ANTH 4134 – Exam II Study Guide
Miller, "The Spoken Word"
Biological Basis of Spoken Language
Vocal tract of human beings is specially adapted to perform its functions ∙ Neurophysiological
Language users must common highly complex motor and perceptual skills Note: a formal relation between utterances is a relation that depends on form, not meaning.
Modern Speech Science
∙ Physiology is used to describe how the sounds of speech are produced ∙ Acoustics is used to analyze the sounds themselves
∙ Linguistics and psychology are used to determine what aspects of those sounds are important for linguistic communication
Note: in English, each syllable contains a vowel, so vowels and consonants tend to alternate regularly in the flow of speech.
∙ The syllable's power is in its vowel; consonants are simply different ways to turn a vowel on or off
∙ Vowel sounds are produced without the articulatory obstructions in the vocal tract characteristic of consonants
Formants: the resonant frequencies of the vocal tract.
Note: in the ape and human infant, the larynx is high and the throat is relatively small, limiting the range of vowel sounds that can be produced. If you want to learn more check out What is the combined population of the european union?
∙ The vocal tracts source and filter
∙ Air stream, vibration of vocal folds
∙ Place of articulation
Bilabial, labiodental, interdental, alveolar, postalveolar, palatal, velar,
∙ Manner of articulation
Stops (plosive), fricatives, affricates, nasals, approximants, liquids, glides, flap
∙ Vocal Organs
Lungs, larynx, pharynx, soft palate, tongue, teeth, lips, etc.
∙ Note: the lungs supply the power for speaking, and the vocal folds act as an oscillator, and the vocal tract as a resonator. According to the sourcefilter theory, the sources is the
laryngeal tone produced when the vibrating vocal folds interrupt the airstream from the lungs. The vocal tract is a filter that modifies the source spectrum in a predictable way. We also discuss several other topics like What is relative age effect known for?
Phones and Phonemes
∙ It has been estimated that there are less than 30 features of speech that can be used to differentiate words. We also discuss several other topics like The substance making up the majority of a solution and in the “greatest abundance” is called what?
Each language uses about 1015 of them; no language uses them all. The features used by any particular language are called distinctive features: units of linguistic analysis even smaller than an individual speech sound (ex. voicing is a distinctive feature of English)
∙ Speech sounds
Phone: one of a set of the complementary distribution of the same phoneme; an actual phonetic segment. Don't forget about the age old question of An immature organism that looks different from adult animals is called what?
Don't forget about the age old question of How is northern hemisphere summer described?
Square brackets are used for phones, ex. [p]
Phoneme: a class of speech sounds identified by a native speaker as the same sound; a mental entity (or category) related to various allophones by phonological rules.
Slanting lines are used for phonemes, ex. /p/
Note: speech production and speech perception are intimately related the sounds you can produce are the sounds that you can discriminate.
Assimilation: a process by which a sound becomes more like a nearby sound in terms of some feature(s). We also discuss several other topics like The most transparent membrane in front of the eye is called what?
Note: in the early 1900s, most linguistics had embraced the structuralism model regarding language and its development.
∙ Dissenters of this model included Aristotle, Otto Marx, Wilhelm Von Humbolt, etc. ∙ By the 1930s, linguistics had become closely allied with an especially militant form of empiricism: behavioral psychology
Language was now "verbal behavior"
∙ Keep in mind William Stokoe's contribution to the study if ASL
Note: syntax is independent of meaning.
∙ Noam Chomsky produced the following sentences to highlight syntax: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. (grammatical)
Green sleep colorless ideas furiously. (ungrammatical)
Theory of Mind refers to a particular cognitive skills a person's ability to ascribe abstract mental states to others, to be, in essence, "inside someone else's head."
∙ Allows each of us to get jokes, to understand irony, to tell when a person is lying, and to recognize that when somebody asks us a rhetorical question, we are not actually supposed to answer it.
