Hitchcock (2001a) argues that the distinction between singular and general causation conflates the two distinctions ‘actual causation vs. causal tendencies’ and ‘wide vs. narrow causation’. Based on a recent regularity account of causation I will show that Hitchcock’s introduction of the two distinctions is an unnecessary multiplication of causal concepts.
How does the Umwelt concept of Jakob von UexkuÈll ®t into current discussions within theoretical biology, philosophy of biology, biosemiotics, and Arti®cial Life, particularly the research on `autonomous systems' and robots? To investigate this question, the approach here is not historical UexkuÈll scholarship exposing the original core of philosophical ideas that provided an important background for the original conception of the Umwelt in the writings of Jakob von UexkuÈll (some of which seem incompatible with a modern evolutionist perspective); (...) rather, I will show that some aspects of his thoughts are still interesting and provide inspiration in contemporary biology, cognitive science, and other ®elds. Therefore, I will also draw upon his son Thure von UexkuÈll's re¯ections in his further development of the Umwelt theory, which is not anti-evolutionary (his father's approach was anti-Darwinian, which is not the same as anti-evolutionary though often interpreted as such). Speci®cally, I will investigate the plausibility of three theses: (1) The Umwelt theory of Jakob von UexkuÈll, even though his theoretical biology was often characterized as being thoroughly vitalist, can in the context of contemporary science, more adequately be interpreted as a branch of qualitative organicism in theoretical biology. Qualitative organicism is a position which claims, ®rst, a kind of middle road position, that is, on the one hand, there are no mysterious or non-material vital powers in organisms (non-vitalism), but on the other hand, the characteristic properties of living beings cannot be fully accounted for by physics and chemistry because these properties are nonreducible emergent properties (emergentism); second, that some of these emergent properties have an experiential, phenomenal, or subjective character which plays a major role in the dynamics of the living system. Modern biosemiotics (inspired by C. S. Peirce and Jakob von UexkuÈll, instituted by.. (shrink)
In the work of Lorenz we find an initial phase of great concordance with Uexkülls theory of animals’ surrounding-world (Umweltlehre), followed by a progressive distance and by the occurrence of more and more critical statements. The moment of greater cohesion between Lorenz and Uexküll is represented by the work Der Kumpan, which is focused on the concept of companion, functional circles, social Umwelt. The great change in Lorenz’ evaluation of Uexküll is marked by the conference of 1948 Referat über (...) class='Hi'>Jakob von Uexküll, where Lorenz highlights the vitalist position of Uexküll. In the works of the years after World War II, the influence of the Estonian Biologist greatly diminishes, even though Lorenz continues to express his admiration for particular studies and concepts of Uexküll. References to Uexküll’s work are less and far in between, while the difference is highlighted between the uexküllian theoretical frame (vitalistic) and Lorenz’s one (Darwinian and evolutionist). The two main critical lines of argument developed by Lorenz in this process are the biological and the epistemological one: on the biological side Lorenz heavily criticizes Uexküll’s vitalism and his faith in harmonizing forces and supernatural factors (which leads to concepts such as the perfect fusion of all biological species in their environment and the absence of rudimentary organs). On the epistemological side, Lorenz, arguing from the point of view of the critical realism, accuses Uexküll of postulating the separateness of all living beings, a separateness which is due to the Kantian idea that every subject of knowledge and action is imprisoned in the transcendental circle of its representations and attitudes. (shrink)
En el presente artículo se analizan conceptos clave de la obra de Jakob von Uexküll, a partir de la confrontación con el darwinismo mecanicista de principios del siglo XX, al cual, Uexküll contrapone la idea de un mundo viviente de interrelaciones, conformado de acuerdo con un Plan u Orden subyacentes. Pero la cuestión no del todo resuelta para Uexküll, y que aquí será estudiada, es el papel que ha de atribuirse al azar y a la tendencia natural de traspasar (...) los límites. Cuestión que adquiere su mayor significación en el plano humano, siendo el hombre, como es, antiguo actor de la transgresión. The intention of this paper is to analyze the principal concepts in Jakob von Uexkiiltt's work, considering the confrontation with the darwinian mechanism of the beginnings of the XXth Century. In response to it, Uexkülll supports the idea of a living world of interrelations, which is conformed in accordance to a subjacent Plan or Order. But the question analyzed here, and which is not at all solved by Uexkülll, is the roll that should be attributed to chance, or the natural tendency to surpass the limits. A problem that acquires its deepest meaning in the human context, because man is, as we know, an old actor of transgression. (shrink)
