Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Narrative resources
 
Issues in the debate over evolved functional specializations
versus general-purpose capacities in human and non-human cognitive
architectures
 
An Open Discussion
Department of Anthropology, UCSB
April 10, 1998 from 12:30pm to 2pm
Humanities and Social Sciences Building 2001A
 
 
Discussion Theme
 
The first meeting this quarter of the Evolutionary Behavioral & Social Science (EBSS) seminar series will be a general discussion of a topic that many regular participants had asked be explored in an open forum.  This topic is given particular impetus by the recent talk at UCSB by Randy Gallistel of UCLA, who outlined why connectionist and associationist models cannot predict or be a correct empirical account for all of the phenomena in learning that have been empirically well-documented.

The discussion will take up questions such as:  What does it mean to say that a cognitive mechanism is functionally specialized?  What would evidence of functional specialization be?  What would evidence for general-purpose mechanisms be?  How could one correctly identify the proper function of a mechanism, generalized or specialized?  Which criteria derive from evolutionary biology, and which from cognitive science?  What is meant by domain-specificity vs. domain-generality in human cognition?  How can humans engage in a multitude of evolutionarily novel activities if many cognitive competences are specialized? What are likely human domains?  What is the relationship between functional specializations and modularity?  What is human culture, and is human cultural variation evidence for a tabula rasa mind?  Are general-purpose mechanisms required for behavioral flexibility?  Why, historically, have social scientists, behavioral scientists, and neuroscientists strongly preferred associationist or other general-purpose accounts?
 

 

Speaker series
Evolution and the Social Mind
Narrative resources