∙ Takes time to develop; children being to acquire it in the second year of life ∙ Appears to be unrelated to general intelligence
Discrete Combinational System
∙ Arbitrariness of the sign
∙ Duality of patterning
1. Combining meaningless units to make larger units
2. Combining meaningful units to make larger meaningful units
Structural Elements of Sign Language
∙ Shape of signer's hands
∙ Location of hands in space
∙ Manner in which the hands are moving
∙ Orientation, which describes whether the palms are facing up, down, left, or right
Note: minimal pairs exist in sign language.
∙ About 60% of the signs of ASL are made with both hands
Symmetry constraint: in twohanded signs, where both hands are active, each hand mist have the identical shape; the location of both hands has to be symmetrical: they need to occupy the same vertical or horizontal plane; the hands must move symmetrically, either as a unit, in mirror image or in strict alteration.
Dominant constraint: in twohanded signs, in which one hand serves as a base for the other, if the shapes of the active and base hands differ, then the base must assume one of only six prescribed shapes: a flat hand, fingers together; a fist; a flat hand, fingers spread; an extended index fingers; an Oshaped hand; or a Cshaped hand.
∙ The honeybee's waggle dance encodes three variables:
1. Distance one waggle = approx. 1/8 mile
2. Direction angle to vertical = angle to sun
3. Value of food more vigorous dance = more valuable food
∙ Note: dance is also used to communicate potential locations of new hives (homes) Note: animal languages are simply the product of natural selection.
Vervet Group Call System
∙ Different calls meant to communicate specific types of predators
∙ Have been viewed to use alarm calls in deceptive ways
∙ Many other animals have alarm calls (ex. ground squirrels)
Animal Song and Human Language
∙ A songbird (chipping sparrow); and two humpback whales
Sensitive periods (Zebra Finch birds)
Listening, then production
∙ Dialects (Bengal, or Bangalese, Finch birds)
Baker, "The Code Talker Paradox"
Note: no artificial system exists that can match an average fiveyearold at speaking and understanding English.
∙ Translation systems exist, but the products of these systems are rough and used only in situations where an imperfect aid is desired.
∙ Proves that not only are human languages extremely complex, but that they differ in their complexities.
Navajo Code Talkers
∙ Assisted U.S. in World War II Japanese could not decode their transmissions ∙ Has different words for everything
∙ Important differences in the sounds that make up words
Specific qualities of these sounds adjust in complex ways to the sounds around them
∙ Words change their form depending on their context in various ways ∙ System of prefixes
Can attach to nouns, but system for verbs is even more elaborate
100200 prefixes that attach to verb stems (even the simplest verbs must take at least 3 prefixes, 56 are common, and a verb can have up to 1012 at one time) ∙ Complexities at the level of syntax
∙ Both English and Navajo have…
The following sounds: /p,t,m,n,w,y,a,e,i,o/
∙ Note: the paradox exists in that two language can simultaneously be strikingly different and incredibly similar in their design (like Engilsh and Navajo)
Anthropologists thinking about culture tend to emphasize difference, whereas cognitive psychologists thinking about thought tend to emphasize similarity. One of the charms of linguistics is that it stands at the crossroads of these two intellectual traditions, where neither emphasis can easily be ignored.
Note: it is notoriously difficult for people to recognize sounds that do not exist in their own language.
Note: of the human triumvirate of culture, thought, and language, language is the most accessible to rigorous intellectual study.
Note: there are Stone Age societies, but there is no such thing as a Stone Age language. SAE: Standard American English
BEV: Black English Vernacular
Pidgin: the linguistic term for a simplified language created for limited purposes, often business related, among speakers of different languages.
∙ No consistent means of expressing past, present or future tense; nor can they express mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive) or aspect (whether an action is complete or in progress).
∙ Little to no grammatical inflection
∙ Often develop into creoles: fullfledged languages for use in all communicative contexts All it takes is for a group of children to be exposed to the pidgin at the age when they acquire their mother tongue.
Details Speakers Track
∙ Speakers committed to using the English agreement suffix [s] keeps track of these details in every sentence uttered:
1. Whether the subject is in the third person or hot: He walks versus I walk. 2. Whether the subject is singular or plural: He walks versus They walk. 3. Whether the action is present tense or not: He walks versus He walked. 4. Whether the action is habitual or going at the moment of speaking (its "aspect"): He walks to school versus He is walking to school.
