Researchers have wondered how the brain creates emotions since the early days of psychological science. With a surge of studies in affective neuroscience in recent decades, scientists are poised to answer this question. In this target article, we present a meta-analytic summary of the neuroimaging literature on human emotion. We compare the locationist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories consistently and specifically correspond to distinct brain regions) with the psychological constructionist approach (i.e., the hypothesis that discrete emotion categories (...) are constructed of more general brain networks not specific to those categories) to better understand the brain basis of emotion. We review both locationist and psychological constructionist hypotheses of brain–emotion correspondence and report meta-analytic findings bearing on these hypotheses. Overall, we found little evidence that discrete emotion categories can be consistently and specifically localized to distinct brain regions. Instead, we found evidence that is consistent with a psychological constructionist approach to the mind: A set of interacting brain regions commonly involved in basic psychological operations of both an emotional and non-emotional nature are active during emotion experience and perception across a range of discrete emotion categories. (shrink)
Representationism is the view that the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on its representational content. Synaesthesia is a condition in which the phenomenal character of the experience produced in a subject by stimulation of one sensory modality contains elements characteristic of a second, unstimulated sensory modality. After reviewing some of the recent psychological literature on synaesthesia and one of the leading versions of representationism, I argue that cases of synaesthesia, as instances of what I call the extra qualia (...) problem, are counterexamples to externalist versions of representationism. (shrink)
Background: Breaches of publication ethics such as plagiarism, data fabrication and redundant publication are recognised as forms of research misconduct that can undermine the scientific literature. We surveyed journal editors to determine their views about a range of publication ethics issues. Methods: Questionnaire sent to 524 editors-in-chief of Wiley-Blackwell science journals asking about the severity and frequency of 16 ethical issues at their journals, their confidence in handling such issues, and their awareness and use of guidelines. Results: Responses were obtained (...) from 231 editors (44%), of whom 48% edited healthcare journals. The general level of concern about the 16 issues was low, with mean severity scores of <1 (on a scale of 0–3) for all but one. The issue of greatest concern (mean score 1.19) was redundant publication. Most editors felt confident in handling the issues, with <15% feeling “not at all confident” for all but one of the issues (gift authorship, 22% not confident). Most editors believed such problems occurred less than once a year and >20% of the editors stated that 12 of the 16 items never occurred at their journal. However, 13%–47% did not know the frequency of the problems. Awareness and use of guidelines was generally low. Most editors were unaware of all except other journals’ instructions. Conclusions: Most editors of science journals seem not very concerned about publication ethics and believe that misconduct occurs only rarely in their journals. Many editors are unfamiliar with available guidelines but would welcome more guidance or training. (shrink)
Editors have a responsibility to retract seriously flawed articles from their journals. However, there appears to be little consistency in journals’ policies or procedures for this. In a qualitative study, we therefore interviewed editors of science journals using semi-structured interviews to investigate their experience of retracting articles. We identified potential barriers to retraction, difficulties in the process and also sources of support and encouragement. Our findings have been used as the basis for guidelines developed by the Committee on Publication Ethics.
We agree that conceptualisation is key in understanding the brain basis of emotion. We argue that by conflating facial emotion recognition with subjective emotion experience, Lindquist et al. understate the importance of biological predisposition in emotion. We use examples from the anxiety disorders to illustrate the distinction between these two phenomena, emphasising the importance of both emotional hardware and contextual learning.
In our response, we clarify important theoretical differences between basic emotion and psychological construction approaches. We evaluate the empirical status of the basic emotion approach, addressing whether it requires brain localization, whether localization can be observed with better analytic tools, and whether evidence for basic emotions exists in other types of measures. We then revisit the issue of whether the key hypotheses of psychological construction are supported by our meta-analytic findings. We close by elaborating on commentator suggestions for future research.
Lindquist et al. convincingly argue that the brain implements psychological operations that are constitutive of emotion rather than modules subserving discrete emotions. However, the nature of such psychological operations is open to debate. I argue that considering appraisal theories may provide alternative interpretations of the neuroimaging data with respect to the psychological operations involved.
Gray argues that my three earlier counterexamples fail to refute representational theories of phenomenal character. I maintain that, despite Gray's arguments, each example does in fact work against the particular representational theory at which it is targeted. Further, I question whether my internalism regarding phenomenal character and Gray's externalism regarding modularity are in genuine conflict with one another.
