Thought experiments have played a central role in philosophical methodology, largely as a means of elucidating the nature of our concepts and the implications of our theories.1 Particular attention is given to widely shared “folk” intuitions – the basic untutored intuitions that the layperson has about philosophical questions.2 The folk intuition is meant to underlie our core metaphysical concepts, and philosophical analysis is meant to explicate or sometimes refine these naïve concepts. Consistency with the deliverances of folk intuitions is a (...) sign that the philosopher is making contact with his object of interest. In order to explore folk concepts, people are often asked to provide their intuitions about a state of affairs in some alternate universe or possible world, one that differs in particular, precise ways from the way things are in the actual world. Here we provide evidence that people’s intuitions about moral responsibility sometimes diverge across worlds even when the facts about these worlds are the same. Which world one considers actual affects at least some philosophical judgments, suggesting that it is not just possible worlds to which our intuitions are tied. We will present several possible explanations for the asymmetry we have identified, and we’ll consider some implications for philosophical intuition. (shrink)
ics. Each of these can be pursued independently to a large extent, but perhaps most intriguing is to contem- plate how progress in each will affect the other. The past several months have seen heightened interest <blockquote> _<b>The Ethics of Neuroscience</b>_ </blockquote> in the intersection of ethics and neuroscience. In the The ethics of neuroscience can be roughly subdivided popular press, the topic grabbed headlines in a May.
Brain images are used both as scientific evidence and to illustrate the results of neuroimaging experiments. These images are apt to be viewed as photographs of brain activity, and in so viewing them people are prone to assume that they share the evidential characteristics of photographs. Photographs are epistemically compelling, and have a number of characteristics that underlie what I call their inferential proximity. Here I explore the aptness of the photography analogy, and argue that although neuroimaging does bear important (...) similarities to photography, the details of the generation and analysis of neuroimages significantly complicate the relation of the image to the data. Neuroimages are not inferentially proximate, but their seeming so increases the potential for misinterpretation. This suggests caution in appealing to such images in the public domain. (shrink)
Images come in many varieties, but for evidential purposes, photographs are privileged. Recent advances in neuroimaging provide us with a new type of image that is used as scientific evidence. Brain images are epistemically compelling, in part because they are liable to be viewed as akin to photographs of brain activity. Here I consider features of photography that underlie the evidential status we accord it, and argue that neuroimaging diverges from photography in ways that seriously undermine the photographic analogy. While (...) neuroimaging remains an important source of scientific evidence, proper interpretation of brain images is much more complex than it appears. ‡This work was supported in part by a grant from the Leslie Humanities Center at Dartmouth College. I thank John Kulvicki for helpful comments, and Kim Sterelny, for making it possible for me to spend some time at the ANU with a grant from the Australian Research Council. †To contact the author, please write to: Dartmouth College, Department of Philosophy, Hanover, NH 03755; e-mail: [email protected]. (shrink)
Functional neuroimaging is sometimes criticized as showing only where in the brain things happen, not how they happen, and thus being unable to inform us about questions of mental and neural representation. Novel analytical methods increasingly make clear that imaging can give us access to constructs of interest to psychology. In this paper I argue that neuroimaging can give us an important, if limited, window into the large-scale structure of neural representation. I describe Representational Similarity Analysis, increasingly used in neuroimaging (...) studies, and lay out desiderata for representations in general. In that context I discuss what RSA can and cannot tell us about neural representation. I compare RSA with fMRI to a different experimental paradigm which has been embraced as being indicative of representation in psychology, and argue that it compares favorably. (shrink)
This paper provides a novel argument against conceptualism, the claim that the content of human experience, including perceptual experience, is entirely conceptual. Conceptualism entails that the content of experience is limited by the concepts that we possess and deploy. I present an argument to show that such a view is exceedingly costly—if the nature of our experience is entirely conceptual, then we cannot account for concept learning: all perceptual concepts must be innate. The version of nativism that results is incompatible (...) with naturalistic accounts of concept learning. This cost can be avoided, and concept learning accounted for if nonconceptual content of experience is admitted. (shrink)
(von der Malsburg, 1981), “the binding problem” has with the visual percept of it, so that both are effortlessly captured the attention of researchers across many disci- perceived as being aspects of a single event. I like to plines, including psychology, neuroscience, computa- refer to these sorts of problems as perceptual binding tional modeling, and even philosophy. Despite the is- problems, since they involve unifying aspects of per- sue’s prominence in these fields, what “binding” means cepts. In addition, there are (...) cognitive binding problems: is rarely made explicit. In this paper, I will briefly survey they include relating a concept to a percept, such as the many notions of binding and will introduce some linking the visual representation of an apple to all the issues that will be explored more fully in the reviews semantic knowledge stored about it (it is edible, how it that follow. (shrink)
In this chapter, we begin with a discussion of motivation itself, and use that discussion to sketch four possible theories of distinctively moral motivation: caricature versions of familiar instrumentalist, cognitivist, sentimentalist, and personalist theories about morally worthy motivation. To test these theories, we turn to a wealth of scientific, particularly neuroscientific, evidence. Our conclusions are that (1) although the scientific evidence does not at present mandate a unique philosophical conclusion, it does present formidable obstacles to a number of popular philosophical (...) approaches, and (2) theories of morally worthy motivation that best fit the current scientific picture are ones that owe much more to Hume or Aristotle than to Kant. (shrink)