Allopones: separate phones of the same phoneme; interpreted as te same sound to native speakers.
∙ One of a set of the complementary distribution of the same phoneme; an actual phonetic segment
∙ Note: aspirated [p] and nonaspirated [p] are allophones of the same phoneme in English, but may be different phonemes in other languages
Pronunciations of Plural
∙ Regular plural (and third personal singular present)
∙ Regular simple past
Three Rules of English
1 A voiceless consonant can't be followed by a voiced consonant at the end of a syllable. 2 An affricate can't follow another affricate in a consonant cluster at the end of a syllable. 3 The plural and third person singular present tense is [z].
Study of Phonology
∙ Studying perception or mental representations, not just physical properties, of speech sounds.
∙ Perceptions exist n the minds of the people studied, not just in the minds of the experimenter.
∙ Perceptions are largely unconscious, and vary across cultures (but not randomly).
Mental grammar: all of the rules that an individual speaker uses to produce and comprehend utterances.
∙ The autonomy of syntax
∙ Syntax 1
Verbs and their arguments
∙ Syntax 2
Phrases and functions
Content word: a word whose primary purpose is to contribute semantic content to the phrase in which it occurs.
∙ Free content morphemes
∙ Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
Function word: a word that has little semantic content and whose primary purpose is to indicate grammatical relationships between other words within a phrase.
∙ Free function morphemes
∙ Prepositions, determiners, pronouns, and conjunctions
∙ Auxiliary verbs (can, should,...), determinatives (one, some, the, …), coordinators (and, or,..), subordinators (if, when, while,…)
∙ Inflections (tense, plural, possessive,…)
Formulas to Phrases
∙ Phrases are not strings
∙ Phrases have heads
∙ Mostly alternate content and function
Note: it is hypothesized that creole languages are largely invented by children and show fundamental similarities, which derive from a biological program for language. ∙ It is suggested that the bioprogram provides a skeletal model of language which the child can then readily convert into the target language.
Language Bioprogram Hypothesis creole grammar innovations show a degree of similarity, across wide variations in linguistic background, that is too great to be attributed to chance. ∙ Claims that the most cogent explanation of this similarity is that it derives from the structure of a speciesspecific program for language, genetically coded and expressed, in ways still largely mysterious, in the structures and modes of operation of the human brain.
Note: necessary ingredients for an organic sign language to come together in one place: hereditary deafness, isolation, and intermarriage.
∙ In order to create a signing village, in addition to the first three ingredients, a place where the entire community (and not merely its deaf residents) speaks sign language is also required.
Derivation: a morphological process that changes a word's lexical category or its meaning in some predictable way.
∙ How new words are created in a language
∙ Affixes and suffixes
Inflection: a morphological process whereby the form of a word is modified to indicate some grammatically relevant information, such as person, number, tense, gender, etc. ∙ All are suffixes
3rd. person, singular, present = s
Past tense = ed
Progressive aspect = ing
Past participle = en, ed
Plural = s
Comparative = er
Superlative = est
Note: ASL has its own unique way of creating affixes (through changing the spatial relationship between signs), aspects, and compounds (signs are somewhat reduced in form, taking barely more time to articulate than either of their component parts alone; coalesced over time into smooth, unitary words).
∙ Also utilizes reduplication: process of forming new words by doubling either an entire word (total reduplication) or part of a word (partial reduplication).
∙ In the facial expressions lie grammar
Sign Language Syllables
∙ Comprise: LML
Location the starting point of the sign
Movement during which the hands travel through space
Location the endpoint of the sign
ASL Verb Classes
∙ Agreeing verbs those that move through space from subject to object (denote transfer) Facing depends crucially on who is doing what to whom.
