Consensus is the holy grail of bioethics, the lynch pin of the assumption that well informed, well intentioned people may reach generally acceptable positions on ethically contentious issues. It has been especially important in bioethics, where advancing technology has assured an increasing field of complex medical dilemmas. This paper results on the use of a multicriterion decision making system (MCDM) analyzing group process in an attempt to better define hospital policy. In a pilot program at The Hospital for Sick Children, (...) Toronto, a series of small scale focus groups was constituted to examine criteria defining organ transplant eligibility. Criteria were organized hierarchically using the Analytic Hierarchy Process, an MCDM approach, and the resulting data was analyzed using Expert Choice 9.0, software designed to facilitate AHP analysis. Qualitative and quantitative analysis map barriers to practical consensus in a way not previously possible. (shrink)
Artificial neural networks have weaknesses as models of cognition. A conventional neural network has limitations of computational power. The localist representation is at least equal to its competition. We contend that locally connected neural networks are perfectly capable of storing and retrieving the individual features, but the process of reconstruction must be otherwise explained. We support the localist position but propose a “hybrid” model that can begin to explain cognition in anatomically plausible terms.
This paper contends that Heldke's recipe analogy can be reworked to help us deal with those who hold beliefs and practice activities that are contrary to our own. It draws upon the work of William James and John Dewey to develop a practical approach to such conflict situations.
Bioethics claimed to offer a set of generally applicable, universally accepted guidelines that would simplify complex situations. In Thieves of Virtue, Tom Koch argues that bioethics has failed to deliver on its promises.
This essay identifies two different methodological strategies used by the proponents of anarchism. In what is termed the "ontological" approach, the rationale for anarchism depends on a particular representation of human nature. That characterization of "being" determines the relation between the individual and the structures of social life. In the alternative approach, the epistemological status of "representation" is challenged, leaving human subjects without stable identities. Without the possibility of stable human representations, the foundations underlying the exercise of institutional power can (...) be challenged. This epistemological discussion is traced from Max Stirner to the twentieth-century movement known as poststructuralism. (shrink)
Earl Conee has argued that the metaphysics of personal identity is irrelevant to the morality of abortion. He claims that doing all the substantial work in abortion arguments are moral principles and they garner no support from rival metaphysics theories. Conee argues that not only can both immaterialist and materialist theories of the self posit our origins at fertilization, but positing such a beginning doesn’t even have any significant impact on the permissibility of abortion. We argue that this thesis is (...) wrong on both accounts. We do so, in part, by relying on a hylomorphic rather than a Cartesian conception of the soul. There are good reasons for believing such a soul theory can favor an earlier origin than the leading materialist accounts. We also show that the theological metaphysics of hylomorphism provide greater support for a pro-life position than the Cartesian position Conee discusses. However, we argue that even on a materialistic account of personal identity, metaphysics has substantial bearing upon the morality of early abortions. (shrink)
Transhumanists advance a "posthuman" condition in which technological and genetic enhancements will transform humankind. They are joined in this goal by bioethicists arguing for genetic selection as a means of "enhancing evolution," improving if not also the species then at least the potential lives of future individuals. The argument of both, this paper argues, is a new riff on the old eugenics tune. As ever, it is done in the name of science and its presumed knowledge base. As ever, the (...) result is destructive rather than instructive, bad faith promoted as high ideal. The paper concludes with the argument that species advancement is possible but in a manner thoroughly distinct from that advanced by either of these groups. (shrink)
Normative criteria adopted to assure just, equitable, and efficient allocation of donor organs to potential recipients has been widely praised as a model for the allocation of scarce medical resources. Because the organ transplantation program relies upon voluntary participation by potential donors, all such programs necessarily rely upon public confidence in allocation decision making protocols. Several well publicized cases have raised questions in North America about the efficacy of allocation procedures. An analysis of those cases, and the relevant technical literature, (...) suggest consistent structural deficits exist in the organ allocation process as it is applied by many individual transplantation centres. These irregularities are based upon both the failure of rank waiting as a method to guarantee just treatment and a general failure to recognize the extent to which prescriptive criteria — social values — are commonly used to screen potential organ transplant candidates. Resulting idiosyncratic determinations, and a devaluation of rank waiting as a criterion, raise fundamental questions regarding justice, fairness, and equability in the application procedure at large. To correct these structural problems in organ allocation procedures, a multicriterion model defining prescriptive criteria through the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is proposed. (shrink)
