Most ?theories of consciousness? are based on vague speculations about the properties of conscious experience. We aim to provide a more solid basis for a science of consciousness. We argue that a theory of consciousness should provide an account of the very processes that allow us to acquire and use information about our own mental states ? the processes underlying introspection. This can be achieved through the construction of information processing models that can account for ?Type-C? processes. Type-C processes can (...) be specified experimentally by identifying paradigms in which awareness of the stimulus is necessary for an intentional action. The Shallice (1988b) framework is put forward as providing an initial account of Type-C processes, which can relate perceptual consciousness to consciously performed actions. Further, we suggest that this framework may be refined through the investigation of the functions of prefrontal cortex. The formulation of our approach requires us to consider fundamental conceptual and methodological issues associated with consciousness. The most significant of these issues concerns the scientific use of introspective evidence. We outline and justify a conservative methodological approach to the use of introspective evidence, with attention to the difficulties historically associated with its use in psychology. (shrink)
Cognitive science has wholeheartedly embraced functional brain imaging, but introspective data are still eschewed to the extent that it runs against standard practice to engage in the systematic collection of introspective reports. However, in the case of executive processes associated with prefrontal cortex, imaging has made limited progress, whereas introspective methods have considerable unfulfilled potential. We argue for a re-evaluation of the standard ‘cognitive mapping’ paradigm, emphasizing the use of retrospective reports alongside behavioural and brain imaging techniques. Using all three (...) sources of evidence can compensate for their individual limitations, and so triangulate on higher cognitive processes. (shrink)
Cognitive science is shamelessly materialistic. It maintains that human beings are nothing more than complex physical systems, ultimately and completely explicable in mechanistic terms. But this conception of humanity does not ?t well with common sense. To think of the creatures we spend much of our day loving, hating, admiring, resenting, comparing ourselves to, trying to understand, blaming, and thanking -- to think of them as mere mechanisms seems at best counterintuitive and unhelpful. More often it may strike us as (...) ludicrous, or even abhorrent. We are. (shrink)
In this article, we present evidence of a bidirectional coupling between moral concern and the attribution of properties and states that are associated with experience (e.g., conscious awareness, feelings). This coupling is also shown to be stronger with experience than for the attribution of properties and states more closely associated with agency (e.g., free will, thoughts). We report the results of four studies. In the first two studies, we vary the description of the mental capacities of a creature, and assess (...) the effects of these manipulations on moral concern. The third and fourth studies examine the effects of variations in moral concern on attributions of mindedness. Results from the first two studies indicate that moral concern depends primarily on the attribution of experience, rather than the attribution of agency. The results of the latter two studies demonstrate that moral concern increases attributions of mindedness, and that this effect is stronger for attributions of experience than for attributions of agency. (shrink)
Seminal work in moral neuroscience by Joshua Greene and colleagues employed variants of the well-known trolley problems to identify two brain networks which compete with each other to determine moral judgments. Greene interprets the tension between these brain networks using a dual process account which pits deliberative reason against automatic emotion-driven intuitions: reason versus passion. Recent neuroscientific evidence suggests, however, that the critical tension that Greene identifies as playing a role in moral judgment is not so much a tension between (...) reason and passion, but a tension between distinct forms of deliberative reasoning: analytic versus empathetic. In this paper we present results from several new studies supporting this alternative hypothesis. (shrink)
The process of dehumanization, or thinking of others as less than human, is a phenomenon with significant societal implications. According to Haslam's model, two concepts of humanness derive from comparing humans with either animals or machines: individuals may be dehumanized by likening them to either animals or machines, or humanized by emphasizing differences from animals or machines. Recent work in cognitive neuroscience emphasizes understanding cognitive processes in terms of interactions between distributed cortical networks. It has been found that reasoning about (...) internal mental states is associated with activation of the default mode network and deactivation of the task positive network ; whereas reasoning about mechanical processes produces the opposite pattern. We conducted two neuroimaging studies. The first examined the neural bases of dehumanization and its relation to these two brain networks, using images and voice-over social narratives which either implicitly contrasted or implicitly likened humans to either animals or machines. The second study addressed a discrepancy between findings from the first study and prior work on