∙ Spatial verbs those that move through space but encode neither subject nor object, instead encoding physical objects (denote locative information)
∙ Plain verbs those that do not inflect at all
∙ Note: these three classes (including backwards verbs) are found in all known sign languages
Eat is almost always plain, move is almost always spatial, give is almost always agreeing, and invite is almost always backwards
Facing: somewhat like orientation; it describes the direction in which the palm or fingertips point.
Note: verbs denote actions or events or states of being, the presence of a verb thus requires the presence of one or more actors to carry out, experience, or feel what it is the verb is describing. ∙ Different types of verbs require different types of actors
∙ Animate vs inanimate objects
∙ Animals vs vegetables
∙ Wide vs narrow objects
∙ Large things vs small ones
∙ Mensural classifiers: typically accompany nouns, for which units of measure have to be further specified
Found in all known spoken languages
∙ Entity classifiers
∙ Verbal classifiers: describe nouns, but these classifiers attach directly to the main verb of a sentence.
Very rare in world's spoken languages
Sign language teem with verbal classifiers
Pinker, "Good Ideas"
∙ Note: natural selection did not shape us to earn good grades in science class or publish in refereed journals; it shaped us to master the local environment, and that led to discrepancies between how we naturally think and what is demanded in the academy.
∙ Why humans did not evolve into true scientists:
Outside of school, it never makes sense to ignore what you know
Cost of knowledge science is expensive
Brains were shaped for fitness, not truth
∙ Basiclevel categories: the first words children learn for objects and generally the first mental label we assign when seeing them.
∙ People form two kind of categories:
The kind of category that falls naturally out of patternassociator neural networks Categories that have definitions, inorout boundaries, and common threads running through the members
Naturally computed by a system of rules
Note: we put some things into both kinds of mental categories we think of "a grandmother" as a grayhaired muffin dispense; we also think of "a grandmother" as the female parent of a parent
∙ Note: systems of rules are idealizations that abstract away from complicating aspects of reality.
∙ Note: saying that different ways of knowing are innate is different from saying that knowledge is innate.
∙ Object: a stretch of the visual field with a smooth silhouette, a stretch with a homogenous color and texture, or a collection of patches with a common motion.
Often these definitions pick out the same pieces, but when they don't, it is common motion that wins the day.
An object cannot pass through another object like a ghost.
Objects move along continuous trajectories: they cannot disappear from one place and materialize in another
Objects are cohesive.
Objects move each other by contact only no action at a distance.
Agency and Animal
∙ The driving intuition behind animacy is an internal and renewable source of oomph.
Body and Natural History
∙ The driving intuition behind natural kinds if a hidden essence.
∙ Artifacts: an object suitable for attaining some end that a person intends to be used for attaining that end.
Can't be defined by their shape or constitution, only by what they can do and by what someone, somewhere, wants them to do.
∙ People have certain intuitions about natural kinds roughly, the sorts of things found in a museum of natural history, such as animals, plants, and minerals that they don't apply to artifacts.
∙ At no age are children essentialists about artifacts
∙ Artifact hermeneutics because they are dependent on human intentions, artifacts are subject to interpretation and criticism just as if they were works of art.
∙ Our minds explain other people's behavior by their beliefs and desires because other people's behavior is in fact caused by their beliefs and desires.
∙ Mental state: a relation between a person and a proposition.
Relation is an attitude (like believesthat, desiresthat, hopesthat, pretends that); the proposition is the content of the belief.
Invisible and weightless
∙ Logic: refers not to rationality in general but to inferring the truth of one statement from the truth of other statements based only on their form, not their content.
∙ Logical words in everyday language (not, and, same, equivalent, opposite, etc.) like English are ambiguous, often denoting several formal logical concepts.
∙ Mental logic is enmeshed with our system of knowledge about the world. ∙ The mind seems to have a cheaterdetector with a logic of its own.
When standard logic and cheaterdetector logic coincide, people act like logicians; when they part company, people still look for cheaters.
∙ Part of our birthright infants can do simple arithmetic
∙ Registering quantities does not depend on language
∙ How to get to mathematical competence:
Set mental modules to work on objects other than the ones they were designed for Practice
Probability and Risk
∙ Probability: degree of belief warranted by the information just presented. ∙ A probabilistic inference is a prediction today based on frequencies gathered yesterday. ∙ Philosophers of probability debate whether any beliefs in probabilities are truly rational in a changing world.
