The field of philosophical psychopathology is basically the philosophical study of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, as well as more specific symptoms and signs such as Capgras’ delusion (the delusion that your spouse, for example, is an impostor) or the anarchic hand sign (where your hand seems to act on its own intentions). This simple epithet covers a multitude of approaches: how can philosophy help to explain mental disorder? What does mental disorder tell us about consciousness, (...) cognition, emotion and ‘self’? What does the study of mental disorder tell us about phenomenology? What does philosophical phenomenology tell us about mental disorder? What do mental disorders tell us about reasoning, rationality and belief formation? What are the particular ethical aspects of mental disorder and its treatment? If philosophical.. (shrink)
The Predictive Mind by JakobHohwy is the first monograph to address the philosophical significance of what Hohwy calls the prediction error minimization framework. The central claim of the book is that, on a conceptual level, perception, action, and cognition can be understood by reference to a single principle: prediction error minimization. The corresponding empirical hypothesis is that the brain implements a hierarchical generative model that generates predictions about sensory inputs and their hidden causes. When sensory signals (...) arrive, only their divergence from the predictions has to be further processed. The general strategy of using predictions derived from generative models to compress and transmit information is also known as predictive coding.Perception is thus not construed as a purely bottom–up process, but. (shrink)
: Some monothematic types of delusions may arise because subjects have unusual experiences. The role of this experiential component in the pathogenesis of delusion is still not understood. Focussing on delusions of alien control, we outline a model for reality testing competence on unusual experiences. We propose that nascent delusions arise when there are local failures of reality testing performance, and that monothematic delusions arise as normal responses to these. In the course of this we address questions concerning the tenacity (...) with which delusions are maintained, their often bizarre content, the patients’ inability to dismiss them, and their often circumscribed character. (shrink)
Emergence and reduction in context: Philosophy of science and/or analytic metaphysics Content Type Journal Article Category Survey Review Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9671-4 Authors Michael Silberstein, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
A new theory is taking hold in neuroscience. It is the theory that the brain is essentially a hypothesis-testing mechanism, one that attempts to minimise the error of its predictions about the sensory input it receives from the world. It is an attractive theory because powerful theoretical arguments support it, and yet it is at heart stunningly simple. JakobHohwy explains and explores this theory from the perspective of cognitive science and philosophy. The key argument throughout The Predictive (...) Mind is that the mechanism explains the rich, deep, and multifaceted character of our conscious perception. It also gives a unified account of how perception is sculpted by attention, and how it depends on action. The mind is revealed as having a fragile and indirect relation to the world. Though we are deeply in tune with the world we are also strangely distanced from it. (shrink)
The notion of reduction continues to play an important role in contemporary analytic philosophy. Being Reduced is a collection of essays that not only presents novel contributions to our understanding of reduction, but also aims at finding connections between the debates in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science, which have surprisingly remained rather detached from each other. Being reduced succeeds in this difficult task, and is a very welcome addition to the growing philosophical literature on reduction.
An exciting theory in neuroscience is that the brain is an organ for prediction error minimization (PEM). This theory is rapidly gaining influence and is set to dominate the science of mind and brain in the years to come. PEM has extreme explanatory ambition, and profound philosophical implications. Here, I assume the theory, briefly explain it, and then I argue that PEM implies that the brain is essentially self-evidencing. This means it is imperative to identify an evidentiary boundary between the (...) brain and its environment. This boundary defines the mind-world relation, opens the door to skepticism, and makes the mind transpire as more inferentially secluded and neurocentrically skull-bound than many would nowadays think. Therefore, PEM somewhat deflates contemporary hypotheses that cognition is extended, embodied and enactive; however, it can nevertheless accommodate the kinds of cases that fuel these hypotheses. (shrink)
An exciting theory in neuroscience is that the brain is an organ for prediction error minimization. This theory is rapidly gaining influence and is set to dominate the science of mind and brain in the years to come. PEM has extreme explanatory ambition, and profound philosophical implications. Here, I assume the theory, briefly explain it, and then I argue that PEM implies that the brain is essentially self-evidencing. This means it is imperative to identify an evidentiary boundary between the brain (...) and its environment. This boundary defines the mind-world relation, opens the door to skepticism, and makes the mind transpire as more inferentially secluded and neurocentrically skull-bound than many would nowadays think. Therefore, PEM somewhat deflates contemporary hypotheses that cognition is extended, embodied and enactive; however, it can nevertheless accommodate the kinds of cases that fuel these hypotheses. (shrink)
Events and event prediction are pivotal concepts across much of cognitive science, as demonstrated by the papers in this special issue. We first discuss how the study of events and the predictive processing framework may fruitfully inform each other. We then briefly point to some links to broader philosophical questions about events.
