Louise Barrett, beyond the brain: how body and environment shape animal and human minds Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9247-6 Authors Mirko Farina, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Institute of Human Cognition and Brain Science (IHCBS), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759.
Is the brain the biological substrate of consciousness? Most naturalistic philosophers of mind have supposed that the answer must obviously be «yes » to this question. However, a growing number of philosophers working in 4e (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive) cognitive science have begun to challenge this assumption, arguing instead that consciousness supervenes on the whole embodied animal in dynamic interaction with the environment. We call views that share this claim dynamic sensorimotor theories of consciousness (DSM). Clark (2009) a founder and (...) leading proponent of the hypothesis of the extended mind, demurs, arguing that as matter of fact the biology of consciousness doesn’t allow for a brain, body and world boundary crossing architecture. We begin by looking at one of the arguments for DSM, the variable neural correlates argument. We then outline two criticisms that Clark has made of this argument and endorse his criticisms. However we finish up by using the case of sensory substitution to argue that something of this argument for DSM nevertheless survives. We suggest that Clark ought to concede sensory substitution as a case in which the conscious mind extends. (shrink)
We offer an argument for the extended mind based on considerations from brain development. We argue that our brains develop to function in partnership with cognitive resources located in our external environments. Through our cultural upbringing we are trained to use artefacts in problem solving that become factored into the cognitive routines our brains support. Our brains literally grow to work in close partnership with resources we regularly and reliably interact with. We take this argument to be in line with (...) complementarity or “second-wave” defences of the extended mind that stress the functional differences between biological elements and external, environmental resources in putative cases of extended cognition. Complementarity defences argue that many of the kinds of cognition humans excel at can only be accomplished by brains working together with a body that directly manipulates and acts on the world [Rowlands (1999); Menary (2007); Sutton (2010)]. We argue that complementarity and functionalist defences of the extended mind aren’t opposed, but that complementarity considerations can provide much needed and hitherto under exploited leverage in defending EMT. Moreover, the developmental work we will describe adds extra weight to the complementarity case for EMT. (shrink)
Block (2003) and Prinz (2006) have defended the idea that SSD perception remains in the substituting modality (auditory or tactile). Hurley and Noë (2003) instead argued that after substantial training with the device, the perceptual experience that the SSD user enjoys undergoes a change, switching from tactile/auditory to visual. This debate has unfolded in something like a stalemate where, I will argue, it has become difficult to determine whether the perception acquired through the coupling with an SSD remains in the (...) substituting or the substituted modality. Within this puzzling deadlock two new approaches have been recently suggested. Ward and Meijer (2010) describe SSD perception as visual-like but characterize it as a kind of artificially induced synaesthesia. Auvray et al. (2007) and Auvray and Myin (2009) suggest that SSDs let their users experience a new kind of perception. Deroy and Auvray (forthcoming) refine this position, and argue that this new kind of perception depends on pre-existing senses without entirely aligning with any of them. So, they have talked about perceptual experience in SSDs as going “beyond vision”. In a similar vein, Fiona MacPherson (2011b) claims that “if the subjects (SSD users) have experiences with both vision-like and touch-like representational characteristics then perhaps they have a sense that ordinary humans do not” (MacPherson 2011b, p.139). -/- I use this suggestion of MacPherson’s as a motivation for exploring more fully the idea that SSD perception is something new. In this paper, in line with Auvray and Deroy, I therefore argue that SSD perception (at least in long-term, experienced users) doesn’t align with any of the pre-existing senses and that although it relies (quite heavily) on them, it nevertheless counts as something different and partially new. Unlike Auvray and Deroy however, I tentatively explain the new sensory sensitivity that these devices enable in terms of artificially induced synaesthesia. So the main goal of this paper is to synthesize and integrate the empirical work of Ward and Meijer (2010) within the conceptual framework developed by Deroy and Auvray (forthcoming), trying to cash out, in a more specific way, the details of their idea that SSD perception goes “beyond vision”. In suggesting the emergence of a new sensory modality in practised SSD users, I aim to make more explicit the false dilemma on which both Block/Prinz and Hurley/Noë rely; the shared assumption that there are only two options available to explain SSD perception (namely, that it either stays in the substituting modality, or is entirely visual). In endorsing an emergence thesis, which aims at taking us out of the dead-end of the visual vs not-visual (auditory/tactile) dilemma by refusing its two horns, I thus aim at breaking the deadlock in which the philosophical debate about sensory substitution has fallen. (shrink)
Sensory substitution devices are a type of sensory prosthesis that (typically) convert visual stimuli transduced by a camera into tactile or auditory stimulation. They are designed to be used by people with impaired vision so that they can recover some of the functions normally subserved by vision. In this chapter we will consider what philosophers might learn about the nature of the senses from the neuroscience of sensory substitution. We will show how sensory substitution devices work by exploiting the cross-modal (...) plasticity of sensory cortex: the ability of sensory cortex to pick up some types of information about the external environment irrespective of the nature of the sensory inputs it is processing. We explore the implications of cross-modal plasticity for theories of the senses that attempt to make distinctions between the senses on the basis of neurobiology. (shrink)
Accused persons who are subjected to a saturation level of negative media coverage may be denied an impartial hearing, which is perhaps the most important aspect of the right to a fair hearing. Despite this, the courts have generally held that the social imperative of prosecuting accused trumps the interests of the accused. The justification for an impartial hearing stems from the repugnance of convicting the innocent. Viewed dispassionately, this imperative is not absolute, given that every legal system condones (...) procedures which result in the conviction of some innocent people. While the importance of guarding against wrongful convictions has been overstated, the imperative to bring to trial all accused has been even more exaggerated. The legal system has displayed a capacity to deal with cases where the guilty walk free. The institutional integrity of the criminal justice system would be significantly compromised by convictions that are tarnished by pre-judgment. Confidence in the criminal justice system is more important than individual criminal accountability. The inability to receive an impartial hearing should result in a permanent stay. The only exception is where the alleged crime has the capacity to cause widespread fear or social unrest. This only applies in relation to serious acts of terrorism. This article focuses on recent legal fair trial developments in Australia, however, the analysis, reasoning and conclusion applies in relation to all jurisdictions where juries determine guilt and innocence. (shrink)
In this paper I present a new approach to the so called ars obligatoria of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century. In standard medieval disputations an opponent attacks a thesis defended by the respondent. Some thirteenth-century authors distinguish two duties that the respondent has. First, he must grant whatever seems to be true. Second, he must grant whatever follows from what he has already granted. When the first duty is overridden by the specific duty to defend a false thesis (which (...) is the main requirement of ars obligatoria), the second duty becomes the logical duty of keeping the set of one's answers consistent. A natural result of this model is the development of a concept of possibility based on the syntactic concept of formally correct inference, and not on any semantic considerations. (shrink)