Wager has argued that synaesthesia provides material for a counterexample to representational theories of the phenomenal character of experience. He gives a series of three cases based on synaesthesia; he requires the second and third cases to bolster the doubtfulness of the first. Here I further endorse the problematic nature of the first case and then show why the other two cases do not save his argument. I claim that whenever synaesthesia is a credible possibility its phenomenal character can (...) be understood in terms of misrepresentation. (shrink)
Background Journal editors are responsible for what they publish and therefore have a duty to correct the record if published work is found to be unreliable. One method for such correction is retraction of an article. Anecdotal evidence suggested a lack of consistency in journal policies and practices regarding retraction. In order to develop guidelines, we reviewed retractions in Medline to discover how and why articles were retracted. Methods We retrieved all available Medline retractions from 2005 to 2008 and a (...) one-in-three random selection of those from 1988 to 2004. This yielded 312 retractions (from a total of 870). Details of the retraction including the reason for retraction were recorded by two investigators. Results Medline retractions have increased sharply since 1980 and currently represent 0.02% of included articles. Retractions were issued by authors (63%), editors (21%), journals (6%), publishers (2%) and institutions (1%). Reasons for retraction included honest error or non-replicable findings (40%), research misconduct (28%), redundant publication (17%) and unstated/unclear (5%). Some of the stated reasons might have been addressed by corrections. Conclusions Journals' retraction practices are not uniform. Some retractions fail to state the reason, and therefore fail to distinguish error from misconduct. We have used our findings to inform guidelines on retractions. (shrink)
_This is a personal account based on many years experience as a medical writer. It considers aspects of medical writing with particular focus on the intellectual and ethical dilemmas it can raise. What makes medical writing both so interesting and so challenging is the fact that it often takes place at the border between different disciplines. For example, it straddles both science and art. Ethical issues also arise at the boundaries between academia and commerce. Until recently there have been few (...) guidelines to help navigate such potentially dangerous territory. I have been privileged to be involved in developing two such guidelines and I describe how I hope the Good Publication Practice guidelines for pharmaceutical companies and the European Medical Writers Association guidelines may improve the practice of this fascinating profession, Medical Writing._. (shrink)
The Many Gods Objection (MGO) is widely viewed as a decisive criticism of Pascal’s Wager. By introducing a plurality of hypotheses with infinite expected utility into the decision matrix, the wagerer is left without adequate grounds to decide between them. However, some have attempted to rebut this objection by employing various criteria drawn from the theological tradition. Unfortunately, such defenses do little good for an argument that is supposed to be an apologetic aimed at atheists and agnostics. The purpose (...) of this paper is to offer a defensive strategy of a different sort, one more suited to the Wager’s apologetic aim and status as a decision under ignorance. Instead of turning to criteria independent of the Wager, it will be shown that there are characteristics already built into its decision theoretic structure that can be used to block many categories of theological hypotheses including MGO’s more outrageous “cooked-up” hypotheses and “philosophers’ fictions”. (shrink)
In his new book on Pascal's Wager, Jeff Jordan argues that only the ‘Jamesian’ version of the wager argument, as he sees it presented in William James' essay The Will to Believe , constitutes a sound pragmatic argument in favour of theism, whereas Pascal's original wager argument is doomed to fail on various grounds. This article argues that Jordan's theory is untenable. The many-gods objection is used as an example: it is demonstrated that the Jamesian Wager (...) argument too is powerless to rebut this objection. (shrink)
Pascal’s Wager holds that one has pragmatic reason to believe in God, since that course of action has infinite expected utility. The mixed strategy objection holds that one could just as well follow a course of action that has infinite expected utility but is unlikely to end with one believing in God. Monton (2011. Mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager. Analysis 71: 642–45.) has argued that mixed strategies can’t evade Pascal’s Wager, while Robertson (2012. Some mixed strategies (...) can evade Pascal’s Wager: a reply to Monton. Analysis 72: 295–98.) has argued that Monton is mistaken. We show that Monton is correct, highlight the crucial assumptions that he relies on, and shed some light on the role of mixed strategies in decision theory. (shrink)
The mixed strategy response to Pascal’s Wager avoids Pascal’s conclusion by noting that there are ways to obtain infinite expected utility other than believing in God. We can, for instance, flip a coin and believe in God if the coin lands heads. Bradley Monton has recently argued that rationality requires us to apply mixed strategies repeatedly until we believe in God, and thus that mixed strategies do not evade the Wager. I offer three mixed strategies meet the requirements (...) of rationality but avoid Monton’s result. (shrink)
In "To Bet The Impossible Bet", Harmon Holcomb III argues: (i) that Pascal's wager is structurally incoherent; (ii) that if it were not thus incoherent, then it would be successful; and (iii) that my earlier critique of Pascal's wager in "On Rescher On Pascal's Wager" is vitiated by its reliance on "logicist" presuppositions. I deny all three claims. If Pascal's wager is "incoherent", this is only because of its invocation of infinite utilities. However, even if infinite (...) utilities are admissible, the wager is defeated by the "many gods" and "many wagers" objections. Moreover, these objections do not rely on mistaken "logicist" presuppositions: atheists and agnostics traditionally and typically hold that they have no more--or at any rate, hardly any more--reason to believe in the traditional Christian God than they have to believe in countless alternative deities. (shrink)
In this paper the question of the object in Freud’s metapsychology is sketched out from an economical point of view, that is in terms of pleasure and displeasure. This allows for a reading of Pascal’s wager that makes clear what interest Lacan had in discussing this one pensée at length in his Seminar on the Object of Psychoanalysis. The central issue in Lacan’s reading concerns the object a as a stake the subject has lost.