Like other sciences, biosemiotics also has its time-honoured archive, consisting, among other things, of writings by those who have been invented and revered as ancestors of the discipline. One such example is Jakob von Uexküll who has been hailed as a precursor of semiotics, developing his theory of “sign” and “meaning” independently of Saussure and Peirce. The juxtaposition of “sign” and “meaning” is revelatory because one can equally legitimately claim Uexküll as a hermeneutician in the same way as others (...) having claimed him as a semiotician. Such a novel temptation can be justified by Uexküll’s prolonged obsession with Sinn and Bedeutung since his first book in 1909. This paper attempts to reconstruct the immediate intellectual horizon of Uexküll’s historicity, a discursive space traversed by his contemporaries Frege and Husserl, in order to see how Uexküll’s discussions of Zeichen and Gegenstand, Sinn and Bedeutung, were informedby other philosophers of language, and to establish Uexküll as a phenomenological hermeneutician in the tradition of Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer. To forestall and counter possible criticism that hermeneutics is primarily concerned with textual interpretation, while Uexküll is at most an interpreter of animal life, the paper will discuss his unfinished parody of the Platonic dialogue Meno, which is entitled Die ewige Frage: Biologische Variationen über einen platonischen Dialog (1943). It is through such textual practice that one witnesses the emergence of an Uexküll who embodies at once the addressee exercising his understanding of ancient texts as well as the second addresser recoding his explanation to another group of targeted addressees. This textual practice already goes beyond the confines of biology and in fact involves the linguistic pragmatics of rhetoric and speech act. (shrink)
Semiotics, the body of knowledge developed by study of the action of signs, like every living discipline, depends upon a community of inquirers united through the recognition and adoption of basic principles which establish the ground-concepts and guide-concepts for their ongoing research. These principles, in turn, come to be recognized in the first place through the work of pioneers in the field, workers commonly unrecognized or not fully recognized in their own day, but whose work later becomes foundational as the (...) community of inquirers matures and ‘lays claim to its own’. As semiotics has matured, the work of Jakob von Uexküll in establishing the concept of Umwelt has proven to be just such a pioneering accomplishment for the doctrine of signs, and in this paper I trace out some of the lines of development according to which Uexküll’s concept came to occupy its central place in semiotics today. (shrink)
This paper aims to give an insight into developments that contributed to the significance of the work of Jakob von Uexküll and stresses the importance of his occupation in Hamburg. A biographical survey pays tribute to the implication of the historical pretext and context. A scientific survey describes findings and ideas of Uexküll that proved important for the development of biology and the cognitive sciences. In addition, this paper sets out to reject the common notion that Uexküll’s concepts were (...) ideas of a purely theoretical and philosophical character. It confirms that in fact the central aims of his work were to sustain the empirical method in biology and to give biology a sound epistemological basis. Some examples show how historical and theoretical developments converged at Uexküll’s Institut für Umweltforschung in Hamburg and ignited a productive research activity. (shrink)
Thomas Sebeok attributed it to what he called the ‘wretched’ translation of Uexküll’s Theoretische Biologie (1920) that the notion of Umwelt did not reachthe Anglo-American intellectual community much earlier. There is no doubt that making more of Uexküll’s Umweltlehre available in English will not only furtherthe biosemiotic movement, but also fill a gap in the foundational theoretical canon of semiotics in general. The purpose of this paper is to address issues of terminology and theory translation between Uexküll’s Umweltlehre and current (...) biosemiotics. (shrink)
Most consciousness researchers, almost no matter what their views of the metaphysics of consciousness, can agree that the first step in a science of consciousness is the search for the neural correlate of consciousness (the NCC). The reason for this agreement is that the notion of ‘correlation’ doesn’t by itself commit one to any particular metaphysical view about the relation between (neural) matter and consciousness. For example, some might treat the correlates as causally related, while others might view the correlation (...) as evidence for identity between conscious states and brain states. The common ground therefore seems to be that the scientific search for the NCC is largely independent of the metaphysics of consciousness. (shrink)
Anyone new to the debate over intelligent design encounters many conflicting claims about whether it is science. A Washington Post front page story (Slevin 2005) asserts that intelligent design is “not science [but] politics.” In that same story, Barry Lynn, the director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claims that intelligent design is merely “a veneer over a certain theological message,” thus identifying intelligent design not with science but with religion. In a related vein, University of Copenhagen (...) philosopher Jakob Wolf (2004) argues that intelligent design is not science but philosophy (albeit a philosophy useful for understanding science). And finally, proponents of intelligent design argue that it is indeed science (e.g., Dembski 2002a, ch. 6). Who is right? (shrink)