For all its apparent debate bioethical discourse is in fact very narrow. The discussion that occurs is typically within limited parameters, rarely fundamental. Nor does it accommodate divergent perspectives with ease. The reason lies in its ideology and the political and economic perspectives that ideology promotes. Here the ideology of bioethics' fundamental axioms is critiqued as arbitrary and exclusive rather than necessary and inclusive. The result unpacks the ideological and political underpinnings of bioethical thinking and suggests new avenues for a (...) broader debate over fundamentals, and a different approach to bioethical debate. (shrink)
The ethical commitment to democracy requires creating the public space for a rational discourse among real alternatives by the population. In this article, I argue that the Internet fails in this task on 2 fronts. Inspired by the work of Jean Baudrillard, the work argues that the Internet reinforces a structure of passive political agents through its 1-way form of communication. The Internet is designed to deliver political text, not engage the public in dialogue about the direction of collective decision (...) making. Furthermore, the ideal of democratic politics relies on the notion of the "commons" as a real space for political activity, debate, and exchange. Virtual space cannot provide a substitute. Democratic politics must have as its premises real bodies, confronting real problems, in real space. The article concludes by arguing that the Internet is a place filled with political artifacts, largely without discourse and dialogue. As such, it has the potential to undermine democratic practice. (shrink)
In this paper I will provide a hylomorphic critique of Jeff McMahan’s “An Alternative to Brain Death.” I will evaluate three puzzles—the dicephalus, the braintransplant, and the split-brain phenomenon—proposed by McMahan which allow him to deny that a human being is identical to an organism. I will contend thatMcMahan’s solution entails counterintuitive consequences that pose problems to organ transplant cases. A Thomistic hylomorphic metaphysics not only avoids these unwelcome consequences and provides solutions to the three puzzles but in doing so (...) allows for an alternative definition of death. Since McMahan has constructed his definition of death around his own metaphysics, alternative metaphysics, in this case a hylomorphic metaphysics, allow for an alternative definition of death. (shrink)
Two rival paradigms permeate bioethics. One generally favors eugenics, euthanasia, assisted suicide and other methods for those with severely restricting physical and cognitive attributes. The other typically opposes these and favors instead ample support for "persons of difference" and their caring families or loved ones. In an attempt to understand the relation between these two paradigms, this article analyzes a publicly reported debate between proponents of both paradigms, bioethicist Peter Singer and lawyer Harriet McBryde Johnson. At issue, the article concludes, (...) are two distinct axiomatic sets of values resulting in not simply different styles of rhetoric but different vocabularies, in effect two different languages of ethics. (shrink)
There are in two assumptions inherent in this issue's theme, both inimical to the traditional goals of medicine and to the standards of care it proposed. First, the idea that treatment must be limited for some (but not others) on the basis of cost was born in the early literature of bioethics. Second, that there is a quantifiable and diagnostically predictable period at the “end-of-life” where treatment is “futile,” and therefore not worth supporting in a context of scarcity grew out (...) of bioethics's construction of allocative protocols in the 1990s. This paper traces the history of these ideas as constructs grounded in neither natural scarcity nor in firm diagnostic categories. Their relation to issues of care is therefore suspect. (shrink)
There is at present a divide in the geographical literature between those interested in distributive justice as a social value and those who seek to implement distributive plans on the basis of efficiency of resource use. The former are 'social geographers' interested in equity as a social value, and the latter are 'practical' economic and locational geographers. This divide mirrors one existing elsewhere in social science between Rawlsian liberalism and utilitarian planners. Here we argue that equality and efficiency are related (...) values that cannot be separated easily in the analysis of practical problems. Data on the distribution of transplantable human organs are considered in a practical consideration of this approach. The case-study suggests that inequality of distribution appears to effect adversely the general organ supply. Stated positively, the data suggest that, to the extent that equality of service is an objective, that goal may positively impact on organ supply. More generally, the conclusion argues for a conjoining of theoretical and practical geographical approaches where a scarce resource must be allocated across a dispersed population. (shrink)
