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An Affordance-based View of Inner Speech
Inner speech is a mental phenomenon normally described as the ‘inner voice’ in our heads, ‘talking to ourselves in silence’ or ‘thinking in words’. It is a pervasive phenomenon significantly related to language more broadly, thought, consciousness, perception and action. The study of inner speech currently lies at the intersection of very active research programs in the cognitive sciences. In this talk, I will sketch an approach to inner speech based on the framework of affordances or perceived possibilities for action. More specifically, I will propose that inner speech can be fruitfully characterised in a two-fold way as a mental verbal action and as a mental verbal affordance. I will then present the main implications of the view for the metaphysics and epistemology of inner speech, as well as for the main philosophical and psychological theories of inner speech.
Javier González de Prado
Biological teleology and regulation
Teleological notions in biology, like function or purpose, have a normative dimension, insofar as they involve a distinction between performances that can be evaluated positively (e.g. as successful or appropriate) and negatively (e.g. as failed or inappropriate). How can we account for the emergence of these normative teleological standards in the biological world? Selected-effects theories provide the most popular account of biological teleology. According to these theories, the purpose of a trait is doing whatever it was selected for. The vast majority of selected-effects theories take biological teleology to be introduced by natural selection. I want to argue, however, that natural selection is not the only relevant selective process in biology. In particular, my proposal is that biological regulation is a form of biological selection. So, those who accept selected-effects theories should recognize biological regulation as a distinctive source of biological teleology. The purposes derived from biological regulation will be of special interest for explaining and predicting the behavior of organisms, given that regulatory mechanisms directly modulate the behavior of the systems they regulate. This explanatory power, added to the fact that regulation is widespread in the biological world, makes the idea that regulation gives rise to its own form of teleology a substantial contribution to the debate.