The notion that the brain is a prediction error minimizer entails, via the notion of Markov blankets and self-evidencing, a form of global scepticism — an inability to rule out evil demon scenarios. This type of scepticism is viewed by some as a sign of a fatally flawed conception of mind and cognition. Here I discuss whether this scepticism is ameliorated by acknowledging the role of action in the most ambitious approach to prediction error minimization, namely under the free energy (...) principle. I argue that the scepticism remains but that the role of action in the free energy principle constrains the demon’s work. This yields new insights about the free energy principle, epistemology, and the place of mind in nature. (shrink)
It appears that consciousness science is progressing soundly, in particular in its search for the neural correlates of consciousness. There are two main approaches to this search, one is content-based (focusing on the contrast between conscious perception of, e.g., faces vs. houses), the other is state-based (focusing on overall conscious states, e.g., the contrast between dreamless sleep vs. the awake state). Methodological and conceptual considerations of a number of concrete studies show that both approaches are problematic: the content-based approach seems (...) to set aside crucial aspects of consciousness; and the state-based approach seems over-inclusive in a way that is hard to rectify without losing sight of the crucial conscious-unconscious contrast. Consequently, the search for the neural correlates of consciousness is in need of new experimental paradigms. (shrink)
Predictive processing (PP) is now a prominent theoretical framework in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. This review focuses on PP research with a relatively philosophical focus, taking stock of the framework and discussing new directions. The review contains an introduction that describes the full PP toolbox; an exploration of areas where PP has advanced understanding of perceptual and cognitive phenomena; a discussion of PP's impact on foundational issues in cognitive science; and a consideration of the philosophy of science (...) of PP. The overall picture is that PP is a fruitful framework, with exciting new directions awaiting exploration. (shrink)
The phenomenology of agency and perception is probably underpinned by a common cognitive system based on generative models and predictive coding. I defend the hypothesis that this cognitive system explains core aspects of the sense of having a self in agency and perception. In particular, this cognitive model explains the phenomenological notion of a minimal self as well as a notion of the narrative self. The proposal is related to some influential studies of overall brain function, and to psychopathology. These (...) elusive notions of the self are shown to be the natural upshots of general cognitive mechanisms whose fundamental purpose is to enable agents to represent the world and act in it. (shrink)
Different cognitive functions recruit a number of different, often overlapping, areas of the brain. Theories in cognitive and computational neuroscience are beginning to take this kind of functional integration into account. The contributions to this special issue consider what functional integration tells us about various aspects of the mind such as perception, language, volition, agency, and reward. Here, I consider how and why functional integration may matter for the mind; I discuss a general theoretical framework, based on generative models, that (...) may unify many of the debates surrounding functional integration and the mind; and I briefly introduce each of the contributions. (shrink)
We use the hierarchical nature of Bayesian perceptual inference to explain a fundamental aspect of the temporality of experience, namely the phenomenology of temporal flow. The explanation says that the sense of temporal flow in conscious perception stems from probabilistic inference that the present cannot be trusted. The account begins by describing hierarchical inference under the notion of prediction error minimization, and exemplifies distrust of the present within bistable visual perception and action initiation. Distrust of the present is then discussed (...) in relation to previous research on temporal phenomenology. Finally, we discuss how there may be individual differences in the experience of temporal flow, in particular along the autism spectrum. The resulting view is that the sense of temporal flow in conscious perception results from an internal, inferential process. (shrink)
In rubber hand illusions and full body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body objects such as rubber hands, dolls or virtual bodies. The robustness, limits and further perceptual consequences of such illusions are not yet fully explored or understood. A number of experiments are reported that test the limits of a variant of the rubber hand illusion. Methodology/Principal Findings -/- A variant of the rubber hand illusion is explored, in which the real and foreign hands are aligned in personal (...) space. The presence of the illusion is ascertained with participants' scores and temperature changes of the real arm. This generates a basic illusion of touch projected to a foreign arm. Participants are presented with further, unusual visuotactile stimuli subsequent to onset of the basic illusion. Such further visuotactile stimulation is found to generate very unusual experiences of supernatural touch and touch on