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Robert A. Wilson
La Trobe University
  1. Eugenics Never Went Away.Robert A. Wilson - 2018 - Aeon 2018.
    Eugenics does not feel so distant from where I stand. This essay explains why.
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  2. Extended Mind and Identity.Robert A. Wilson & Bartlomiej Lenart - 2014 - In Jens Clausen & Neil Levy (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer. pp. 423-439.
    Dominant views of personal identity in philosophy take some kind of psychological continuity or connectedness over time to be criterial for the identity of a person over time. Such views assign psychological states, particularly those necessary for narrative memory of some kind, special importance in thinking about the nature of persons. The extended mind thesis, which has generated much recent discussion in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, holds that a person’s psychological states can physically extend beyond that person’s (...)
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  3. A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory.Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, Celia Harris & Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1):33-51.
    In this paper, we aim to show that the framework of embedded, distributed, or extended cognition offers new perspectives on social cognition by applying it to one specific domain: the psychology of memory. In making our case, first we specify some key social dimensions of cognitive distribution and some basic distinctions between memory cases, and then describe stronger and weaker versions of distributed remembering in the general distributed cognition framework. Next, we examine studies of social influences on memory in cognitive (...)
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  4.  95
    Externalism and Internalism in the Philosophy of Mind.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - Oxford Bibliographies.
    Annotated bibliography of works on externalism and internalism in the philosophy of mind.
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  5. Kinship Past, Kinship Present: Bio-Essentialism in the Study of Kinship.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - American Anthropologist 118 (3).
    In this article, I reconsider bio-essentialism in the study of kinship, centering on David Schneider’s influential critique that concluded that kinship was “a non-subject” (1972:51). Schneider’s critique is often taken to have shown the limitations of and problems with past views of kinship based on biology, genealogy, and reproduction, a critique that subsequently led those reworking kinship as relatedness in the new kinship studies to view their enterprise as divorced from such bio-essentialist studies. Beginning with an alternative narrative connecting kinship (...)
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  6. Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays.Robert A. Wilson - 1999 - MIT Press.
    This collection of original essays--by philosophers of biology, biologists, and cognitive scientists--provides a wide range of perspectives on species. Including contributions from David Hull, John Dupre, David Nanney, Kevin de Queiroz, and Kim Sterelny, amongst others, this book has become especially well-known for the three essays it contains on the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, papers by Richard Boyd, Paul Griffiths, and Robert A. Wilson.
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  7.  79
    Contemporary Forms of Eugenics.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - eLS Wiley Online.
    Eugenics is commonly thought of as having endured as science and social movement only until 1945. With the advance of both reproductive and enhancement technologies, however, concern has arisen that eugenics has resurfaced in new forms. In particular, the eugenic potential of the Human Genome Project led to talk of the rise of ‘newgenics’ and of a backdoor to eugenics. This article focuses on such concerns deriving from the practice of prenatal screening and technologies that increase our ability to generate (...)
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  8. Eugenics and Disability.Robert A. Wilson & Joshua St Pierre - 2016 - In Beatriz Mirandaa-Galarza Patrick Devlieger (ed.), Rethinking Disability: World Perspectives in Culture and Society. Antwerp, Belgium: pp. 93-112.
    In the intersection between eugenics past and present, disability has never been far beneath the surface. Perceived and ascribed disabilities of body and mind were one of the core sets of eugenics traits that provided the basis for institutionalized and sterilization on eugenic grounds for the first 75 years of the 20th-century. Since that time, the eugenic preoccupation with the character of future generations has seeped into what have become everyday practices in the realm of reproductive choice. As Marsha Saxton (...)
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  9. The Sound of Music: Externalist Style.Luke Kersten & Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (2):139-154.
    Philosophical exploration of individualism and externalism in the cognitive sciences most recently has been focused on general evaluations of these two views (Adams & Aizawa 2008, Rupert 2008, Wilson 2004, Clark 2008). Here we return to broaden an earlier phase of the debate between individualists and externalists about cognition, one that considered in detail particular theories, such as those in developmental psychology (Patterson 1991) and the computational theory of vision (Burge 1986, Segal 1989). Music cognition is an area in the (...)
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  10. Cohesion, Gene Flow, and the Nature of Species.Matthew J. Barker & Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (2):59-77.
    A far-reaching and influential view in evolutionary biology claims that species are cohesive units held together by gene flow. Biologists have recognized empirical problems facing this view; after sharpening the expression of the view, we present novel conceptual problems for it. At the heart of these problems is a distinction between two importantly different concepts of cohesion, what we call integrative and response cohesion. Acknowledging the distinction problematizes both the explanandum of species cohesion and the explanans of gene flow that (...)
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  11. Thinking About Relations: Strathern, Sahlins, and Locke on Anthropological Knowledge.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - Anthropological Theory 4 (16):327-349.
    John Locke is known within anthropology primarily for his empiricism, his views of natural laws, and his discussion of the state of nature and the social contract. Marilyn Strathern and Marshall Sahlins, however, have offered distinctive, novel, and broad reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge that appeal explicitly to a lesser-known aspect of Locke’s work: his metaphysical views of relations. This paper examines their distinctive conclusions – Sahlins’ about cultural relativism, Strathern’s about relatives and kinship – both of which (...)
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  12. Ten Questions Concerning Extended Cognition.Robert A. Wilson - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):19-33.
