According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity (...) of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
Recent empirical and conceptual research has shown that moral considerations have an influence on the way we use the adverb ‘intentionally’. Here we propose our own account of these phenomena, according to which they arise from the fact that the adverb ‘intentionally’ has three different meanings that are differently selected by contextual factors, including normative expectations. We argue that our hypotheses can account for most available data and present some new results that support this. We end by discussing the implications (...) of our account for folk psychology. (shrink)
This paper assesses the so-called “direct-perception” model of empathy. This model draws much of its inspiration from the Phenomenological tradition: it is offered as an account free from the assumption that most, if not all, of another’s psychological states and experiences are unobservable and that one’s understanding of another’s psychological states and experiences are based on inferential processes. Advocates of this model also reject the simulation-based approach to empathy. I first argue that most of their criticisms miss their target because (...) they are directed against the simulation-based approach to mindreading. Advocates of this model further subscribe to an expressivist conception of human behavior and assume that some of an individual’s psychological states (e.g. her goals and emotions, not her beliefs) can be directly perceived in the individual’s expressive behavior. I argue that advocates of the direct-perception model face the following dilemma: either they embrace behaviorism or else they must recognize that one could not understand another’s goal or emotion from her behavior alone without making contextual assumptions. Finally, advocates of the direct-perception model endorse the narrative competency hypothesis, according to which the ability to ascribe beliefs to another is grounded in the ability to understand narratives. I argue that this hypothesis is hard to reconcile with recent results in developmental psychology showing that preverbal human infants seem able to ascribe false beliefs to others. (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
To subscribe to the embodied mind (or embodiment) framework is to reject the view that an individual’s mind is realized by her brain alone. As Clark ( 2008a ) has argued, there are two ways to subscribe to embodiment: bodycentrism (BC) and the extended mind (EM) thesis. According to BC, an embodied mind is a two-place relation between an individual’s brain and her non-neural bodily anatomy. According to EM, an embodied mind is a threeplace relation between an individual’s brain, her (...) non-neural body and her non-bodily environment. I argue that BC can be given a weak and a strong interpretation, according to whether it accepts a functionalist account of the contribution of the non-neural body to higher cognitive functions and a computational account of the contents of concepts and the nature of conceptual processing. Thus, weak BC amounts to an incomplete version of EM. To accept a weak BC approach to concepts is to accept concept-empiricism. I raise four challenges for concept-empiricism and argue that what is widely taken as evidence for concept-empiricism from recent cognitive neuroscience could only vindicate weak BC if it could be shown that the non-neural body, far from being a tool at the service of the mind/brain, could be constitutive of the mind. If correct, EM would seem able to vindicate the claim that both bodily and non-bodily tools are constitutive of an individual’s mind. I scrutinize the basic arguments for EM and argue that they fail. This failure backfires on weak BC. One option left for advocates of BC is to endorse a strong, more controversial, BC approach to concepts. (shrink)
Alva Noë’s version of the enactive conception in _Action in Perception_ is an important contribution to the study of visual perception. First, I argue, however, that it is unclear (at best) whether, as the enactivists claim, work on change blindness supports the denial of the existence of detailed visual representations. Second, I elaborate on what Noë calls the ‘puzzle of perceptual presence’. Thirdly, I question the enactivist account of perceptual constancy. Finally, I draw attention to the tensions between enactivism and (...) two trends in cognitive neuroscience: the two-visual systems model of human vision and the theory of internal forward models of action. (shrink)
Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. The puzzles of intentionality lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The word itself, which is of medieval Scholastic origin, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano towards the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb (...) intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing. The entry falls into eleven sections. (shrink)
Externalism is the view that the contents of many of a personâs propositional attitudes and perhaps sensory experiences are extrinsic properties of the personâs brain: they involve relations between the personâs brain and properties instantiated in his or her present or past environment. Privileged self-knowledge is the view that every human being is able to know directly or non-inferentially, in a way unavailable to anybody else, what he or she thinks or experiences. Now, if what I think (or experience) is (...) not in my brain, then it seems indeed as if I cannot have any privileged authoritative first-personal access to the content of what I think. Hence, externalism seems inconsistent with privileged self-knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to provide a road towards a conciliation between self-knowledge and externalism. (shrink)
There are presently three broad approaches the project of naturalizing intentionality: a purely informational approach (Dretske and Fodor), a purely teleological approach (Millikan and Papineau), and a mixed informationally-based teleological approach (Dretske again). I will argue that the last teleosemantic theory offers the most promising approach. I also think, however, that the most explicit version of a pure teleosemantic theory of content, namely Millikan’s admirable theory, faces a pair of objections. My goal in this paper is to spell out Millikan’s (...) pure teleosemantic theory; then to present two objections; and finally to ask the question whether a teleosemantic framework can be saved from the objections. (shrink)
Preston & de Waal minimized differences among constructs such as empathy, sympathy, and personal distress. However, such distinctions have been shown to relate differently to altruistic behavior. Moreover, although the authors discussed the role of regulation in empathy, they did not consider the possibility that sometimes empathy is not well-regulated and likely leads to personal distress rather than sympathy.
What accounts for the continued lack of clarity over the legal procedures for the patenting of DNA sequences? The patenting system was built for a "bricks-and-mortar" world rather than an information economy. The fact that genes are both material molecules and informational systems helps explain the difficulty that the patent system is going to continue to have.