Note: without an understanding of what the mind was designed to do in the environment in which we evolved, the unnatural activity called formal education is unlikely to succeed.
Fundamental Language Metaphors
∙ Location in space (used for thousands of meanings)
∙ Force, agency, and causation
Mentalese: language of thought.
Note: parts of our mental equipment for time, animate beings, minds, and social relations were copied and modified in the course of our evolution from the module for intuitive physics (that we partly shared with chimpanzees).
Note: the genius creates good ideas because we all create good ideas; this is what our combinatorial, adapted minds are for.
Note: there is a very close link between the life of a society and the lexicon of the language spoken by it.
∙ Culturespecific words are conceptual tools that reflect a society's past experience of doing and thinking about things in certain ways; and they help to perpetuate these ways.
Note: the grip of people's native language on their thinking habits is so strong that they are no more aware of the conventions to which they are party than they are of the air they breathe; and when others try to draw their attention to these conventions they may even go on with a seemingly unshakable selfassurance to deny their existence.
∙ Only a person who have lived in two cultures and experienced two languages can understand.
Key words: words that are particularly important and revealing in a given culture. ∙ Common word, not marginal word
∙ Very high in frequency in one particular semantic domain
∙ Word is at the center of a whole phraseological cluster
∙ May occur frequently in proverbs, sayings, popular songs, book titles, and so on.
Linguistic Universality Hypothesis one wellestablished linguistic universals can provide a valid basis for comparing conceptual systems entrenched in different languages and for elucidating the meanings which are encoded in some languages (or language) but not in others.
Alphabet of human thought: the catalogue of those concepts which can be understood by themselves, and by whose combination all our other ideas are formed.
Note: meaning cannot be described without a set of semantic primitives.
Note: polysemy is extremely widespread in natural language, and common everyday words including indefinables are particularly likely to be involved.
∙ Allolexy: the same element of meaning may be expressed in a language in two or more different ways.
Valency options: refers to different combinability patterns available to the same primitive.
Reliance Properties of Language
∙ The use of words as the fundamental currency of linguistic expression ∙ Words of language are sorted into grammatical categories: nouns, verbs, adjectives ∙ Reliance on consistent word order
∙ Fragile properties properties that do not seem to develop in the absence of linguistic exposure
Development of grammatical tense
Common Language Errors
∙ Reversals of whole words or phrases ("I wouldn't buy kids for the macadamia nuts") ∙ Errors of phonetic anticipation, in which a sound uttered later in a phrases pops up too early ("taddle tennis")
∙ Preservation ("John gave the goy")
∙ Spoonerisms: the wholesale reversal of two speech sounds ("You have hissed all my mystery lecture")
∙ Note: signers make such mistakes with handshape, movement, and location.
Note: there are distinct types of signlanguage aphasia, which closely parallel Broca's and Wernicke's aphasia for spoken language.
∙ For deaf signers, nonlanguage spatial abilities were localized in the right hemisphere, just as they are for hearing people.
∙ Space in the service of language, however, was localized on the left. A lefthemisphere stroke caused visuospatial language to break down, but spared nonlanguage spatial cognition.
For rightlesioned signers, the reverse was true.
Note: the right hemisphere of the brain appears to be involved in sign language comprehension; this is also the case, in hearing people, for the comprehension of spoken language.
1 Domain specific operating only on material of a certain type, like language or visual information
2 Operation is mandatory
3 Operate fast
4 Associated with fixed neural regions in the brain, and their operation breaks down in characteristic ways (think of aphasia) when these areas are damaged.
Proposed by Jerry A. Fodor
Note: the critical difference between linguistic and nonlinguistic gestures is the internal organization underlying these movement systems.