the neural correlates of dehumanization: using a design similar to prior work we examined neural responses to pictures of humans, animals and machines, presented without any social context. In both studies, human and humanizing conditions were associated with relatively high activity in the DMN and relatively low activity in the TPN. However, the non-human and dehumanizing conditions deviated in different ways: they demonstrated more marked changes either in the DMN or in the TPN. Notably, differences between the animal dehumanizing and humanizing conditions were most evident in regions associated with mechanistic reasoning, not in the mentalizing network. Conjunction analysis of contrasts from both paradigms revealed that only one region was consistently more active when participants saw human, a medial parietal region regarded as the central hub of the DMN. These findings provide a neural basis for Haslam's distinction between two types of dehumanization, and suggest that the DMN and TPN play opposing roles in creating a sense of moral concern. (shrink)
In this article, we explore the implications of opposing domains theory for developing ethical leaders. Opposing domains theory highlights a neurological tension between analytic reasoning and socioemotional reasoning. Specifically, when we engage in analytic reasoning, we suppress our ability to engage in socioemotional reasoning and vice versa. In this article, we bring together the domains of neuroscience, psychology, and ethics, to inform our theorizing around ethical leadership. We propose that a key issue for ethical leadership is achieving a healthy balance (...) between analytic reasoning and socioemotional reasoning. We argue that organizational culture often encourages too heavy a reliance on nonemotional forms of reasoning to arrive at moral judgments. As a result, leaders run the risk of suppressing their ability to pay attention to the human side of moral dilemmas and, in doing so, dehumanize colleagues, particularly subordinates, and clients. (shrink)
Wegner's thesis that the experience of will is an illusion is not just wrong, it is an impediment to progress in psychology. We discuss two readings of Wegner's thesis and find that neither can motivate his larger conclusion. Wegner thinks science requires us to dismiss our experiences. Its real promise is to help us to make better sense of them.
One of the best gimmicks on the cognitive science conference circuit is the demonstration of inattentional blindness. Many readers of this journal must have already been exposed to it. For the rest we will briefly describe a striking and popular demonstration. It typically evolves during a conference talk, where the presenter provides the audience with a stimulus in the form of a small video clip of six people, three in white, three in black, who pass two basket balls around. The (...) instruction is to count the number of passes made by the players in white. When the movie is over, the presenter asks for a response, someone provides it, and he then goes on to elicit a report: 'Did anyone notice something strange during the film?' Usually, only those who have seen the film before have, but they are not allowed to answer. The film is then replayed, but this time, the audience is instructed to look out for anything unusual. Muted, surprised laughter goes through the auditorium when someone dressed as a gorilla enters into the scene of kids playing, confronts the spectators, bangs his chest, and slowly walks out again. It seems incredible that it went unnoticed the first time around, and yet those who have been exposed to the experiment before can testify that the gorilla was indeed there in both showings of the film. (shrink)
There has been considerable debate in the literature as to whether work in experimental philosophy actually makes any significant contribution to philosophy. One stated view is that many X-Phi projects, notwithstanding their focus on topics relevant to philosophy, contribute little to philosophical thought. Instead, it has been claimed the contribution they make appears to be to cognitive science. In contrast to this view, here we argue that at least one approach to X-Phi makes a contribution which parallels, and also extends, (...) historically salient forms of philosophical analysis, especially contributions from Immanuel Kant, William James, Peter F. Strawson and Thomas Nagel. The framework elaborated here synthesizes philosophical theory with empirical evidence from psychology and neuroscience and applies it to three perennial philosophical problems. According to this account, the origin of these three problems can be illuminated by viewing them as arising from a tension between two distinct types of cognition, each of which is associated with anatomically independent and functionally inhibitory neural networks. If the parallel we draw, between an empirical project and historically highly influential examples of philosophical analysis, is viewed as convincing, it follows that work in the cognitive sciences can contribute directly to philosophy. Further, this conclusion holds whether the empirical details of the account are correct or not. (shrink)
Bering contends that belief in the afterlife is explained by the simulation constraint hypothesis: the claim that we cannot imagine what it is like to be dead. This explanation suffers from some difficulties. First, it implies the existence of a corresponding belief in the “beforelife.” Second, a simpler explanation will suffice. Rather than appeal to constraints on our thoughts about death, we suggest that belief in the afterlife can be better explained by the lack of such constraints.