When witnessing someone else's action people often take advantage of the same motor cognition that is crucial to successfully perform that action themselves. But how deeply is motor cognition involved in understanding another's action? Can it be selectively modulated by either the agent's or the witness's being actually in the position to act? If this is the case, what does such modulation imply for one's making sense of others? The paper aims to tackle these issues by introducing and discussing a (...) series of experimental studies showing how body and space may constrain one's own motor cognition reuse in understanding another's action. These findings, I shall argue, may shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the primary ways of identifying ourselves with other people and of being connected to them . (shrink)
Is the negligence standard in accident law acceptable to the egalitarian? The egalitarian - the egalitarian who would compensate only losses for which the actor was not responsible - cannot accept either a system of strict liability for all accidents or a system of social insurance for all accidents. A system of tort law acceptable to the responsibility - egalitarian must be a system based on negligence. But what will negligence mean? A negligence system in which the notion of reasonableness (...) is based on efficiency, I argue, is a system that redistributes wealth from the less well off to those better off. I consider alternative notions of reasonableness, ending up with a principle of proportional responsibility and distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial cases. (shrink)
Despite the impressive body of evidence supporting the existence of a mirror neuron (MN) system for action, the original claim regarding its crucial role in action understanding remains controversial. Emma Borg has recently launched a sharp attack on this claim, with the aim of demonstrating that neither the original version nor the subsequent revisions of the MN hypothesis tell us very much about how intentional attribution actually works. In this article I take up the challenge she issues in the title (...) of her paper (If Mirror Neurons are the Answer, What was the Question?) and argue that what MNs offer is not as Borg claims 'an extremely limited' picture of action understanding but rather an enriched picture that brings to light aspects of social cognition hitherto ignored in the mind-reading literature, showing how intentional motor components of action can shape social cognition prior to and apart from any forms of deliberate mentalizing. (shrink)
In his work, Jules Coleman has held that the rule of recognition, if conceived of as a shared cooperative activity, should be the gateway through which to incorporate moral constraints on the content of law. This analysis, however, leaves unanswered two important questions. For one thing, we do not know when or even why morality becomes a criterion of legality. And, for another thing, we still do not know what conception of morality it is that we are dealing with. In (...) this article, we will attempt to clarify in greater depth what relations there are between the social practice of law and morality. We will thus see how the cooperative nature of social practices imbues law with a moral force, and how this makes it possible to establish a "weak" connection between law and morality: To see this, we will need to single out some basic features of cooperative social practices, thus setting out a suitable framework for the view just mentioned. (shrink)
It has been widely demonstrated that dreaming occurs throughout human sleep. However, we once again are facing new variants of the equation “REM sleep = Dreaming.” Nielsen proposes a model that assumes covert REM processes in NREM sleep. I argue against this possibility, because dream research has shown that REM sleep is not a necessary condition for dreaming to occur. [Nielson].
The so-called ‘morning-after pill’ is a drug that prevents pregnancy if taken no later than 72 hours after presumably fertile sexual intercourse. This article argues against a right of conscientious objection for pharmacists with regard to dispensing this drug. Some arguments that might be advanced in support of this right will be considered and rejected. Section 2 argues that from a philosophical point of view, the most relevant question is not whether the morning-after pill prevents implantation nor is it whether (...) preventing implantation is tantamount to abortion. Section 3 suggests a more general philosophical question as most pertinent, namely whether and to what extent a pharmacist can justifiably be exempted from dispensing the morning-after pill when to do so would entail participating in something that goes against his or her deepest moral or religious convictions. Section 4 explains why, within liberal institutions, pharmacists should not have the right to conscientious objection to dispensing the morning-after pill. (shrink)
In the present article we discuss the relevance of the mirror mechanism for our sense of self and our sense of others. We argue that, by providing us with an understanding from the inside of actions, the mirror mechanism radically challenges the traditional view of the self and of the others. Indeed, this mechanism not only reveals the common ground on the basis of which we become aware of ourselves as selves distinct from other selves, but also sheds new light (...) on the content of our self and other experience, showing that we primarily experience ourselves and the others in terms of our own and of their motor possibilities respectively. -/- . (shrink)
