This article examines two empirical research traditions—experimental economics and the social identity approach in social psychology—that may be seen as attempts to falsify and verify the theory of collective intentionality, respectively. The article argues that both approaches fail to settle the issue. However, this is not necessarily due to the alleged immaturity of the social sciences but, possibly, to the philosophical nature of intentionality and intentional action. The article shows how broadly Davidsonian action theory, including Hacking’s notion of the looping (...) effect of the human sciences, can be developed into an argument for the view that there is no theory-independent true nature of intentional action. If the Davidsonian line of thought is correct, the theory of collective intentionality is, in a sense, true if we accept the theory. Key Words: collective intentionality • experimental economics • social identity theory • Donald Davidson • Ian Hacking • constructivism • action • agency • philosophy of the social sciences. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, contrary to the modern paradigm of rational choice theory in sociological theorising, that Dürkheim was correct to think that collectivistic notions are required if there is to be sui generis social science. However, Durkheim's anti-individualism must be naturalised to be compatible with modern monistic ontology. I argue that the required naturalisation is offered by the notion of humans as strongly social animals in general and the notion of collective intentionality in particular. I argue that such (...) a collectivistic but ontologically naturalistic notion is (i) a fundamental building block of social reality, (ii) supported by empirical studies, (iii) required by theoretical analyses of social action dilemmas and, finally, (iv) capable of providing the key to the construction of a more humane world of the future. (shrink)
When knowledge is being doubted one way to express this doubt is by a counterfactual. Typically this counterfactual quotes some elements of the actual case or a case considered as actual and dodges the connection between proposition believed and what makes that proposition true. For example, when Descartes states his dreaming skepticism case, he gives us instances where he has previously been lying in his bed fast asleep while dreaming that he is awake. What triggers the loss of knowledge in (...) Descartes’ case is that if he were asleep, he would still believe that he is sitting by the fire, holding a paper in his hand etc. The fact that he cannot distinguish between his dream-state and awake-state entails that he doesn’t know in the awake-state, considered as actual, either. So, a description of counterfactual possibilities that can be used to doubt knowledge in a possibility considered as actual has to make the truth of p indistinguishable from the falsity of p. Any possibility that falls under this description will be called transparent. Here is a definition: For any possibility W and any proposition believed p, W is transparent iff, in W the truth of p is indistinguishable from the falsity of p. (shrink)
(Pdf updated to final, slightly revised version of November 2010) -/- Almost everyone would prefer to lead a meaningful life. But what is meaning in life and what makes a life meaningful? I argue, first, for a new analysis of the concept of meaningfulness in terms of the appropriateness of feelings of fulfilment and admiration. Second, I argue that while the best current conceptions of meaningfulness, such as Susan Wolf’s view that in a meaningful life ‘subjective attraction meets objective attractiveness’, (...) do a fairly good job capturing meaningfulness at a time, we need an account that makes sense of the intimate connection between meaningfulness and having a direction in one’s life. According to the Teleological View I propose, what makes a single chapter of a life most meaningful is success in reaching central, objectively valuable goals as a result of exercising essential human capacities. Life as a whole is most meaningful when past efforts increase the success of future goal-setting, goal-seeking, and goal-reaching, so that the life forms a coherent whole without being dedicated to a single aim. Since coherence in this sense is a holistic property of a life, global prudential value is not a function of local prudential values. I suggest that just as pleasure is the final good of human beings as subjects of experience, meaningfulness is the final good of human beings as active agents. (shrink)
In disputes about conceptual analysis, each side typically appeals to pre-theoretical 'intuitions' about particular cases. Recently, many naturalistically oriented philosophers have suggested that these appeals should be understood as empirical hypotheses about what people would say when presented with descriptions of situations, and have consequently conducted surveys on non-specialists. I argue that this philosophical research programme, a key branch of what is known as 'experimental philosophy', rests on mistaken assumptions about the relation between people's concepts and their linguistic behaviour. The (...) conceptual claims that philosophers make imply predictions about the folk's responses only under certain demanding, counterfactual conditions. Because of the nature of these conditions, the claims cannot be tested with methods of positivist social science. We are, however, entitled to appeal to intuitions about folk concepts in virtue of possessing implicit normative knowledge acquired through reflective participation in everyday linguistic practices. (shrink)
Sentimentalism comes in many varieties: explanatory sentimentalism, judgment sentimentalism, metaphysical sentimentalism, and epistemic sentimentalism. This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of the positions and main arguments pro and con.
