenhancement for humanity-wide application. Additionally, any (...) limited moral enhancement will not easily fulfil ethical expectations. Three hypothetical scenarios involving putative moral enhancement help illustrate why. Philosophical concerns about the “Does-Must Dichotomy” and the “Factor-Cause Plurality,” as I label them, forbid easy leaps from views about morality on to conclusions about ways to enhance morality, and then further on to ethically justifying those enhancements. A modest and realistic approach to moral enhancement emerges from exploring these issues. (shrink)
The formation and recall of memories are fundamental aspects of life and help preserve the complex collection of experiences that provide us with a sense of identity and autonomy. Scientists have recently started to investigate pharmacological agents that inhibit or “dampen” the strength of memory formation and recall. The development of these memory-dampening agents has been investigated for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Currently, these agents are being tested in multicenter clinical trials and will likely soon be approved (...) for the treatment of PTSD. With advancements in technology, more targeted memory-dampening techniques may be developed in the future. Accessibility to these agents will inevitably affect one's sense of identity and also one's sense of autonomy. Therefore, it is essential that the legal and ethical implications of using these agents be examined for governments and courts to appropriately address issues that may emerge. (shrink)
I had a strange dream, or half-waking vision, not long ago. I found myself at the top of a mountain in the mist, feeling very pleased with myself, not just for having climbed the mountain, but for having achieved my life's ambition, to find a way of answering moral questions rationally. But as I was preening myself on this achievement, the mist began to clear, and I saw that I was surrounded on the mountain top by the graves of all (...) those other philosophers, great and small, who had had the same ambition, and thought they had achieved it. And I have come to see, reflecting on my dream, that, ever since, the hard-working philosophical worms have been nibbling away at their systems and showing that the achievement was an illusion. True, their skeletons, indigestible to worms, remained, and were surprisingly similar to one another. But I was led to think again about what one can, and what one cannot, achieve in this direction. (shrink)
I think that Alzheimer's disease and all neurological disabilities of this kind, degenerative conditions, are of the most intense intellectual interest and importance … because these people are taking us to places we would rather not think about and what these people have to say—to the degree that they can say anything at all—should teach us something about what a person is, what human identity is.What could it mean in general to say that possible ways to be a person can (...) from time to time come into being or disappear?What can we learn about the experience of dementia and about ways of being human when a poet describes her forgetting? My mother, the poet Shirley Kaufman, died in 2016 at the age of 93. She had... (shrink)
Many new mothers question the nature of their motherly love after birth. This affectionate relationship towards the infant is commonly called bonding in everyday speech, clinical practice and research. Bonding may not sufficiently describe the mother’s emotional response to the infant and does not capture the ambivalence and struggle to develop maternal affection of many women. This study aims to explore the phenomenon of disturbed maternal affection through the clinical case of one mother who experienced severe and prolonged disturbances. Two (...) in-depth interviews led to a descriptive phenomenological analysis. The mother developed depressive symptoms from not feeling enough for her child, not the opposite, as is often hypothesized. We describe and discuss crucial constituents of her experience, such as ambivalence, remoteness, boredom, guilt, and the looming repetition of parenting patterns, and a solution resulting from therapy-enhanced reflection on motherhood vis-à-vis early life patterns, sociocultural expectations and existential predicaments. (shrink)