Among recent objections to Pascal’s Wager, two are especially compelling. The first is that decision theory, and specifically the requirement of maximizing expected utility, is incompatible with infinite utility values. The second is that even if infinite utility values are admitted, the argument of the Wager is invalid provided that we allow mixed strategies. Furthermore, Hájek (Philosophical Review 112, 2003) has shown that reformulations of Pascal’s Wager that address these criticisms inevitably lead to arguments that are philosophically (...) unsatisfying and historically unfaithful. Both the objections and Hájek’s philosophical worries disappear, however, if we represent our preferences using relative utilities (generalized utility ratios) rather than a one-place utility function. Relative utilities provide a conservative way to make sense of infinite value that preserves the familiar equation of rationality with the maximization of expected utility. They also provide a means of investigating a broader class of problems related to the Wager. (shrink)
Recent scholarship has shown that the success of Pascal’s wager rests on precarious grounds. To avoid notorious problems, it must appeal to considerations such as what probability we assign to the existence of various gods and what religion we think provides the greatest happiness in this life. Rational judgments concerning these matters are subject to change over time. Some claim that the wager therefore cannot support a steadfast commitment to God. I argue that this conclusion does not follow. (...) By drawing upon the line of reasoning employed in getting married, I explain how unstable considerations can provide a sufficient rational foundation for a stable commitment. (shrink)
Doctors and dentists have traditionally used antibiotic prophylaxis in certain patient groups in order to prevent infective endocarditis (IE). New guidelines, however, suggest that the risk to patients from using antibiotics is higher than the risk from IE. This paper analyses the relative risks of prescribing and not prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis against the background of Pascal’s Wager, the infamous assertion that it is better to believe in God regardless of evidence, because of the prospective benefits should He exist. Many (...) doctors seem to believe the parallel proposition that it is better to prescribe antibiotics, regardless of evidence, because of the prospective benefit conferred upon the patient. This has been called the “no lose philosophy” in medicine: better safe than sorry, even if the evidence inconveniently suggests that following this mantra is potentially more likely to result in sorry than safe. It transpires that, just as Pascal’s Wager fails to convince because of a lack of evidence to support it and the costs incurred by trying to believe, so the “belts and braces” approach of prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis is unjustifiable given the actual evidence of potential risk and benefit to the patient. Ultimately, there is no no-lose if your clinical decisions, like Pascal’s Wager, are based on faith rather than evidence. (shrink)
Only one traditional objection to Pascal's wager is telling: Pascal assumes a particular theology, but without justification. We produce two new objections that go deeper. We show that even if Pascal's theology is assumed to be probable, Pascal's argument does not go through. In addition, we describe a wager that Pascal never considered, which leads away from Pascal's conclusion. We then consider the impact of these considerations on other prudential arguments concerning what one should believe, and on the (...) more general question of when and why belief formation ought to be based solely on the evidence. (shrink)
“Pascal's Wager” is the name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single paragraph of his Pensées, Pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a ‘wager’ — it is only the final of these that is traditionally referred to as “Pascal's Wager”. We find in it the extraordinary confluence of (...) several important strands of thought: the justification of theism; probability theory and decision theory, used here for almost the first time in history; pragmatism; voluntarism (the thesis that belief is a matter of the will); and the use of the concept of infinity. (shrink)
Pragmatist responses to radical skepticism do not receive much attention in contemporary analytic epistemology. This observation is my motivation for undertaking a search for a coherent pragmatist reply to radical doubt, one that can compete, in terms of clarity and sophistication, with the currently most popular approaches, such as contextualism and relevant alternatives theory. As my point of departure I take the texts of C. S. Peirce and William James. The Jamesian response is seen to consist in the application of (...) a wager argument to the skeptical issue in analogy with Pascal's wager. The Peircean strategy, on the other hand, is to attempt a direct rejection of one of the skeptic's main premises: that we do not know we are not deceived. I argue that while the Jamesian attempt is ultimately incoherent, Peirce's argument contains the core of a detailed and characteristically "pragmatic" rebuttal of skepticism, one that deserves to be taken seriously in the contemporary debate. (shrink)
In this article I examine the challenging question concerning whether communal forgiveness is possible. In order to show that it is in principle possible I articulate and then respond to two of the most powerful objections to communal forgiveness that have been formulated to date, namely: (1) the argument that only victims can forgive; and (2) the argument that forgiveness is unconditional and thus outside the scope of such things as communal or political deliberation. I argue that communal forgiveness is (...) a process of transformation that requires at the practical level an institutional framework in which a representative of a community can initiate the process of forgiveness, like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu did in South Africa. Because forgiveness is a process of transformation, it cannot be assessed at the level of acts or commitments alone, but is a wager on the future that will indeed show whether the communities involved have accepted the transformation. (shrink)
Is it reasonable to believe in God even in the absence of strong evidence that God exists? Pragmatic arguments for theism are designed to support belief even if one lacks evidence that theism is more likely than not. Jeff Jordan proposes that there is a sound version of the most well-known argument of this kind, Pascal's Wager, and explores the issues involved - in epistemology, the ethics of belief, decision theory, and theology.