It is common in moral philosophy to test the validity of moral principles by proposing counter-examples in the form of cases where the application of the principle does not give the conclusion we intuitively find valid. These cases are often imaginary and sometimes rather ‘outlandish’, involving ray guns, non-existent creatures, etc. I discuss whether we can test moral principles with the help of outlandish cases, or if only realistic cases are admissible. I consider two types of argument against outlandish cases: (...) 1) Since moral principles are meant for guiding action in this world, cases drawn from other worlds are irrelevant. 2) We lack the capacity to apply our intuitive moral competence to outlandish cases. I argue that while the first approach is importantly flawed, the second approach is plausible, not because our moral competence per se is limited to cases from this world, but because we lack the capacity to imagine outlandish cases, and we cannot apply our moral competence to a case we fail to imagine properly. (shrink)
The phenomenology of agency and perception is probably underpinned by a common cognitive system based on generative models and predictive coding. I defend the hypothesis that this cognitive system explains core aspects of the sense of having a self in agency and perception. In particular, this cognitive model explains the phenomenological notion of a minimal self as well as a notion of the narrative self. The proposal is related to some influential studies of overall brain function, and to psychopathology. These (...) elusive notions of the self are shown to be the natural upshots of general cognitive mechanisms whose fundamental purpose is to enable agents to represent the world and act in it. (shrink)
Any position that promises genuine progress on the mind-body problem deserves attention. Recently, Daniel Stoljar has identified a physicalist version of Russells notion of neutral monism; he elegantly argues that with this type of physicalism it is possible to disambiguate on the notion of physicalism in such a way that the problem is resolved. The further issue then arises of whether we have reason to believe that this type of physicalism is in fact true. Ultimately, one needs to argue for (...) this position by inference to the best explanation, and I show that this new type of physicalism does not hold promise of more explanatory prowess than its relevant rivals, and that, whether it is better than its rivals or not, it is doubtful whether it would furnish us with genuine explanations of the phenomenal at all. (shrink)
There is surprising evidence that introspection of our phenomenal states varies greatly between individuals and within the same individual over time. This puts pressure on the notion that introspection gives reliable access to our own phenomenology: introspective unreliability would explain the variability, while assuming that the underlying phenomenology is stable. I appeal to a body of neurocomputational, Bayesian theory and neuroimaging findings to provide an alternative explanation of the evidence: though some limited testing conditions can cause introspection to be unreliable, (...) mostly it is our phenomenology itself that is variable. With this account of phenomenal variability, the occurrence of the surprising evidence can be explained while generally retaining introspective reliability. (shrink)
Recently, Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane have defended the Principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB), according to which prospective parents ought to select children with the view that their future child has ‘the best chance of the best life’. I argue that the arguments Savulescu and Kahane adduce in favour of PB equally well support what I call the Principle of General Procreative Beneficence (GPB). GPB states that couples ought to select children in view of maximizing the overall expected value in (...) the world, not just the welfare of their future child. I further argue that Savulescu and Kahane's claim that PB has significantly more weight than competing moral principles, such as GPB, lacks justification. A possible argument for PB having significant weight builds on a principle of parental partiality towards one's own children. But this principle does not support PB; it supports a Principle of Sibling-Oriented Procreative Beneficence (SPB), according to which parents selecting a child should maximize the benefit of all their children. Indeed, PB itself will in some cases be self-effacing in favour of SPB. (shrink)
Some monothematic types of delusions may arise because subjects have unusual experiences. The role of this experiential component in the pathogenesis of delusion is still not understood. Focussing on delusions of alien control, we outline a model for reality testing competence on unusual experiences. We propose that nascent delusions arise when there are local failures of reality testing performance, and that monothematic delusions arise as normal responses to these. In the course of this we address questions concerning the tenacity with (...) which delusions are maintained, their often bizarre content, the patients' inability to dismiss them, and their often circumscribed character. (shrink)
