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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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IV. Risk and Cooperation. Uncertainty about the Behaviour of Others


Cooperation and conflict are two sides of the same coin, neither of which can be understood properly without taking account of the other. To consider a game of pure conflict like Matching Pennies isn’t to claim that all human interaction is competitive. Nor is one claiming that all human interaction is cooperative when one looks at a game of pure coordination like the Driving Game. One is simply distinguishing two different aspects of human behaviour so that they can be studied one at a time.

Ken Binmore253

Why degrade and destroy the truth? Why alter information after arrival so as to reach a conscious falsehood? Why should natural selection have favoured our marvellous organs of perception, on the one hand, only to have us systematically distort the information gathered, on the other? In short, why practice self-deception?

Robert L. Trivers254

Brian Wynne has outlined what he called ‘a typology of knowns and unknowns’ comprising of four categories: (i) risk, (ii) uncertainty, (iii) ignorance and (iv) indeterminacy255. The first, risk, is defined in the traditional manner as “future dangers which can be statistically calculated”. The second, uncertainty, is where despite knowledge about potential dangers it is impossible to establish their probability. In other words, uncertainty pertains to ‘known unknowns’. The third, ignorance, is where the unknowns are unknown. A good example of this is the use of ← 215 | 216 → chlorofluorocarbon – commonly known by the DuPont brand name Freon, where it was an unknown...

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