Let me first state that I like Antti Revonsuo’s discussion of the various methodological and interpretational problems in neuroscience. It shows how careful and methodologically reflected scientists have to proceed in this fascinating field of research. I have nothing to add here. Furthermore, I am very sympathetic towards Revonsuo’s general proposal to call for a Philosophy of Neuroscience that stresses foundational issues, but also focuses on methodological and explanatory strategies. In a footnote of his paper, Revonsuo complains – as many (...) others do today – about what is sometimes called “physics imperialism”. This is the view that physics dominates the philosophy of science. I am not sure if this is still the case nowadays, but it is certainly historically correct that almost all work in the field of methodology centered around cases from physics. Although this has been changing, there are still plenty of special sciences philosophers did not worry about much. Admittedly, I am myself a trained physicist and not a neuroscientist and will therefore probably be biased negatively. As it is, I will discuss some examples from physics in order to illustrate my points. (shrink)
In Joseph Butler, we have an account of human beings as moral beings that is, as this essay demonstrates, being supported by the recently emerging findings of the neurosciences. This applies particularly to Butler's portrayal of our empathic emotions. Butler discovered their moral significance for motivating and guiding moral decisions and actions before the neurosciences did. Butler has, in essence, added a sixth sense to our five senses: this is the moral sense by means of which we perceive (...) what we ought or ought not do. The moral sense yields relatively reliable moral perceptions when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and when our love for ourselves is genuine. Accurate moral perceptions will be thwarted by self-deceit—that is, by a self-partiality devoid of neighbor love, a condition that thwarts genuine self-love. This essay explores the parallels between Butler's understanding of self-deceit and Robert J. Lifton's understanding of "doubling.". (shrink)
The author comments on the article “The neurobiology of addiction: Implications for voluntary control of behavior,‘ by S. E. Hyman. Hyman suggests that addicted individuals have substantial impairments in cognitive control of behavior. The author states that brain and neurochemical systems are involved in addiction. He also suggests that neuroscience can link the diseased brain processes in addiction to the moral struggles of the addicts. Accession Number: 24077919; Authors: Charland, Louis C. 1; Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org; Affiliations: 1: University of Western (...) Ontario, Talbot COllege, London, Ontario; Subject: EDITORIALS; Subject: ADDICTIONS; Subject: BEHAVIOR; Subject: HYMAN, S. E.; Subject: NEUROCHEMISTRY; Subject: NEUROSCIENCES; Number of Pages: 2p. (shrink)
The Matter of the Mind addresses and illuminates the relationship between psychology and neuroscience by focusing on the topic of reduction. Written by leading philosophers in the field Discusses recent theorizing in the mind-brain sciences and reviews and weighs the evidence in favour of reductionism against the backdrop of recent important advances within psychology and the neurosciences Collects the latest work on central topics where neuroscience is now making inroads in traditional psychological terrain, such as adaptive behaviour, reward systems, (...) consciousness, and social cognition. (shrink)
The Mathematics Education and Neurosciences project is an interdisciplinary research program that bridges mathematics education research with neuroscientific research. The bidirectional collaboration will provide greater insight into young children's (aged four to six years) mathematical abilities. Specifically, by combining qualitative ‘design research’ with quantitative ‘experimental research’, we aim to come to a more thorough understanding of prerequisites that are involved in the development of early spatial and number sense. The mathematics education researchers are concerned with kindergartner's spatial structuring ability, (...) while the neuroscientists are studying kindergartner's automatic quantity processing and its effect on mathematical development. The outcomes of these investigations should contribute to practical ways of fostering and supporting young children's mathematical thinking and learning. (shrink)
The neurosciences are generating new findings regarding genetic and neurobiological aspects of the pathophysiology of mental disorders. Especially, certain genetic risk factors like neuregulin-1 seem to predispose individuals to a psychotic phenotype beyond the limits of traditional classificatory boundaries between organic psychoses in Alzheimerâs disease, bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia. Little, however, is known about how such genetic risk factors actually confer an increased risk for psychosis in an individual patient. A gap between neuroscientific findings and psychopathological phenomena exists. (...) The main hypothesis how this gap may be bridged is that mental disorders arise as a consequence of dysfunctions of normal mental functions. Modularity may provide a useful conceptual framework in that temporally and/or spatially stable neural circuits subserve certain physiological functions of the human brain, which become the target of pathophysiological effectors. The idea of a modular construction of the human brain is based on neurobiological evidence regarding the columnar architecture of the cerebral cortex, which provides certain elementary analytical functions. Modular dysfunctions may be assessed with methods of experimental psychopathology, in which subsystems of brain functions are tested with standardized experimental psychological techniques (functional psychopathology). The main questions here are how to define a module, and whether the classical neuroscientific definitions can be used to characterize higher integrative functions of the human brain. (shrink)
