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Language Acquisition and Development

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In my last post I discussed the problem of the Chinese Room, which is a way to think about language use and human cognition. The thrust of the argument is that seemingly intelligent behavior does not necessitate conscious understanding or awareness. If a program, or a robot, or an english speaking human locked inside a…


Human Cognition and the Chinese Room

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Today I’m going to use a famous philosophical thought experiment to help elucidate one of the most significant problems in cognitive science. Before I get into it though, let me set the stage. There are various competing theories of cognition in the field of cognitive science. Some explain human cognition and thought through the manipulation…


What we miss in the free will debate

I’ve written about free will a few times on this blog, and anyone who’s familiar with these writings will know I’m very critical of most conceptions of free will (Link 1, Link 2). And yet I also feel like we often are missing something really important when engaging in this debate. Let’s not forget what…

Sam Harris at TED

Sam Harris’ Moral Assumptions

A few weeks ago I made some posts discussing the role science can play in describing our moral values and their origins. I took pains at every point of the way though to point out that I was not prescribing any moral behavior, or defending our evolved morality as “right”. This is not to say…


TED Talk: I am my connectome

I’m a bit busy this week, so I’m going to post a TED talk that I found really interesting. The guy giving the talk is really over the top, and really cheesy, and yet the content of the talk is pretty inspired. I also find the name “connectome” to be pretty silly, but I try…


This Still Isn’t Free Will!

The BBC recently published a story about some research about free will, and I am yet again struck by the naive conceptions of free will so many of us have. The article discusses research that as far as I can tell claims that animals, even simple ones, have a range of options available to them,…