We question whether empathy is mediated by a unitary circuit. We argue that recent neuroimaging data indicate dissociable neural responses for different facial expressions as well as for representing others' mental states (Theory of Mind, TOM). We also argue that the general empathy disorder considered characteristic of autism and psychopathy is not general but specific for each disorder.
Abstract The effect of inducing negative, positive or neutral affect on the recall of moral and conventional transgressions and positive moral and conventional acts was examined. It was found that inducing negative affect was associated with higher recall of moral transgressions while inducing positive affect was associated with higher recall of positive moral acts. Affect induction condition did not have a significant effect on the recall of the conventional transgressions or positive acts. The results are interpreted within the Violence Inhibition (...) Mechanism model of moral development (Blair, 1995) and by reference to a new, hypothesised system, the Smiling Reward Response. (shrink)
The United States is at a crossroad in its treatment of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, which deals with reorganization of bankrupt organizations. It is vital that the issues surrounding the debate be properly framed. This paper attempts to do just that by reviewing the evolution of bankruptcy law, assessing the impact of Chapter 11 leniency on societal stakeholders, considering bankruptcy as a strategic option, and addressing the ethical and societal issues that arise from the use of Chapter 11 (...) to avoid massive litigation or to abrogate labor contracts. Serious threats to the underlying fibers of the American system of enterprise are exposed and an assessment of these threats is offered. (shrink)
In this paper, we will consider the neuro-cognitive systems involved in mediating morality. Five main claims will be made. First, that there are multiple, partially separable neuro-cognitive architectures that mediate specific aspects of morality: social convention, care-based morality, disgust-based morality and fairness/justice. Second, that all aspects of morality, including social convention, involve affect. Third, that the neural system particularly important for social convention, given its role in mediating anger and responding to angry expressions, is ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Fourth, that the (...) neural systems particularly important for care-based morality are the amygdala and medial orbital frontal cortex. Fifth, that while Theory of Mind is not a prerequisite for the development of affect-based 'automatic moral attitudes', it is critically involved in many aspects of moral reasoning. (shrink)
Psychopathy is a developmental disorder associated with specific forms of emotional dysfunction and an increased risk for both frustration-based reactive aggression and goal-directed instrumental antisocial behavior. While the full behavioral manifestation of the disorder is under considerable social influence, the basis of this disorder appears to be genetic. At the neural level, individuals with psychopathy show atypical responding within the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, the roles of the amygdala in stimulus-reinforcement learning and responding to emotional expressions and (...) vmPFC in the representation of reinforcement expectancies are compromised. The implications of these functional impairments for responsibility are discussed. (shrink)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social phobia (SP) are major anxiety disorders identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). They are comorbid, overlap in symptoms, yet present with distinct features (worry in GAD and fear of embarrassment in SP). Both have also been explained in terms of conditioning-based models. However, there is little reasoning currently to believe that GAD in adulthood reflects heightened conditionability or heightened threat processing—though patients with SP may show heightened processing (...) of social threat stimuli. Moreover, the computational architectures that maintain these disorders in adulthood are different. For GAD this may reflect the development of an inefficient “worrying” strategy of emotional regulation. For SP this appears to reflect the atypical processing of self-referential information. (shrink)
We make two suggestions with regard to Depue & Collins's (D&C's) target article. First, regarding the functioning of MOC13, we provide data indicating that, contrary to D&C's apparent position, this structure is not necessary for instrumental conditioning. Second, we suggest that D&C's approach would be advanced by reference to formal computational theory, in particular the work of Grossberg. We suggest that an integration of Grossberg's and D&C's models can provide a more complete account of extraversion.
Recent interest in emotion as the basis for moral development began with work involving individuals with psychopathic tendencies, and a recent paper with this population has allowed fresh insights (Glenn, Iyer, Graham, Koleva, & Haidt, 2009). Two main conclusions suggested by this paper are: (i) that systems involved in different forms of morality can be differentiated; and (ii) that systems involved in justice reasoning likely include amygdala and/or ventromedial prefrontal cortex, even if the specifics of their functional contribution to justice (...) development remain unidentified. (shrink)
We make three suggestions with regard to Mealey's work. First, her lack of a cognitive analysis of the sociopath results in underspecified mappings between sociobiology and behavior. Second, the developmental literature indicates that Mealey's implicit assumption, that moral socialisation is achieved through punishment, is invalid. Third, we advance the use of causal modelling to map the developmental relationships between biology, cognition, and behaviour.