a non-hand object. The finding of touch on a non-hand object conflicts with prior findings, and to resolve this conflict a further hypothesis is successfully tested: that without prior onset of the basic illusion this unusual experience does not occur. Conclusions/Significance -/- A rubber hand illusion is found that can arise when the real and the foreign arm are aligned in personal space. This illusion persists through periods of no tactile stimulation and is strong enough to allow very unusual experiences of touch felt on a cardboard box and experiences of touch produced at a distance, as if by supernatural causation. These findings suggest that one's visual body image is explained away during experience of the illusion and they may be of further importance to understanding the role of experience in delusion formation. The findings of touch on non-hand objects may help reconcile conflicting results in this area of research. In addition, new evidence is provided that relates to the recently discovered psychologically induced temperature changes that occur during the illusion. (shrink)
Bortolotti’s Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs defends the view that delusions are beliefs on a continuum with other beliefs. A different view is that delusions are more like illusions, that is, they arise from faulty perception. This view, which is not targeted by the book, makes it easier to explain why delusions are so alien and disabling but needs to appeal to forensic aspects of functioning.
The free energy principle says that any self-organising system that is at nonequilibrium steady-state with its environment must minimize its free energy. It is proposed as a grand unifying principle for cognitive science and biology. The principle can appear cryptic, esoteric, too ambitious, and unfalsifiable—suggesting it would be best to suspend any belief in the principle, and instead focus on individual, more concrete and falsifiable ‘process theories’ for particular biological processes and phenomena like perception, decision and action. Here, I explain (...) the free energy principle, and I argue that it is best understood as offering a conceptual and mathematical analysis of the concept of existence of self-organising systems. This analysis offers a new type of solution to long-standing problems in neurobiology, cognitive science, machine learning and philosophy concerning the possibility of normatively constrained, self-supervised learning and inference. The principle can therefore uniquely serve as a regulatory principle for process theories, to ensure that process theories conforming to it enable self-supervision. This is, at least for those who believe self-supervision is a foundational explanatory task, good reason to believe the free energy principle. (shrink)
There is surprising evidence that introspection of our phenomenal states varies greatly between individuals and within the same individual over time. This puts pressure on the notion that introspection gives reliable access to our own phenomenology: introspective unreliability would explain the variability, while assuming that the underlying phenomenology is stable. I appeal to a body of neurocomputational, Bayesian theory and neuroimaging findings to provide an alternative explanation of the evidence: though some limited testing conditions can cause introspection to be unreliable, (...) mostly it is our phenomenology itself that is variable. With this account of phenomenal variability, the occurrence of the surprising evidence can be explained while generally retaining introspective reliability. (shrink)
Any position that promises genuine progress on the mind-body problem deserves attention. Recently, Daniel Stoljar has identified a physicalist version of Russells notion of neutral monism; he elegantly argues that with this type of physicalism it is possible to disambiguate on the notion of physicalism in such a way that the problem is resolved. The further issue then arises of whether we have reason to believe that this type of physicalism is in fact true. Ultimately, one needs to argue for (...) this position by inference to the best explanation, and I show that this new type of physicalism does not hold promise of more explanatory prowess than its relevant rivals, and that, whether it is better than its rivals or not, it is doubtful whether it would furnish us with genuine explanations of the phenomenal at all. (shrink)
Most consciousness researchers, almost no matter what their views of the metaphysics of consciousness, can agree that the first step in a science of consciousness is the search for the neural correlate of consciousness (the NCC). The reason for this agreement is that the notion of ‘correlation’ doesn’t by itself commit one to any particular metaphysical view about the relation between (neural) matter and consciousness. For example, some might treat the correlates as causally related, while others might view the correlation (...) as evidence for identity between conscious states and brain states. The common ground therefore seems to be that the scientific search for the NCC is largely independent of the metaphysics of consciousness. (shrink)
Shaun Gallagher calls for a radical rethinking of the concept of nature and he resists reduction of phenomenology to computational-neural science. However, classic, reductionist science, at least in contemporary computational guise, has the resources to accommodate insights from transcendental phenomenology. Reductionism should be embraced, not feared.
