32 research outputs found

    Hilary Putnam (1926-2016): A Lifetime Quest to Understand the Relationship between Mind, Language, and Reality

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    This is an extended intellectual obituary for Hilary Putna

    A Semantics for Virtual Environments and the Ontological Status of Virtual Objects

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    Virtual environments engage millions of people and billions of dollars each year. What is the ontological status of the virtual objects that populate those environments? An adequate answer to that question requires a developed semantics for virtual environments. The truth-conditions must be identified for “tree”-sentences when uttered by speakers immersed in a virtual environment (VE). It will be argued that statements about virtual objects have truth-conditions roughly comparable to the verificationist conditions popular amongst some contemporary antirealists. This does not mean that the virtual objects lack ontological standing. There is an important sense in which virtual objects are no less real for being mind-dependent

    Machine Intentionality, the Moral Status of Machines, and the Composition Problem

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    According to the most popular theories of intentionality, a family of theories we will refer to as “functional intentionality,” a machine can have genuine intentional states so long as it has functionally characterizable mental states that are causally hooked up to the world in the right way. This paper considers a detailed description of a robot that seems to meet the conditions of functional intentionality, but which falls victim to what I call “the composition problem.” One obvious way to escape the problem (arguably, the only way) is if the robot can be shown to be a moral patient – to deserve a particular moral status. If so, it isn’t clear how functional intentionality could remain plausible (something like “phenomenal intentionality” would be required). Finally, while it would have seemed that a reasonable strategy for establishing the moral status of intelligent machines would be to demonstrate that the machine possessed genuine intentionality, the composition argument suggests that the order of precedence is reversed: The machine must first be shown to possess a particular moral status before it is a candidate for having genuine intentionality

    Validation of a Novel Multivariate Method of Defining HIV-Associated Cognitive Impairment

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    Background. The optimum method of defining cognitive impairment in virally suppressed people living with HIV is unknown. We evaluated the relationships between cognitive impairment, including using a novel multivariate method (NMM), patientreported outcome measures (PROMs), and neuroimaging markers of brain structure across 3 cohorts.Methods. Differences in the prevalence of cognitive impairment, PROMs, and neuroimaging data from the COBRA, CHARTER, and POPPY cohorts (total n = 908) were determined between HIV-positive participants with and without cognitive impairment defined using the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), global deficit score (GDS), and NMM criteria.Results. The prevalence of cognitive impairment varied by up to 27% between methods used to define impairment (eg, 48% for HAND vs 21% for NMM in the CHARTER study). Associations between objective cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive complaints generally were weak. Physical and mental health summary scores (SF-36) were lowest for NMM-defined impairment (P<.05). There were no differences in brain volumes or cortical thickness between participants with and without cognitive impairment defined using the HAND and GDS measures. In contrast, those identified with cognitive impairment by the NMM had reduced mean cortical thickness in both hemispheres (P<.05), as well as smaller brain volumes (P<.01). The associations with measures of white matter microstructure and brain-predicted age generally were weaker.Conclusion. Different methods of defining cognitive impairment identify different people with varying symptomatology and measures of brain injury. Overall, NMM-defined impairment was associated with most neuroimaging abnormalities and poorer selfreported health status. This may be due to the statistical advantage of using a multivariate approach

    Mental Representations of Weekdays

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    Keeping social appointments involves keeping track of what day it is. In practice, mismatches between apparent day and actual day are common. For example, a person might think the current day is Wednesday when in fact it is Thursday. Here we show that such mismatches are highly systematic, and can be traced to specific properties of their mental representations. In Study 1, mismatches between apparent day and actual day occurred more frequently on midweek days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) than on other days, and were mainly due to intrusions from immediately neighboring days. In Study 2, reaction times to report the current day were fastest on Monday and Friday, and slowest midweek. In Study 3, participants generated fewer semantic associations for "Tuesday", "Wednesday" and "Thursday" than for other weekday names. Similarly, Google searches found fewer occurrences of midweek days in webpages and books. Analysis of affective norms revealed that participants' associations were strongly negative for Monday, strongly positive for Friday, and graded over the intervening days. Midweek days are confusable because their mental representations are sparse and similar. Mondays and Fridays are less confusable because their mental representations are rich and distinctive, forming two extremes along a continuum of change

    Validation of a novel multivariate method of defining HIV-associated cognitive impairment