Decety (2011) considers the cognitive neuroscience of empathy and, in particular, his three-component model of empathic responding. His position is highly influential with its emotional awareness/understanding and emotional regulation components representing clear extensions of previous theorizing on empathy. In this brief commentary, I will critically consider the third of his components: affective arousal. In particular, I will consider the implications of the literature to the proposed computations, based on perception—action coupling, that underlie this component of his model. I will suggest (...) that perception—action coupling does not underlie affective arousal but rather that this is mediated by far more simple mechanisms of emotional arousal based on conditioning. (shrink)
I am most grateful to JamesBlair and Justin D’Arms for commenting on my work. I would be hard put to name two other moral psychologists whose reactions I’d be so keen to hear. There is a striking asymmetry in their commentaries. Blair prefers a minimalist story about moral judgment, maintaining that the appeal to rules is unnecessary. D’Arms, by contrast, maintains that the account I offer is overly simple and that children lack moral concepts despite (...) their partial facility with moral language. It is tempting to treat my account as achieving the golden mean between Blair’s austerity and D’Arms’ extravagance. But it would be unfair to both. Blair is attracted to the sparse account for empirical reasons, and D’Arms is attracted to a richer account for philosophical reasons. Nonetheless, I still think that the account I offer is preferable to Blair’s minimalism and to D’Arms neosentimentalism. Rather than give a point-by-point reply, which would likely be tedious, I’ll try to say why I think that my account is still more plausible than the alternatives proffered by Blair and D’Arms. (shrink)
This paper begins a working through of Blair’s (2001) theoretical agenda concerning argumentation schemes and their attendant critical questions, in which we propose a number of solutions to some outstanding theoretical issues. We consider the classification of schemes, their ultimate nature, their role in argument reconstruction, their foundation as normative categories of argument, and the evaluative role of critical questions.We demonstrate the role of schemes in argument reconstruction, and defend a normative account of their nature against specific criticisms due (...) to Pinto (2001). Concerning critical questions, we propose an account on which they are founded in the R.S.A. cogency standard, and develop an account of the relationship between critical questions and burden of proof. Our ultimate aim is to initiate a reconciliation between dialectical and informal logic approaches to the schemes. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Reid and Hume on the Possibility of Character--James A. Harris * Adam Smith's Rhetorical Art of Character--Stephen McKenna * The Moral Education of Mankind: Character and Religious Moderatism in the Sermons of Hugh Blair--Thomas Ahnert * The Not-So-Prodigal Son: James Boswell and the Scottish Enlightenment--Anthony La Vopa * Character, Sociability and Correspondence: Elizabeth Griffith and The Letters between Henry and Frances--Eve Tavor Bannet * Smellie's Dreams: Character and Consciousness in the Scottish Enlightenment--Phyllis (...) Mack William * Aspects of Character and Sociability in Scottish Enlightenment Medicine--Neil Vickers * The 'Peculiar Colouring of the Mind': Character and Painted Portraiture in the Scottish Enlightenment--Viccy Coltman * National Characters and Race: A Scottish Enlightenment Debate--Silvia Sebastiani * Character and Cosmopolitanism in the Scottish-American Enlightenment--Hannah Spahn * Historical Characters: Biography, the Science of Man, and Romantic Fiction--Susan Manning * Necessity, Freedom, and Character Formation from the Eighteenth Century to the Nineteenth--Jerrold Seigel. (shrink)
Krabbe (2003, in F.H. van Eemeren, J.A. Blair, C.A. Willard and A.F. Snoeck Henkemans (eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation, Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 641–644) defined a metadialogue as a dialogue about one or more dialogues, and a ground-level dialogue as a dialogue that is not a metadialogue. Similarly, I define a meta-argument as an argument about one or more arguments, and a ground-level argument as one which is not a (...) meta-argument. Krabbe (1995, in F.H van Eemeren, R. Grootendorst, J.A. Blair, C.A. Willard and A.F. Snoeck Henkemans (eds.), Proceedings of the Third ISSA Conference on Argumentation, Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 333–344) showed that formal-fallacy criticism (and more generally, fallacy criticism) consists of metadialogues, and that such metadialogues can be profiled in ways that lead to their proper termination or resolution. I reconstruct Krabbe’s metadialogical account into monolectical, meta-argumentative terminology by describing three-types of meta-arguments corresponding to the three ways of proving formal invalidity he studied: the trivial logic-indifferent method; the method of counterexample situation; and the method of formal paraphrase. A fourth type of meta-argument corresponds to what Oliver (1967, Mind 76, 463–478), Govier (1985, Informal Logic 7, 27–33), and Copi (1986) call refutation by logical analogy. A fifth type of meta-argument represents my reconstruction of arguments by parity of reasoning studied by Woods and Hudak (1989, Informal Logic 11, 125–139). Other particular meta-arguments deserving future study are Hume’s critique of the argument from design in the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and Mill’s initial argument in The Subjection of Women about the importance of established custom and general feeling vis-à-vis argumentation. (shrink)
Blair proposes that fluid intelligence, working memory, and executive function form a unitary construct: fluid cognition. Recently, our group has utilized a combined correlational–experimental cognitive neuroscience approach, which we argue is beneficial for investigating relationships among these individual differences in terms of neural mechanisms underlying them. Our data do not completely support Blair's strong position. (Published Online April 5 2006).
Blair equates the constructs of working memory (WM), executive function, and general fluid intelligence (gF). We argue that there is good reason not to equate these constructs. We view WM and gF as separable but highly related, and suggest that the mechanism behind the relationship is controlled attention – an ability that is dependent on normal functioning of the prefrontal cortex. (Published Online April 5 2006).
Blair makes a strong case that fluid cognition and psychometric g are not identical constructs. However, he fails to mention the development of the prefrontal cortex, which likely makes the Gf–g distinction different in children than in adults.1 He also incorrectly states that current IQ tests do not measure Gf; we discuss several recent instruments that measure Gf quite well. (Published Online April 5 2006).