Several theories claim that dreaming is a random by-product of REM sleep physiology and that it does not serve any natural function. Phenomenal dream content, however, is not as disorganized as such views imply. The form and content of dreams is not random but organized and selective: during dreaming, the brain constructs a complex model of the world in which certain types of elements, when compared to waking life, are underrepresented whereas others are over represented. Furthermore, dream content is consistently (...) and powerfully modulated by certain types of waking experiences. On the basis of this evidence, I put forward the hypothesis that the biological function of dreaming is to simulate threatening events, and to rehearse threat perception and threat avoidance. To evaluate this hypothesis, we need to consider the original evolutionary context of dreaming and the possible traces it has left in the dream content of the present human population. In the ancestral environment human life was short and full of threats. Any behavioral advantage in dealing with highly dangerous events would have increased the probability of reproductive success. A dream-production mechanism that tends to select threatening waking events and simulate them over and over again in various combinations would have been valuable for the development and maintenance of threat-avoidance skills. Empirical evidence from normative dream content, children's dreams, recurrent dreams, nightmares, post traumatic dreams, and the dreams of hunter-gatherers indicates that our dream-production mechanisms are in fact specialized in the simulation of threatening events, and thus provides support to the threat simulation hypothesis of the function of dreaming. Key Words: dream content; dream function; evolution of consciousness; evolutionary psychology; fear; implicit learning; nightmares; rehearsal; REM; sleep; threat perception. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is the name for a recent movement whose participants use the methods of experimental psychology to probe the way people think about philosophical issues and then examine how the results of such studies bear on traditional philosophical debates. Given both the breadth of the research being carried out by experimental philosophers and the controversial nature of some of their central methodological assumptions, it is of no surprise that their work has recently come under attack. In this paper we (...) respond to some criticisms of experimental philosophy that have recently been put forward by Antti Kauppinen. Unlike the critics of experimental philosophy, we do not think the fledgling movement either will or should fall before it has even had a chance to rise up to explain what it is, what it seeks to do (and not to do), and exactly how it plans to do it. Filling in some of the salient details is the main goal of the present paper. (shrink)
“Altered State of Consciousness” (ASC) has been defined as a changed overall pattern of conscious experience, or as the subjective feeling and explicit recognition that one's own subjective experience has changed. We argue that these traditional definitions fail to draw a clear line between altered and normal states of consciousness (NSC). We outline a new definition of ASC and argue that the proper way to understand the concept of ASC is to regard it as a representational notion: the alteration that (...) has happened is not an alteration of consciousness (or subjective experience) per se, but an alteration in the informational or representational relationships between consciousness and the world. An altered state of consciousness is defined as a state in which the neurocognitive background mechanisms of consciousness have an increased tendency to produce misrepresentations such as hallucinations, delusions, and memory distortions. Paradigm examples of such generally misrepresentational, temporary, and reversible states are dreaming, psychotic episodes, psychedelic drug experiences, some epileptic seizures, and hypnosis in highly hypnotizable subjects. The representational definition of ASC should be applied in the theoretical and empirical studies of ASCs to unify and clarify the conceptual basis of ASC research. (shrink)
The philosophical foundations of consciousness science -- The historical foundations of consciousness science -- The conceptual foundations of consciousness science -- Neuropsychological deficits of visual consciousness -- Neuropsychological dissociations of visual consciousness from behaviour -- Neuropsychological disorders of self-awareness -- Methods and design of NCC experiments -- Studies on the neural basis of consciousness as a state -- Studies on the neural basis of visual consciousness.