In Pascal's Wager: A Study Of Practical Reasoning In Philosophical Theology , Nicholas Rescher aims to show that, contrary to received philosophical opinion, Pascal's Wager argument is "the vehicle of a fruitful and valuable insight--one which not only represents a milestone in the development of an historically important tradition of thought but can still be seen as making an instructive contribution to philosophical theology". In particular, Rescher argues that one only needs to adopt a correct perspective in order (...) to see that Pascal's Wager argument is a good argument. Moreover, there seems to be a certain amount of contemporary support for Rescher's claim that Pascal's Wager argument can be seen to be a good argument when properly construed . However, despite this recent trend to adopt a more sympathetic stance towards Pascal's Wager argument, I propose to defend the traditional view that Pascal's Wager argument is almost entirely worthless--at least from the theological standpoint. (No doubt, it has historical significance from the standpoint of decision theory; but that's a separate matter.). (shrink)
I defend Pascal's Wager from a particular way of evading it, the mixed strategy approach. The mixed strategies approach suggests that Pascal's Wager does not obligate one to believe in God, because one can get the same infinite expected utility from other strategies besides the strategy of believing in God. I will show that while there's nothing technically wrong with the mixed strategy approach, rationality requires it to be applied in such a way that Pascal's Wager doesn't (...) lose any force. (shrink)
Pascal's wager attempts to provide a prudential reason in support of the rationality of believing that God exists. The wager employs the idea that the utility of theistic belief, if true, is infinite, and in this way, the expected utility of theism swamps that of any of its rivals. Not surprisingly the wager generates more than a good share of philosophical criticism. In this essay I examine two recent objections levelled against the wager and I argue (...) that each fails. Following this, I argue that a transfinite version of the wager -- one using the idea of an infinite utility -- is incompatible with standard axiomatic constructions of decision-theory and, as a consequence, the Pascalian would be well-advised to give up the idea of an infinite utility and employ only a finite version of the wager. The consequences of limiting the wager to finite utilities are also explored. (shrink)
Alan Hájek has recently argued that certain assignments of vague probability defeat Pascals Wager. In particular, he argues that skeptical agnostics – those whose probability for God''s existence is vague over an interval containing zero – have nothing to fear from Pascal. In this paper, I make two arguments against Hájek: (1) that skeptical agnosticism is a form of dogmatism, and as such should be rejected; (2) that in any case, choice situations with vague probability assignments ought to be (...) treated as second-order cases of choice under uncertainty, with the result that belief in God is the favored option in a very wide range of cases. (shrink)
The author argues that faith survives as a rational option, despite science rendering improbable distinctively theological claims about the world and history. After rejecting justifications of faith from natural theology and natural law, he defends a seemingly weaker strategy, a corrected version of Pascal's wager argument. The wager lets one's desires count toward showing one's faith to be rational, and the faith requires that oneÕs desires undergo radical transformation to protect the faith, making the wager argument really (...) quite strong. As Nietzsche insisted, to be an atheist in the face of this challenge, one would have to become superhuman and transform one's values radically in the opposite direction. (shrink)
Perhaps the best known criticism of Pascal’s wager is the many Gods objection. As so often with anglophone criticisms of Pascal, the many Gods objectiontypically treats the wager in isolation from the rest of Pascal’s thought. In this case, the truncated reading has issued in the view that Pascal was indifferent toor ignorant of the possibility that Gods other than the one described by Catholic theology might exist. This view is false. Even a cursory glance beyond the wagerfragment (...) reveals that Pascal considers a number of religious and philosophical positions and argues that, given the nature and needs of the human being, onlya God of a specific description could count as God for the human being and, so, be the object of the wager. This essay sketches Pascal’s view to show that the many Gods objection is not sufficient to address his argument meaningfully. (shrink)
Arthur Falk has proposed a new construal of faith according to which it is not a mere species of belief, but has essential components in action. This twist on faith promises to resurrect Pascal’s Wager, making faith compatible with reason by believing as the scientist but acting as the theist. I argue that Falk’s proposal leaves religious faith in no better shape; in particular, it merely reframes the question in terms of rational desires rather than rational beliefs.