Neuroscience has illuminated the neural basis of decision-making, providing evidence that supports specific models of decision-processes. These models typically are quite mechanical, the realization of abstract mathematical “diffusion to bound” models. While effective decision-making seems to be essential for sophisticated behavior, central to an account of freedom, and a necessary characteristic of self-governing systems, it is not clear how the simple models neuroscience inspires can underlie the notion of self-governance. Drawing from both philosophy and neuroscience I explore ways in which (...) the proposed decision-making architectures can play a role in systems that can reasonably be thought of as “self-governing”. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to respond to the worries of the source incompatibilist, and try to sketch a naturalistically plausible, compatibilist notion of self-authorship and control that I believe captures important aspects of the folk intuitions regarding freedom and responsibility. It is my hope to thus offer those moved by source incompatibilist worries a reason not to adopt what P.F. Strawson called “the obscure and panicky metaphysics of Libertarianism” (P. F. Strawson, 1982) or the panic-inducing moral austerity of the (...) hard incompatibilist (Pereboom, 2001). I am well aware that many great minds have sunk their teeth into this problem and have not prevailed, but at the very least, I hope to become clearer on where the sticking points are. (shrink)
In some recent papers, Max Coltheart has questioned the ability of neuroimaging techniques to tell us anything interesting about the mind and has thrown down the gauntlet before neuroimagers, challenging them to prove he is mistaken. Here I analyze Coltheart ’s challenge, show that as posed its terms are unfair, and reconstruct it so that it is addressable. I argue that, so modified, Coltheart ’s challenge is able to be met and indeed has been met. In an effort to delineate (...) the extent of neuroimaging’s ability to address Coltheart ’s concerns, I explore how different brain structure‐function relationships would constrain the ability of neuroimaging to provide insight about psychological questions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755; e‐mail: [email protected]. (shrink)
Van Orden and Paap argue that subtractive functional neuroimaging is fundamentally flawed, unfalsifiable, and cannot bear upon the nature of mind. In this they are mistaken, although their criticisms interestingly illuminate the scientific problems we confront in investigating the material basis of mind. Here, I consider the criticisms of Van Orden and Paap and discuss where they are mistaken and where justified. I then consider the picture of imaging science that Van Orden and Paap seem to espouse and sketch an (...) alternative picture that is more realistic, more interesting, and consistent with the deliverances and the weaknesses of neuroimaging techniques. Finally, I identify three assumptions that I do think neuroimaging is wedded to and briefly discuss their implications. (shrink)
P.F. Strawson famously argued that reactive attitudes and ordinary moral practices justify moral assessments of blame, praise, and punishment. Here we consider whether Strawson's approach can illuminate the concept of desert. After reviewing standard attempts to analyze this concept and finding them lacking, we suggest that to deserve something is to justifiably receive a moral assessment in light of certain criteria – in particular, eligibility criteria (a subject's properties that make the subject principally eligible for moral assessments) and assignment criteria (...) (particulars about the subject, act, and circumstances that justify assessments such as blame in a particular case). Strawson's analysis of the ordinary attitudes and practices of moral assessment hints at these criteria but does not unequivocally ground a notion of desert. Following Strawson's general naturalistic approach, we show that recent psychological research on folk concepts and practices regarding freedom, moral responsibility, and blame illuminates how people actually arrive at moral assessments, thus revealing the very eligibility criteria and assignment criteria we suggest ground a concept of desert. By pushing the Strawsonian line even further than Strawson did, by empirically investigating actual moral practice and folk understandings, we can illuminate desert and lend credence to Strawson's general anti-metaphysical position. (shrink)
The problem of induction is perennially important in epistemology and the philosophy of science. In response to Goodman's 'New Riddle of Induction', Frank Jackson made a compelling case for there being no new riddle, by arguing that there are no nonprojectible properties. Although Jackson's denial of nonprojectible properties is correct, I argue here that he is mistaken in thinking that he thereby shows that there is no new riddle of induction, and demonstrate that his solution to the grue paradox fails (...) to rule out the possibility of equally justified contradictory inductions. More importantly, in illuminating where Jackson's argument fails, the paper casts a new light on the problem of induction, locating the problem not in the nature of the next (unexamined) x, but in the counterfactual robustness of properties of already examined x's. (shrink)
Quilty-Dunn et al. maintain that language-of-thought hypothesis (LoTH) is the best game in town. We counter that LoTH is merely one source of models – always wrong, sometimes useful. Their reasons for liking LoTH are compatible with the view that LoTH provides a sometimes pragmatically useful level of abstraction over processes and mechanisms that fail to fully live up to LoT requirements.
Is empathy important for moral behavior? To answer this we will have to be conceptually clearer, empirically more detailed, and pay attention to the neural mechanisms underlying empathy-related phenomena.
Erin Kelly’s The Limits of Blame presents a critique of our current overly-punitive legal system and champions a system of criminal justice that does not traffic in moral blame and is free of retributivist elements. This commentary questions the viability of such a system, and ultimately suggests that there is not much distance between a more perfect retributivist system and the kind of nuanced and humane system of criminal justice that Kelly envisions.
Running head: Functional neuroimaging Abstract Several recently developed techniques enable the investigation of the neural basis of cognitive function in the human brain. Two of these, PET and fMRI, yield whole-brain images reflecting regional neural activity associated with the performance of specific tasks. This article explores the spatial and temporal capabilities and limitations of these techniques, and discusses technical, biological, and cognitive issues relevant to understanding the goals and methods of neuroimaging studies. The types of advances in understanding cognitive and (...) brain function made possible with these methods are illustrated with examples from the neuroimaging literature. (shrink)
Cushman's theory has implications for the philosophical debate about the nature of folk psychological states, for it entails realism about propositional attitudes. I point out a tension within his view and suggest a different view upon which rationalization emerges as a consequence of the adaptiveness of mentalizing. This alternative avoids the strong metaphysical implications of Cushman's theory.