It is important to separate the question of binding from the problem of consciousness. Undoubtedly, there are some close connections between the two: my conscious experience is of a bound unity. But my unconscious experiences -- subliminal impressions, masked primings, etc. -- might be bound too for all I know. Hence, some of the recent commentators speak too loosely when they talk of 40 Hz oscillations solving some problem of conscious perception.
While schizophrenia may be genetically determined up to a point, neither it nor its nearest relatives offer any sort of reproductive advantage to its sufferers. Instead, from an evolutionary point of view, schizophrenia is benign – it neither promotes nor inhibits survival to reproduction. Because it is benign, its rate of occurrence should remain fairly constant over time.
The sensation of will is not the same thing as the will itself any more than the sensation of hunger is the same thing as being devoid of nutrients. This is not a really surprising claim, but it is the only claim to which Wegner is entitled in his book.
This article examines how scientists move from physical measurementsto actual observation of single-cell recordings in the brain. We highlight how easy it is to change the fundamental nature of ourobservations using accepted methodological techniques for manipulatingraw data. Collecting single-cell data is thoroughly pragmatic. Weconclude that there is no deep or interesting difference betweenaccounting for observations by measurements and accounting forobservations by theories.
What is consciousness? Of course, each of us knows, privately, what consciousness is. And we each think, for basically irresistible reasons, that all other conscious humans by and large have experiences like ours. So we conclude that we all know what consciousness is. It's the felt experiences of our lives. But that is not the answer we, as cognitive scientists, seek in asking our question. We all want to know what physical process consciousness is and why it produces this very (...) strange, almost mysterious, phenomenon of felt experience. (shrink)
While there may be interesting theoretical differences between cortical and subcortical malfunctions, it is not a difference that is going to separate the psychological from the biological. For, the distinctions we draw between the “psychological” and “biological” turn on our assessments of others' conscious experiences, and not on anything deeper or more profound.
O'Regan & Noë mistakenly identify visual processing with visual experience. I outline some reasons why this is a mistake, taking my data and arguments mainly from the literature on subliminal processing.
Evolutionary psychologists claim that the mind contains “hundreds or thousands” of “genetically speciﬁed” modules, which are evolutionary adaptations for their cognitive functions. We argue that, while the adult human mind/brain typically contains a degree of modularization, its “modules” are neither genetically speciﬁed nor evolutionary adaptations. Rather, they result from the brain’s developmental plasticity, which allows environmental task demands a large role in shaping the brain’s information-processing structures. The brain’s developmental plasticity is our fundamental psychological adaptation, and the “modules” that result (...) from it are adaptive responses to local conditions, not past evolutionary environments. If different individuals share common environ- ments, however, they may develop similar “modules,” and this process can mimic the development of genetically speciﬁed modules in the evolutionary psychologist’s sense. (shrink)
Fred Suppe claims that the refereed journal article is an appropriate unit of scientific debate for philosophical analysis. He also claims that when we regiment scientific papers correctly, we can see that the hypothetico-deductive method, Baysian induction, and inference to the best explanation fail to capture the structure of scientific articles adequately. In what follows I demonstrate that the coding scheme Suppe used for uncovering the structure of a scientific paper is not appropriate under all circumstances, illustrate alternative structures found (...) in various scientific articles, and show that the hypothetico-deductive method can accommodate the alternative structures I find. My conclusions are that the article that Suppe analyzed is not paradigmatic of published scientific articles, that different papers have different structures, that the structure depends upon the rhetorical goals of the article, and that, because of the different structures and different goals, no one philosophical account of testing is going to suffice. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar's “trivial” neuron doctrine is neither a truism in cognitive science nor trivial; it has serious consequences for the future direction of the mind/brain sciences. Not everyone would agree that these consequences are desirable. The authors' “radical” doctrine is not so radical; their division between cognitive neuroscience and neurobiology is largely artificial. Indeed, there is no sharp distinction between cognitive neuroscience and other areas of the brain sciences.
There is a difference between someone breaking a glass by accidentally brushing up against it and smashing a glass in a fit of anger. In the first case, the person's cognitive state has little to do with the event, but in the second, the mental state qua anger is quite relevant. How are we to understand this difference? What is the proper way to understand the relation between the mind, the brain, and the resultant behavior? This paper explores the popular (...) "middle ground" reply in which mental phenomena are claimed to be "as real as" other higher level properties. It argues that this solution fails to answer epistemological difficulties surrounding how to chose the appropriate factors in an explanation. A more sophisticated understanding of scientific theorizing and of the relation between ontology and explanation give us a framework in which we can determine when we should refer to mental states as being the causally efficacious agents for some behavior. (shrink)
I have two goals in this paper. First, I want to show by example that inferences about theoretical entities are relatively contingent affairs. Previously accepted conceptual metaphors in science set both the general form of new theories and our acceptance of the theories as plausible. In addition, they determine how we define the relevant parameters in investigating phenomena in the first place. These items then determine how we conceptualize things in the world. Second, and maybe more importantly, I want to (...) solve a puzzle that falls out of our current explication of attention, namely why we have it. Given the now widely accepted view that our brains are massively parallel, it is difficult to see why we should have evolved attentional mechanisms at all. Why gate when we can already process what we transduce in parallel? Here I answer that puzzle and suggest a perspective on attention that makes it a bit easier to understand, although this perspective also entails that we have to revise how we individuate experimental protocols and relevant data. (shrink)