Our special issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology is now out:
- Kourken Michaelian, John Sutton. Distributed Cognition and Memory Research: History and Current Directions
- Robert D. Rupert. Memory, Natural Kinds, and Cognitive Extension; or, Martians Don’t Remember, and Cognitive Science Is Not about Cognition
- Deborah P. Tollefsen, Rick Dale, Alexandra Paxton. Alignment, Transactive Memory, and Collective Cognitive Systems
- Georg Theiner. Transactive Memory Systems: A Mechanistic Analysis of Emergent Group Memory
- Martin M. Fagin, Jeremy K. Yamashiro, William C. Hirst. The Adaptive Function of Distributed Remembering: Contributions to the Formation of Collective Memory
- Robert W. Clowes. The Cognitive Integration of E-Memory
- Santiago Arango-Muñoz. Scaffolded Memory and Metacognitive Feelings
- Nils Dahlbäck, Mattias Kristiansson, Fredrik Stjernberg. Distributed Remembering Through Active Structuring of Activities and Environments
- Paul Loader. Is my Memory an Extended Notebook?
There’s one senior position and one junior position available in the philosophy department at Bilkent. AOS and AOC are open for both positions.
Deadlines: 1 Feb. 2013 (junior position); 1 March 2013 (senior position).
For details on the openings, go here: http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/~phil/openings.htm.
In an interesting new article, “Quantifier vs. Poetry: Stylistic Impoverishment and Socio-Cultural Estrangement of Anglo-American Philosophy in the Last Hundred Years”, my departmental colleague István Aranyosi presents “a few simple statistical data” that suggest that the philosophy contained in “papers published in the most distinguished philosophy journals, has indeed evolved toward the model that people usually outside philosophy complain about”, that is, a much less literary or humanistic style. Basically, he checked the frequency of articles containing certain expressions in core philosophy journals over a long period (using Jstor) and found that there are fewer references to famous literary writers, fewer French expressions, etc. as time goes on. As a punchline, he gives us a graph showing the fates of the terms “quantifier” and “poetry”:
I guess that this approach is too simple to allow us to come to any real conclusions. But it’s plausible that the apparent trend is genuine. If so, is this a problem? István seems to think so, suggesting that it would be better to have “philosophical writing that is both clear and delightful to read, if they are both desirable and if the latter is indeed in decline”. But in fact I suspect that this is actually a beneficial trend, reflecting a number of (overlapping) factors:
- A more thoroughgoing analytic approach.
- Increasing professionalization.
- Increasing internationalization. (Jokes and wordplay are fine when everyone is speaking their first language, but often a barrier to communication when they’re not.)
- Increasing interdisciplinarity, and the consequent influence of norms from other fields. (István himself suggests this, and it certainly fits with my experience — the more thoroughly interdisciplinary the journal is, the less likely I am to receive comments from editors and referees critiquing minor stylistic features of a submitted article.)
This looks like it should be an interesting journal issue, devoted entirely to self-deception. Unfortunately (perhaps due to timing?), it looks like none of the articles discuss von Hippel and Trivers’ recent BBS paper providing an evolutionary account of self-deception. Von Hippel and Trivers’ basic claim is that self-deception evolved to facilitate other-deception. The idea is interesting, and important for the epistemology of testimony, but as more than one commentator points out, it seems to face a basic conceptual problem — roughly, that if you believe what you say, then it isn’t a lie. While I’m inclined for other reasons to think that their theory doesn’t work, this doesn’t seem like a real problem to me, as the idea can just be restated by saying that tendencies to have certain inaccurate beliefs evolved to facilitate getting others to have inaccurate beliefs that benefit oneself (this isn’t quite the same as von Hippel and Trivers’ own response).
Whether or not the idea works, Trivers gives an interesting (and funny) talk about it here.
This article by Evan Selinger provides an accessible discussion of debates around external memory and memory modification, including ethical work and theoretical work from both philosophy and psychology.
Those working in this area might want to submit a poster to this interesting conference in Grenoble, which aims to bring together philosophical and psychological perspectives on episodic memory. (Unfortunately, I won’t be able to submit, in part due to the fact that the dates of the conference coincide exactly with those of the philosophy of mind conference organized by my colleague István Aranyosi at Bilkent, about which I’m sure István will post later.) They might also consider submitting for the special issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology on distributed cognition and memory research that I’m co-editing with John Sutton.
(Incidentally, I gave a talk on this theme at Boğaziçi recently; hopefully, the paper will soon be forthcoming, but if anyone’s curious, they can e-mail for a draft in the meantime.)