Search Results

1 - 5 of 5 items :

  • "Cognitive Constraints" x
Clear All


Reasoning from a naturalistic perspective, viewing the mind as an evolved biological organ with a particular structure and function, a number of influential philosophers and cognitive scientists claim that science is constrained by human nature. How exactly our genetic constitution constrains scientific representations of the world remains unclear. This is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, it often leads to the unwarranted conclusion that we are cognitively closed to certain aspects or properties of the world. Secondly, it stands in the way of a nuanced account of the relationship between our cognitive and perceptual wiring and scientific theory. In response, I propose a typology or classification of the different kinds of biological constraints and their sources on science. Using notion of a conceptual space, I distinguish between constraints relating to the ease with which we can reach representations within our conceptual space (which I call ‘biases’) and constraints causing possible representations to fall outside of our conceptual space. This last kind of constraints does not entail that some aspects or properties of the world cannot be represented by us – as argued by advocates of ‘cognitive closure’ – merely that some ways of representing the world are inaccessible to us. It relates to what and have framed as ‘the alien scientist hypothesis’ (the possibility that alien scientists, endowed with radically different cognitive abilities, could produce representations of the world that are unintelligible to us). The purpose of this typology is to provide some much needed clarity and structure to the debate about biological constraints on science.

, Pascal. 1994. Cognitive Constraints on Cultural Representations: Natural Ontologies and Religious Ideas. – Mapping the Mind. Domain Specificity in Cognition and Culture , edited by Lawrence Hirschfeld and Susan Gelman. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 391–411. Durkheim, Emile. 1964 [1895]. The Rules of Sociologocal Method. New York, NY: Free Press. Durkheim, Emile. 1965 [1915]. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life . New York, NY: Free Press. Dedyk, Valentina Romanovna. 2006. Koryak Personal Names. – Sibirica 1 (5): 117–140. DOI:

Linguistics 2(1). 43–88. Biberauer, Theresa, Anders Holmberg, Ian Roberts & Michelle Sheenan. 2010. Parametric variation: Null subject in minimalist theory . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bonvino, Elisabetta. 2006. Le sujet postverbal en italien parlé: Syntaxe, zones et intonation (Biblioteque des Faits de Langue). Paris: Ophrys. Chafe, Wallace. 1976. Givenness, contrastiveness, definiteness, subjects, topics and point of view. In Charles N. Li (ed.), Subject and topic , 25–55. New York: Academic Press. Chafe, Wallace. 1987. Cognitive constraints and

the 19th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles; 2005 June 6–9, 2005; Washington DC. USA. Available from [7] Brumby DP, Salvucci DD, Howes A. Focus on driving: how cognitive constraints shape the adaptation of strategy when dialing while driving. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems; 2009 April 4–9; Boston, USA. pp. 1629–38. Brumby DP Salvucci DD Howes A. Focus on driving: how

, K. Smith and R. Ferrer-i-Cancho (eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Evolution of Language . 427–428. London: World Scientific. Hall, E. 1969. The hidden dimension . New York: Doubleday. Hall, E. 1976. Beyond culture . New York: Anchor Press. Hall, M. L., R. I. Mayberry and V. S. Ferreira. 2013. Cognitive constraints on constituent order: Evidence from elicited pantomime. Cognition 129(1). 1–17. Harnad, S. 1990. The symbol grounding problem. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena 42(1–3). 335–346. Hauser, M. D., N. A. Chomsky and W. T