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Grammar and Glamour of Cooperation

Lectures on the Philosophy of Mind, Language and Action


Szymon Wrobel

This book is a collection of essays, weaving together cognitive psychology, psycho-linguistics, developmental psychology, modern philosophy and behavioural sciences. It raises the question: how does grammar relate to our remarkable ability to cooperate for future needs? The author investigates the interconnections between the mechanisms governing cooperation and reciprocal altruism on the one hand and the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of syntactically structured elements on the other. Based on these premises, the specific character of cognitive explanations, possible architectures of mind, non-formal grammar and tacit knowledge are explored. Furthermore the author deals with the role of conceptual representations in explaining grammar, the modular structure of mind and the evolutionary origins of human language ability and moral authority.
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III. The Problem of a Moral Faculty: Marc D. Hauser’s Specific Approach to the Functioning of Moral Grammar


My explanation […] is that all humans are endowed with a moral faculty – a capacity that enables each individual to unconsciously and automatically evaluate a limitless variety of actions in terms of principles that dictate what is permissible, obligatory, or forbidden.

Marc D. Hauser205

The invisible hand can only be counted on to take a population to an efficient outcome of a game in the exceptional case when all of its equilibria happen to be efficient. Perfectly competitive markets are one such case, but markets didn’t exist when our species separated itself from the other apes. So how did our unique style of cooperation evolve?

Kenneth Binmore206

Modern times are particularly fond of new ethics and favour the quest for new moral justifications. Paradoxically, there is a general feeling that the corresponding philosophical reflection is in crisis. It seems to me that the number of new projects quite symptomatically reflect our growing uncertainty. Suffice it to mention Charles Taylor’s ethics of authenticity, Michel Foucault’s ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom, Alasdair McIntyre’s virtue ethics207, Jacques Lacan’s ethics of desire208, ← 179 | 180 → Jürgen Habermas’ discourse ethics209, Emanuel Lévinas’ and Jacques Derrida’s ethics of the Other210, or Alain Badiou’s ethics abandoning contemporary focus on otherness211 or Alenka Zupancic’ ethics of the real212. The need to provide a new ethics program designed to meet the challenges of our time is reflected in the unprecedented proliferation of more specific ethics,...

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