By way of conclusion we may add the following three items to A. Maier's and G. Federici-Vescovini's investigations: 1. The Questiones super libris Physicorum in the ms. Cesena, B. Malatestiana S.VIII.5 have been incorrectly attributed to John Buridan. Their real author is Albert of Saxony. 2. The ms. Cesena, B. Malatestiana S.VIII.5 ff. 4ra-4vb contains the Prologue and the tabula questionum of the Questions on De gen. et corr., whereas the ms. Vat. lat. 3097 ff. 103ra-146rb has the complete (...) text. This Prologue and the questions 1 and 3 can also be found in Vat. lat. 2185 ff. 50ra-50vb. This text certainly cannot be considered as another copy of Buridan's well known Questions on De gen. et corr. Neither is it certain that Nicole Oresme is their author, as A. Maier seems to believe. There are indications pointing in the direction of a redaction other than the one known, of Buridan's Questions. In any case this possibility cannot be ruled out by the material that has been presented here. 3. The ms. Cesena, B. Malatestiana S.VIII.5 has at one time had the same owner as the codices Vat. lat. 2159, 2160, 2185 and 3066, and the codices Cesena, B. Malatestiana S.VII.5 and S.VIII.2. This owner was in all probability Bernardus a Campanea of Verona, a physician. (shrink)
This paper investigates the objections that were raised by the philosopher ‘Abd al-La[tdotu ]if al-Baghdadi (d. ca. 1231 CE) against al-[Hdotu ]asan ibn al-Haytham’s (Alhazen; d. after 1041 CE) geometrisation of place. In this line of enquiry, I contrast the philosophical propositions that were advanced by al-Baghdadi in his tract: Fi al-Radd ‘ala Ibn al-Haytham fi al-makan (A refutation of Ibn al-Haytham’s place), with the geometrical demonstrations that Ibn al-Haytham presented in his groundbreaking treatise: Qawl fi al-Makan (Discourse on place). (...) In examining the particulars of al-Baghdadi’s fragile defence of Aristotle’s definition of topos as delineated in Book IV of the Physics, which was rejected on mathematical grounds by Ibn al-Haytham, a special attention is also given to highlighting the systemic distinctions between the entities that are studied within the speculative physical doctrines of common sense and immediate experience, and the postulated ‘objects’ of scientific and mathematical research. (Published Online February 12 2007) Footnotes1 An earlier concise version of this paper was presented on 18 February 2006 in Florence, under the title: ‘The physical or the mathematical? interrogating al-Baghdadi's critique of Ibn al-Haytham's geometrisation of place’, as part of the Colloque de la Société Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences et des Philosophies Arabes et Islamiques (Circulation des savoirs autour de la Méditerranée, IXe–XVIe siècles), which was held in association with the University of Florence. This text will be published as part of the Proceedings of the Colloquium (Les Actes du Colloque), under the editorship of Graziella Federici Vescovini (Florence). (shrink)
In the present paper we address the issue of the role of the body in shaping our basic self-awareness. It is generally taken for granted that basic bodily self-awareness has primarily to do with proprioception. Here we challenge this assumption by arguing from both a phenomenological and a neurophysiological point of view that our body is primarily given to us as a manifold of action possibilities that cannot be reduced to any form of proprioceptive awareness. By discussing the notion of (...) affordance and the spatiality of the body we show that both have to be construed in terms of the varying range of our power for action. Finally, we posit that the motor roots of our bodily self-awareness shed new light on both the common ground for and the distinguishing criterium between self and other. The properties of the mirror mechanism indicate that the same action possibilities constituting our bodily self also allow us to make sense of other bodily selves inasmuch as their action possibilities can be mapped onto our own ones. Our proposal may pave the way towards a general deconstruction of the different layers at the core of our full-fledged sense of self and others. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate the role of performative contradictions in legal discourse. First of all we identify the argumentative roles of performative contradictions and two possible interpretations of them. With this done, we show that one use of performative contradictions can be fruitfully applied in analysing normative speech acts implementing norm enactment, namely, those speech acts that are designed to produce new legal norms. We conclude the paper by showing that our analysis provides strong support for Robert Alexy's claim-to-correctness (...) thesis, according to which speech acts of the norm-enacting kind raise a claim to correctness. (shrink)
In his article Grush proposes a potentially useful framework for explaining motor control, imagery, and perception. In our commentary we will address two issues that the model does not seem to deal with appropriately: one concerns motor control, and the other, the visual and motor imagery domains. We will consider these two aspects in turn.
