This article critically examines the recent papal allocution on patients in a persistent vegetative state with regard to the appropriate conditions for considering “reformable statements.” In the first part of the article, the purpose and meaning of the allocution are assessed. O'Rourke concludes that given consideration of the individual patient's best interest, prolonging artificial nutrition and hydration is not, in every case, the best option. Although he stresses favorability for preservation of the life of the patient through artificial nutrition (...) and hydration, costs and benefits to the patient should be weighed. Ultimately, he argues in favor of leaving the decision to the patient, his caregivers, and others immediately involved in the case. (shrink)
Discussion of J. Kevin O’Regan’s “Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-20 DOI 10.1007/s13164-012-0090-7 Authors J. Kevin O’Regan, Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, CNRS - Université Paris Descartes, Centre Biomédical des Saints Pères, 45 rue des Sts Pères, 75270 Paris cedex 06, France Ned Block, Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Journal Review of (...) Philosophy and Psychology Online ISSN 1878-5166 Print ISSN 1878-5158. (shrink)
While applauding the bulk of the account on offer, we question one apparent implication viz, that every difference in sensorimotor contingencies corresponds to a difference in conscious visual experience.
Sensory Motor Contingencies belong to a functionalistic framework. Functionalism does not give any explanation about why and how objective functional relations should produce phenomenal experience. O’Regan and Noe as well as other functionalists do not propose a new ontology that could support the first person subjective phenomenal side of experience.
Issues of institutional identity and integrity in Roman Catholic health care institutions have been addressed at the level of individual institutions as well as by organizations of Catholic health care providers and at various levels in the Church hierarchy. The papers by Carol Taylor, C.S.F.N, Thomas Shannon, KevinO'Rourke, O.P., Gerard Magill in this volume provide a significant contribution to concerns of Roman Catholic health care institutions as they face the challenges of providing health care in a secular, (...) pluralistic, market-driven economy. One way to understand institutional integrity is as a measure of the coherence between what an institution identifies as its commitments (its stated moral character), what an institution does (its manifest moral character) and an institution's fundamental moral commitments (its deep moral character). The essays in this volume support this model of integrity. Although it is not their explicit focus, the four essays together provide a vision of institutional integrity for Catholic health care institutions. Each author focuses on one of the three central aspects of integrity: what one identifies as one's commitments (Taylor), how one's actions reflect one's values (Shannon and Magill), and what one is or what one values at a deep level (O'Rourke). I will offer a brief overview of the ways in which the integrity of Catholic health care institutions has been addressed. Then I will consider the four essays and show how each offers an analysis of one of the three critical elements of integrity. (shrink)
Call u the triplet of cone quantum catch for the light that is incident on a surface, and v the triplet of cone quantum catch for the light that is reflected off that surface. Philipona & O'Regan (2006) present results from numerical calculations showing that: 1. each surface can be associated with a 3 by 3 matrix A such that the relation v = A u to a very high degree of accuracy for any natural illuminant, 2. the vast majority (...) of such matrices associated with Munsell chips have three real eigenvalues, 3. Munsell chips that are most often given a name in the World Color Survey are chips whose associated matrices have a singular configuration of eigenvalues, as measured by a "singularity index". The conclusion of the paper is that this striking coincidence lends credence to the idea that data about color naming derive from facts about natural lights, surface reflexion properties, and human photopigments, rather than from facts about neural pathways or cortical representations. (shrink)
When brief blank fields are placed between alternating displays of an original and a modified scene, a striking failure of perception is induced: the changes become extremely difficult to notice, even when they are large, presented repeatedly, and the observer expects them to occur (Rensink, O'Regan, & Clark, 1997). To determine the mechanisms behind this induced "change blindness", four experiments examine its dependence on initial preview and on the nature of the interruptions used. Results support the proposal that representations at (...) the early stages of visual processing are highly volatile, and that focused attention is needed to stabilize them sufficiently to support the perception of change. (shrink)
Methods. We employed a "flicker" technique, in which an original and a modified image (each of duration 240 ms) continually alternated, with a blank field (duration 80 ms) between each display. Images were all of real-world scenes. One of three kinds of change (appearance/disappearance, color, or translation) was made to an object or region in each scene. Changes were large and easily seen under normal conditions. Subjects viewed the flicker display, and pressed a key when they noticed the change.