In its predominant form, the understanding of the neurosciences, which stand in high public esteem, is a naturalistic one. The critique of this naturalism concerns the technical modelling of brain functions as a syntactic or control loop machine. Adequate solutions to the mind-body problem are not found in this way. An alternative exists in the shape of the methodical-culturalistic approach, which describes the neurosciences as human practice, modelled on the pragmatism of medicine: Starting from (diagnosed and described) defects, (...) the medical practitioner searches for the causes of the disorder. The neuroscientistâs naÃ¯ve focus on the central nervous system is replaced by the reflection on the actions and objectives of the neuroscientist himself. This results in a number of conclusions with regard to human/animal comparisons and to the importance of brain research for the self-image of human beings, for instance concerning free will. (shrink)
The impact of current developments in the neurosciences on the concept of psychiatric diseases Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10202-008-0054-2 Authors Felix Thiele, Europäische Akademie zur Erforschung von Folgen wissenschaftlich-technischer Entwicklungen Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler GmbH Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler Germany Barbara Hawellek, Universität Bonn Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie Bonn Germany Journal Poiesis & Praxis: International Journal of Technology Assessment and Ethics of Science Online ISSN 1615-6617 Print ISSN 1615-6609 Journal Volume Volume 6 Journal Issue Volume 6, Numbers 1-2.
In recent years there has been an explosion of scientific work on consciousness in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and other fields. It has become possible to think that we are moving toward a genuine scientific understanding of conscious experience. But what is the science of consciousness all about, and what form should such a science take? This chapter gives an overview of the agenda.
This collection opens a dialogue between process philosophy and contemporary consciousness studies. Approaching consciousness from diverse disciplinary perspectives—philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, neuropathology, psychotherapy, biology, animal ethology, and physics—the contributors offer empirical and philosophical support for a model of consciousness inspired by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). Whitehead’s model is developed in ways he could not have anticipated to show how it can advance current debates beyond well-known sticking points. This has trenchant consequences for epistemology and suggests fresh and (...) promising perspectives on such topics as the mind-body problem, the neurobiology of consciousness, animal consciousness, the evolution of consciousness, panpsychism, the unity of consciousness, epiphenomenalism, free will, and causation. (shrink)
Recent neuroscience and psychology of behavior have suggested that conscious decisions may have no causal role in the etiology of intentional action. Such results pose a threat to traditional philosophical analyses of action. On such views beliefs, desires and conscious willing are part of the causal structure of intentional action. But if the suggestions from neuroscience/psychology are correct, analyses of this kind are wrong. Conscious antecedents of action are epiphenomenal. This essay explores this consequence. It also notes that the traditional (...) alternative to causal analyses of intentional action is not threatened by the putative scientific findings. This, in turn, is ironic in that defenders of the noncausal accounts of action were thought to be in opposition to the natural sciences of action whereas the analyses in the causal style were "on the side of physicalism." This result is also assessed in what follows. (shrink)
euroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior brings together, for the first time, the experiments and theories that have created the new science of rules. Rules are central to human behavior, but until now the field of neuroscience lacked a synthetic approach to understanding them. How are rules learned, retrieved from memory, maintained in consciousness and implemented? How are they used to solve problems and select among actions and activities? How are the various levels of rules represented in the brain, ranging from simple (...) conditional ones if a traffic light turns red, then stop to rules and strategies of such sophistication that they defy description? And how do brain regions interact to produce rule-guided behavior? These are among the most fundamental questions facing neuroscience, but until recently there was relatively little progress in answering them. It was difficult to probe brain mechanisms in humans, and expert opinion held that animals lacked the capacity for such high-level behavior. However, rapid progress in neuroimaging technology has allowed investigators to explore brain mechanisms in humans, while increasingly sophisticated behavioral methods have revealed that animals can and do use high-level rules to control their behavior. The resulting explosion of information has led to a new science of rules, but it has also produced a plethora of overlapping ideas and terminology and a field sorely in need of synthesis. In this book, Silvia Bunge and Jonathan Wallis bring together the worlds leading cognitive and systems neuroscientists to explain the most recent research on rule-guided behavior. Their work covers a wide range of disciplines and methods, including neuropsychology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neurophysiology, electroencephalography, neuropharmacology, near-infrared spectroscopy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. This unprecedented synthesis is a must-read for anyone interested in how complex behavior is controlled and organized by the brain. (shrink)
The Heart of Judgment explores the nature, historical significance, and contemporary relevance of practical wisdom. Primarily a work in moral and political thought, it also relies extensively on the latest research in cognitive neuroscience to confirm and extend our understanding of the faculty of judgment. Ever since the ancient Greeks first discussed practical wisdom, the faculty of judgment has been an important topic for philosophers and political theorists. It remains one of the virtues most demanded of our public officials. The (...) greater the liberties and responsibilities accorded to citizens in democratic regimes, the more the health and welfare of society rest upon their exercise of good judgment. While giving full credit to the roles played by reason and deliberation in good judgment, the book underlines the central importance of intuition, emotion, and worldly experience. (shrink)
This is the first major response to the new challenge of neuroscience to religion. There have been limited responses from a purely Christian point of view, but this takes account of eastern as well as western forms of religious experience. It challenges the prevailing naturalistic assumption of our culture, including the idea that the mind is either identical with or a temporary by-product of brain activity. It also discusses religion as institutions and religion as inner experience of the Transcendent, and (...) suggests a form of spirituality for today. (shrink)
Sleep researchers in different disciplines disagree about how fully dreaming can be explained in terms of brain physiology. Debate has focused on whether REM sleep dreaming is qualitatively different from nonREM (NREM) sleep and waking. A review of psychophysiological studies shows clear quantitative differences between REM and NREM mentation and between REM and waking mentation. Recent neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies also differentiate REM, NREM, and waking in features with phenomenological implications. Both evidence and theory suggest that there are isomorphisms between (...) the phenomenology and the physiology of dreams. We present a three-dimensional model with specific examples from normally and abnormally changing conscious states. Key Words: consciousness; dreaming; neuroimaging; neuromodulation; NREM; phenomenology; qualia; REM; sleep. (shrink)
Empirical approaches on topics such as consciousness, self-awareness, or introspective perspective, need a conceptual framework so that the emerging, still unconnected findings can be integrated and put into perspective. We introduce a model of self-consciousness derived from phenomenology, philosophy, the cognitive, and neurosciences. We will then give an overview of research data on one particular aspect of our model, self-agency, trying to link findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Finally, we will expand on pathological aspects of self-agency, and in (...) particular on psychosis in schizophrenia. We show, that a deficient self-monitoring system underlies, in part, hallucinations and formal thought (language) disorder in schizophrenia. We argue, that self-consciousness is a valid construct and can be studied with the instruments of cognitive and neuroscience. (shrink)
I examine one of the conceptual cornerstones of the field known as computational neuroscience, especially as articulated in Churchland et al. (1990), an article that is arguably the locus classicus of this term and its meaning. The authors of that article try, but I claim ultimately fail, to mark off the enterprise of computational neuroscience as an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the cognitive, information-processing functions of the brain. The failure is a result of the fact that the authors provide no (...) principled means to distinguish the study of neural systems as genuinely computational/information-processing from the study of any complex causal process. I then argue for two things. First, that in order to appropriately mark off computational neuroscience, one must be able to assign a semantics to the states over which an attempt to provide a computational explanation is made. Second, I show that neither of the two most popular ways of trying to effect such content assignation -- informational semantics and 'biosemantics' -- can make the required distinction, at least not in a way that a computational neuroscientist should be happy about. The moral of the story as I take it is not a negative one to the effect that computational neuroscience is in principle incapable of doing what it wants to do. Rather, it is to point out some work that remains to be done. (shrink)
