7.0250 Philosophy Preprint Abstracts (1/292)
Elaine Brennan (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 19 Oct 1993 21:19:49 EDT
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0250. Tuesday, 19 Oct 1993.
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 16:10:03 +0900
Subject: New preprints on the IPPE
The International Philosophical Preprint Exchange
Abstracts of recent submissions, as of Sat Oct 16 06:33:37 JST 1993:
Stevan Harnad : Princeton University : email@example.com
Artificial Life: Synthetic vs. Virtual
Artificial Life III (Santa Fe, June 1992) (to appear)
Artificial life can take two forms: synthetic and virtual. In
principle, the materials and properties of synthetic living systems
could differ radically from those of natural living systems yet still
resemble them enough to be really alive if they are grounded in the
relevant causal interactions with the real world. Virtual (purely
computational) "living" systems, in contrast, are just ungrounded
symbol systems that are systematically interpretable as if they were
alive; in reality they are no more alive than a virtual furnace is hot.
Virtual systems are better viewed as "symbolic oracles" that can be
used (interpreted) to predict and explain real systems, but not to
instantiate them. The vitalistic overinterpretation of virtual life is
related to the animistic overinterpretation of virtual minds and is
probably based on an implicit (and possibly erroneous) intuition
that living things have actual or potential mental lives.
Bernhardt Lieberman : University of Pittsburgh : Bernie1@vms.cis.pitt.edu
What the Controversies Over the Health Effects of Exposure to
Environmental Tobacco Smoke Tell Us About the Debates Between
Objectivists and Social Constructionists
Some social analyses of scientific knowledge are based on objectivist
assumptions, while others assume that scientific knowledge is social
constructed. The condemnation of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) by
the antismoking movement affects the life of virtually every American
and uncounted millions of others throughout the world. Investigators
who argue that ETS causes lung cancer claim the influence, objectivity,
and authority of scientific inquiry, while critics of the results of
the investigations argue that the conclusion that ETS causes lung
cancer is unwarranted. The present study uses this fascinating and
important sociotechnical controversy to shed light on the debate
between objectivists and social constructionists and reaches the
conclusion that the condemnation of environmental tobacco smoke is a
deliberate social construction of an elite social movement which mixes
advocacy and alleged objective inquiry so that the actual relationship
between ETS and lung cancer will probably never be determined.
University of Missouri
Kansas City MO 64110
It is useful to hybridize some of Steven Toulmin's and Rom Harre's ideas
about theories. Toulmin thinks that maps provided an informative
analogy for the structure and function of theories in science. So do I.
Harre thinks that icons and propositions fit together to make of theories
statement-picture complexes. So do I. The first two sections of this paper
show how the two sets of notions might be put together. In the next
section I show how Harre's ideas about models can be used to trace out
the progress of Robert Boyle toward his theory of pneumatics. Finally,
these ideas are joined by some ideas of Ron Giere about how Mendel's
theory is structured; in the end I produce a fairly full picture of the
scheme of neo-Mendelian genetics.
Unfortunately, the picture itself isn't included in this special internet
version of the paper. If anyone manages to slog through the paper to the
end, and STILL would like to see the figures, I'll be glad to snailmail
them to you. Request them either via e-mail or snailmail.
By the way, this material was prepared for my sophomore/junior level
scientific methods class, and as a possible candidate for a new chapter in
my imagined revised edition of _Theory of Science_, McGraw-Hill, 1979.
I'd sure appreciate your comments on this essay.
Gregory R. Mulhauser : University of Edinburgh : <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Materialism and the "Problem" of Quantum Measurement
Forthcoming in _Minds and Machines_
For nearly six decades, the conscious observer has played a
central and essential role in quantum measurement theory. I
outline some difficulties which the traditional account of
measurement presents for material theories of mind before
introducing a new development which promises to exorcise the
ghost of consciousness from physics and relieve the cognitive
scientist of the burden of explaining why certain material
structures reduce wavefunctions by virtue of being conscious
while others do not. The interactive decoherence of complex
quantum systems reveals that the oddities and complexities of
linear superposition and state vector reduction are irrelevant
to computational aspects of the philosophy of mind and that
many conclusions in related fields are ill founded.
