I want in this paper to do two things. First, I want to respond to some studies that argue that people are often not rational: that people regularly and systematically depart from rationality. The conclusion itself does not worry me. I pressed for the same in a recent book. But the arguments seem to me wrong, and wrong in an interesting way. There may be something to be learned from seeing how and why they fail.
Our intuitive assumption that only organisms are the real individuals in the natural world is at odds with developments in cell biology, ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and other fields. Although organisms have served for centuries as nature’s paradigmatic individuals, science suggests that organisms are only one of the many ways in which the natural world could be organized. When living beings work together—as in ant colonies, beehives, and bacteria-metazoan symbiosis—new collective individuals can emerge. In this book, leading scholars consider the (...) biological and philosophical implications of the emergence of these new collective individuals from associations of living beings. The topics they consider range from metaphysical issues to biological research on natural selection, sociobiology, and symbiosis. -/- The contributors investigate individuality and its relationship to evolution and the specific concept of organism; the tension between group evolution and individual adaptation; and the structure of collective individuals and the extent to which they can be defined by the same concept of individuality. These new perspectives on evolved individuality should trigger important revisions to both philosophical and biological conceptions of the individual. -/- Contributors: Frédéric Bouchard, Ellen Clarke, Jennifer Fewell, Andrew Gardner, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Charles J. Goodnight, Matt Haber, Andrew Hamilton, Philippe Huneman, Samir Okasha, Thomas Pradeu, Scott Turner, Minus van Baalen. (shrink)
We argue that a fashionable interpretation of the theory of natural selection as a claim exclusively about populations is mistaken. The interpretation rests on adopting an analysis of fitness as a probabilistic propensity which cannot be substantiated, draws parallels with thermodynamics which are without foundations, and fails to do justice to the fundamental distinction between drift and selection. This distinction requires a notion of fitness as a pairwise comparison between individuals taken two at a time, and so vitiates the interpretation (...) of the theory as one about populations exclusively. (shrink)
This is an important new book about human motivation, about the reasons people have for their actions. What is distinctively new about it is its focus on how people see or understand their situations, options, and prospects. By taking account of people's understandings, Professor Schick is able to expand the current theory of decision and action. The author provides a perspective on the topic by outlining its history. He defends his new theory against criticism, considers its formal structure, and shows (...) at length how it resolves many currently debated problems: the problems of conflict and weakness of will, Allais' problem, Kahneman and Tversky's problems, Newcomb's problem, and others. The book will be of special interest to philosophers, psychologists, and economists. (shrink)
Although an invasive medical intervention, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) has been regarded as an efficient and safe treatment of Parkinson’s disease for the last 20 years. In terms of clinical ethics, it is worth asking whether the use of DBS may have unanticipated negative effects similar to those associated with other types of psychosurgery. Clinical studies of epileptic patients who have undergone an anterior temporal lobectomy have identified a range of side effects and complications in a number of domains: psychological, (...) behavioural, affective and social. In many cases, patients express difficulty adjusting from being chronically ill to their new status as ‘treated’ or ‘seizure free’. This postoperative response adjustment has been described in the literature on epilepsy as the ‘Burden of Normality’ (BoN) syndrome. Most of the discussion about DBS postoperative changes to self is focused on abnormal side effects caused by the intervention (ie, hypersexuality, hypomania, etc). By contrast, relatively little attention is paid to the idea that successfully ‘treated’ individuals might experience difficulties in adjusting to becoming ‘normal’. The purpose of this paper is (1) to articulate the postoperative DBS psychosocial adjustment process in terms of the BoN syndrome, (2) to address whether the BoN syndrome illustrates that DBS treatment poses a threat to the patient’s identity, and (3) to examine whether the current framework for rehabilitation after DBS procedures should be updated and take into account the BoN syndrome as a postoperative self-change response. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to shed light on Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) postoperative suicidality risk factors within Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) patients, in particular by focusing on the ethical concern of enrolling patient with history of self-estrangement, suicide attempts and impulsive–aggressive inclinations. In order to illustrate these ethical issues we report and review a clinical case associated with postoperative feelings of self-estrangement, self-harm behaviours and suicide attempt leading to the removal of DBS devices. Could prospectively identifying and excluding (...) patients with suicidality risk factors from DBS experimental trials—such as history of self-estrangement, suicide attempts and impulsive–aggressive inclinations—lead to minimizing the risk of suicidality harm? (shrink)
This book is a unique introductory overview of decision theory. It is completely non-technical, without a single formula in the book. Written in a crisp and clear style it succinctly covers the full range of philosophical issues of rationality and decision theory, including game theory, social choice theory, prisoner's dilemma and much else. The book aims to expand the scope and enrich the foundations of decision theory. By addressing such issues as ambivalence, inner conflict, and the constraints imposed upon us (...) by our attachments to others, Frederic Schick reveals that our thinking is often more subtle than standard theories of rationality allow. Only a theory that respects that subtlety can illumine what is otherwise puzzling. The book contains many examples drawn from history and literature dealing with subjects such as love, war, friendship, and crime. (shrink)
Ecological fitness has been suggested to provide a unifying definition of fitness. However, a metric for this notion of fitness was in most cases unavailable except by proxy with differential reproductive success. In this article, I show how differential persistence of lineages can be used as a way to assess ecological fitness. This view is inspired by a better understanding of the evolution of some clonal plants, colonial organisms, and ecosystems. Differential persistence shows the limitation of an ensemblist noncausal understanding (...) of evolution. Causal explanations are necessary to understand the evolution by natural selection of these biological systems. †To contact the author write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Montreal, P.O. Box 6128, Station Centre‐Ville, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3J7 Canada; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
