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David Spurrett
University of KwaZulu-Natal
  1.  60
    The Descent of Preferences.David Spurrett - manuscript
    More attention has been devoted to providing evolutionary scenarios accounting for the development of beliefs, or belief-like states, than for desires or preferences. Here I articulate and defend an evolutionary rationale for the development of psychologically real preference states. Preferences token or represent the expected values of discriminated states, available actions, or action-state pairings. The argument is an application the ‘environmental complexity thesis’ found in Godfrey-Smith and Sterelny, although my conclusions differ from Sterelny’s. I argue that tokening expected utilities can, (...)
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  2.  45
    Affording Affordances.David Spurrett - forthcoming - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy.
    A striking feature of the latest version of Dennett’s ‘big picture’ of the evolution of life and mind is frequent reference to ‘affordances’. An affordance is, roughly, a possibility for action for a creature in an environment. Given more than one possibility for action, a good question is: what will the creature actually do? I argue that affordances pose a problem of selection, and that a good general solution to this problem of mind-design is to implement a system of preferences.
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  3. Notions of Cause: Russell's Thesis Revisited.Don Ross & David Spurrett - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (1):45-76.
    We discuss Russell's 1913 essay arguing for the irrelevance of the idea of causation to science and its elimination from metaphysics as a precursor to contemporary philosophical naturalism. We show how Russell's application raises issues now receiving much attention in debates about the adequacy of such naturalism, in particular, problems related to the relationship between folk and scientific conceptual influences on metaphysics, and to the unification of a scientifically inspired worldview. In showing how to recover an approximation to Russell's conclusion (...)
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  4. Philosophers Should Be Interested in ‘Common Currency’ Claims in the Cognitive and Behavioural Sciences.David Spurrett - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):211-221.
    A recurring claim in a number of behavioural, cognitive and neuro-scientific literatures is that there is, or must be, a unidimensional ‘common currency’ in which the values of different available options are represented. There is striking variety in the quantities or properties that have been proposed as determinants of the ordering in motivational strength. Among those seriously suggested are pain and pleasure, biological fitness, reward and reinforcement, and utility among economists, who have regimented the notion of utility in a variety (...)
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  5.  24
    Does Intragenomic Conflict Predict Intrapersonal Conflict?David Spurrett - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (3):313-333.
    Parts of the genome of a single individual can have conflicting interests, depending on which parent they were inherited from. One mechanism by which these conflicts are expressed in some taxa, including mammals, is genomic imprinting, which modulates the level of expression of some genes depending on their parent of origin. Imprinted gene expression is known to affect body size, brain size, and the relative development of various tissues in mammals. A high fraction of imprinted gene expression occurs in the (...)
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  6. The Completeness of Physics.David Spurrett - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Natal, Durban
    The present work is focussed on the completeness of physics, or what is here called the Completeness Thesis: the claim that the domain of the physical is causally closed. Two major questions are tackled: How best is the Completeness Thesis to be formulated? What can be said in defence of the Completeness Thesis? My principal conclusions are that the Completeness Thesis can be coherently formulated, and that the evidence in favour if it significantly outweighs that against it. In opposition to (...)
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