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    Background. The optimum method of defining cognitive impairment in virally suppressed people living with HIV is unknown. We evaluated the relationships between cognitive impairment, including using a novel multivariate method (NMM), patient– reported outcome measures (PROMs), and neuroimaging markers of brain structure across 3 cohorts. Methods. Differences in the prevalence of cognitive impairment, PROMs, and neuroimaging data from the COBRA, CHARTER, and POPPY cohorts (total n = 908) were determined between HIV-positive participants with and without cognitive impairment defined using the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), global deficit score (GDS), and NMM criteria. Results. The prevalence of cognitive impairment varied by up to 27% between methods used to define impairment (eg, 48% for HAND vs 21% for NMM in the CHARTER study). Associations between objective cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive complaints generally were weak. Physical and mental health summary scores (SF-36) were lowest for NMM-defined impairment (P < .05). There were no differences in brain volumes or cortical thickness between participants with and without cognitive impairment defined using the HAND and GDS measures. In contrast, those identified with cognitive impairment by the NMM had reduced mean cortical thickness in both hemispheres (P < .05), as well as smaller brain volumes (P < .01). The associations with measures of white matter microstructure and brain-predicted age generally were weaker. Conclusion. Different methods of defining cognitive impairment identify different people with varying symptomatology and measures of brain injury. Overall, NMM-defined impairment was associated with most neuroimaging abnormalities and poorer selfreported health status. This may be due to the statistical advantage of using a multivariate approac

    Genome-wide identification and phenotypic characterization of seizure-associated copy number variations in 741,075 individuals

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    Copy number variants (CNV) are established risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders with seizures or epilepsy. With the hypothesis that seizure disorders share genetic risk factors, we pooled CNV data from 10,590 individuals with seizure disorders, 16,109 individuals with clinically validated epilepsy, and 492,324 population controls and identified 25 genome-wide significant loci, 22 of which are novel for seizure disorders, such as deletions at 1p36.33, 1q44, 2p21-p16.3, 3q29, 8p23.3-p23.2, 9p24.3, 10q26.3, 15q11.2, 15q12-q13.1, 16p12.2, 17q21.31, duplications at 2q13, 9q34.3, 16p13.3, 17q12, 19p13.3, 20q13.33, and reciprocal CNVs at 16p11.2, and 22q11.21. Using genetic data from additional 248,751 individuals with 23 neuropsychiatric phenotypes, we explored the pleiotropy of these 25 loci. Finally, in a subset of individuals with epilepsy and detailed clinical data available, we performed phenome-wide association analyses between individual CNVs and clinical annotations categorized through the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO). For six CNVs, we identified 19 significant associations with specific HPO terms and generated, for all CNVs, phenotype signatures across 17 clinical categories relevant for epileptologists. This is the most comprehensive investigation of CNVs in epilepsy and related seizure disorders, with potential implications for clinical practice

    Dimethyl fumarate in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (RECOVERY): a randomised, controlled, open-label, platform trial

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    Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) inhibits inflammasome-mediated inflammation and has been proposed as a treatment for patients hospitalised with COVID-19. This randomised, controlled, open-label platform trial (Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy [RECOVERY]), is assessing multiple treatments in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 (NCT04381936, ISRCTN50189673). In this assessment of DMF performed at 27 UK hospitals, adults were randomly allocated (1:1) to either usual standard of care alone or usual standard of care plus DMF. The primary outcome was clinical status on day 5 measured on a seven-point ordinal scale. Secondary outcomes were time to sustained improvement in clinical status, time to discharge, day 5 peripheral blood oxygenation, day 5 C-reactive protein, and improvement in day 10 clinical status. Between 2 March 2021 and 18 November 2021, 713 patients were enroled in the DMF evaluation, of whom 356 were randomly allocated to receive usual care plus DMF, and 357 to usual care alone. 95% of patients received corticosteroids as part of routine care. There was no evidence of a beneficial effect of DMF on clinical status at day 5 (common odds ratio of unfavourable outcome 1.12; 95% CI 0.86-1.47; p = 0.40). There was no significant effect of DMF on any secondary outcome

    A Dogma of Metaphysical Realism

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    There is a dogma about metaphysical realism that is well nigh universal: "If one is a metaphysical realist about the external world, then one ought to be a semantic realist about external- world statements". I argue that this dogma should be rejected. It is possible for a metaphysical realist to be a "semantic dualist", holding that some middle- sized object statements receive a realist interpretation, but that most such statements require an antirealist interpretation. To show that a semantically dual language is at least possible, I describe a possible world whose inhabitants speak a version of English that is syntactically dual. Further I argue that English in the "actual world" is itself semantically dua
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