An enactive account of placebo effects

Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):507-533 (2017)

Authors
Dave Ward
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Placebos are commonly defined as ineffective treatments. They are treatments that lack a known mechanism linking their properties to the properties of the condition on which treatment aims to intervene. Given this, the fact that placebos can have substantial therapeutic effects looks puzzling. The puzzle, we argue, arises from the relationship placebos present between culturally meaningful entities, our intentional relationship to the environment and bodily effects. How can a mere attitude toward a treatment result in appropriate bodily changes? We argue that an ‘enactive’ conception of cognition accommodates and renders intelligible the phenomenon of placebo effects. Enactivism depicts an organism’s adaptive bodily processes, its intentional directedness, and the meaningful properties of its environment as co-emergent aspects of a single dynamic system. In doing so it provides an account of the interrelations between mind, body and world that demystifies placebo effects.
Keywords placebo effect  enactivism  affordances
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-017-9572-4
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References found in this work BETA

Alief and Belief.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):634-663.
Participatory Sense-Making.Hanne De Jaegher & Ezequiel Di Paolo - 2007 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (4):485-507.
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.James J. Gibson - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.
Direct Perception in the Intersubjective Context.Shaun Gallagher - 2008 - Consciousness and Cognition 17 (2):535-543.

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Citations of this work BETA

An Enactive Approach to Pain: Beyond the Biopsychosocial Model.Peter Stilwell & Katherine Harman - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (4):637-665.
Enactive Pain and its Sociocultural Embeddedness.Katsunori Miyahara - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-16.

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