∙ Degree of compositionality
Animals Learning Language
Gorilla who learned to pronounce maybe 3 words
Scientists would move and manipulate Viki's mouth in an attempt to teach Could not physically produce correct sounds
After this effort, there was a shift to teaching primates sign language ∙ Washoe
Chimpanzee raised be gardeners
Acquires dozens to maybe over 100 signs
Claimed that Washoe learned to make compound signs
∙ Nim Chimpsky
No spontaneous signing; scientists had to move Nim's hand in an attempt to teach Practically all signs made were requests or direct responses to other requests
Chimpanzee (more specifically, a Bonobo)
Kanzi's mother is taught sign language with screens
Kanzi grew up along mom, and from an early age, was more exposed to signs
∙ Almost no vocal control
∙ Limited vocabulary
∙ Semantic formulas
No conversion of syntax to phrases
∙ Poor motivation
Empiricism and Tabula Rasa (blank slate)
∙ "There is nothing in the mind that was not first in the senses" John Locke ∙ "All ideas are the faint copies of sensations" David Hume
∙ Immanuel Kant
Argued some knowledge is built into people (even some parts of Euclidean geometry)
Seyfarth, Cheney, "Baboon Metaphysics"
Baboons Dominance Ranks
∙ Transitive dominance relations are a pervasive feature of baboon society ∙ Among female baboons, there is no relation between rank and size, condition, or age. Fear barks are unambiguous indicators of subordination: a female never gives them to someone who ranks lower than she.
∙ Male baboons change ranks often
There is good evidence that males can track rank changes among others, and that they update their list regularly, placing themselves and others accurately in the new list.
Baboons Kinship Relations
∙ Baboons recognize other individuals' kin
∙ Females' behavior is influenced not just by their own recent interactions but also by the recent interactions of their relatives
Just hearing a particular type of interaction is sufficient to change baboons' behavior toward other group members
∙ In many monkey species, an individual who has just threatened or been threatened by another animal will often redirect aggression by attacking a third, previously uninvolved, individual.
Not always random; the target may be a close matrilineal relative of recent opponent
∙ If they have recently been threatened by a more dominant female, they treat the threat grunts from that female's close relative as an additional threat against themselves. The threatgrunts of kin function as vocal alliances
∙ Female baboons often grunt to the victims of their relatives' aggression, as if acting as proxies for their relatives
Kinmediated reconciliations might substitute for direct reconciliation when aggressors are not motived to initiate friendly contact or when victims avoid their aggressor's approaches.
Hearing a "reconciliatory" grunt from an opponent's relative changes females' disposition toward the opponent and that relative, but less so toward other members of the opponent's matriline.
Baboons do not treat all members of a matriline equivalent
Consolation: post conflict friendly behavior by an uninvolved bystander toward the victim of aggression.
In chimpanzees; has been taken in some cases as evidence for empathy Absence of consolation in monkeys has been interpreted as evidence that monkeys are unable to empathize because they cannot attribute mental states like fear or anxiety to others.
Transient Baboon Social Relations
∙ Most sexual consortships are formed by the group's alpha males
If a male wanders away from his female, other males dash in to attempt a quick mating.
As the alpha male abandons the female after the consortship ends, other males vie to mate with her or to form another consortship.
∙ Note: the ability to monitor, or eavesdrop upon, the interactions of others is thought to be adaptive because it permits animals to assess the strength of other individuals' allies, pair bonds, and competitive abilities without engaging in potentially costly interactions.
∙ Female dominance ranks are remarkably stable over time, and ranks within matrilines are as stable as those between matrilines.
Absolute ranks change only whenever a female matures or dies
∙ Rates of aggression within families are similar to those between families
∙ In Amboseli, the number of females' close social bonds seems to plateau at six (mean 1.6, range 06)
∙ A baboon can belong to many different classes simultaneously
Harm Principle the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
∙ Proposed by John Stuart Mill in 1859
WEIRD vs. NonWEIRD
See the world as full of separate objects
More independent and autonomous concepts
Think analytically (detaching the focal object from its context, assigning it to a category, and then assuming that what's true about the category is true about the object)
Generate moral systems that are individualistic, rulebased, and universalist Emphasize concerns about harm and fairness
See the word as full of relationships
View morality as a collection of aphorisms and anecdotes that can't be reduced to a single rule
Sociocentric morality: placing the needs of groups and institutions first, often ahead of the needs of individuals.
