Anne Jaap Jacobson

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] Some theorists in the cognitive sciences argue that the sciences of the mind don’t need or use a concept of mental representation. In her new book, Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Science of the Mind (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Anne Jaap Jacobson, Professor of Philosophy and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston, argues that what is needed is a different kind of theory of what mental representations are, one that reflects the way the notion of representation is actually used in cognitive neuroscience. On her view, mental items do not stand in intentional relations to the world, as standard theories of mental representation hold. Instead, they are samples or instances of the same kinds, as captured by common mathematical descriptions. This sampling model has its roots in Aristotle and Hume, but is found in contemporary neuroscience, such as when seeing a particular action causes the neural pattern for doing that action to be activated. In this interview, Jacobson explains and expands on her view, which she dubs Aristotelian representation.

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Randall L. SchwellerMaxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium

August 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Randall L. Schweller is Professor of Political Science and a Social and Behavioral Sciences Joan N. Huber Faculty Fellow at Ohio State University.  He has written Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) In Maxwell’s Demon, Schweller examines the future of world politics, [...]

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John H. McWhorterThe Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language

July 18, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Linguistics] The idea that the language we speak influences the way we think – sometimes referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – has had an interesting history. It’s particularly associated with the idea that languages dismissed as primitive by 19th century thinkers, such as those of indigenous peoples in America and Australia, [...]

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Marcin MilkowskiExplaining the Computational Mind

July 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The computational theory of mind has its roots in Alan Turing’s development of the basic ideas behind computer programming, specifically the manipulation of symbols according to rules. That idea has been elaborated since in a number of very different ways, but in some form it remains a core idea of [...]

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Suzanne MettlerDegrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

July 9, 2014

From 1945 to the mid-1970s, the rate at which Americans went to and graduate from college rose steadily. Then, however, the rate of college going and completion stagnated. In 1980, a quarter of adult Americans had college degrees; today the figure is roughly the same. What happened? In her book Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics [...]

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Jordan EllenbergHow Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

July 8, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Mathematics] The book discussed in this interview is How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014), by Jordan Ellenberg.  This is one of those rare books that belong on the reading list of every educated person, especially those who love mathematics, but more importantly, those who hate it.  Ellenberg [...]

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Jakob HohwyThe Predictive Mind

July 7, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The prediction error minimization hypothesis is the first grand unified empirical theory about how the brain implements the mind. The hypothesis, which is as bold as it is controversial, proposes to explain the mind via one core mechanism: a process of comparing predicted sensory input with actual input, updating our [...]

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Nick SmithJustice through Apologies: Remorse, Reform, and Punishment

July 2, 2014

Most people say “I’m sorry” a lot. After all, we make a lot of mistakes, most of them minor, so we don’t mind apologizing and expect our apologies to be accepted or at least acknowledged. But how many of our apologies are what might be called “strategic,” that is, designed to do nothing more than [...]

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Ian Haney LopezDog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

June 30, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Ian Haney Lopez is the author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class (Oxford UP 2014). He is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and on the Executive Committee of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social [...]

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Benjamin LiebermanRemaking Identities: God, Nation and Race in World History

June 28, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] What do you say to someone who suggests that genocide is not just destructive, but constructive? This is the basic theme of Benjamin Lieberman‘s excellent new book Remaking Identities:  God, Nation and Race in World History (Rowman and Littlefield, 2013). The book surveys two thousand years of history to explain how people have used [...]

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