Bioethics, and indeed much ethicalwriting generally, makes its point throughnarratives. The religious parable no less thanthe medical teaching case uses a simple storyto describe appropriate action or theapplication of a critical principle. Whilepowerful, the telling story has limits. In thispaper the authors describe a simple teachingcase on ``end-of-life'' decision making that wasill received by its audience. The authors ill-receivedexample, involving the disconnection ofventilation in a patient with ALS (Lou Gherig'sDisease) was critiqued by audience members withlong-term experience as ventilation users. Inthis (...) case, the supposedly simple narrative ofthe presenters conflicted with the lifehistories of the audience. The lessons of thisstory, and the conflict that resulted, speakcritically to the limits of simple teachingcases as well as the strengths of narrativeanalysis as a tool for the exploration ofbioethical case histories. (shrink)
This article raises the question of whether or not a "neutral" stance can be found from which to engage in philosophical counseling. By drawing on the debate between absolutism and relativism, it is argued that no such neutral ground exists. The foundational premises of the transcendentalist tradition involve different assumptions than those of the materialist and relativist traditions. Such a distinction goes back to the earliest days of philosophy and today the new profession of philosophical counseling must address the multiplicity (...) of assumptions upon which philosophic discourse can be built. The paper concludes with a call for philosophical counseling to move beyond the focus on Socrates, and to embrace a wide variety of different positions within its domain. (shrink)
In recent years geographic interest has focused increasingly on the moral and ethical dimensions of social constructions. Much of this work has followed the direction taken by moral philosophers whose principled approach has been applied to a range of ethically or morally problematic contexts. The challenge has been to apply a geographic perspective to an ethical dilemma that seems intractable at the level of ethical principle. This paper uses a geographic perspective to consider in a concrete fashion a current bioethical (...) concern: defining who will or will not be eligible for an organ transplant. Methodologically, it uses the analytic hierarchy process, a multicriterion decision making approach, and Q-analysis to analyze the resulting data. Long known by geographers, Q-analysis presents a methodology for the analysis of relations between two sets of criteria, in this case focus groups and their responses to a hierarchy of criteria. The result is a topology that not only presents but also explains the moral reasoning of members of a diverse set of focus groups constituted at a Canadian hospital to consider the question of organ transplant eligibility. (shrink)
US court decisions guaranteeing life-sustaining care to anencephalic infants have been viewed with disfavor, and sometimes disbelief, by some ethicists who do not believe in the necessity of life-sustaining support for those without cognitive abilities or an independently sustainable future. The distance between these two views – one legal and inclusive, the other medical and specific – seems unbridgeable. This paper reports on a program using multicriterion decision making to define and describe persons in a way which both acknowledges the (...) differences perceived by many as well as those commonalities insisted on in U.S. court decisions. It does this through application of the Analytic Hierarchy Process to a hierarchy of humanness criteria, and secondarily through reference to that concept''s subset, personhood. (shrink)
Bioethics promises a considered, unprejudicial approach to areas of medical decision-making. It does this, in theory, from the perspective of moral philosophy. But the promise of fairly considered, insightful commentary fails when word choices used in ethical arguments are prejudicial, foreclosing rather than opening an area of moral discourse. The problem is illustrated through an analysis of the language of The Royal Society Expert Panel Report: End of Life Decision Making advocating medical termination.
What is the relationship between a visual percept and the underlying neuronal activity in parts of the brain? This manifesto reviews the theoretical framework of Crick and Kochfor answering these questions based on the neuroanatomy and physiology of mammalian cortex and associated subcortical structures. This evidence suggests that primates are not directly aware of neural activity in primary visual cortex, although they may be aware of such activity in extrastriate cortical areas. Psychophysical evidence in humans supporting this hypothesis is discussed.
This paper addresses Koch's concern about whether a coresponsible theorist can engage in inquiry with a theorist who is "beyond the pale." On what grounds, he asks, can a coresponsible inquirer argue against one who uses a racist, sexist, or classist model for inquiry? I argue that, in such situations, the coresponsible inquirer brings to inquiry both a theoretical framework, or "attitude," and a set of practical concerns which manifest that attitude.