It seems to many that moral opinions must make a difference to what we’re motivated to do, at least in suitable conditions. For others, it seems that it is possible to have genuine moral opinions that make no motivational difference. Both sides – internalists and externalists about moral motivation – can tell persuasive stories of actual and hypothetical cases. My proposal for a kind of reconciliation is to distinguish between two kinds of psychological states with moral content. There are both (...) moral thoughts or opinions that intrinsically motivate, and moral thoughts or opinions that don’t. The thoughts that intrinsically motivate are moral intuitions – spontaneous and compelling non-doxastic appearances of right or wrong that both attract assent and incline us to act or react. I argue that there is good reason to think that these intuitions, but not moral judgments, are constituted by manifestations of moral sentiments. The moral thoughts that do not intrinsically motivate are moral beliefs, which are in themselves as inert as any ordinary beliefs. Thus, roughly, internalism is true about intuitions and externalism is true about beliefs or judgments. (shrink)
The binding problem is frequently discussed in consciousness research. However, it is by no means clear what the problem is supposed to be and how exactly it relates to consciousness. In the present paper the nature of the binding problem is clarified by distinguishing between different formulations of the problem. Some of them make no mention of consciousness, whereas others are directly related to aspects of phenomenal experience. Certain formulations of the binding problem are closely connected to the classical philosophical (...) problem of the unity of consciousness and the currently fashionable search for the neural correlates of consciousness. Nonetheless, only a part of the current empirical research on binding is directly relevant to the study of consciousness. The main message of the present paper is that the science of consciousness needs to establish a clear theoretical view of the relation between binding and consciousness and to encourage further empirical work that builds on such a theoretical foundation. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers use the term 'intuition' for a variety of different phenomena. In this paper, I try to provide a kind of a roadmap of the debates, point to some confusions and problems, and give a brief sketch of an empirically respectable philosophical approach.
In this article, the author discusses the methodology of the internalism debate and the role that neuroscience and related experimental methods can play in it. The author argues that findings in either actual or fictional experimental psychology or neuroscience have little relevance to the debate. He claims that the findings do not provide any independent support pro or con internalism. He also observes that the traditional view of the methodological autonomy of philosophical moral psychology remains well-grounded.
In an interesting recent exchange, Antti Kauppinen (2007) disagrees with Thomas Nadelhoffer and Eddy Nahmias (2007) over the prospects of experimental methods in philosophy. Kauppinen's critique of experimental philosophy is premised on an endorsement of a priori conceptual analysis. This premise has shaped the trajectory of their debate. In this note, I consider what foes of conceptual analysis will have to say about their exchange.
There are many conceivable circumstances in which some people have to be sacrificed in order to give others a chance to survive. The fair and rational method of selection is a lottery with equal chances. But why should losers comply, when they have nothing to lose in a war of all against all? A novel solution to this Compliance Problem is proposed. The lottery must be made self-enforcing by making the lots themselves the means of enforcement of the outcome. This (...) way no external authority is needed to make the losers’ compliance rational both ex ante and ex post. A fairly realistic concrete scenario is sketched to show that the solution could be made to work in practice, particularly since making it work is in everyone’s enlightened self-interest in the circumstances. (shrink)
Dan Haybron has argued by counterexample that perfectionism fails as a theory of well-being. I respond by articulating two different versions of diachronic perfectionism, which takes into account the level of development and exercise of essential human capacities over the course of an entire lifetime.
In this paper I develop the thesis that dreams are essential to an understanding of waking consciousness. In the first part I argue in opposition to the philosophers Malcolm and Dennett that empirical evidence now shows dreams to be real conscious experiences. In the second part, three questions concerning consciousness research are addressed. (1) How do we isolate the system to be explained (consciousness) from other systems? (2) How do we describe the system thus isolated? (3) How do we reveal (...) the mechanisms on which this system is based? I suggest that empirical dream research combined with other empirical approaches can help us to sketch answers to all of these questions. I argue that the subjective form of dreams reveals the subjective, macro-level form of consciousness in general and that both dreams and the everyday phenomenal world may be thought of as constructed “virtual realities”. A major task for empirical consciousness research is to find out the mechanisms which bind this experienced world into a coherent whole. (shrink)
According to the quasi-perceptualist account of philosophical intuitions, they are intellectual appearances that are psychologically and epistemically analogous to perceptual appearances. Moral intuitions share the key characteristics of other intuitions, but can also have a distinctive phenomenology and motivational role. This paper develops the Humean claim that the shared and distinctive features of substantive moral intuitions are best explained by their being constituted by moral emotions. This is supported by an independently plausible non-Humean, quasi-perceptualist theory of emotion, according to which (...) the phenomenal feel of emotions is crucial for their intentional content. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others.