According to one theory, the brain is a sophisticated hypothesis tester: perception is Bayesian unconscious inference where the brain actively uses predictions to test, and then refine, models about what the causes of its sensory input might be. The brain’s task is simply continually to minimise prediction error. This theory, which is getting increasingly popular, holds great explanatory promise for a number of central areas of research at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. I show how the theory can (...) help us understand striking phenomena at three cognitive levels: vision, sensory integration, and belief. First, I illustrate central aspects of the theory by showing how it provides a nice explanation of why binocular rivalry occurs. Then I suggest how the theory may explain the role of the unified sense of self in rubber hand and full body illusions driven by visuotactile conflict. Finally, I show how it provides an approach to delusion formation that is consistent with one-deficit accounts of monothematic delusions. (shrink)
Some monothematic types of delusions may arise because subjects have unusual experiences. The role of this experiential component in the pathogenesis of delusion is still not understood. Focussing on delusions of alien control, we outline a model for reality testing competence on unusual experiences. We propose that nascent delusions arise when there are local failures of reality testing performance, and that monothematic delusions arise as normal responses to these. In the course of this we address questions concerning the tenacity with (...) which delusions are maintained, their often bizarre content, the patients' inability to dismiss them, and their often circumscribed character. (shrink)
Three challenges to a unified understanding of delusions emerge from Radden's On Delusion (2011). Here, I propose that in order to respond to these challenges, and to work towards a unifying framework for delusions, we should see delusions as arising in inference under uncertainty. This proposal is based on the observation that delusions in key respects are surprisingly like perceptual illusions, and it is developed further by focusing particularly on individual differences in uncertainty expectations.
Cognitive neuroscience aspires to explain how the brain produces conscious states. Many people think this aspiration is threatened by the subjective nature of introspective reports, as well as by certain philosophical arguments. We propose that good neuroscientific explanations of conscious states can consolidate an interpretation of introspective reports, in spite of their subjective nature. This is because the relative quality of explanations can be evaluated on independent, methodological grounds. To illustrate, we review studies that suggest that aspects of the feeling (...) of being in control of one's bodily movement can be explained in terms of the complex and surprising way the brain predicts movement. This is a modest type of functional, contrastive explanation. Though we do not refute the threatening philosophical arguments, we show that they do not apply to this type of explanation. (shrink)
This chapter explores the idea that the need to establish common knowledge is one feature that makes social cognition stand apart in important ways from cognition in general. We develop this idea on the background of the claim that social cognition is nothing but a type of causal inference. We focus on autism as our test-case, and propose that a specific type of problem with common knowledge processing is implicated in challenges to social cognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This (...) problem has to do with the individual’s assessment of the reliability of messages that are passed between people as common knowledge emerges. The proposal is developed on the background of our own empirical studies and outlines different ways common knowledge might be comprised. We discuss what these issues may tell us about ASD, about the relation between social and non-social cognition, about social objects, and about the dynamics of social networks. (shrink)
The search for the neural correlates of consciousness is in need of a systematic, principled foundation that can endow putative neural correlates with greater predictive and explanatory value. Here, we propose the predictive processing framework for brain function as a promising candidate for providing this systematic foundation. The proposal is motivated by that framework’s ability to address three general challenges to identifying the neural correlates of consciousness, and to satisfy two constraints common to many theories of consciousness. Implementing the search (...) for neural correlates of consciousness through the lens of predictive processing delivers strong potential for predictive and explanatory value through detailed, systematic mappings between neural substrates and phenomenological structure. We conclude that the predictive processing framework, precisely because it at the outset is not itself a theory of consciousness, has significant potential for advancing the neuroscience of consciousness. (shrink)
