Hypothesis and Theory - PDF documents - Docucu …
In voles, and probably in humans too, the hormone oxytocin plays a big role in social bonds. In many mammals, oxytocin helps to create the bond between mothers and babies. Oxytocin spikes when you go into labor. But in a few species, including prairie voles and us (but not, apparently, meadow voles), this system has been co-opted to make adults love each other, too. When the researchers administered a chemical that blocks oxytocin, the prairie voles stopped consoling others.
The Theory Theory as an Alternative to the Innateness Hypothesis.
My strategy in TOOC is to consider many ways scholars have tried to distinguish perceptual from conceptual representations, and to argue that core cognition representations are conceptual in terms of all them, except perhaps being encoded in sentence-like propositional format. This strategy was no doubt confusing, because I do not myself accept many of those previous analyses as actually drawing the relevant distinctions between conceptual and perceptual representations. For example, Burge takes me to be endorsing Piaget’s and Quine’s characterization of how perceptual representations differ from conceptual ones, but I do not. Piaget and Quine both argued that young infants create no representations object, because infants are incapable of object individuation, of representing a later encountered entity as the same object as an earlier encountered one, and thus incapable of appreciating object permanence. I show that Piaget and Quine were wrong about the representational capacities of infants, and so by their analyses, young infants have a concept of objects. That is, infants have object representations, where object is glossed roughly as bounded, coherent, separately moving, spatiotemporally continuous material entity. Note, this gloss reflects implicit content. Infants integrate information from different modalities, and go beyond stationary snapshots of objects, in creating such representations. But I fully agree with Burge that perceptual representations go beyond sensory ones in these ways, and thus these facts do not rule out that object representations in infancy are perceptual.
Chomskyans typically take this point, conceding that the argument from the poverty of the stimulus is not apodeictic. Nonetheless, theyclaim, it's a very good argument, and the burden of proof belongs with their critics. After all, nativists have shown the falsity of the only non-nativist acquisition theories that are well-enough worked out to be empirically testable, namely, Skinnerian behaviorismand Popperian conjecture and refutation. In addition, they have proposed an alternative theory, Chomskyan nativism, which is more than adequate to account for the phenomena. In empirical science, this is all that they can reasonably be required to do. The fact thatthere might be other possible acquisition algorithms which might account for children's ability to learn language is neither here nor there; nativists are not required to argue against mere possibilities.
Alternative to the Innateness Hypothesis
If this is indeed how phonological learning works, it is clear that while experience clearly plays a role, the inborn contribution to that process is quite substantial. For discriminating phonemes — however those discriminations might be shaped by subsequent experience — is no simple matter. It involves what is called ‘categorical perception, that is, the segmenting of a signal that varies continuously along a number of physical dimensions (e.g.,voice onset time and formant frequency) into discrete categories, so that signals within the category are counted as the same, even thoughacoustically, they may differ from one another more than do two signals in different categories (see Fig. 5). (Harnad 1987 is a useful collection of work on categorical perception to the mid-1980s.)
1 The theorytheory as an alternative to the innateness hypothesis
Much rarer than mastery of second language morphology and syntax is attainment of a native-like accent, something that first language learners acquire automatically in childhood. A child's ability to perceive language-specific sounds begins in utero, as demonstrated, for instance, by newborns' preference for thesounds of their mother's voice and their parents' language, and by their ability to discriminate prose passages that they have heard during the final trimester from novel passages. In the first few months of life, babies reliably discriminate many different natural language phonemes, whether or not they occur in what is soon to become their language. By ages 6 months to 1 year, however, this sensitivity to unheard phonemes largely disappears, and by age 1, children tend to make only the phonological distinctions made in the language(s) they hear around them. For example, Japanese children lose the ability to discriminate English /r/ and /l/ (Kuhl et al., 1997b). As adults, people continue to be unable to perceive some phonetic contrasts not marked by their language, and many fail to learn how to produce even those second language sounds which they can distinguish. For instance, many English speakers of French have great difficulty in producing the French /y/ (as in tu) and back-of-the-throat /r/.
The theory theory as an alternative to the innateness hypothesis.
One way to approach this discrepancy is to see it as due to the factthat in the typical Connectionist set up, the weights between nodes areinitially set to random values, and are (very) slowly reset on thebasis of small adjustments. But the fact that the initialweightings provide no prior information is arguably an artifact of themodeler’s Empiricist commitment to have all the learning‘come from experience’. There is nothing in thegeneral structure of Connectionist models that would prevent themodeler from starting with a highly constrained set ofweightings—in this case one that already holistically containsinformation of the general features of human faces, and perhapsinformation about differences between male and female faces. Theupshot, then, is that although most actual Connectionist models areEmpiricist-friendly in their format and in their representationalcommitments, they can also be implemented in a way that is congenial toNativist ideas. The prior information that the Nativist claims ispart of the initial state of the organism can be realized by settingthe initial patterns of weightings between the nodes in the network insuch a way that learning will happen much more quickly. So whileConnectionism may avoid the very general commitment to Nativism thatsome have argued is built into the Classical conception, it is neutralon the question of whether learning in a particular domain is whollybased on experience or uses innate information (suitably distributedacross networks).