Morality based on harm and fairness is not sufficient need additional virtues to bind people together
∙ Note: difference is even evident in visual perception
1 Ethic of autonomy
People are, first and foremost, autonomous individuals with wants, needs, and preferences
People should be free to satisfy these wants, needs, and preferences as they see fit (so societies develop moral concepts of rights, liberty, justice); dominant ethic in individualistic societies
2 Ethic of community
People are, first and foremost, members of larger entities such as families, teams, armies, companies, tribes, & nations.
Larger entities are real, they matter, and they must be protected; people have an obligation to play their assigned roles in these entities.
Moral concepts such as duty, hierarchy, respect, reputation, and patriotism 3 Ethic of divinity
People are, first and foremost, temporary vessels within which a divine soul has been implanted.
People are children of God, and should behave accordingly; body is a temple Moral concepts such as sanctity, sin, purity, pollution, elevation, and degradation Western nations look like libertinism, hedonism, and a celebration of humanity's baser instincts
Cyberspace: a matrix that emerges when a billion computers are connected and people get enmeshed in a consensual hallucination.
Note: the second principle of moral psychology is: there's more to morality than harm and fairness.
∙ Empathizer <> Systemizer
∙ Empathizing: the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion.
∙ Systemizing: the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system.
Principle of Utility the principle that allows or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question.
∙ Jeremy Bentham's proposed this single principle that he believed should govern all reforms, all laws, and even all human actions.
∙ Theorized that Bentham had Asperger's Syndrome
Categorical (or unconditional) Imperative act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that is should become a universal law.
∙ Abstract rule provided by Immanuel Kant; believes that moral law could only be established by the process of a priori (prior to experience) philosophizing. ∙ Like Plato, Kant believed that morality had to be the same for all rational creatures, regardless of their cultural or individual proclivities.
∙ Modules are like little switches in the brains for all animals.
∙ Universal moral modules would be adaptations to longstanding threats and opportunities in social life.
∙ Two features:
Original triggers: the set of objects for which the module was designed. Current triggers: all things in the world that happen to trigger the module. ∙ Note: cultural variation in morality can be explained in part by noting that cultures can shrink or expand the current triggers of any module.
Current triggers can change in a single generation
It would take many generations for genetic evolution to alter the design of the module and its original triggers
Moral Foundations Theory
∙ Approach made to identify the best candidates for being the universal cognitive modules upon which cultures construct moral matrices.
∙ Includes five adaptive challenges:
1. Caring for vulnerable children (care/harm)
2. Forming partnerships with nonkin to reap the benefits of reciprocity (fairness/cheating)
3. Forming coalitions to compete with other coalitions (loyalty/betrayal) 4. Negotiating status hierarchies (authority/subversion)
5. Keeping oneself and one's kin free from parasites and pathogens
1. Note: these are the challenges of social life that are connected to virtues that are found in some form in many cultures.
Note: on average, you can expect a primate to have a brain at least 2x as large as a mammal its size (expect 3x as large for humans specifically).
∙ For primates, the larger the brain does not necessarily mean the lower the density/quantity of neurons
Simon BaronCohen, Ch.1 & 3, "Mindblindness"
Note: it is hard for "mindreaders" to make sense of behavior in any other way than via the mentalistic (or "intentional") framework.
∙ Some argue that the ability to see behavior in terms of an agent's mental states is inborn and is the result of a long evolution.
∙ Also called folk psychology
Mindblindness: without the ability to read behavior in terms of mental states. ∙ Condition of autism
Intentional stance refers to our ability to attribute the full set of intentional states (beliefs, desires, thoughts, intentions, hopes, memories, fears, promises, etc.), not just to specific mental state of intention.
1. Physical stance attempting to understand systems (human beings) in terms of their physical makeup.
Good for some things, but not up to the job of predicting the behavior of complex systems.
