Justin Fritz Leiber
|Died||March 22, 2016 (aged 77)|
|Cognitive science; linguistics|
Justin Fritz Leiber (July 8, 1938 – March 22, 2016) was an American philosopher and science fiction writer. He was the son of fantasy, horror and science fiction author Fritz Leiber and the grandson of stage and film actor Fritz Leiber, Sr. Previously a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, Leiber was most recently a professor emeritus of philosophy at Florida State University. He was a visiting fellow at Linacre College, Oxford during the Trinity term on numerous occasions.
Leiber was born in 1938 in Chicago, Illinois to writers Fritz Leiber and Jonquil Stephens Leiber. After completing his primary and secondary schooling at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, he went on to receive A.B. (1958), A.M. (1960) and Ph.D. (1967) degrees in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a B.Phil (1972) from St. Catherine's College, Oxford.
Leiber had numerous academic appointments, including an instructorship at Memphis State University (1962–1963) and assistant professorships at Utica College of Syracuse University (1963–1965), the State University of New York at Buffalo (1966–1968) and Lehman College (1968–1977). While at the latter institution, he held visiting appointments at King's College London (honorary visitor; 1970–1971), St. Catherine's College, Oxford (philosophy tutor; 1971–1972) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (visiting scientist; 1976–1978). A full professor at the University of Houston from 1978 onward, Leiber ended his career at Florida State University.
Leiber's publications encompass a number of subjects, including philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science. He published several papers on Alan Turing's Turing Test and Turing's mathematical Turing Machines and biological achievements, arguing that Turing Test passage requires actual, real time, reliable passage, thus excluding challenges to the Test by John Searle and others (Leiber 2006a, 1995, 1991) He also defends Turing's demand for a biology that excludes selectionist and functional explanations (Leiber 2006a, 2001) and he has offered a related critique of evolutionary psychology (Leiber 2008, 2006b). In several works (Leiber 1991,1988, 1975) he articulates the nativist and rationalist linguistics of Noam Chomsky. In a critical notice of Leiber's Invitation to Cognitive Science, Diane Proudfoot and Jack Copeland comment that "He provides a rationale for the Turing test which knits together the motivational remarks of Turing's 1950 article more satisfyingly than any previously proposed and he draws attention to Turing's anticipation of connectionism in 1948." While acknowledging that Leiber's interpretation of Turing's 1936 paper is widely shared, they argue that this consensus "distorts both Turing's achievement and the epistemic status of the computational theory of mind." Proudfoot and Copeland also comment that "Leiber upsets the common view of Wittgenstein by arguing that theses in the Philosophical Investigations commit Wittgenstein to a scientific approach the mind and encourage a specifically computational theory of mind...[stressing] central elements of Wittgenstein's constructive accounts of mind and language." However, they are critical of Leiber's audacious interpretation.
Some of both his fiction and non-fiction books and papers have dealt with intelligence and consciousness. Larry Hauser credits Leiber's dialogue, Can Animals and Machines Be Persons? for articulating the claim that "the solipsistic predicament pertains to individuals not species," so that if one can reliably tell that other humans have minds it would be sheer chauvinism to maintain one could never know whether something non-human had a mind. Lesley McLean comments that "Justin Leiber, who Dennett cites as a source for exposing certain hidden agendas distorting objective research into animal consciousness, himself offers a subjective account for why indeed we might doubt the link between moral standing and having of a mind [Leiber 1988]...What is interesting is that neither Descartes nor Leiber thinks animals to be conscious, yet they nevertheless think them worthy of moral consideration." Peter Singer, Mary Midgley, and others cite L. C. Rosenfield's From Beast-Machine to Man-Machine: Animal Soul in French Letters from Descartes to LaMettrie (New York, Oxford University Press, 1941) for a ghastly account of animal cruelty by unnamed Cartesians, but Singer and the rest fail to mention that Rosenfield dismisses the account as a pious anti-Cartesian fabrication, and further, that Rosenfield maintains that Descartes himself was never accused of cruelty to animals, nor did Descartes maintain that animals could not feel pain(Leiber 1988).
Begun while he was a Visiting Scientist at MIT, Justin Leiber’s first novel, Beyond Rejection, starts with a lengthy description of a “mind implant” operation in which the software mind of one individual is inserted into the hardware brain and body of another. Provocative and detailed, the description has been anthologized in several text books, most notably in Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett’s The Mind's I. The novel’s protagonist, with memories of a male body, awakens to a female one and must find a way beyond rejection. In Beyond Humanity, the protagonist deals with the claims to personhood of both apes and computers – themes that Hackett Publishing suggested might also be incorporated into a dialogue, Can Animals and Machines Be Persons? In Beyond Gravity, Leiber’s protagonist discovers that earth has long been studied by alien “anthropologists,” who write articles about humans which appear in a journal whose title might be translated into humanese as “Primitivity Review.” As this description suggests, Leiber’s Beyond trilogy is largely taken up with issues in philosophy and cognitive science. The same might not be said of Leiber’s sword and sorcery novels The Sword and the Eye and The Sword and the Tower.