This paper assesses the scope and limits of a widely influential model of goal-ascription by human infants: the shared-intentionality model. It derives much of its appeal from its ability to integrate behavioral evidence from developmental psychology with cognitive neuroscientific evidence about the role of mirror neuron activity in non-human primates. The central question raised by this model is whether sharing a goal with an agent is necessary and sufficient for ascribing it to that agent. I argue that advocates of the (...) shared-intentionality model underestimate both the distinction between the target and the goal of a goal-directed action and the gap between sharing and ascribing a goal. (shrink)
Some of a person's mental states have the power to represent real and imagined states of affairs: they have semantic properties. What Minds Can Do has two goals: to find a naturalistic or non-semantic basis for the representational powers of a person's mind, and to show that these semantic properties are involved in the causal explanation of the person's behaviour. In the process, the book addresses issues that are central to much contemporary philosophical debate. It will be of interest to (...) a wide range of readers in philosophy of mind and of language, cognitive science, and psychology. (shrink)
Why is it that most among the relatively few moral philosophers since Kant who, like J. S. Mill, have discussed the question whether there can be moral duties to oneself, have answered it negatively? One reason is that those philosophers have supposed that all moral action must be, inter alia, social; and they may have thought so because of their commitment to what is here called a 'corporationist' moral view. But such a conception of morality as social is objectionable because (...) it does not square with ordinary opinion and because it introduces an artificial division between types of action which go together in real life. (shrink)
The new prominence given to science for economic growth and industry comes with an increased policy focus on the promotion of commodification and commercialization of academic science. This paper posits that this increased interest in commodification is a new steering mechanism for governing science. This is achieved by first outlining what is meant by the commodification of scientific knowledge through reviewing a selection of literatures on the concept of commodification. The paper concludes with a discussion of how commodification functions as (...) a means for governing science. (shrink)
This paper investigates the interface between philosophy and biochemistry. While it is problematic to justify the application of a particular philosophical model to biochemistry, it seems to be even more difficult to develop a special “Philosophy for Biochemistry”. Alternatively, philosophy can be used in biochemistry based on an alternative approach that involves an interdependent iteration process at a philosophical and (bio)chemical level (“Exeter Method”). This useful iteration method supplements more abstract approaches at the interface between philosophy and natural sciences, and (...) serves the biochemical community to systematically locate logical inconsistencies that arise from more theoretical aspects of the scientific process. Initial cycles of this iteration process identify the in vitro–in vivo problem as a central epistemological difficulty in biochemical research. While previous attempts have generated ad hoc rules to mend the gap between chemistry, biochemistry and biology in order to justify in vitro experimentation, this paper concludes that in vitro experimentation is heavily based on chemistry and cannot derive definite statements about biological processes. It can, however, generate results that will influence the direction of future biological research. The consequence is that the relationship between in vitro and in vivo experimentation is more of a psychological or social one than of a logical nature. Apart from highlighting these inconsistencies in biochemical thinking (“problem awareness”), the Exeter Method demands an improvement of biochemical terminology that contains separate and unequivocally defined terms for in vitro and in vivo systems. (shrink)
Although researchers have been concerned with the effects of parental socialisation on children's outcomes, there has been surprisingly little work on the socialisation of children's moral emotions and behaviour. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of observed parental affect and encouragement in children's empathy-related responding and moral behaviour (i.e. cheating). Moreover, the moderating influence of children's characteristics (i.e. sex) on this relationship was investigated. Ninety-seven girls and 119 boys (mean age = 73 months) with a parent (...) participated in the study. Children completed a dispositional sympathy and empathy questionnaire and were observed in a resistance-to-temptation task. Further, parents' affect and encouragement were assessed during two parent-child interactive situations. Results indicated that parents' positive affect and encouragement were positively related to children's sympathy. In contrast, parents' interactive style was not related to children's empathy. In terms of children's moral behaviour, findings revealed that parental interactive style was related to boys' but not girls' cheating on a puzzle task. These findings offer support for the notion that parental practices involving emotion contribute to children's moral development. (shrink)
The goal of this paper was to assess whether, given the opportunity, physicians/researchers would try to profit (by trading stocks) from information that only they were made privy to. The Annual ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Conference, the largest annual oncology conference, provided the perfect venue to fully explore this question. Up until 2008, ASCO abstracts were released exclusively to ASCO members (i.e., physicians, oncologists) two weeks prior to the conference, and many speculated about unusual trading patterns during these (...) two weeks. In 2008, in response to concerns about such illicit activities, ASCO changed this policy (by distributing these abstracts instead to the general public). We decided to take a closer look at these trading patterns to determine the true impact of ASCO's 2008 decision and whether the differences prior to and following 2008 reveal something about the likelihood of physicians/researchers to profit from “privileged information.”. (shrink)
Qualitative validation consists in showing that a model is able to mimic available observed data. In population level biological models, the available data frequently represent a group status, such as pool testing, rather than the individual statuses. They are aggregated. Our objective was to explore an approach for qualitative validation of a model with aggregated data and to apply it to validate a stochastic model simulating the bovine viral-diarrhoea virus (BVDV) spread within a dairy cattle herd. Repeated measures of the (...) level of BVDV-specific antibodies in the bulk-tank milk (total milk production of a herd) were used to summarise the BVDV herd status. First, a domain of validation was defined to ensure a comparison restricted to dynamics of pathogen spread well identified among observed aggregated data (new herd infection with a wide BVDV spread). For simulations, scenarios were defined and simulation outputs at the individual animal level were aggregated at the herd level using an aggregation function. Comparison was done only for observed data and simulated aggregated outputs that were in the domain of validation. The validity of our BVDV model was not rejected. Drawbacks and ways of improvement of the approach are discussed. (shrink)
The sections on Schelling, Eschenmayer, and Schopenhauer in Chapters VI and IX appear in the 1992 Schopenhauer Jahrbuch as “From the World-Soul to the Will: The natural philosophy of Schelling, Eschenmayer, and Schopenhauer”.