In his book Moral Dimensions. Permissibility, Meaning, Blame , T.M. Scanlon proposes a new account of permissibility, and argues, against the doctrine of double effect (DDE), that intentions do not matter for permissibility. I argue that Scanlon's account of permissibility as based on what the agent should have known at the time of action does not sufficiently take into account Scanlon's own emphasis on permissibility as a question for the deliberating agent. A proper account of permissibility, based on the agent's (...) actual beliefs, will allow us to revise the principle Scanlon proposes for regulating the use of violence in war, and to show that, while the DDE as such might be invalid, its focus on intentions does point toward an important element which Scanlon's proposal lacks, viz. the requirement that the agent believes that her actions will have certain consequences and can be justified for that reason. (shrink)
It appears that consciousness science is progressing soundly, in particular in its search for the neural correlates of consciousness. There are two main approaches to this search, one is content-based (focusing on the contrast between conscious perception of, e.g., faces vs. houses), the other is state-based (focusing on overall conscious states, e.g., the contrast between dreamless sleep vs. the awake state). Methodological and conceptual considerations of a number of concrete studies show that both approaches are problematic: the content-based approach seems (...) to set aside crucial aspects of consciousness; and the state-based approach seems over-inclusive in a way that is hard to rectify without losing sight of the crucial conscious-unconscious contrast. Consequently, the search for the neural correlates of consciousness is in need of new experimental paradigms. (shrink)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterised by differences in unimodal and multimodal sensory and proprioceptive processing, with complex biases towards local over global processing. Many of these elements are implicated in versions of the rubber hand illusion (RHI), which were therefore studied in high-functioning individuals with ASD and a typically developing control group. Both groups experienced the illusion. A number of differences were found, related to proprioception and sensorimotor processes. The ASD group showed reduced sensitivity to visuotactile-proprioceptive discrepancy but more (...) accurate proprioception. This group also differed on acceleration in subsequent reach trials. Results are discussed in terms of weak top-down integration and precision-accuracy trade-offs. The RHI appears to be a useful tool for investigating multisensory processing in ASD. (shrink)
A central part of Kripke's influential interpretation of Wittgenstein's sceptical argument about meaning is the rejection of dispositional analyses of what it is for a word to mean what it does (Kripke, 1982). In this paper I show that Kripke's arguments prove too much: if they were right, they would preclude not only the idea that dispositional properties can make statements about the meanings of words true, but also the idea that dispositional properties can make true statements about paradigmatic dispositional (...) properties such as a cup's fragility or a person's bravery. However, since dispositional properties can make such statements true, Kripke-Wittgenstein's arguments against dispositionalism about meaning are mistaken. (shrink)
Creatures that have different physical realizations than human beings may or may not be conscious. Ned Block’s ‘harder problem of consciousness’ is that naturalistic phenomenal realists have no conception of a rational ground for belief that they have or have not discovered consciousness in such a creature. Drawing on the notion of inference to the best explanation, it appears the arguments to these conclusions beg the question and ignore that explanation may be a guide to discovery. Thus, best explanation can (...) both validate an interpretation of the evidence and lead to the discovery of consciousness. (shrink)
Most of us have a very firm belief in mental causation; that is, we firmly believe that our own distinctly mental properties are causally efficacious in the production of our behavior. This belief is dominating in contemporary philosophy of mind as a part of the causal explanatory exclusion problem for non-reductive materialists. I do not discuss the exclusion problem; rather, I assess the conception of mental causation that is presupposed in the current debate. I propose that in order to make (...) sense of our firm belief in mental causation we need to operate with a broader conception of it than is normally seen, focusing on common-sense aspects concerning the timing, awareness, control, and tracking of mental causation. However, prominent studies in social psychology and cognitive neuroscience show that mental causation is not as self-evident, robust, and pervasive as our firm belief in it would suggest. There is therefore a tension between the common-sense, broad conception of mental causation and our empirical evidence for mental causation. A full defense of mental causation is not just a matter of securing causal efficacy but also of situating our notion of mental properties in relation to difficult issues concerning awareness, control, and judgment. Key words: mental causation, conscious will, agency, social psychology, cognitive neuroscience.. (shrink)