- Beyond Gravity. New York: Thomas Doherty Associates, 1988.
- Beyond Humanity. New York: Thomas Doherty Associates, 1987.
- Beyond Rejection. New York: Book Club Hardcover (Doubleday), 1980.
- The Sword and the Eye. New York: Thomas Doherty Associates, 1985.
- The Sword and the Tower. New York: Thomas Doherty Associates, 1986.
- Paradoxes. London: Duckworth, 1993.
- An Invitation to Cognitive Science. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
- Can Animals and Machines Be Persons?. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Hackett Publishing,1986.
- Structuralism: Skepticism and Mind in the Psychological Sciences. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978.
- Noam Chomsky: A Philosophic Overview, Boston: G. K. Hall, 1975.
Some non-fiction papers
- "The Wiles of Evolutionary Psychology and the Indeterminacy of Selection" Philosophical Forum, 2008, 39:1, 53-72.
- "Turing’s Golden," Philosophical Psychology, 2006a, 19:4, 13-46.
- "Instinctive Incest Avoidance: A Paradigm Case for Evolutionary Psychology Evaporates." Journal For The Theory of Social Behavior, 2006b, 36:4, 369-388.
- "Turing and the Fragility and Insubstantiality of Evolutionary Explanations: A Puzzle About the Unity of Alan Turing's Work with some Larger Implications, 2001, Philosophical Psychology, XIII. 83-94.
- "On What Sort of Speech Act Wittgenstein’s Investigations Is and Why It Matters," The Philosophical Forum 1997, XXVIII, no. 3, 232-267.
- "Nature's Experiments, Society's Closures," The Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour,1997, XXVII, 325-343.
- "Art, Pornography, and the Evolution of Consciousness," in Alan Soble, ed., Sex, Love, and Friendship, 1997, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Editions Rodopi.
- "On Turing's Turing Test and Why the Matter Matters," Synthese, 1995,104:1, 59-69.
- "Cartesian" Linguistics?," Philosophia, 1988, 309-46. Subsequently reprinted, with minor corrections, in The Chomskyan Turn, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.
- "Fritz Leiber and Eyes," Starship 35, 1979.
- Lischka (2009), 2.
- Csomay (1982), 2.
- University of Houston (2009).
- Soble (1997), 628.
- Curriculum vitae.
- Eakin (2001), 2.
- "Tallahassee Democrat". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Daily Nous". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- Moor (2003), 496.
- Campos and Martínez-Gil (1992), 21.
- Proudfoot and Copeland (1991)
- Clute (1993).
- Hauser (1993), 237.
- McLean (2007)
- Campos, Héctor; Fernando Martínez-Gil (1992). Current Studies in Spanish Linguistics. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0-87840-234-9.
- Clute, John (1993). "Justin Leiber (1938 - )". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Csomay, Carol. "Conference gives new perspectives on the fantastic". Boca Raton News. South Florida Media Company. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- "Department of Philosophy Faculty: Justin Leiber". Florida State University. 2007. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Eakin, Emily (3 February 2001). "THINK TANK; No Longer Alone: The Scientist Who Dared to Say Animals Think". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- "Justin Leiber Papers". University of Houston. 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- "Justin Leiber's VITA". Florida State University. Archived from the original on 10 March 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Moor, James (2003). The Turing Test: The Elusive Standard of Artificial Intelligence. Studies in Cognitive Systems. 30. Berlin: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 1-4020-1205-5. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Lischka, Konrad (4 September 2009). "Rollenspiel-Urahn Fritz Leiber: Schnaps, Frauen, Schwerter und Magie". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Soble, Alan (1997). Sex, Love, and Friendship: Studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, 1977-1992. Value Inquiry Book Series. 45. Amsterdam: Rodopi Publishers. ISBN 90-420-0227-1. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- Hauser, Larry. "Reaping the Whirlwind". Minds and Machines. 3:2: 219–238. doi:10.1007/bf00975533.
- Proudfoot, Diane; Jack Copeland (1991). "A Critical Notice of Justin Leiber's An Invitation to Cognitive Science". Basil Blackwell.
- McLean, Lesley (2007). "On Responsible Knowledge Making and the Moral Standing of Animals: Questioning What Matters and Why about Animal Minds". Between the Species (VII). Archived from the original on 2010-07-05.