What makes us conscious? Many theories that attempt to answer this question have appeared recently in the context of widespread interest about consciousness in the cognitive neurosciences. Most of these proposals are formulated in terms of the information processing conducted by the brain. In this overview, we survey and contrast these models. We first delineate several notions of consciousness, addressing what it is that the various models are attempting to explain. Next, we describe a conceptual landscape that addresses how (...) the theories attempt to explain consciousness. We then situate each of several representative models in this landscape and indicate which aspect of consciousness they try to explain. We conclude that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness should be usefully complemented by a search for the computational correlates of consciousness. (shrink)
Psychiatry is a discipline on the border between the biomedical sciences on the one hand and the humanities and social sciences (most notably psychology and anthropology) on the other. This unique position undoubtedly contributes to the attractiveness of psychiatry as a medical specialism for many young doctors, but it also causes significant problems. Unlike other medical disciplines, in which the definitions of diseases are based on objective, measurable pathophysiological underpinnings, psychiatric diagnosis and classification has been based on descriptions of inherently (...) subjective mental and behavioral symptoms that are supposed to be deviant from "normal" psychology or behavior, as reflected in the current .. (shrink)
The heuristic value of Pylyshyn's cognitive impenetrability theory is questioned in this commentary, mainly because, as it stands, the key argument cannot be challenged empirically. Pylyshyn requires unambiguous evidence for an effect of cognitive states on early perceptual mechanisms, which is impossible to provide because we can only infer what might happen at these earlier levels of processing on the basis of evidence collected at the post-perceptual stage. Furthermore, the theory that early visual processes cannot be modified by cognitive states (...) implies that it is totally pointless to try to investigate interactions between consciousness and neurosensory processes. (shrink)
The author comments on several articles on addiction. Recent developments in neuroscience suggest that addicted individuals have substantial impairments in the cognitive control of voluntary behavior. The author differs on the observations that addicts either act on desires that are not conducive to rational action. The author also states that addiction seems to be a prime manifestation of akrasia, in which one fails to be motivated to act in accordance with what one judges ought to be done. Accession Number: 24077920; (...) Authors: Viens, A. M. 1; Email Address: email@example.com; Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, Hertford College, Oxford, United Kingdom; Subject: EDITORIALS; Subject: ADDICTIONS; Subject: COGNITION; Subject: DECISION making; Subject: AKRASIA; Subject: NEUROSCIENCES; Number of Pages: 3p. (shrink)
Introduction -- The mischievous neuron -- The shadow of determinism -- The essential freedom -- A tempest in the brain -- Neurological disturbance -- The seat of the will -- The somatic-marker hypothesis -- The readiness potential -- The grand illusion -- Neuronal destiny -- The revolution of the brain -- Seeds of corruption -- Morality's end -- The depths of consciousness -- A challenge for experience -- The boundlessness of reason -- Rise of the moral agent -- The palace (...) of the mind. (shrink)
Currently, the neurosciences challenge the concept of will to be scientifically untenable, specifying that it is our brain rather than our "self" that decides what we want to do. At the same time, we seem to be confronted with increasing possibilities and necessities of free choice in all areas of social life. Based on up-to-date (empirical) research in the social sciences and philosophy, the authors convened in this book address this seeming contradiction: By differentiating the physical, the psychic, and (...) the social realm, the neuroscientific findings can be acknowledged within a comprehensive framework of selves in neoliberal societies. (shrink)