Stevan Harnad : Princeton University : email@example.com
Does the Mind Piggy-Back on Robotic and Symbolic Capacity?
To appear in: H. Morowitz (ed.) "The Mind, the Brain, and Complex
Cognitive science is a form of "reverse engineering" (as Dennett has
dubbed it). We are trying to explain the mind by building (or
explaining the functional principles of) systems that have minds. A
"Turing" hierarchy of empirical constraints can be applied to this
task, from t1, toy models that capture only an arbitrary fragment of
our performance capacity, to T2, the standard "pen-pal" Turing Test
(total symbolic capacity), to T3, the Total Turing Test (total symbolic
plus robotic capacity), to T4 (T3 plus internal [neuromolecular]
indistinguishability). All scientific theories are underdetermined by
data. What is the right level of empirical constraint for cognitive
theory? I will argue that T2 is underconstrained (because of the Symbol
Grounding Problem and Searle's Chinese Room Argument) and that T4 is
overconstrained (because we don't know what neural data, if any, are
relevant). T3 is the level at which we solve the "other minds" problem
in everyday life, the one at which evolution operates (the Blind
Watchmaker is no mind-reader either) and the one at which symbol
systems can be grounded in the robotic capacity to name and manipulate
the objects their symbols are about. I will illustrate this with a toy
model for an important component of T3 -- categorization -- using
neural nets that learn category invariance by "warping" similarity
space the way it is warped in human categorical perception:
within-category similarities are amplified and between-category
similarities are attenuated. This analog "shape" constraint is the
grounding inherited by the arbitrarily shaped symbol that names the
category and by all the symbol combinations it enters into. No matter
how tightly one constrains any such model, however, it will always be
more underdetermined than normal scientific and engineering theory.
This will remain the ineliminable legacy of the mind/body problem.
Those attending this conference and those reading the published
volume of papers arising from it will be struck by the radical shifts
in focus and content among the various categories of contribution.
Immediately preceding mine, you have heard the two most neurobiological
of the papers. Pat Goldman-Rakic discussed internal representation in
the brains of animals and Larry Squire discussed the brain basis of
human memory. Others are presenting data about human behavior, others
about computational models, and still others about general classes of
physical systems that might share the relevant properties of these
three domains -- brain, behavior, and computation -- plus, one hopes, a
further property as well, namely, conscious experience: this is the
property that, as our brains do whatever they do, as our behavior is
generated, as whatever gets computed gets computed, there's somebody
home in there, experiencing experiences during most of the time the
rest of it is all happening.
It's the status of this last property that I'm going to discuss first.
Traditionally, this topic is the purview of the philosopher,
particularly in the form of the so-called "mind/body" problem, but these days
I find that philosophers, especially those who have become very closely
associated with cognitive science and its actual practice,
seem to be more dedicated to minimizing this problem (or even declaring
it solved or nonexistent) than to giving it its full due, with all the
perplexity and dissatisfaction that this inevitably leads to. So
although I am not a philosopher, I feel it is my duty to arouse in you
some of this perplexity and dissatisfaction -- if only to have it
assuaged by the true philosophers who will also be addressing you here.
Sule H. Elkatip : Bosphorus University : firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuation and Scotus
INDIVIDUATION AND SCOTUS
Dr. Sule H. Elkatip
Dept. of Philosophy
In the texts written by Scotus the most striking philosophical
achievement is his method of analysis. It is perhaps surprising to see
that he is often unwilling to adopt the philosophical analyses of his
predecessors. The major reason for this probably was that Scotus had not
found Aristotle's treatment of philosophical problems such as "substance",
"individuation", "being" ultimate.