Cognitive functions associated with the frontal lobes of the brain may be specifi cally involved in hypnosis. Thus, the frontal area of the brain has recently been of great interest when searching for neural changes associated with hypnosis. We tested the hypothesis that EEG during pure hypnosis would differ from the normal non-hypnotic EEG especially above the frontal area of the brain. The composition of brain oscillations was examined in a broad frequency band (130 Hz) in the electroencephalogram (EEG) of (...) a single virtuoso subject. Data was collected in two independent data collection periods separated by one year. The hypnotic and non-hypnotic conditions were repeated multiple times during each data acquisition session. We found that pure hypnosis induced reorganization in the composition of brain oscillations especially in prefrontal and right occipital EEG channels. Additionally, hypnosis was characterized by consistent rightside-dominance asymmetry. In the prefrontal EEG channels the composition of brain oscillations included spectral patterns during hypnosis that were completely different from those observed during non-hypnosis. Furthermore, the EEG spectral patterns observed overall during the hypnotic condition did not return to the pre-hypnotic baseline EEG immediately when hypnosis was terminated. This suggests that for the brain, the return to a normal neurophysiological baseline condition after hypnosis is a time-consuming process. The present results suggest that pure hypnosis is characterized by an increase in alertness and heightened attention, refl ected as cognitive and neuronal activation. Taken together, the present data provide support for the hypothesis that in a very highly hypnotizable person (a hypnotic virtuoso) hypnosis as such may be accompanied by a changed pattern of neural activity in the brain. (shrink)
The most challenging objections to the Threat Simulation Theory (TST) of the function of dreaming include such issues as whether the competing Random Activation Theory can explain dreaming, whether TST can accommodate the apparently dysfunctional nature of post-traumatic nightmares, whether dreams are too bizarre and disorganized to constitute proper simulations, and whether dream recall is too biased to reveal the true nature of dreams. I show how these and many other objections can be accommodated by TST, and how several lines (...) of new supporting evidence are provided by the commentators. Accordingly TST offers a promising new approach to the function of dreaming, covering a wide range of evidence and theoretically integrating psychological and biological levels of explanation. (shrink)
It is always great good fortune for an author to have his writings meet with a receptive circle of readers who take them up in their own work and clarify them further. Indeed, it may even be the secret of all theoretical productivity that one reaches an opportune point in one's own creative process when others' queries, suggestions, and criticisms give one no peace, until one has been forced to come up with new answers and solutions. The four essays collected (...) here, in any event, jointly represent an ideal form of such a challenge: I am now compelled to make further theoretical developments and clarifications that lead me to a whole new stage of my own endeavours, well beyond what I initially had in mind in The Struggle for Recognition . For this reason, I will not concentrate here on interpretative issues regarding my earlier work but will instead take up the problems and challenges that have occasioned several revisions on my part. For this reason, it makes sense to begin (in section I) with the points that Carl-Göran Heidegren makes, in terms of a history of social theory, regarding my proposed theory of recognition. The issues that still motivate me today can best be expressed via an engagement with the conscientious interpretations he offers. The core of this rejoinder is based on Heikki Ikäheimo's and Arto Laitinen's suggestions and corrections, which they have used to develop my initial approach further, to the point where the theoretical outlines of a precise and general concept of recognition come into view. It is primarily these two contributions that helped me develop a productive elaboration of my originally vague intuitions (section II). By way of conclusion (in section III), I take up the penetrating questions raised by Antti Kauppinen regarding the use of the concept of recognition in the broader context of social criticism; he has compelled me to take on several extremely helpful clarifications, and they give me the opportunity, in conclusion, to summarize my overarching intentions. (shrink)