Over the past three decades, philosophy of science has grown increasingly “local.” Concerns have switched from general features of scientific practice to concepts, issues, and puzzles specific to particular disciplines. Philosophy of neuroscience is a natural result. This emerging area was also spurred by remarkable recent growth in the neurosciences. Cognitive and computational neuroscience continues to encroach upon issues traditionally addressed within the humanities, including the nature of consciousness, action, knowledge, and normativity. Empirical discoveries about brain structure and function (...) suggest ways that “naturalistic” programs might develop in detail, beyond the abstract philosophical considerations in their favor. -/- The literature distinguishes “philosophy of neuroscience” and “neurophilosophy.” The former concerns foundational issues within the neurosciences. The latter concerns application of neuroscientific concepts to traditional philosophical questions. Exploring various concepts of representation employed in neuroscientific theories is an example of the former. Examining implications of neurological syndromes for the concept of a unified self is an example of the latter. In this entry, we will assume this distinction and discuss examples of both. (shrink)
The cognitive neurosciences are based on the idea that the level of neurons or neural networks constitutes a privileged level of analysis for the explanation of mental phenomena. This paper brings to mind several arguments to the effect that this presumption is ill-conceived and unwarranted in light of what is currently understood about the physical principles underlying mental achievements. It then scrutinizes the question why such conceptions are nevertheless currently prevailing in many areas of psychology. The paper argues that (...) corresponding conceptions are rooted in four different aspects of our common-sense conception of mental phenomena and their explanation, which are illegitimately transferred to scientific enquiry. These four aspects pertain to the notion of explanation, to conceptions about which mental phenomena are singled out for enquiry, to an inductivist epistemology, and, in the wake of behavioristic conceptions, to a bias favoring investigations of input–output relations at the expense of enquiries into internal principles. To the extent that the cognitive neurosciences methodologically adhere to these tacit assumptions, they are prone to turn into a largely a-theoretical and data-driven endeavor while at the same time enhancing the prospects for receiving widespread public appreciation of their empirical findings. (shrink)
In this collection of essays, Paul Churchland explores the unfolding impact of the several empirical sciences of the mind, especially cognitive neurobiology and computational neuroscience on a variety of traditional issues central to the discipline of philosophy. Representing Churchland's most recent research, they continue his research program, launched over thirty years ago, and which has evolved into the field of neurophilosophy.
In this paper, it is examined how neuroscience can help to understand the nature of volition by addressing the question whether volitions can be localized in the brain. Volitions, as acts of the will, are special mental events or activities by which an agent consciously and actively exercises her agency to voluntarily direct her thoughts and actions. If we can pinpoint when and where volitional events or activities occur in the brain and find out their neural underpinnings, this can substantively (...) aid to demystify the concept of volition. After first discussing some methodological issues regarding whether it is possible to locate volition in the brain, various approaches by which neuroscientists and psychologists explore the neural correlates and substrates of volition are examined. Although different psychological conceptualizations of volition shape different perspectives toward understanding the functions of volition, the explorations of the neural basis of volition converge on certain common brain areas and structures. A unifying conception of volition that helps to make better sense of recent empirical findings is then suggested. (shrink)
This book attempts to marry truth-conditional semantics with cognitive linguistics in the church of computational neuroscience. To this end, it examines the truth-conditional meanings of coordinators, quantifiers, and collective predicates as neurophysiological phenomena that are amenable to a neurocomputational analysis. Drawing inspiration from work on visual processing, and especially the simple/complex cell distinction in early vision (V1), we claim that a similar two-layer architecture is sufficient to learn the truth-conditional meanings of the logical coordinators and logical quantifiers. As a prerequisite, (...) much discussion is given over to what a neurologically plausible representation of the meanings of these items would look like. We eventually settle on a representation in terms of correlation, so that, for instance, the semantic input to the universal operators (e.g. and, all)is represented as maximally correlated, while the semantic input to the universal negative operators (e.g. nor, no)is represented as maximally anticorrelated. On the basis this representation, the hypothesis can be offered that the function of the logical operators is to extract an invariant feature from natural situations, that of degree of correlation between parts of the situation. This result sets up an elegant formal analogy to recent models of visual processing, which argue that the function of early vision is to reduce the redundancy inherent in natural images. Computational simulations are designed in which the logical operators are learned by associating their phonological form with some degree of correlation in the inputs, so that the overall function of the system is as a