2. Design stance attempting to understand systems (human beings) in terms of their functional design.
We adopt this stance when we are ignorant of the physical makeup of a system.
Works well when we wish to explain a system composed of clearly observable and operational parts; however, mindreading would work just as well.
Note: people and animals have very few external, operational parts for which one could work out a functional or design description.
3. Contingency stance entails learning or innately recognizing the behavioral contingencies between another organism's behavior and their effects.
A subspecies of the design stance
To adopt this stance is to characterize the organism as a behaviorist
Mindreading and Communication
∙ Enables decoding of speech and nonverbal cues
∙ Speaker's monitoring the informational needs of the listener
In the speaker's judging what the listener may already know or be ignorant about, and what information he or she should supply so that the listener will be able to understand the message
∙ Speaker must monitor whether the meaning of an utterance has been received and understood as he or she intended it to be, or whether rephrasing is required to resolve ambiguity
Oliver Sacks, "An Anthropologist on Mars"
∙ Mental aloneness
Only in regards to people, not objects
∙ Obsessive insistence on sameness
Most simply in the form of repetitive, stereotyped movements and noises ∙ Highly focused, intense fascinations and fixations
Appear often before the age of five
∙ Universal impairments:
Social interaction with others
Verbal and nonverbal communication
Play and imaginative activities
Note: individuals with Asperger's can tell us of their experiences, their inner feelings and states, where as those with autism cannot.
Facilitated communication: based on the notion that if the hand or arm of a nonverbal autistic child is supported by a "facilitator," the child may then be able to communicate by typing, or using an electronic communicator or a letter board.
Special Things About People
∙ Social roles
∙ "Theory of mind"
Faces are special
Proper names vs common nouns
The mirror test
Episodic memory (form of longterm memory)
∙ Shared intentions
∙ Metarepresentations and imagination
Tomasello, "Why Don't Apes Point?"
Note: chimpanzees gesture to one another regularly.
∙ Flexible use
A single gesture being used for multiple communicative ends
The same communicative end may be served by multiple gestures Apes only use their visually based gestures such as "arm raise" when the recipient is already visually oriented toward them so called audience effects
∙ Chimpanzees and other great apes also know quite a bit about what other individuals do and do not see
Will follow another person's gaze
Note: captive chimpanzees will point (whole arm with open hand) to food so that humans will give it to them or also, in the case of humanraised apes, to currently inaccessible locations they want to access.
∙ There is not a single reliable observation, by any scientist anywhere, of one ape point to another.
Apes appear unable to comprehend that the person is pointing to inform THEM, the ape.
∙ Apes are generally unable to use communicative cues
Prelinguistic human infants of 14 months of age can comprehend the meaning of the pointing gesture
Joint attentional frame common communicative ground.
∙ Likely that apes do not create this with conspecifics or humans
Apes do not engage in collaboratively
Negotiation of meaning adjustment in communicative attempts in the light of the listener's signs of comprehension or noncomprehension.
∙ Humans do
Other primate species do not, as far as we know, employ
Note: why apes don’t point
1 Do not understand the embedded structure of informing or communicative intentions 2 Do not participate with others in the kinds of collaborative joint attentional engagements that create the common communicative ground necessary for points and other deictic gestures to be meaningful in particular contexts
3 Do not have the motives to share experience with others or to help them by informing 4 Do not really know what is informationally new for others, and so what is worthy of their communicative efforts
5 Cannot imitatively learn communicative conventions as inherently bidirectional coordination devices with reversible roles
Imperative points: meant for requesting help
∙ Helping others by sharing information
∙ Sharing in response
Note: infants learn to point
Infants who learn to point this way may understand their gesture from the "inside" only, as a procedure for getting something done, not as an invitation to share attention using a mutually understood communicative convention
Cultural learning understands communicative convention
Note: some types of imitative learning are uniquely human, specifically those that require the learner to understand the intentions of the actor, that is, not only the actor's goal but also his plan of action or means of execution for reaching that goal.
Shared intentionality: participants have a shared goal and coordinated action roles for pursuing that shared goal.
∙ Only humans engage with one another in this act