In this paper, I enquire whether there are Kuhnian paradigms in medicine, by way of analysing a case study from the history of medicine—the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the nineteenth century. I investigate the Kuhnian aspects of this event by comparing the work of the famous school of microbiology founded by RobertKoch with a rival school, powerful in the nineteenth century, but now almost forgotten, founded by Carl Nageli. Through my case study, I (...) show that medical science possesses some Kuhnian features. Within each school, scientists used similar exemplars and shared the same assumptions. Moreover, their research was resistant to novelty, and the results of one party were disregarded by the other. In other words, in a moderate sense, the Koch and Nageli groups worked within distinct paradigms. However, I reject the stronger Kuhnian claim that the terms used within the two paradigms were mutually unintelligible. Focusing on the semantic aspects, I argue that no account of incommensurability of reference can be given in this case, although, for sociological reasons, the two parties talked past each other. I suggest in addition that the rival scientists could have understood each other more easily if their theoretical commitments had not been so deeply ingrained, and I use the example of Pasteur to indicate that the causal account of meaning might have avoided the communication breakdown. (shrink)
Microphotography was one of the earliest applications of photography in science: The first monograph on tissue organization illustrated with microphotographs was published in 1845. In the 1860s, a large number of introductions to scientific microphotography were published by anatomists. They argued that microphotography was a means of documenting the results of microscopic analysis, uncontaminated by the subjectivity of the observer. In the early decades of the 19th century, before the general acceptance of cell theory, such a technique was of special (...) importance, as no criteria were available to distinguish between important and superficial characters in the description of tissue microstructures. Microphotography was praised as the method of choice for documenting the scientific observations of microscopic material. Some of the microphotographic practices described in these early manuals, however, did not conform with the idea of a purely mechanical process of documentation. The authors of these manuals saw photography not as a technique which produced artifacts, but as a complete and reliable substitute for the original preparations. Thus, according to these authors, the artificial world of photography was seen as the actual representation of the microworld. Consequently, they tried to understand the microcosm by analyzing photographs instead of the microscopic preparation themselves. Such attitudes discredited the use of microphotography in the sciences. Consequently, the definitive breakthrough of scientific microphotography was delayed until the 1880s and was largely due to the efforts of RobertKoch, who made microphotography a central tool of bacteriology. (shrink)
Mortal and immortal DNA : Craig Venter and the lure of "lamia" -- Homeopathy : Holmes, hogwarts, and the Prince of Wales -- Citizen Pinel and the madman at Bellevue -- The experimental pathology of stress : Hans Selye to Paris Hilton -- Gore's fever and Dante's Inferno : Chikungunya reaches Ravenna -- Giving things their proper names : Carl Linnaeus and W.H. Auden -- Spinal irritation and fibromyalgia : Lincoln's surgeon general and the three graces -- Tithonus and the (...) fruit fly : new science and old myths -- Swiftboating "America the beautiful" : Katharine Lee Bates and a Boston marriage -- Nothing makes sense in medicine except in the light of biology -- Apply directly to the forehead : Holmes, Zola, and Hennapecia -- Elizabeth Blackwell breaks the bonds -- Chronic lyme disease and medically unexplained syndromes -- Eugenics and the immigrant : Rosalyn Yalow and Rita Levi-Montalcini -- Science in the Middle East : RobertKoch and the cholera war -- How to win a Nobel prize : thinking inside and outside the box -- Homer Smith and the lungfish : the last gasp of intelligent design -- DDT is back : let us spray! -- Academic boycotts and the Royal Society -- Teach evolution, learn science : John William Draper and the "bone bill" -- Diderot and the yeti crab : the encyclopedias of life -- Dengue fever in Rio : Macumba versus Voltaire. (shrink)
This paper explores a remarkable convergence of ideas and evidence, previously presented in separate places by its authors. That convergence has now become so persuasive that we believe we are working within substantially the same broad framework. Taylor's mathematical papers on neuronal systems involved in consciousness dovetail well with work by Newman and Baars on the thalamocortical system, suggesting a brain mechanism much like the global workspace architecture developed by Baars (see references below). This architecture is relational, in the sense (...) that it continuously mediates the interaction of input with memory. While our approaches overlap in a number of ways, each of us tends to focus on different areas of detail. What is most striking, and we believe significant, is the extent of consensus, which we believe to be consistent with other contemporary approaches by Weiskrantz, Gray, Crick and Koch, Edelman, Gazzaniga, Newell and colleagues, Posner, Baddeley, and a number of others. We suggest that cognitive neuroscience is moving toward a shared understanding of consciousness in the brain. (shrink)
RobertKoch (1843–1910) discovered the causal agents for tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax. The 1905 Nobel Prize acknowledged Koch's criteria for identifying the causal agent of an infectious disease. These criteria remain useful and the data reviewed below show that the cholinergic contributions to REM sleep control are confirmed by Koch's postulates. [Hobson et al.].