The scope of this essay is to introduce and explain the methodology underlying the Lanza Foundation Protocol for the analysis of clinical cases. The essay is divided in three parts. Part one examines the Protocol's methodology within the whole evolutionary framework of argumentation in bioethics. Particular attention is given to the most significant methodologies developed in European bioethics. Part two describes the system of argumentation which serves as a frame for both approaches, namely, the normative and the hermeneutical. Finally, the (...) third part presents in an analytic fashion the operations which define the Protocol itself. The Protocol is the result of an interdisciplinary effort and it provides a detailed grid for analyzing and tackling the ethical components of clinical cases. The Protocol is primarily directed toward Ethics Committees in their consulting activity, yet it has been proven of considerable importance at an educational level also, particular in continuing education programs for health care professionals. (shrink)
Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This paper provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue of representing outcomes; but, (...) unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interlock with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions. (shrink)
Simulation theories of social cognition abound in the literature, but it is often unclear what simulation means and how it works. The discovery of mirror neurons, responding both to action execution and observation, suggested an embodied approach to mental simulation. Over the last years this approach has been hotly debated and alternative accounts have been proposed. We discuss these accounts and argue that they fail to capture the uniqueness of embodied simulation (ES). ES theory provides a unitary account of basic (...) social cognition, demonstrating that people e their own mental states or processes represented with a bodily format in functionally attributing them to others. (shrink)
Emotions and actions are powerfully contagious; when we see someone laugh, cry, show disgust, or experience pain, in some sense, we share that emotion. When we see someone in distress, we share that distress. When we see a great actor, musician or sportsperson perform at the peak of their abilities, it can feel like we are experiencing just something of what they are experiencing. Yet only recently, with the discover of mirror neurons, has it become clear just how this powerful (...) sharing of experience is realised within the human brain. This book provides, for the first time, a systematic overview of mirror neurons, written by the man who first discovered them. -/- In the early 1990's Giacomo Rizzolatti and his co-workers at the University of Parma discovered that some neurons had a surprising property. They responded not only when a subject performed a given action, but also when the subject oberved someone else performing that same action. These results had a deep impact on cognitive neuroscience, leading the neuroscientist VS Ramachandran to predict that 'mirror neurons would do for psychology what DNA did for biology'. The unexpected properties of these neurons have not only attracted the attention of neuroscientists. Many sociologists, anthropologists, and even artists have been fascinated by mirror neurons. The director and playwright Peter Brook stated that mirror neurons throw new light on the mysterious link that is created each time actors take the stage and face their audience - the sight of a great actor performing activates in the brain of the observer the very same areas that are active in the performer - including both their actions and their emotions. -/- Written in a highly accessible style, that conveys something of the excitement of this groundbreaking theory, Mirrors in the brain is the definitive account of one the major scientific discoveries of the past 50 years. (shrink)
When witnessing someone else's action people often take advantage of the same motor cognition that is crucial to successfully perform that action themselves. But how deeply is motor cognition involved in understanding another's action? Can it be selectively modulated by either the agent's or the witness's being actually in the position to act? If this is the case, what does such modulation imply for one's making sense of others? The paper aims to tackle these issues by introducing and discussing a (...) series of experimental studies showing how body and space may constrain one's own motor cognition reuse in understanding another's action. These findings, I shall argue, may shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the primary ways of identifying ourselves with other people and of being connected to them. (shrink)
de Bruin & Gallagher (2012) suggest that the view of embodied simulation (ES) put forward in our recent article (Gallese and Sinigaglia 2011) lacks explanatory power. We argue that the notion of reuse of mental states represented with a bodily format provides a convincing simulational account of the mirroring mechanism (MM) and its role in mind-reading.
We describe a research on the interplay that appears to exist in companies between Human Resource Management and innovation. This complex, multicomponent, non-linear and dynamic interplay is often viewed as a "black box". To help open the black box, we outline both a theoretical framework and preliminary empirical data. We view innovation as an organization-level property, favored by the organization's self-perception as a knowledge engine. Therefore, we devised a protocol to study the companies' strategies for training and development and their (...) innovation profile. The protocol consisted in a questionnaire with 100 closed questions, suitable for companies which rely mostly on an inner training and development service. The questionnaire was administered to a sample of Italian firms from the Food & beverages and Fashion markets. The results show that certain facets of training and development are indeed correlated to innovation. Finally, we discuss the results. (shrink)
The notion of a minimal form is defined as an extension of the notion of a normal form in λ-β-calculus and its meaning is discussed in a computational environment. The features of the Knuth-Gross reduction strategy are used to prove that to possess a minimal form, for a generic term, is a semidecidable predicate.
The aim of our paper is to show that there is a sense of body that is enactive in nature and that enables to capture the most primitive sense of self. We will argue that the body is primarily given to us as source or power for action, i.e., as the variety of motor potentialities that define the horizon of the world in which we live, by populating it with things at hand to which we can be directed and with (...) other bodies we can interact with. We will show that this sense of body as bodily self is, on the one hand, antecedent the distinction between sense of agency and sense of ownership, and, on the other, it enables and refines such distinction, providing a conceptual framework for the coherent interpretation of a variety of behavioral and neuropsychological data. We will conclude by positing that the basic experiences we entertain of our selves as bodily selves are from the very beginning driven by our interactions with other bodies as they are underpinned by the mirror mechanism. (shrink)