The central question of the branch of metaethics we may call philosophical moral psychology concerns the nature or essence of moral judgment: what is it to think that something is right or wrong, good or bad, obligatory or forbidden? One datum in this inquiry is that sincerely held moral views appear to influence conduct: on the whole, people do not engage in behaviours they genuinely consider base or evil, sometimes even when they would stand to benefit from it personally. Moral (...) judgments thus appear to be motivationally effective, at least to an extent. This motivational success would be readily explained if they simply were motivationally effective psychological states, such as desires. This is what Hobbes seems to do when he claims that "whatsoever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate and aversion, evil."1 But this is far too quick. We know that moral judgments can also fail to lead to corresponding action. For example, since it is conceptually possible – not to mention all too common in the actual world – to think that something is wrong and yet want to do it, thinking that something is wrong cannot simply consist in aversion toward it, unlike Hobbes seems to have thought. In this way, reflection on the various.. (shrink)
commentary on Dainton, B. (2000). Stream of Consciousness: Unity and Continuity in Conscious Experience. London: Routledge. ABSTRACT: Stream of Consciousness is a detailed and insightful analysis of the nature of phenomenal consciousness, especially its unity at a time and continuity over stretches of time. I find Dainton's approach to phenomenal consciousness in many ways sound but I also point out one major source of disgreement between us. Dainton believes that to explain phenomenal unity and continuity, no reference to anything outside (...) experience is required. Thus, he postulates a fundamental experiential relation called co-consciousness which is supposed to do all the explanatory work. On the contrary, I hold that to truly explain features of consciousness such as phenomenal unity and continuity, reference to mechanisms outside the phenomenal realm are necessary. (shrink)
Pessoa et al. fail to make a clear distinction between visual perception and subjective visual awareness. Their most controversial claims, however, concern subjective visual awareness rather than visual perception: visual awareness is externalized to the “personal level,” thus denying the view that consciousness is a natural biological phenomenon somehow constructed inside the brain.
The research program defended by O'Regan & Noë (O&N) cannot give any plausible explanation for the fact that during REM-sleep the brain regularly generates subjective experiences (dreams) where visual phenomenology is especially prominent. This internal experience is almost invariably organized in the form of “being-in-the-world.” Dreaming presents a serious unaccountable anomaly for the sensorimotor research program and reveals that some of its fundamental assumptions about the nature of consciousness are questionable.
Normative political philosophy always refers to a standard against which a society's institutions are judged. In the first, analytical part of the article, the different possible forms of normative criticism are examined according to whether the standards it appeals to are external or internal to the society in question. In the tradition of Socrates and Hegel, it is argued that reconstructing the kind of norms that are implicit in practices enables a critique that does not force the critic's particular views (...) on the addressee and can also be motivationally effective. In the second part of the article, Axel Honneth's theory of recognition is examined as a form of such reconstructive internal critique . It is argued that while the implicit norms of recognition made explicit in Honneth's philosophical anthropology help explain progressive social struggles as moral ones, his theory faces two challenges in justifying internal critique. The Priority Challenge asks for the reasons why the implicit norms of recognition should be taken as the standard against which other implicit and explicit norms are to be judged. The Application Challenge asks why a social group should, by its own lights, extend equal recognition to all its members and even non-members. The kind of functional, prudential, conceptual, and moral considerations that could serve to answer these challenges are sketched. (shrink)
We describe the three place relation of contrastive knowledge, which holds between a person, a target proposition, and a contrasting proposition. The person knows that p rather than that q. We argue for three claims about this relation. (a) Many common sense and philosophical ascriptions of knowledge can be understood in terms of it. (b) Its application is subject to fewer complications than non-contrastive knowledge is. (c) It applies over a wide range of human and nonhuman cases.
The Gestalt Bubble model of visual consciousness is a courageous attempt to take the first-person perspective as primary in the study of consciousness. I have developed similar ideas as the Virtual Reality Metaphor of consciousness (Revonsuo 1995; 2000). I can, hence, only agree with Lehar about the general shape of a proper research strategy for the study of consciousness. As to the metaphysical basis of the research program, I have, however, several reservations about panexperientialism.