The computer played an essential role in the proof given by Kenneth Appel and Kenneth Henken of the Four-Color Theorem (4CT).1 First proposed in 1852 by Francis Guthrie, the four color problem is to determine whether four colors are sufficient to color any map on a plane so that no adjacent regions have the same color. Appel and Heken’s proof involves a lemma that a certain ‘avoidable’ set U of configurations is reducible. The proof of this critical lemma requires certain (...) combinatorial checks which are too long to do by hand. The job was done by an IBM 370/168, using over 1200 hours of computer time. In 1977, Appel and Heken, assisted by John Koch, published the proof, and the 4CT has since been considered an established result. No one has seen the entire proof of the reducibility lemma. It was too long to print out; even if it had been, no one would be able to run through it step by step. (shrink)
What exactly is a genetic disease? For a phrase one hears on a daily basis, there has been surprisingly little analysis of the underlying concept. Medical doctors seem perfectly willing to admit that the etiology of disease is typically complex, with a great many factors interacting to bring about a given condition. On such a view, descriptions of diseases like cancer as geneticseem at best highly simplistic, and at worst philosophically indefensible. On the other hand, there is clearly some practical (...) value to be had by classifying diseases according to theirpredominant cause when this can be accomplished in a theoretically satisfactory manner. The question therefore becomes exactly how one should go about selecting a single causal factor among many to explain the presence of disease. When an attempt to defend such causal selection is made at all, the standard accounts offered (Koch's postulates, Hill's epidemiological criteria, manipulability) are all clearly inadequate. I propose, however, an epidemiological account of disease causation which walks the fine line between practical applicability and theoretical considerations of causal complexity and attempts to compromise between patient-centered and population-centered concepts of disease. The epidemiological account is the most basic framework consistent with our strongly held intuitions about the causal classification of disease, yet it avoids the difficulties encountered by its competitors. (shrink)
In addressing thescientific study of consciousness, Crick and Koch state, It is probable that at any moment some active neuronal processes in your head correlate with consciousness, while others do not: what is the difference between them? (1998, p. 97). Evidence from electrophysiological and brain-imaging studies of binocular rivalry supports the premise of this statement and answers to some extent, the question posed. I discuss these recent developments and outline the rationale and experimental evidence for the interhemispheric switch hypothesis (...) of perceptual rivalry. According to this model, the perceptual alternations of rivalry reflect hemispheric alternations, suggesting that visual consciousness of rivalling stimuli may be unihemispheric at any one time (Miller et al., 2000). However, in this paper, I suggest that interhemispheric switching could involve alternating unihemispheric attentional selection of neuronal processes for access to visual consciousness. On this view, visual consciousness during rivalry could be bi hemispheric because the processes constitutive of attentional selection may be distinct from those constitutive of visual consciousness. This is a special case of the important distinction between the neuronal correlates and constitution of visual consciousness. (shrink)
The existence of “grandmother” cells clashes with the model of the brain as a distributive system and is implausible because such neurons would have powers of representation across visuals angles and contexts. Nevertheless, Kreiman, Koch and others have offered experimental evidence that such neurons do exist. I agree that neurons may indeed fire when the subject looks at a variety of pictures, drawings, etc. of one particular person. I argue, however, that such a “grandmother” cell is nothing but the (...) single-neuron output stage of a neural network trained to recognize that person. The so-called “grandmother cell” does not have any extraordinary binding properties: They are properties of the neural network instead. I will thus offer a distributive explanation of grandmother cells. (shrink)
Habitat dioramas depicting ecological relations between organisms and their natural environments have become the preferred mode of museum display in most natural history museums in North America and Europe. Dioramas emerged in the late nineteenth century as an alternative mode of museum installation from taxonomically arranged cases. We suggest that this change was closely connected to the emergence of a biogeographical framework rooted in evolutionary theory and positing the existence of distinct biogeographical zones. We tie the history of dioramas to (...) earlier visual resources such as the thematic images that Wallace introduced to illustrate his 1876 Geographical Distribution of Animals. These images were unique in their time because each of them simultaneously depicted animals from several different taxa, rather than only one, as well as the ecological relations between animals and their habitats. Both, visually and with respect to their function within biogeography, these images presaged the habitat dioramas that came shortly afterwards. Not coincidentally, Wallace explicitly advocated the use of dioramas for museum display in ongoing debates on museum reform. Wallace's suggestions were put into practice by committed evolutionists such as Gottlieb von Koch who pioneered the diorama installation in the Grand Ducal Museum in Darmstadt (Germany) in 1906. As in Wallace's illustrations, Koch's dioramas were designed to respresent biogeographical zones. This paper explores the function of these visual displays of biogeographical relations. It argues that, in both the scientific and public realms, biogeogaphical zones were defined and constructed by visual means; recourse to visual representation was more than a method of communication. (shrink)