Consciousness. We have come to expect science to be able to explain all sorts of phenomena in the world (global warming, hereditary diseases, life – you name it). Consciousness is an anomaly in the success story of science for there is a real question whether science, in particular neuroscience, can explain much about what consciousness is. A good question to ask is how and to what extent consciousness resists scientific explanation. That might tell us something about what is special about (...) consciousness. (shrink)
The field of philosophical psychopathology is basically the philosophical study of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, as well as more specific symptoms and signs such as Capgras’ delusion (the delusion that your spouse, for example, is an impostor) or the anarchic hand sign (where your hand seems to act on its own intentions). This simple epithet covers a multitude of approaches: how can philosophy help to explain mental disorder? What does mental disorder tell us about consciousness, (...) cognition, emotion and ‘self’? What does the study of mental disorder tell us about phenomenology? What does philosophical phenomenology tell us about mental disorder? What do mental disorders tell us about reasoning, rationality and belief formation? What are the particular ethical aspects of mental disorder and its treatment? If philosophical.. (shrink)
Cognitive neuropsychiatry attempts to understand psychiatric disorders as disturbances to the normal function of human cognitive organisation, and it attempts to link this functional framework to relevant brain structures and their pathology. This recent scientific discipline is the natural extension of cognitive neuroscience into the domain of psychiatry. We present two examples of recent research in cognitive neuropsychiatry: delusions of control in schizophrenia, and affective disorders. The examples demonstrate how the cognitive approach is a fruitful and necessary supplement to the (...) otherwise successful biological psychiatry paradigm, which tend to bypass the cognitive level. Philosophy concerns some of the core concepts involved in psychiatric illness, particularly concerning rationality, thought and action, reality testing, and the self. We present concrete examples that illustrate how philosophical conceptual tools can be particularly important for the construction and interpretation of the cognitive models relevant to the understanding of psychiatric illness. We conclude that cognitive neuropsychiatry is a fruitful and necessary supplement to biological psychiatry. Furthermore, cognitive neuropsychiatry itself may benefit significantly from employing philosophical conceptual tools in the interpretation and construction of its cognitive models. The cognitive and philosophical approaches may thus be further steps towards a scientific psychopathology. (shrink)
Rudolf Otto is often spoken of as continuing the tradition of reflection on the nature of religion inaugurated by Schleiermacher. I argue that, on the contrary, there are important differences between Schleiermacher's and Otto's accounts of religion. Otto opposed naturalistic analyses of religion which threatened Christianity's claims to truth, and saw Schleiermacher as providing insufficient resources for resisting such analyses. Otto's grounding of his own religious epistemology in the work of Jakob Friedrich Fries provided him with an explicitly supernatural (...) ‘religious a priori’, and thus provided a universal legitimating ground for religion which resists naturalistic analysis. Schleiermacher, in contrast, explicitly ruled out the sort of ‘experience of the holy’ postulated by Otto by denying both the ‘givenness’ of God in experience and supernatural intervention in the natural order. Further, Schleiermacher's appreciation of humanity's embeddedness within ‘the system of nature’ led him to embrace the view that religion, like any natural phenomenon, is an appropriate subject for scientific investigation. (shrink)
The theory of rationality has traditionally been concerned with the investigation of the norms of rational thought and behaviour, and with the reasoning procedures that satisfy them. As a consequence, the investigation of irrationality has largely been restricted to the behaviour or thought that violates these norms. There are, however, other forms of irrationality. Here we propose that the delusions that occur in schizophrenia constitute a paradigm of irrationality. We examine a leading theory of schizophrenic delusion and propose that some (...) delusions can be traced to a violation of a condition on thought we call egocentricity. We argue that the violation of egocentricity leads to irrational states that cannot be explained by the traditional categories of irrationality and conclude, therefore, that these states belong in a new branch of the theory of irrationality, that of experiential irralionahly. (shrink)
The practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has often been described as a balance of profitability and social or societal responsibility by scholars as well as practitioners. It is assumed that regulations and guidelines of CSR practices link competitiveness and responsibility together. While recognising that formal CSR statements represent a goal-oriented managerial approach to CSR, we argue based on the description of a qualitative case study that the relationship between profitability and social or societal responsibility is not as clear and (...) simple as it is often described. Instead, CSR should be considered as a continuously negotiated process between companies and stakeholders. Hence, the creation of a constructive link between profitability and social or societal responsibility is dependent on the amount of effort that has been put into exploring the concerns of the stakeholders, vis-a-vis the company, while simultaneously accepting changes when they are necessary. (shrink)