Nicholas Agar has recently argued that it would be irrational for future human beings to choose to radically enhance themselves by uploading their minds onto computers. Utilizing Searle’s argument that machines cannot think, he claims that uploading might entail death. He grants that Searle’s argument is controversial, but he claims, so long as there is a non-zero probability that uploading entails death, uploading is irrational. I argue that Agar’s argument, like Pascal’s wager on which it is modelled, fails, because (...) the principle that we (or future agents) ought to avoid actions that might entail death is not action guiding. Too many actions fall under its scope for the principle to be plausible. I also argue that the probability that uploading entails death is likely to be lower than Agar recognizes. (shrink)
There are at least two versions of the famous Wager argument to be found in Pascal’s Pensées. In contemporary work on the Wager, attention is almost always focused on the second. In this paper, we take a look at the first, which is often quickly dismissed as a failure. Indeed, it seems to be generally believed that Pascal himself quickly dismissed it as a failure. We fi rst argue that Pascal himself accepted the argument. Then we argue (more (...) importantly) that those who accept a virtue theoretic account of human flourishing ought to agree with Pascal in accepting the argument. (shrink)
This article considers the notion of ‘play’ in the plastic arts as described by Johan Huizinga, its definitional relation to the materiality of the art object, and the way in which such a conception rests on a notion of aesthetic order that, after the work of Marcel Duchamp, could not be sustained. I argue that Duchamp’s readymadesforce a re-evaluation of plasticity (and thus of Huizinga’s definition of play), and introduce a permanent revolution of plasticity, which in social and intellectual terms (...) must be considered as the expression of an essential disorder underlying all appearances. It is further argued that Duchamp achieved this by employing strategies of disguise in order to lay bare the epistemic play of surfaces, and thus the contingency of knowledge and identity. Duchamp’s wager was that changing fashions in art revealed that it was neither formal presentation nor skill that defined art, but rather some connection to a hidden realm of disorder, and that this connection could be found, and repeatedly renewed, by ensuring that the art ‘object’ was received as an uncertain bequest. (shrink)
The wager for values proposed by Henryk Elzenberg seems to be an interesting and important problem in axiological thinking. That is why one should take a close look at Elzenberg’s reasoning and at certain consequences of such point of view. We analyze this problem as a parallel to Pascal’s Wager for God. One should live and act as if God existed—it is an effect of Pascal’s Wager. One should live and behave as if perfect values existed—this is (...) the essence of Elzenberg’s wager. Paralel analysis of both standpoints lets us formulate numerous hypotheses and statements especially in axiology. (shrink)
In a recent paper A. Tabarrok [Believe in Pascal’s Wager? Have I Got a Deal for You!, Theory and Decision 48, 123--128, 2000] argued that a believer who accepts Pascal’s Wager should in addition accept payment of any given fee in return for a given increase in the probability of reaching God. However the conclusion is obtained from manipulations of infinities which are not valid in an expected utility model. In this note, an alternative model is formulated in (...) which Tabarrok’s conclusion can be obtained. (shrink)
In a paper in this journal, Neil Levy challenges Nicholas Agar’s argument for the irrationality of mind-uploading. Mind-uploading is a futuristic process that involves scanning brains and recording relevant information which is then transferred into a computer. Its advocates suppose that mind-uploading transfers both human minds and identities from biological brains into computers. According to Agar’s original argument, mind-uploading is prudentially irrational. Success relies on the soundness of the program of Strong AI—the view that it may someday be possible to (...) build a computer that is capable of thought. Strong AI may in fact be false, an eventuality with dire consequences for mind-uploading. Levy argues that Agar’s argument relies on mistakes about the probability of failed mind-uploading and underestimates what is to be gained from successfully mind-uploading. This paper clarifies Agar’s original claims about the likelihood of mind-uploading failure and offers further defense of a pessimistic evaluation of success. (shrink)