Many current neurophysiological, psychophysical, and psychological approaches to vision rest on the idea that when we see, the brain produces an internal representation of the world. The activation of this internal representation is assumed to give rise to the experience of seeing. The problem with this kind of approach is that it leaves unexplained how the existence of such a detailed internal representation might produce visual consciousness. An alternative proposal is made here. We propose that seeing is a way of (...) acting. It is a particular way of exploring the environment. Activity in internal representations does not generate the experience of seeing. The out- side world serves as its own, external, representation. The experience of seeing occurs when the organism masters what we call the gov- erning laws of sensorimotor contingency. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a natural and principled way of accounting for visual consciousness, and for the differences in the perceived quality of sensory experience in the different sensory modalities. Sev- eral lines of empirical evidence are brought forward in support of the theory, in particular: evidence from experiments in sensorimotor adaptation, visual “filling in,” visual stability despite eye movements, change blindness, sensory substitution, and color perception. (shrink)
There is an argument promulgated by certain philosophers (notably Dennett 1988, 1991), claiming that from a logical and philosophical point of view the notion of "qualia" makes no sense. On the other hand, other philosophers (e.g. Nagel 1974, Peacocke 1983, and Block 1990) say that qualia must exist since otherwise there would be "nothing it's like" to have sensations: we humans would merely be empty vessels making movements and interacting with our environments, but there would be no inside "feel" to (...) anything. (shrink)
Following arguments put forward in my book (Why red doesn’t sound like a bell: understanding the feel of consciousness. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, 2011), this article takes a pragmatic, scientist’s point of view about the concepts of consciousness and “feel”, pinning down what people generally mean when they talk about these concepts, and then investigating to what extent these capacities could be implemented in non-biological machines. Although the question of “feel”, or “phenomenal consciousness” as it is called by (...) some philosophers, is generally considered to be the “hard” problem of consciousness, the article shows that by taking a “sensorimotor” approach, the difficulties can be overcome. What remains to account for are the notions of so-called “access consciousness” and the self. I claim that though they are undoubtedly very difficult, these are not logically impossible to implement in robots. (shrink)
The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the ''''felt''''aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of''''give-and-take'''' between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We are also (...) ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally weconsider a number of testable empirical consequences,one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of ''''change blindness''''. (shrink)
The most important clarification we bring in our reply to commentators concerns the problem of the “explanatory gap”: that is, the gulf that separates physical processes in the brain from the experienced quality of sensations. By adding two concepts (bodiliness and grabbiness) that were not stressed in the target article, we strengthen our claim and clarify why we think we have solved the explanatory gap problem, – not by dismissing qualia, but, on the contrary, by explaining why sensations have a (...) “feel” and why “feels” feel the way they do. We additionally clarify our views on: internal representations (we claim internal representations cannot explain why sensation has a feel), on behaviorism (we are not behaviorists), on perception and action (we believe there can be perception without action), and on the brain (we believe the brain does do something important in perception). (shrink)
Observers inspected normal, high quality color displays of everyday visual scenes while their eye movements were recorded. A large display change occurred each time an eye blink occurred. Display changes could either involve "Central Interest" or "Marginal Interest" locations, as determined from descriptions obtained from independent judges in a prior pilot experiment. Visual salience, as determined by luminance, color, and position of the Central and Marginal interest changes were equalized.
How could neural processes be associated with phenomenal consciousness? We present a way to answer this question by taking the counterintuitive stance that the sensory feel of an experience is not a thing that happens to us, but a thing we do: a skill we exercise. By additionally noting that sensory systems possess two important, objectively measurable properties, corporality and alerting capacity, we are able to explain why sensory experience possesses a sensory feel, but thinking and other mental processes do (...) not. We are additionally able to explain why different sensory feels differ in the way they do. (shrink)
Recently a number of studies have shown that under certain circumstances, very large changes can be made in a picture without observers noticing them. What characterizes the experiments showing such "Change Blindness" in visual scenes is the fact that the changes are arranged to occur simultaneously with some kind of extraneous, brief disruption in visual continuity, such as the large retinal disturbance produced by an eye saccade, a shift of the picture, a brief ﬂicker, a "mudsplash", an eye blink, or (...) a ﬁlm cut in a motion picture sequence. These phenomena are attracting an increasing amount of attention from experimental psychologists and from philosophers, because they suggest that humans' internal representation of the visual world is much sparser than usually thought. (shrink)
Overview. Consciousness is often considered to have a "hard" part and a not-so-hard part. With the help of work in artificial intelligence and more recently in embodied robotics, there is hope that we shall be able solve the not-so-hard part and make artificial agents that understand their environment, communicate with their friends, and most importantly, have a notion of "self" and "others". But will such agents feel anything? Building the feel into the agent will be the "hard" part.
Word recognition performance varies systematically as a function of where the eyes fixate in the word. Performance is maximal with the eye slightly left of the center of the word, and decreases drastically to both sides of this 'Optimal Viewing Position'. While manipulations of lexical factors have only marginal effects on this phenomenon, previous studies have pointed to a relation between the viewing position effect and letter legibility: When letter legibility drops, the viewing position effect becomes more exaggerated. To further (...) investigate this phenomenon, we improved letter legibility by magnifying letter size in a way that was proportional to the.. (shrink)
Much recent work on cognition is characterized by an augmentation of the role of action coupled with an attenuation of the role of representation. This coupling is no accident. The appeal to action is seen either as a way of explaining representation or explaining it away. This paper argues that the appeal to action as a way of explaining, supplementing, or even supplanting, representation can lead to a serious dilemma. On the one hand, the concept of action to which we (...) appeal cannot, on pain of circularity, be a representational concept. Such an appeal would presuppose representation and therefore can neither explain it nor explain it away. On the other hand, I shall argue, if the concept of action to which we appeal is not a representational one, there is every reason for supposing that it will not be the sort of thing that can explain, or supplement, let alone supplant, representation. The resulting dilemma, I shall argue, is not fatal. But avoiding it requires us to embrace a certain thesis about the nature of action, a thesis whose broad outline this paper delineates. Anyone who wishes to employ action as a way of explaining or explaining away representation should, I shall argue, take this conception of action very seriously indeed. I am going to discuss these issues with respect to a influential recent contribution to this debate: the sensorimotor or enactive model of perception developed by Kevin O’Regan and Alva Noë. (shrink)
This paper looks at two puzzles raised by the phenomenon of inattentional blindness. First, how can we see at all if, in order to see, we must first perceptually attend to that which we see? Second, if attention is required for perception, why does it seem to us as if we are perceptually aware of the whole detailed visual field when it is quite clear that we do not attend to all that detail? We offer a general framework for thinking (...) about perception and perceptual consciousness that addresses these questions and we propose, in addition, an informal account of the relation between attention and consciousness. On this view, perceptual awareness is a species of attention. (shrink)