The problem of disease definition is related to theproblem of proving that a certain agent is thenecessary cause of a certain disease. Natural kindterms like rheumatoid arthritis and AIDS refer toessences which are discoverable rather thanpredeterminate. No statement about such diseases isa priori necessarily true. Because theories onnecessary causes involve natural kind semantics,Koch''s postulates cannot be used to falsify or verifysuch theories. Instead of proving that agent A is thenecessary cause of disease D, we include A in atheoretical definition (...) of D, take this to representthe real meaning of D, and discard thepretheoretical definition. This is illustrated byKoch''s own attempt to prove he had discovered thenecessary cause of tuberculosis. Methodologicalarguments about disease causation require a clear viewof our use of diagnostic terms. Medical lexicographersshould do more to provide such a view. (shrink)
The explanatory gap . Consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account, even a highly speculative, hypothetical, and incomplete account of how a physical thing could have phenomenal states. (Nagel, 1974, Levine, 1983) Suppose that consciousness is identical to a property of the brain, say activity in the pyramidal cells of layer 5 of the cortex involving reverberatory circuits from cortical layer 6 to the thalamus and back to layers 4 and 6,as Crick and Koch have (...) suggested for visual consciousness. (See Crick (1994).) Still, that identity itself calls out for explanation! Proponents of an explanatory gap disagree about whether the gap is permanent. Some (e.g. Nagel, 1974) say that we are like the scientifically naive person who is told that matter = energy, but does not have the concepts required to make sense of the idea. If we can acquire these concepts, the gap is closable. Others say the gap is uncloseable because of our cognitive limitations. (McGinn, 1991) Still others say that the gap is a consequence of the fundamental nature of consciousness. (shrink)
same thing, so the two concepts of consciousness may come to the same thing in the brain.Â The focus of this paper is on the problems that arise when these two concepts of consciousness are conflated. I will argue that John Searleâ€™s reasoning about the function of consciousness goes wrong because he conflates the two senses.Â And Francis Crick and Christof Koch fall afoul of the ambiguity in arguing that visual area V1 is not part of the neural correlate (...) of consciousness. Crick and Kochâ€™s work raises issues that suggest that these two concepts of consciousness may have different (though overlapping)Â neural correlates--despite Crick and Kochâ€™s implicit rejection of this idea. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I will start with two quotations from Searle.Â You will see what appears to be a contradiction, and I will later claim that the appearance of contradiction can be explained if one realizes that he is using two different concepts of consciousness.Â Iâ€™m not going to explain yet what the two concepts of consciousness are.Â That will come later, after Iâ€™ve presented Searleâ€™s apparent contradiction and Crick and Kochâ€™s surprising argument.Â. (shrink)
This paper is a response to the 26 commentaries on my paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness". First, I respond to deflationary critiques, including those that argue that there is no "hard" problem of consciousness or that it can be accommodated within a materialist framework. Second, I respond to nonreductive critiques, including those that argue that the problems of consciousness are harder than I have suggested, or that my framework for addressing them is flawed. Third, I address positive (...) proposals for addressing the problem of consciousness, including those based in neuroscience and cognitive science, phenomenology, physics, and fundamental psychophysical theories. Reply to: Baars, Bilodeau, Churchland, Clark, Clarke, Crick & Koch, Dennett, Hameroff & Penrose, Hardcastle, Hodgson, Hut & Shepard, Libet, Lowe, MacLennan, McGinn, Mills, O'Hara & Scutt, Price, Robinson, Rosenberg, Seager, Shear, Stapp, Varela, Velmans. (shrink)
The relation of dependency between consciousness and attention is, once again, a matter of heated debate among scientists and philosophers. There are at least three general views on the issue. First, there are those who suggest that attention is both necessary and sufficient for consciousness (e.g. Posner, 1994; Prinz, 2000, forthcoming). Second, there are those who suggest that even though attention is necessary for consciousness, it may not be sufficient (e.g. Moran & Desimone, 1984; Rensink et al., 1997; Merikle & (...) (...) Joordens, 1997). Finally, there are those who suggest that attention is neither necessary nor sufficient for consciousness, that—at most—they are two different processes that happen to be concomitant some of the time, but which, under very specific circumstances, can be shown to come apart (e.g. Lamme, 2003; Koivisto et al., 2005; Koch & Tsuchiya, 2007). Piles of evidence have been marshaled in favor and against each of these alternatives, and as far as I can see, there is no hope of agreement on the horizon. (shrink)
