•  1113
    Why Peirce matters : the symbol in Deacon’s symbolic species
    Language Sciences 29 (1): 88-101. 2007.
    In ‘‘Why brains matter: an integrational perspective on The Symbolic Species’’ Cowley (2002) [Language Sciences 24, 73–95] suggests that Deacon pictures brains as being able to process words qua tokens, which he identifies as the theory’s Achilles’ heel. He goes on to argue that Deacon’s thesis on the co-evolution of language and mind would benefit from an integrational approach. This paper argues that Cowley’s criticism relies on an invalid understanding of Deacon’s use the concept of ‘‘symboli…Read more
  •  453
    The Formation of the Self. Nietzsche and Complexity
    with Paul Cilliers and Vasti Roodt
    South African Journal of Philosophy 21 (1): 1-17. 2002.
    The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship between the formation of the self and the worldly horizon within which this self achieves its meaning. Our inquiry takes place from two perspectives: the first derived from the Nietzschean analysis of how one becomes what one is; the other from current developments in complexity theory. This two-angled approach opens up different, yet related dimensions of a non-essentialist understanding of the self that is none the less neither arbitra…Read more
  •  383
    Peculiarities in Mind; Or, on the Absence of Darwin
    South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3): 282-302. 2011.
    A key failing in contemporary philosophy of mind is the lack of attention paid to evolutionary theory in its research projects. Notably, where evolution is incorporated into the study of mind, the work being done is often described as philosophy of cognitive science rather than philosophy of mind. Even then, whereas possible implications of the evolution of human cognition are taken more seriously within the cognitive sciences and the philosophy of cognitive science, its relevance for cognitive …Read more
  •  378
    The concept of “harm” is ubiquitous in moral theorising, and yet remains poorly defined. Bradley suggests that the counterfactual comparative account of harm is the most plausible account currently available, but also argues that it is fatally flawed, since it falters on the omission and pre-emption problems. Hanna attempts to defend the counterfactual comparative account of harm against both problems. In this paper, I argue that Hanna’s defence fails. I also show how his defence highlights the …Read more
  •  359
    Narrating the self: Freud, Dennett and complexity theory
    with Paul Cilliers
    South African Journal of Philosophy 23 (1): 34-53. 2004.
    Adopting a materialist approach to the mind has far reaching implications for many presuppositions regarding the properties of the brain, including those that have traditionally been consigned to “the mental” aspect of human being. One such presupposition is the conception of the disembodied self. In this article we aim to account for the self as a material entity, in that it is wholly the result of the physiological functioning of the embodied brain. Furthermore, we attempt to account for the s…Read more
  •  96
    How not to be a metaethical naturalist –Jesse Prinz on the emotional construction of morals
    South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (2): 145-154. 2014.
    Jesse Prinz develops a naturalistic metaethical theory with which he purports to sidestep ‘Hume's law’ by demonstrating how, on his theory, in describing what our moral beliefs commit us to we can determine what our moral obligations are. I aim to show that Prinz does not deliver on his prescriptive promise – he does not bridge the is–ought gap in any meaningful way. Given that Prinz goes on to argue that (1) his moral psychology highlights fundamental shortcomings in ‘traditional’ normative eth…Read more
  •  50
    Complexity and the self
    Dissertation, University of Stellenbosch. 2002.
    In this thesis it is argued that the age-old philosophical "Problem of the Self' can benefit by being approached from the perspective of a relatively recent science, namely that of Complexity Theory. With this in mind the conceptual features of this theory is highlighted and summarised. Furthermore, the argument is made that the predominantly dualistic approach to the self that is characteristic of the Western Philosophical tradition serves to hinder, rather than edify, our understanding of the …Read more
  •  33
    Mind and Language : Evolution in Contemporary Theories of Cognition
    Dissertation, University of Stellenbosch. 2006.
    This thesis gives an historical overview of some of the issues connecting philosophy of mind and philosophy of langauge in the twentieth century, especially with regard to the relevance of both disciplines to theories of cognition. Specifically, the interrelation between the theories of Peirce,Chomsky, Derrida, and Deacon are discussed. Furthermore, an overview of twentieth century views on mind in both philosophy and the cognitive sciences is given. The argument is made that many of the apparen…Read more
  •  30
    Haidt et al.’s Case for Moral Pluralism Revisited
    Philosophical Psychology 33 (2): 244-261. 2020.
    Recent work in moral psychology that claims to show that human beings make moral judgements on the basis of multiple, divergent moral foundations has been influential in both moral psychology and moral philosophy. Primarily, such work has been taken to undermine monistic moral theories, especially those pertaining to the prevention of harm. Here, I call one of the most prominent and influential empirical cases for moral pluralism into question, namely that of Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues. I…Read more
  •  22
    In recent attempts to define ‘harm’, the most promising approach has often been thought to be the counterfactual comparative account of harm. Nevertheless, this account faces serious difficulties. Moreover, it has been argued that ‘harm’ cannot be defined without reference to a substantive theory of well-being, which is itself a fraught issue. This has led to the call for the concept to simply be dropped from the moral lexicon altogether. I reject this call, arguing that the non-comparative appr…Read more