According to one theory, the brain is a sophisticated hypothesis tester: perception is Bayesian unconscious inference where the brain actively uses predictions to <span class='Hi'>test</span>, and then refine, models about what the causes of its sensory input might be. The brain’s task is simply continually to minimise prediction error. This theory, which is getting increasingly popular, holds great explanatory promise for a number of central areas of research at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. I show how the theory (...) can help us understand striking phenomena at three cognitive levels: vision, sensory integration, and belief. First, I illustrate central aspects of the theory by showing how it provides a nice explanation of why binocular rivalry occurs. Then I suggest how the theory may explain the role of the unified sense of self in rubber hand and full body illusions driven by visuotactile conflict. Finally, I show how it provides an approach to delusion formation that is consistent with one-deficit accounts of monothematic delusions. (shrink)
It is a well-known fact that Ernst Cassirer was inspired by his colleague, the biologist Jakob von Uexküll at the university of Hamburg. This paper claims this inspiration was double—affecting both Cassirer’s philosophical anthropology and Cassirer’s epistemology of biology, but in two rather different ways. Thus, the paper intends to shed light on a corner of the history of the development of German thought of the interwar period. It may also have an actual interest because both Cassirer and Uexküll (...) enjoy, for the time being and each in their way, a renaissance, e.g. in the recent field of biosemiotics. (shrink)
subjects mean when they report their mental states it is useful to be guided by a sound grasp of their concepts for mental events. 3 Though this is often ignored in favor of libertarian notions of free will, in which free action is seen as completely undetermined by the subject.
Bortolotti’s Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs defends the view that delusions are beliefs on a continuum with other beliefs. A different view is that delusions are more like illusions, that is, they arise from faulty perception. This view, which is not targeted by the book, makes it easier to explain why delusions are so alien and disabling but needs to appeal to forensic aspects of functioning.
Different cognitive functions recruit a number of different, often overlapping, areas of the brain. Theories in cognitive and computational neuroscience are beginning to take this kind of functional integration into account. The contributions to this special issue consider what functional integration tells us about various aspects of the mind such as perception, language, volition, agency, and reward. Here, I consider how and why functional integration may matter for the mind; I discuss a general theoretical framework, based on generative models, that (...) may unify many of the debates surrounding functional integration and the mind; and I briefly introduce each of the contributions. (shrink)
It is often argued that there is a connection between certain forms of environmental or place-oriented thinking and conservative or reactionary politics. Frequently, the philosopher Martin Heidegger is taken to exemplify this connection through his own involvement with Nazism. In this essay, I explore the relations between Heidegger's thought and that of certain other key thinkers, principally the ethologist Jakob von Uexküll, and the geographers Friedrich Ratzel and Paul Vidal de la Blache, as well as with elements of Nazi (...) ideology. While Heidegger, Ratzel and Vidal de la Blache are shown to have a similar commitment to a holistic conception of the relation between human being and the world, and to also give priority to ideas of geographic space, or, as we may also say, to place, this is shown to run counter to the essentially subjectivist and biologically determinist position that is associated with Nazi thinking on these matters, and that can also be seen as a key element in the work of von Uexküll. It is argued that the clarification of these issues is not only important for matters of intellectual history alone, but also to ongoing discussions about the role and significance of place. Given the influence of geographical considerations on contemporary historiography, as well as in a number of other disciplines, and given also the role played by Ratzel and Vidal de la Blache, as well as Heidegger, in the rise of such 'place-oriented' thinking, the exploration and clarification of the differences at issue here is especially important. (shrink)
