Friday, April 11, 2008

Posthumous Publication

I just realized that the latest edition of the Behavioral and Brain Sciences is out. One of the two main articles is by Susan Hurley, professor of philosophy at Bristol University, who died of breast cancer last year.

The article, which is called, "The Shared Circuits Model: How Control, Mirroring, and Simulation Can Enable Imitation, Deliberation, and Mindreading", is preceded by the following editorial note:

"The following article by Susan Hurley, “The Shared Circuits Model: How Control, Mirroring, and Simulation Can Enable Imitation, Deliberation, and Mindreading,” with its commentaries and response was produced under unusual and sad circumstances. Susan Hurley passed away in August 2007 following a long struggle with cancer after her target article had been completed, and the list of those invited to comment had been assembled. Because she had foreseen the need for help in producing her response to the commentaries, she enlisted Andy Clark, Professor at Edinburgh University, for this purpose, with BBS’s full encouragement. Julian Kiverstein, another colleague at the University of Edinburgh with particular interest in the shared circuits model, volunteered to help as well in the composition of the response to commentators.

Commentators were specifically enjoined from writing eulogies and asked to produce the lively intellectual dialogue that Susan Hurley certainly had sought in sending her work to BBS. Kiverstein and Clark undertook not to emulate a response from Susan Hurley, but rather to clarify misunderstandings, organize the commentaries thematically, and show where the research might lead. We are grateful to all commentators, and particularly Kiverstein and Clark, for their graceful execution of what even in the normal case is a challenging task."

On a related (albeit happier) note, there's n interesting little essay in today's Nature by Mark Pagel, who belongs to a new current of scholars applying methods of evolutionary theory and statistics to historical language evolution (see, e.g. here and here). Pagel argues that "Genomes and language suggest that biological and social complexity emerge from how information is used"
He also gives his two cents on the biological evolution of language, arguing that
"it evolved to allow precise and varied regulation of self-interested social behaviour. The exchange of sophisticated verbal information arose to convey accounts of our own and others’ acts, reputations, alliances and dues."

Also, Edmund Blair Bolles has postes his concluding remark on the results of evolang 08, and on the language evolution blog there is another post on the conference.


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