Cortex functional connectivity associated with hypnosis was investigated in a single highly hypnotizable subject in a normal baseline condition and under neutral hypnosis during two sessions separated by a year. After the hypnotic induction, but without further suggestions as compared to the baseline condition, all studied parameters of local and remote functional connectivity were significantly changed. The significant differences between hypnosis and the baseline condition were observable (to different extent) in five studied independent frequency bands (delta, theta, alpha, beta, and (...) gamma). The results were consistent and stable after 1 year. Based on these findings we conclude that alteration in functional connectivity of the brain may be regarded as a neuronal correlate of hypnosis (at least in very highly hypnotizable subjects) in which separate cognitive modules and subsystems may be temporarily incapable of communicating with each other normally. (shrink)
Explanatory problems in the philosophy of neuroscience are not well captured by the division between the radical and the trivial neuron doctrines. The actual problem is, instead, whether mechanistic biological explanations across different levels of description can be extended to account for psychological phenomena. According to cognitive neuroscience, some neural levels of description at least are essential for the explanation of psychological phenomena, whereas, in traditional cognitive science, psychological explanations are completely independent of the neural levels of description. The challenge (...) for cognitive neuroscience is to discover the levels of description appropriate for the neural explanation of psychological phenomena. (shrink)
The approach of Hobson et al. is limited to the description of global states of consciousness, although more detailed analyses of the specific contents of consciousness would also be required. Furthermore, their account of the mind-brain relationship remains obscure. Nielsen's discussion suffers from conceptual and definitional unclarity. Mentation during sleep could be clarified by reconceptualizing it as an issue about the contents of consciousness. Vertes & Eastman do not consider the types of memory (emotional) and learning (implicit) that are relevant (...) during REM sleep, and therefore dismiss on inadequate grounds the possibility of memory functions associated with REM sleep. [Hobson et al.; Nielsen; Vertes & Eastman]. (shrink)
I disagree with Ross about the location of colors: They are in the brain, not in the external world. It is difficult to deny that there are colors in our conscious visual experience, and if we take the causal theory of perception seriously, we cannot identify these colors with the beginning of the causal chain in perception (external objects in the distal stimulus field), but we must search for them at the end of the causal chain (in the brain). Several (...) lines of compelling evidence from cognitive neuroscience (e.g., synesthesia, dreaming, and achromatopsia) demonstrate unambiguously that color is in the brain. Furthermore, it seems that Ross has failed to consider one substantial version of subjectivism in his article. This monistic approach to color and consciousness appears to be the least implausible alternative when we try to understand what colors are and where they reside. (shrink)
The cognitive mind-brain is haunted by the ghost of consciousness. Cognitive science must face this ghost, since consciousness is perhaps the most important mental phenomenon: it forms a seemingly united, multimodal phenomenological world around the subject who experiences this world from a certain point of view. Many current approaches to consciousness fail to illuminate the nature of this “experienced world”. Some philosophers want to eliminate consciousness from science for good, others build theories in which the concept of consciousness is distorted (...) beyond recognition. I argue that elimination and Daniel Dennett's “multiple drafts” model do not offer genuine explanations for consciousness. However, certain empirically-based approaches to consciousness succeed in exorcising its ghostly reputation and, at the same time, in preserving the experienced world of consciousness as an important explanandum. (shrink)
W. V. Quine describes himself as a “robust realist” about physical objects in the external world. This realism about objects is due to Quine's naturalism. On the other hand, Quine's naturalistic epistemology involves a conception of objects as posits that we introduce in our theories about the world. This conception of objects can be seen as anti-realist rather than realist. In this article, I discuss the questions whether there is a tension between Quine's realism and his epistemological conception of objects, (...) and how Quine's conception of objects should be understood if he is also to be regarded as a realist. I also address the question whether Quine should be placed on the realist or the anti-realist side of the current realism debate. I argue that Quine's conception of objects as posits is a general account of the nature of objects, and that this account does not conflict with Quine's realism as long as this realism is properly understood. I also argue that Quine cannot be placed on either side of the contemporary realism debate, since his realism is not metaphysical realism and his conception of objects is not an anti-realist doctrine according to which objects would be less than real. (shrink)