The notion of a level of consciousness is a key construct in the science of consciousness. Not only is the term employed to describe the global states of consciousness that are associated with post-comatose disorders, epileptic absence seizures, anaesthesia, and sleep, it plays an increasingly influential role in theoretical and methodological contexts. However, it is far from clear what precisely a level of consciousness is supposed to be. This paper argues that the levels-based framework for conceptualizing global states of consciousness (...) is untenable and develops in its place a multidimensional account of global states. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider how certain longstanding philosophical questions about mental representation may be answered on the assumption that cognitive and perceptual systems implement hierarchical generative models, such as those discussed within the prediction error minimization framework. We build on existing treatments of representation via structural resemblance, such as those in Gładziejewski :559–582, 2016) and Gładziejewski and Miłkowski, to argue for a representationalist interpretation of the PEM framework. We further motivate the proposed approach to content by arguing that it (...) is consistent with approaches implicit in theories of unsupervised learning in neural networks. In the course of this discussion, we argue that the structural representation proposal, properly understood, has more in common with functional-role than with causal/informational or teleosemantic theories. In the remainder of the paper, we describe the PEM framework for approximate Bayesian inference in some detail, and discuss how structural representations might arise within the proposed Bayesian hierarchies. After explicating the notion of variational inference, we define a subjectively accessible measure of misrepresentation for hierarchical Bayesian networks by appeal to the Kullbach–Leibler divergence between posterior generative and approximate recognition densities, and discuss a related measure of objective misrepresentation in terms of correspondence with the facts. (shrink)
The effect of the body transfer illusion on the perceived strength of self- and externally-generated “tickle” sensations was investigated. As expected, externally generated movement produced significantly higher ratings of tickliness than those associated with self-generated movements. Surprisingly, the body transfer illusion had no influence on the ratings of tickliness, suggesting that highly surprising, and therefore hard to predict, experiences of body image and first-person perspective do not abolish the attenuation of tickle sensations. In addition, evidence was found that a version (...) of the rubber hand illusion exists within the body transfer illusion. We situate our findings within the larger debate over sensory attenuation: there is an attenuation of prediction errors that depends upon the context in which sensory input is predicted , and sensory attenuation is a necessary consequence of self-generated movement irrespective of context . The results support the notion of active inference. (shrink)
This chapter seeks to recover an approach to consciousness from a general theory of brain function, namely the prediction error minimization theory. The way this theory applies to mental and developmental disorder demonstrates its relevance to consciousness. The resulting view is discussed in relation to a contemporary theory of consciousness, namely the idea that conscious perception depends on Bayesian metacognition; this theory is also supported by considerations of psychopathology. This Bayesian theory is first disconnected from the higher-order thought theory, and (...) then, via a prediction error conception of action, connected instead to the global neuronal workspace theory. Considerations of mental and developmental disorder therefore show that a very general theory of brain function is relevant to explaining the structure of conscious perception; furthermore, this theory can subsume and unify two contemporary approaches to consciousness, in a move that seeks to elucidate the fundamental mechanism for selection of representational content into consciousness. (shrink)
Creatures that have different physical realizations than human beings may or may not be conscious. Ned Block’s ‘harder problem of consciousness’ is that naturalistic phenomenal realists have no conception of a rational ground for belief that they have or have not discovered consciousness in such a creature. Drawing on the notion of inference to the best explanation, it appears the arguments to these conclusions beg the question and ignore that explanation may be a guide to discovery. Thus, best explanation can (...) both validate an interpretation of the evidence and lead to the discovery of consciousness. (shrink)
Most of us have a very firm belief in mental causation; that is, we firmly believe that our own distinctly mental properties are causally efficacious in the production of our behavior. This belief is dominating in contemporary philosophy of mind as a part of the causal explanatory exclusion problem for non-reductive materialists. I do not discuss the exclusion problem; rather, I assess the conception of mental causation that is presupposed in the current debate. I propose that in order to make (...) sense of our firm belief in mental causation we need to operate with a broader conception of it than is normally seen, focusing on common-sense aspects concerning the timing, awareness, control, and tracking of mental causation. However, prominent studies in social psychology and cognitive neuroscience show that mental causation is not as self-evident, robust, and pervasive as our firm belief in it would suggest. There is therefore a tension between the common-sense, broad conception of mental causation and our empirical evidence for mental causation. A full defense of mental causation is not just a matter of securing causal efficacy but also of situating our notion of mental properties in relation to difficult issues concerning awareness, control, and judgment. (shrink)
Disorders of consciousness include coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state. Such patients are often regarded as unconscious. This has consequences for end of life decisions for these patients: it is much easier to justify withdrawing life support for unconscious than conscious patients. Recent brain imaging research has however suggested that some patients may in fact be conscious.