    This paper considers ten questions that those puzzled by or skeptical of extended cognition have posed. Discussion of these questions ranges across substantive, methodological, and dialectical issues in the ongoing debate over extended cognition, such as whether the issue between proponents and opponents of extended cognition is merely semantic or a matter of convention; whether extended cognition should be treated in the same way as extended biology; and whether conscious mental states pose a special problem for the extended mind thesis. (...)
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  13.  62
    Eugenic Thinking.Robert A. Wilson - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10.
    Projects of human improvement take both individual and intergenerational forms. The biosciences provide many technologies, including prenatal screening and the latest gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR, that have been viewed as providing the means to human improvement across generations. But who is fit to furnish the next generation? Historically, eugenics epitomizes the science-based attempt to improve human society through distinguishing kinds of people and then implementing social policies—from immigration restriction to sexual sterilization and euthanasia—that influence and even direct what (...)
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  14. Extended Vision.Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - In Nivedita Gangopadhyay, Michael Madary & Finn Spicer (eds.), Perception, Action and Consciousness. Oxford University Press..
    Vision constitutes an interesting domain, or range of domains, for debate over the extended mind thesis, the idea that minds physically extend beyond the boundaries of the body. In part this is because vision and visual experience more particularly are sometimes presented as a kind of line in the sand for what we might call externalist creep about the mind: once all reasonable concessions have been made to externalists about the mind, visual experience marks a line beyond which lies a (...)
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  15.  58
    Group-Level Cognizing, Collaborative Remembering, and Individuals.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - In Penny Van Bergen Michelle Meade (ed.), Collaborative Remembering: Theories, Research, and Applications. New York, NY, USA: pp. 248-260.
    This chapter steps back from the important psychological work on collaborative remembering at the heart of the present volume to take up some broader questions about the place of memory in Western cultural thought, both historically and in contemporary society, offering the kind of integrative and reflective perspective for which philosophy is often known. In particular, the text aims to shed some light on the relationship between collaborative memory and the other two topics in this title—group-level cognizing and individuals—beginning with (...)
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  16.  46
    Collective Intentionality in Non-Human Animals.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - In Marija Jankovic and Kirk Ludwig (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Collective Intentionality. New York, NY, USA: pp. 420-432.
    I think there is something to be said in a positive and constructive vein about collective intentionality in non-human animals. Doing so involves probing at the concept of collective intentionality fairly directly (Section 2), considering the various forms that collective intentionality might take (Section 3), showing some sensitivity to the history of appeals to that concept and its close relatives (Section 4), and raising some broader questions about the relationships between sociality, cognition, and institutions by discussing two different possible cases (...)
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  17. Realization.Carl F. Craver & Robert A. Wilson - 2006 - In P. Thagard (ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.
    For the greater part of the last 50 years, it has been common for philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists to invoke the notion of realization in discussing the relationship between the mind and the brain. In traditional philosophy of mind, mental states are said to be realized, instantiated, or implemented in brain states. Artificial intelligence is sometimes described as the attempt either to model or to actually construct systems that realize some of the same psychological abilities that we and (...)
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  18. A Puzzle About Material Constitution and How to Solve It: Enriching Constitution Views in Metaphysics.Robert A. Wilson - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7:1-20.
    Are materially constituted entities, such as statues and glasses of liquid, something more than their material constituents? The puzzle that frames this paper stems from conflicting answers to this question. At the core of the paper is a distinctive way of thinking about material constitution that posits two concepts of constitution, compositional and ampliative constitution, with the bulk of the discussion devoted to developing distinct analyses for these concepts. Distinguishing these concepts solves our initial puzzle and enriches the space of (...)
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  19. Primary and Secondary Qualities.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - In Matthew Stuart (ed.), A Companion to Locke. Blackwell. pp. 193-211.
    The first half of this review article on Locke on primary and secondary qualities leads up to a fairly straightforward reading of what Locke says about the distinction in Essay II.viii, one that, in its general outlines, represents a sympathetic understanding of Locke’s discussion. The second half of the paper turns to consider a few of the ways in which interpreting Locke on primary and secondary qualities has proven more complicated. Here we take up what is sometimes called the Berkeleyan (...)
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  20. The Transitivity of Material Constitution.Robert A. Wilson - 2009 - Noûs 43 (2):363-377.
    In metaphysics, the view that material constitution is transitive is ubiquitous, an assumption expressed by both proponents and critics of constitution views. Likewise, it is typically assumed within the philosophy of mind that physical realization is a transitive relation. In both cases, this assumption of transitivity plays a role in discussion of the broader implications of a metaphysics that invokes either relation. Here I provide reasons for questioning this assumption and the uses to which this appeal to transitivity is put. (...)
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  21.  27
    Eugenics in Philosophy.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    Annotated bibliography on eugenics and philosophy.
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  22. The Role of Oral History in Surviving a Eugenic Past.Robert A. Wilson - 2015 - In Steven High (ed.), Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence. pp. 119-138.
    Despite the fact that the history of eugenics in Canada is necessarily part of the larger history of eugenics, there is a special role for oral history to play in the telling of this story, a role that promises to shift us from the muddled middle of the story. Not only has the testimony of eugenics survivors already played perhaps the most important role in revealing much about the practice of eugenics in Canada, but the willingness and ability of survivors (...)
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