It has been over a decade and half since Christof Koch and the late Francis Crick first advocated the now popular NCC project (Crick and Koch, 1990), in which one tries to find the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) for perceptual processes. In his chapter in this book Chris Frith provides a splendid review of how neuroimaging has contributed greatly to this project. For the sake of contrast, this chapter takes a more critical stance on what we have (...) actually learned. Many authors have written on whether looking for the neural correlates would eventually lead to an explanatory theory of consciousness, while the proponents defend that focusing on correlates is a strategically sensible first step, given the complexity of the problem (Crick and Koch, 1998;Crick and Koch, 2003). My point here is not to argue whether studying the NCC is useful, but rather, to question whether we are really studying the NCC at all. I argue that in hoping to sidestep the difficult conceptual issues, we have sometimes also missed the phenomenon of perceptual consciousness itself. (shrink)
Contemporary neuroscientific theories of consciousness are typically based on the study of vision and have neglected olfaction. Several of these (e.g. Global Workspace Theories, the Information Integration theory, and the various theories offered by Crick and Koch) claim that a thalamic relay is necessary for consciousness. Studies on olfaction and the olfactory system's anatomical structure show this claim to be incorrect, thus showing these theories to be either false or inadequate as general and comprehensive accounts of consciousness. Attempts to (...) rescue these theories by claiming that there is a structure in the olfactory system that is functionally equivalent to the thalamus in the visual system, such as the olfactory bulb or the olfactory cortex, are also shown to fail. If we wish to understand consciousness, we have to wake up and smell it. (shrink)
A central issue in philosophy and neuroscience is the problem of unified visual consciousness. This problem has arisen because we now know that an object's stimulus features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) generate activity in separate areas of the visual cortex (Felleman & Van Essen, 1991). For example, recent evidence indicates that there are very few, if any, neural connections between specific visual areas, such as those that correlate with color and motion (Bartels & Zeki, 2006; Zeki, 2003). So (...) how do unified objects arise in visual consciousness? Some neuroscientists propose that neural synchrony is the mechanism that binds an object's features into a unity (e.g., see Crick, 1994; Crick & Koch, 1990; Engel, 2003; Roelfsema, 1998; Singer, 1996; von der Malsburg, 1996, 1999). I argue, on both empirical and philosophical grounds, that neural synchrony fails to explain the unity of visual consciousness. (shrink)
Epidemiological studies of chronic diseases began around the mid-20th century. Contrary to the infectious disease epidemiology which had prevailed at the beginning of the 20th century and which had focused on single agents causing individual diseases, the chronic disease epidemiology which emerged at the end of Word War II was a much more complex enterprise that investigated a multiplicity of risk factors for each disease. Involved in the development of chronic disease epidemi-ology were therefore fundamental discussions on the notion of (...) causality, especially the question when causal inferences could be justified. In this paper, I shall analyze the implicit normativity of these de-bates. First, I shall give a brief overview of the historical background on which chronic disease epi-demiology emerged and describe how the pioneer studies on smoking and lung cancer became icon of the major challenge that the emerging chronic disease epidemiology was facing: the impossibility of proving that statistical associations reflected causal relations. Next, I shall describe how the develop-ment from the monocausal enterprise of infectious disease epidemiology to the multicausal enterprise of chronic disease epidemiology gave rise to intense discussions of the possible criteria by which to establish causal relationships between a given factor and a particular disease. I shall show how the necessary and sufficient conditions expressed in the so-called Henle-Koch criteria that had proved useful for the 19th century investigations of infectious diseases remained an ideal, although clearly an unobtainable one. Thus, I shall show how 20th century chronic disease epidemiologists on the one hand were searching for a new set of general principles which would provide a logical framework for their investigations, but on the other hand admitted that they would have to accept something more "pragmatic". I shall analyze the various positions in this debate, arguing that the implacability of the debate was due to unrecognized normative issues. I shall argue that many insisted on a distinction between science and application that was untenable, but that due to this distinction the values in-volved in deciding whether or not to act on the basis of a hypothesis were rarely explicitly discussed and the decision therefore continued to appear as a matter of taste rather than the result of a cogent normative analysis. (shrink)
It has been over a decade and half since Christof Koch and the late Francis Crick first advocated the now popular NCC project (Crick and Koch, 1990), in which one tries to find the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) for perceptual processes. Here we critically take stock of what have actually been learned from these studies. Many authors have questioned whether looking for the neural correlates would eventually lead to an explanatory theory of consciousness, while the proponents of (...) NCC research maintain that focusing on correlates is a strategically sensible first step, given the complexity of the problem (Crick and Koch, 1998;Crick and Koch, 2003). My point here is not to argue whether studying the NCC is useful, but rather, to question whether we are really studying the NCC at all. I argue that in hoping to sidestep the difficult conceptual issues, we have sometimes also missed the phenomenon of perceptual consciousness itself. (shrink)