simple kind of pattern recognition. Several learning rules are assayed, especially those of the Hebbian sort, which are the ones with the most neurological support. Learning vector quantization (LVQ) is shown to be a perspicuous and efficient means of learning the patterns that are of interest. We draw a formal parallelism between the initial, competitive layer of LVQ and the simple cell layer in V1, and between the final, linear layer of LVQ and the complex cell layer in V1, in that the initial layers are both selective, while the final layers both generalize. It is also shown how the representations argued for can be used to draw the traditionally-recognized inferences arising from coordination and quantification, and why the inference of subalternacy breaks down for collective predicates. Finally, the analogies between early vision and the logical operators allow us to advance the claim of cognitive linguistics that language is not processed by proprietary algorithms, but rather by algorithms that are general to the entire brain. Thus in the debate between objectivist and experiential metaphysics, this book falls squarely into the camp of the latter. Yet it does so by means of a rigorous formal, mathematical, and neurological exposition – in contradiction of the experiential claim that formal analysis has no place in the understanding of cognition. To make our own counter-claim as explicit as possible, we present a sketch of the LVQ structure in terms of mereotopology, in which the initial layer of the network performs topological operations, while the final layer performs mereological operations. The book is meant to be self-contained, in the sense that it does not assume any prior knowledge of any of the many areas that are touched upon. It therefore contains mini-summaries of biological visual processing, especially the retinocortical and ventral /what?/ parvocellular pathways computational models of neural signaling, and in particular the reduction of the Hodgkin-Huxley equations to the connectionist and integrate-and-fire neurons Hebbian learning rules and the elaboration of learning vector quantization the linguistic pathway in the left hemisphere memory and the hippocampus truth-conditional vs. image-schematic semantics objectivist vs. experiential metaphysics and mereotopology. All of the simulations are implemented in MATLAB, and the code is available from the book’s website. • The discovery of several algorithmic similarities between visison and semantics. • The support of all of this by means of simulations, and the packaging of all of this in a coherent theoretical framework. (shrink)
Do humans have a free choice of which actions to perform? Three recent developments of modern science can help us to answer this question. First, new investigative tools have enabled us to study the processes in our brains which accompanying our decisions. The pioneer work of Benjamin Libet has led many neuroscientists to hold the view that our conscious intentions do not cause our bodily movements but merely accompany them. Then, Quantum Theory suggests that not all physical events are fully (...) determined by their causes, and so opens the possibility that not all brain events may be fully determined by their causes, and so maybe - if neuroscience does not rule this out - there is a role for intentions after all. Finally, a theorem of mathematics, Godel's theory, has been interpreted to suggest that the initial conditions and laws of development of a mathematician's brain could not fully determine which mathematical conjectures he sees to be true. Papers by Patrick Haggard, Tim Bayne, Harald Atmanspacher and Stefan Rotter, Solomon Feferman, and John Lucas investigate these issues. The extent to which human behaviour is determined by brain events may well depend on whether conscious events, such as intentions, are themselves merely brain events, or whether they are separate events which interact with brain events (perhaps in the radical form that intentions are events in our soul, and not in our body). The papers of Frank Jackson, Richard Swinburne, and Howard Robinson investigate these issues. The remaining papers, of Galen Strawson, Helen Steward, and R.A. Duff, consider what kind of free will we need in order to be morally responsible for our actions or to be held guilty in a court of law. Is it sufficient merely that our actions are uncaused by brain events, or what? (shrink)
Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this article we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene's neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has often (...) failed to meet this constraint by failing to correctly ‘fix’ key aspects of moral judgment, criticism we support by detailed examples from the scientific literature. (shrink)
From the “epistemologically different worlds” perspective, I analyze the status of cognitive neuroscience today. I investigate the main actual topics in cognitive neuroscience: localization and the brain imaging, the binding problem (Treisman’s feature integration theory and synchronized oscillations approach), differentiation and integration, optimism versus skepticism approaches, perception and object recognition, space and the mind, crossmodal interactions, and the holistic view against localization. I want to show that these problems are pseudo-problems and this “science” has “No ontology landscape”.