In rubber hand illusions and full body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body objects such as rubber hands, dolls or virtual bodies. The robustness, limits and further perceptual consequences of such illusions are not yet fully explored or understood. A number of experiments are reported that test the limits of a variant of the rubber hand illusion. Methodology/Principal Findings -/- A variant of the rubber hand illusion is explored, in which the real and foreign hands are aligned in personal (...) space. The presence of the illusion is ascertained with participants' scores and temperature changes of the real arm. This generates a basic illusion of touch projected to a foreign arm. Participants are presented with further, unusual visuotactile stimuli subsequent to onset of the basic illusion. Such further visuotactile stimulation is found to generate very unusual experiences of supernatural touch and touch on a non-hand object. The finding of touch on a non-hand object conflicts with prior findings, and to resolve this conflict a further hypothesis is successfully tested: that without prior onset of the basic illusion this unusual experience does not occur. Conclusions/Significance -/- A rubber hand illusion is found that can arise when the real and the foreign arm are aligned in personal space. This illusion persists through periods of no tactile stimulation and is strong enough to allow very unusual experiences of touch felt on a cardboard box and experiences of touch produced at a distance, as if by supernatural causation. These findings suggest that one's visual body image is explained away during experience of the illusion and they may be of further importance to understanding the role of experience in delusion formation. The findings of touch on non-hand objects may help reconcile conflicting results in this area of research. In addition, new evidence is provided that relates to the recently discovered psychologically induced temperature changes that occur during the illusion. (shrink)
The normative character of meaning creates deep problems for the attempt to give a reductive explanation of the constitution of meaning. I identify and critically examine an increasingly popular Carnap-style position, which I call Internalized Meaning Factualism (versions of which I argue are defended by, e.g., Robert Brandom, Paul Horwich and Huw Price), that promises to solve the problems. According to this position, the problem of meaning can be solved by prohibiting an external perspective on meaning constituting properties. The idea (...) is that if we stick to a perspective on meaning that is internal to meaning discourse, then we can preserve the normativity of meaning and yet locate meaning in the natural world. I develop a generic motivation for this position, but argue that, since this motivation is consistent with the Ramsey–Carnap–Lewis–Jackson reductionist strategy, internalized meaning factualism is unstable. The problems about the normativity of meaning can therefore not be sidestepped in this way. (shrink)
Is it rational to believe that the mind is identical to the brain? Identity theorists say it is (or looks like it will be, once all the neuroscientific evidence is in), and they base this claim on a general epistemic route to belief in identity. I re-develop this general route and defend it against some objections. Then I discuss how rational belief in mind–brain identity, obtained via this route, can be threatened by an appropriately adjusted version of the anti-physicalist knowledge (...) argument. Responses to this threat usually appeal either to different modes of presentation or to phenomenal concepts. But neither type of response is satisfactory. I provide a novel response, which appeals to an innocuous epistemic peculiarity of phenomenal states, namely their, as I shall call it, evidential insulation. (shrink)
Conscious perception and attention are difficult to study, partly because their relation to each other is not fully understood. Rather than conceiving and studying them in isolation from each other it may be useful to locate them in an independently motivated, general framework, from which a principled account of how they relate can then transpire. Accordingly, these mental phenomena are here reviewed through the prism of the increasingly influential predictive coding framework. On this framework, conscious perception can be seen as (...) the upshot of prediction error minimisation and attention as the optimisation of precision expectations during such perceptual inference. This approach maps on well to a range of standard characteristics of conscious perception and attention, and can be used to explain a range of empirical findings on their relation to each other. (shrink)
Jakob von Uexküll's theories of life -- Biography and historical background -- Nature's conformity with plan -- Umweltforschung -- Biosemiotics -- Concluding remarks -- Marking a path into the environments of animals -- The essential approach to the organism -- Heidegger and the biologists -- Paths to the world -- Disruptive behavior : Heidegger and the captivated animal -- The worldless stone -- The poor animal -- For example, three bees and a lark -- Animal morphology -- A shocking (...) wealth -- A fine line in the rupture of time -- An affected body -- The theme of the animal melody : Merleau-Ponty and the umwelt -- The structure of behavior -- A pure wake, a quiet force -- A leaf of being -- Interanimality -- The-animal-stalks-at-five-oclock : Deleuze's affection for Uexküll -- Problematic organisms -- Uexküll's ethology of affects -- The body without organs, the embryonic egg, and prebiotic soup -- Nature's refrain sung across milieus and territories -- The animal stalks. (shrink)
Disorders of consciousness include coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state. Such patients are often regarded as unconscious. This has consequences for end of life decisions for these patients: it is much easier to justify withdrawing life support for unconscious than conscious patients. Recent brain imaging research has however suggested that some patients may in fact be conscious.