Christof Koch and Klaus Hepp, in a recent essay in this journal1, issued a challenge to “those who call upon consciousness to carry the burden of the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.” Lest absence of a response be construed as admission of a failure of the idea that consciousness can play, via quantum measurement effects, a crucial role in neurodynamics, or that this idea has been in any rational way damaged by the arguments put forth in the cited (...) article, I respond here to that challenge. (shrink)
There was a brief inaugural session of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness during the Psychonomic Society Conference in Los Angeles in November 1995, but the first full conference of the Association was held this June in the very pleasant surroundings of the Claremont Colleges. Being at this conference was very different from being at Tucson II the previous year. This was a less ballyhooed, more intimate event, maybe less exciting, and less intellectually eclectic, but also perhaps more (...) conducive to serious scientific exchange. Certainly the roster of speakers was replete with luminaries of the consciousness studies movement, and highly respected names from psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy: Christof Koch, Bernard Baars, Ned Block, Philip Merikle, Daniel Schacter, Larry Jacoby, Walter Freeman, Valerie Hardcastle, both Churchlands, Melvyn Goodale, Owen Flanagan .Â .Â . to unfairly pick out just a few. (shrink)
This book collects essays from the 2006 and 2007 International Philosophy Colloquia Evian, centred around a central problem in the philosophy of mind: the relationship between the human faculty of sensory experience and the faculty of conceptual reflection, that is self-consciousness. Containing articles by philosophers of eight nationalities, in three languages (English, French, German), and of "analytical" as well as "continental" provenance, it beautifully represents the spirit of the colloquia. Authors include Joshua Andresen (AU Beirut), Valérie Aucouturier (Kent U / (...) U Paris I), Karin de Boer (KU Leuven), Santiago Echeverri (U Genève), Roberto Farneti (LU Bolzano), Tim Henning (JLU Giessen), Felix Koch (Columbia U), Christophe Laudou (Madrid), David Lauer (FU Berlin), Jason Leddington (Bucknell U), Nicolas Monseu (UC Louvain), Soraya Nour (HU Berlin), Hans Bernhard Schmid (U Wien), Henning Tegtmeyer (U Leipzig). (shrink)
There is a distinction between phenomenal properties and the "phenomenality" of those properties: e.g. between what red is like and what it is like to experience red. To date, reductive accounts explain the former, but not the latter: Nagel is right that they leave something out. This paper attempts a reductive account of what it is like to have a perceptual experience. Four features of such experience are distinguished: the externality, unity, and self-awareness belonging to the content of conscious experience, (...) and the phenomenon of awareness itself. It is argued that these features are accounted for in the work of recent scientists, including F. Crick, G. Edelman, C. Koch and V. Mountcastle. This account reinforces a common way of treating the "knowledge problem.". (shrink)
The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, ...
It is common to interpret Kant’s idea of public reason and the Enlightenment motto to ‘think for oneself’ as incompatible with the view that testimony and judgement of credibility is essential to rational public deliberation. Such interpretations have led to criticism of contemporary Kantian approaches to deliberative democracy for being intellectualistic, and for not considering our epistemic dependence on other people adequately. In this article, I argue that such criticism is insufficiently substantiated, and that Kant’s idea of public reason is (...) neither at odds with deference to a certain kind of authority, nor with making judgements of character in rational deliberation. This view is corroborated by recent work on Kant’s epistemology of testimony. (shrink)
From fertilization to approximately the sixteenth day of development, human embryonic cells are said to have the capacities of totipotency and monozygotic twinning, both of which are problematic to a theory of ensoulment at fertilization. In this article I will address the problems which these capacities pose to such a theory and present an interpretation of the biological data which renders ensoulment at fertilization more plausible. I will then argue that not only is an ensoulment theory consistent with current biological (...) data on the human embryo, but it may offer an explanation for the phenomencon of monozygotic twinning. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to present a critical assessment of Jürgen Habermas' reformulation of Kant's philosophical project Toward Perpetual Peace. Special attention is paid to how well Habermas' proposed multi-level institutional model fares in comparison with Kant's proposal—a league of states. I argue that Habermas' critique of the league fails in important respects, and that his proposal faces at least two problems. The first is that it implies a problematic asymmetry between powerful and less powerful states. The second (...) is that it entails creating a global police force that has an obligation to intervene against egregious human rights violations worldwide, and that this seems incompatible with the idea that every person has an innate right to freedom. There are important normative constraints relevant for institutional design in the international domain that Habermas does not take sufficiently into account. However, this does not mean that Kant's league cannot be supplemented with more comprehensive forms of institutional cooperation between states. On the basis of my assessment of the multi-level model, I propose a hybrid model combining elements from Kant and Habermas. (shrink)