For Scotus individuation applies to entities which in general give us
our predicates such as quality and quantity and so forth. One of his arguments
is to the effect that these predicates enjoying being are where we should
start our philosophical analyzing rather than with substance. A second
argument considers the alternative of beginning with substance and
after criticizing it rejects it. This second argument points out that
starting with predicates the principle for individualizing is attained
not by introducing things in addition to predicates but through further
analysis. The case for the substance theory is of course different. It does
not begin with predication. It sets out with substances. These substances
are both particular and universal entities and are spoken of as primary
and secondary by Aristotle. The task, then, is to explain how this happens
to be so. Scotus indicates that there is a logical difficulty in this
procedure: not an outright contradiction perhaps but still some inconsistency.
In Aristotle's framework the problem of substance presents itself as the
central question to be addressed. In Scotus' philosophical texts the need
to explain what substance is or what substances are is not felt as the
most urgent question of philosophy. He concentrates not on the criteria for
calling something "a substance" but on how in fact we do talk about things.
Parellel to this there is the following difference in the two frameworks.
Aristotle wishes to classify exhaustively the kinds of sentences to be
formed about the substances which he allows for according to his criteria
about categories. Scotus analyzes the inferential relationships of statements
about things. It may be better indeed to mark statements or even sentences
as his starting point instead of predication because the latter is arrived
upon after clarification.
Naming something as "substance" was for Aristotle a way of calling it
"a being". But, normally people do not go around visualizing or describing
things as "substances". Why should they do something like this? They look
to see whether they are there or not. If we talk of something as "a being"
or as "substance" we do this indirectly for Scotus. For him being is a
presupposition. It is not, however, an implicit one because we make this
explicit when we use the verb "to be".
As we use predicates to pick out the determinations of things we
engage in a claim to truth. This claim for truth values, according to
Scotus, necessitated verification so as not to end in a vicious infinite
It is a fact, according to Scotus, that we use language to make
statements. There are things to begin with although one may not be certain
as to whether they are substances or not. What is interesting for Scotus
are the conditions or requirements which make this fact possible, in other
words, the determinations of so called "substances". In epistemology these
are studied as those things which are present to the five senses. In logic
they are known as predicates. In metaphysics as universals.
It would be incorrect to see in these arguments of Scotus a great
figure in epistemology only because obviously at times they are strictly
logical or at times metaphysical in character. To put it roughly, in a
generally Aristotelian framework it is taught that predicates presuppose
substances and that substances presuppose being. It is possible to come
across this interpretation in Thomist literature, for instance, in an
article by Herbert McCabe, O.P., as well as in Allan Wolter's, O.F.M.,
notes to his translated selections from Scotus. Thomists do add and
emphasize that the being presupposed comes analogically in different
senses. Given a classical understanding of validity, inference and
implication, predicates do not presuppose substances. "Rational" for
instance does not presuppose "human". "Human", on the other hand, would
imply "rational". According to Wolter both "rational" and "human" presuppose
being from Scotus' point of view. But since the notion of being is simple,
there must be univocity. However this can not be the position that Scotus
is arguing for because it requires not only a postulate on the simplicity
of being but also a postulate to insure the being of entities in
addition to substances, namely predicates. Hence according to this Scotist
point of view endorsed for example notably by Wolter and also by
historians of philosophy Scotus is presented as a realist Aristotelian
with various weighty epistemological arguments on the side. The postulate
that is attributed to Scotus in the notes of Wolter in relation to the
being of predicates asserts that all predicamental entities are included
in (or implied by when construed in sentences) at least one substantial
entity. If this postulate were not added univocity of being would not follow
and we would be left with a doctrine that is close to McCabe's standpoint
instead of Scotus' for univocity of being is not reached and analogy
remains. The only significant difference between the two would now be
that Scotists would be reinforcing logical standards by pointing out that
predication does not presuppose substances but substantial statements imply
some truths about predicates.
Hence there are here two problems to be discussed. Does Scotus maintain
substances along with predicates? Does he say that all predicates are
included in some substance or other? The first question addresses Scotus'
treatment of the traditional doctrine of substance. The second question
seems to have a negative answer for it is thought that Scotus' views on
possibility can not tolerate absolutely necessary connections among all
predications. This may be true for mathematics but not for every predication
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