Various authors debate the question of whether neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility. However, a plethora of different techniques and technologies, each with their own abilities and drawbacks, lurks beneath the label “neuroscience”; and in criminal law responsibility is not a single, unitary and generic concept, but it is rather a syndrome of at least six different concepts. Consequently, there are at least six different responsibility questions that the criminal law asks – at least one for each responsibility concept – (...) and, I will suggest, a multitude of ways in which the techniques and technologies that comprise neuroscience might help us to address those diverse questions. In a way, on my account neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility in many ways, but I hesitate to state my position like this because doing so obscures two points which I would rather highlight: one, neither neuroscience nor criminal responsibility are as unified as that; and two, the criminal law asks many different responsibility questions and not just one generic question. (shrink)
This volume provides an up to date and comprehensive overview of the philosophy and neuroscience movement, which applies the methods of neuroscience to traditional philosophical problems and uses philosophical methods to illuminate issues in neuroscience. At the heart of the movement is the conviction that basic questions about human cognition, many of which have been studied for millennia, can be answered only by a philosophically sophisticated grasp of neuroscience's insights into the processing of information by the human brain. Essays in (...) this volume are clustered around five major themes: data and theory in neuroscience; neural representation and computation; visuomotor transformations; color vision; and consciousness. (shrink)
One of the positive arguments for the type-identity theory of mental states is an inference-to-the-best-explanation (IBE) argument, which purports to show that type-identity theory is likely true since it is the best explanation for the correlations between mental states and brain states that we find in the neurosciences. But given the methods of neuroscience, there are other relations besides identity that can explain such correlations. I illustrate some of these relations by examining the literature on the function of the (...) hypothalamus and its correlation with sensations of thirst. Given that there are relations besides identity that can explain such correlations, the type-identity theorist is left with a dilemma: either the correlations we consider are weak, in which case we do not have an IBE to an identity claim, or else the correlations we look at are maximally strong, in which case there are too few cases for the inductive part of the strategy to work. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000) mechanism approach to gaining an understanding of explanation in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that although the mechanism approach can capture many aspects of explanation in cognitive neuroscience, it cannot capture everything. In particular, it cannot completely capture all aspects of the content and significance of mental representations or the evaluative features constitutive of psychopathology.
A serious crisis is identified in theories of neurocomputation, marked by a persistent disparity between the phenomenological or experiential account of visual perception and the neurophysiological level of description of the visual system. In particular, conventional concepts of neural processing offer no explanation for the holistic global aspects of perception identified by Gestalt theory. The problem is paradigmatic and can be traced to contemporary concepts of the functional role of the neural cell, known as the Neuron Doctrine. In the absence (...) of an alternative neurophysiologically plausible model, I propose a perceptual modeling approach, to model the percept as experienced subjectively, rather than modeling the objective neurophysiological state of the visual system that supposedly subserves that experience. A Gestalt Bubble model is presented to demonstrate how the elusive Gestalt principles of emergence, reification, and invariance can be expressed in a quantitative model of the subjective experience of visual consciousness. That model in turn reveals a unique computational strategy underlying visual processing, which is unlike any algorithm devised by man, and certainly unlike the atomistic feed-forward model of neurocomputation offered by the Neuron Doctrine paradigm. The perceptual modeling approach reveals the primary function of perception as that of generating a fully spatial virtual-reality replica of the external world in an internal representation. The common objections to this picture-in-the-head concept of perceptual representation are shown to be ill founded. Key Words: brain-anchored; Cartesian theatre; consciousness; emergence; extrinsic constraints; filling-in; Gestalt; homunculus; indirect realism; intrinsic constraints; invariance; isomorphism; multistability; objective phenomenology; perceptual modeling; perspective; phenomenology; psychophysical parallelism; psychophysical postulate; qualia; reification; representationalism; structural coherence. (shrink)
The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psyychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of (...) distinctly teleological functional considerations in brain cartography. Only by invoking teleological criteria can researchers distinguish the fruitful ways of identifying brain components from the myriad of possible ways. One likely reason for reluctance to turn to neuroscience is fear of reduction, but we argue that, in the context of a teleological perspective on function, this concern is misplaced. Adducing such theoretical considerations as top-down and bottom-up constraints on neuroscientific and psychological models, as well as existing cases of productive, multidisciplinary cooperation, we argue that integration of neuroscience into psychology and evolutionary biology is likely to be mutually beneficial. We also show how it can be accommodated methodologically within the framework of an interfield theory. (shrink)