It is argued that the notion of Umwelt is relevant for contemporary discussions within theoretical biology, biosemiotics, the study of Artificial Life, Autonomous Systems Research and philosophy of biology. Focus is put on the question of whether an artificial creature can have a phenomenal world in the sense of the Umwelt notion of Jakob von Uexküll, one of the founding figures of biosemiotics. Rather than vitalism, Uexküll's position can be interpreted as a version of qualitative organicism. A historical sketch (...) of Autonomous Systems Research (ASR) is presented to show its theoretical roots and fruitful opposition to traditional AI style robotics. It is argued that these artificial systems are only partly 'situated' because they do not in the full sense of the word experience an Umwelt. A deeper understanding of truly situated autonomous systems as being a kind of complex selforganizing semiotic agents with emergent qualitative properties must be gained, not only from the broad field of theoretical biology, but also from the perspective of biosemiotics in the Uexküll tradition. The paper is thus an investigation of a new notion of autonomy that includes a qualitative aspect of the organism. This indicates that the Umwelt concept is not reducible to purely functional notions. (shrink)
Three challenges to a unified understanding of delusions emerge from Radden's On Delusion (2011). Here, I propose that in order to respond to these challenges, and to work towards a unifying framework for delusions, we should see delusions as arising in inference under uncertainty. This proposal is based on the observation that delusions in key respects are surprisingly like perceptual illusions, and it is developed further by focusing particularly on individual differences in uncertainty expectations.
With its express intention ‘to put an end to impunity’, the International Criminal Court (ICC) faces a substantial challenge in the shape of conditional amnesties granted in future national truth commissions (TCs)—a challenge that invokes fundamental considerations of criminal justice ethics. In this article, I give an account of the challenge, and I consider a possible solution to it presented by Declan Roche. According to this solution the ICC-prosecutor should respect national amnesties and prosecute and punish only those perpetrators who (...) have refused to cooperate with the TC. I argue, however, that this compromise is untenable. As a general rule, if we justify the ICC on grounds of deterrence we should not accept conditional amnesties granted in national TCs. (shrink)
Clark acknowledges but resists the indirect mind-world relation inherent in prediction error minimization (PEM). But directness should also be resisted. This creates a puzzle, which calls for reconceptualization of the relation. We suggest that a causal conception captures both aspects. With this conception, aspects of situated cognition, social interaction and culture can be understood as emerging through precision optimization.
“Wrongful life” claims are made by persons born with a disease to the effect that they should not have been born. I ask whether we can say that if someone claims that he would have been better off if he were not born, he would be better off if he died. I examine the relationship between the following propositions:(1) It would have been better for me if I were not born.(2) My life (as a whole) is not worth living.(3) It (...) would be better for me if I died.(4) I desire to die.(5) I should commit suicide/ ask for euthanasia.If a person claims that he would have preferred not to be born, this normally implies that it would be better for him if he died. But this does not necessarily imply that he desires to die, or that he should commit suicide. (shrink)
Investigation of neural and cognitive processes underlying individual variation in moral preferences is underway, with notable similarities emerging between moral- and risk-based decision-making. Here we specifically assessed moral distributive justice preferences and non-moral financial gambling preferences in the same individuals, and report an association between these seemingly disparate forms of decision-making. Moreover, we find this association between distributive justice and risky decision-making exists primarily when the latter is assessed with the Iowa Gambling Task. These findings are consistent with neuroimaging studies (...) of brain function during moral and risky decision-making. This research also constitutes the first replication of a novel experimental measure of distributive justice decision-making, for which individual variation in performance was found. Further examination of decision-making processes across different contexts may lead to an improved understanding of the factors affecting moral behaviour. (shrink)
Jakob von Uexküll’s problematic is manifested in his paradoxical portraiture of form within the plan of nature: the one a sensual schema and the other a transsensual ideal form. At first sight, Uexküll’s belief in the Platonic and the Reformational notions of the immobile becoming of form seems to be a resignation from the heated debates among his contemporary materialists, vitalists, dynamists, and evolutionists. However, in terms of the Kantian subjective teleology, Uexküll’s appropriation of the ancient philosophy reinstates the (...) invisible, static, but repetitive cycle as his regulating principle in the observation of the activity of animals. This regulating principle distinguishes itself from the rule of resemblance established by the appearances and fossil remains of animals, which is linear, incomplete, and digressive. In the light of Michel Foucault, the transition from the visible to the invisible recoups the study of nature from the living beings (les êtres vivants) to the life itself (la vie), from natural philosophy to biology. My study suggests that we recast Uexküll’s sign theory from his observations on the crux that models and triggers an animal to action in its Umwelt. Bracketing Uexküll’s transcendental configuration of form and image, we still find that schema, in itssensual and functional context, evolves from a reflection of the objects to a summary of their features plus an ignorance of their proper names. Uexküll's erasure of proper names (in different languages) that directs our attention to the presentation in its pure form (Gestalt) not only constitutes an important step in epistemology, but also in a life science that meticulously delves into the genotypes. (shrink)