This book precis describes the motives behind my recent attempt to bring to bear “ruthlessly reductive” results from cellular and molecular neuroscience onto issues in the philosophy of mind. Since readers of this journal will probably be most interested in results addressing features of conscious experience, I highlight these most prominently. My main challenge is that philosophers (even scientifically-inspired ones) are missing the nature and scope of reductionism in contemporary neuroscience by focusing exclusively on higher-level cognitive neuroscience, and ignoring the (...) discipline's cell-physiological and molecular-biological core. (shrink)
The phenomenon of hypnosis provides a rich paradigm for those seeking to understand the processes that underlie consciousness. Understanding hypnosis tells us about a basic human capacity for altered experiences that is often overlooked in contemporary western societies. Throughout the 200 year history of psychology, hypnosis has been a major topic of investigation by some of the leading experimenters and theorists of each generation. Today hypnosis is emerging again as a lively area of research within cognitive (systems level) neuroscience informing (...) basic questions about the structure and biological basis of conscious states. This book describes the latest advances in understanding hypnosis and similar trance states by researchers within the neuroscience of consciousness. It contains many new and exciting contributions from up and coming researchers and provides a lively debate on methodological and theoretical issues central to the development of emerging research paradigms in the neuroscience of conscious states. The book introduces and describes many of the recent new tools that have become available to researchers in this field. Academics, researchers, and clinicians wanting to develop their knowledge of the latest findings, theories and methods in the scientific study of hypnosis and related states of consciousness will find this an up to date guide to this rapidly advancing field. (shrink)
The majority of contemporary philosophers of mind are physicalists. The majority of physicalists, however, are non-reductive physicalists. As nonreductive physicalists, these philosophers hold that a system's mental properties are different from a system's physical properties, that is, they hold that the sum total of mental facts about some system is a different set of facts than the sum total of physical facts about the same system. As physicalists, however, these nonreductivists hold that mental facts are nonetheless determined by physical facts, (...) that is, they subscribe to the supervenience thesis, i.e., the thesis that no mental differences can obtain without physical differences obtaining. In this paper I take up the issue of how best to understand the notion of supervenience, especially in the light of recent advances in the neurosciences. (shrink)
According to some philosophers, computational explanation is proprietary to psychology—it does not belong in neuroscience. But neuroscientists routinely offer computational explanations of cognitive phenomena. In fact, computational explanation was initially imported from computability theory into the science of mind by neuroscientists, who justified this move on neurophysiological grounds. Establishing the legitimacy and importance of computational explanation in neuroscience is one thing; shedding light on it is another. I raise some philosophical questions pertaining to computational explanation and outline some promising answers that (...) are being developed by a number of authors. (shrink)
The following analysis shows how developments in epistemic logic can play a nontrivial role in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that the striking correspondence between two modes of identification, as distinguished in the epistemic context, and two cognitive systems distinguished by neuroscientific investigation of the visual system (the "where" and "what" systems) is not coincidental, and that it can play a clarificatory role at the most fundamental levels of neuroscientific theory.
This paper investigates how "representation" is actually used in some areas in cognitive neuroscience. It is argued that recent philosophy has largely ignored an important kind of representation that differs in interesting ways from the representations that are standardly recognized in philosophy of mind. This overlooked kind of representation does not represent by having intentional contents; rather members of the kind represent by displaying or instantiating features. The investigation is not simply an ethnographic study of the discourse of neuroscientists. If (...) there are indeed two different kinds of representations, and the non-standard ones are the ones referred to in some areas of cognitive neuroscience, then we will have to give up the idea that appealing to inner representations with intentional contents is the defining distinction between cognitive neuroscience and behaviorist psychology (Montgomery, 1995). Further, if the conclusions of this paper are correct, many general accounts of how neural states represent are either false or theoretically ill-motivated. (shrink)
John Bickle's Psychoneural reduction: the new wave (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998) aims to resurrect reductionism within philosophy of mind. He develops a new model of scientific reduction, geared to enhancing our understanding of how theories in neuroscience and cognitive science are interrelated. I put this discussion in context, and assess the prospects for new wave reductionism, both as a general model of scientific reduction and as an attempt to defend reductionism in the philosophy of mind.