In this book Frederic Schick develops his challenge to standard decision theory. He argues that talk of the beliefs and desires of an agent is not sufficient to explain choices. To account for a given choice we need to take into consideration how the agent understands the problem, how he sees in a selective way the options open to him. The author applies his new logic to a host of common human predicaments. Why do people in choice experiments act so (...) often against expectations? Why do people cooperate in situations where textbook logic predicts that they won't? What exactly is weakness of will? What are people reporting when they say their lives have no meaning for them? This book questions the foundations of technical and philosophical decision theory and will appeal to all those who work in that field, be they philosophers, economists and psychologists. (shrink)
Although being generally safe, the use of Deep Brain Stimulation has been associated with a significant number of patients experiencing postoperative psychological and neurological harm within experimental trials. A proportion of these postoperative severe adverse effects have lead to the decision to medically prescribe device deactivation or removal. However, there is little debate in the literature as to what is in the patient’s best interest when device removal has been prescribed; in particular, what should be the conceptual approach to ethically (...) guide the decision to remove or maintain implants. The purpose of this article is to examine the ethical issues raised when patients refuse brain device explantation despite medical prescription. In order to illustrate these issues, we report and discuss a clinical case involving a patient suffering from treatment resistant depression who experienced forms of postoperative self-estrangement, as well as suicidal attempts, but who resists giving consent to device explantation. (shrink)
Following Wallace’s suggestion, Darwin framed his theory using Spencer’s expression “survival of the fittest”. Since then, fitness occupies a significant place in the conventional understanding of Darwinism, even though the explicit meaning of the term ‘fitness’ is rarely stated. In this paper I examine some of the different roles that fitness has played in the development of the theory. Whereas the meaning of fitness was originally understood in ecological terms, it took a statistical turn in terms of reproductive success throughout (...) the 20th Century. This has lead to the ever-increasing importance of sexually reproducing organisms and the populations they compose in evolutionary explanations. I will argue that, moving forward, evolutionary theory should look back at its ecological roots in order to be more inclusive in the type of systems it examines. Many biological systems can only be satisfactorily accounted for by offering a non-reproductive account of fitness. This argument will be made by examining biological systems with very small or transient population structures. I argue this has significant consequences for how we define Darwinism, increasing the significance of survival over that of reproduction. (shrink)
The article Deflating the "DBS causes personality changes" bubble, written by Frederic Gilbert, J. N. M. Viaña and C. Ineichen, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal on 19 June 2018 without open access.
An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of "habitus," as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist (...) version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of "habitus" and "field." To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field. (shrink)
Clinical cases of frontal lobe lesions have been significantly associated with acquired aggressive behaviour. Restoring neuronal and cognitive faculties of aggressive individuals through invasive brain intervention raises ethical questions in general. However, more questions have to be addressed in cases where individuals refuse surgical treatment. The ethical desirability and permissibility of using intrusive surgical brain interventions for involuntary or voluntary treatment of acquired aggressiveness is highly questionable. This article engages with the description of acquired aggressiveness in general, and presents a (...) rare clinical case to illustrate the difficulties of treating this population. To expand the debate further, this article explores the ethics related to invasive brain surgery in three parts: a) it examines coercive involuntary invasive brain surgery for the benefit of protecting others on individuals suffering from acquired aggressiveness who lack decision-making capacities to consent; b) it addresses voluntary psychosurgery on individuals suffering from acquired aggressiveness who are competent to consent; and, c) it questions whether acquired aggressive individuals, who are legally competent, have a duty to consent to invasive brain surgery, in order to maintain their autonomy by reducing or even eliminate their aggressive drives. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of surgical brain interventions could increase the ethical permissibility of voluntary treatment, but it would not necessarily entail ethical justification for proceeding with invasive brain surgery for treatment of intractable acquired aggressive behaviour. (shrink)
One of intuitions driving the acceptance of a neat structured tree of life is the assumption that organisms and the lineages they form have somewhat stable spatial and temporal boundaries. The phenomenon of symbiosis shows us that such ‘fixist’ assumptions does not correspond to how the natural world actually works. The implications of lateral gene transfer (LGT) have been discussed elsewhere; I wish to stress a related point. I will focus on lateral function transfer (LFT) and will argue, using examples (...) of what many would call ‘superorganisms’, that the emergence of symbiotic individuals revives the importance of functional and adaptationist thinking in how we conceptualize the lineages of biological individuals. The consequence of the argument is that, if we really want to hold onto tree of life thinking, we had better accept that new saplings appear and disappear all the time. (shrink)
Building upon a non-standard understanding of evolutionary process focusing on variation and persistence, I will argue that communities and ecosystems can evolve by natural selection as emergent individuals. Evolutionary biology has relied ever increasingly on the modeling of population dynamics. Most have taken for granted that we all agree on what is a population. Recent work has reexamined this perceived consensus. I will argue that there are good reasons to restrict the term “population” to collections of monophyletically related replicators and (...) interactors, which explains why many existing models in population biology exclude by definition many genuine evolving biological individuals such as communities and ecosystems. By studying a case of community evolution, we will see that it is variation that is important to evolutionary processes, not populations. Variation within a population is only one of many types of variation that can lead to evolution by natural selection. The upshot of focusing on variation is that cases of community and ecosystem adaptive change become tractable in evolutionary terms. I will show that complex emergent individuals such as communities and ecosystems cannot be fully accommodated by conventional population/reproduction models but can be accommodated by variation/persistence models. (shrink)
Levi’s work in decision theory has for many years been a major influence on the field. His writings have raised important new issues and opened new lines of inquiry. This collection of his papers brings out the range of his recent studies and the close bearing of his work on the work of others.
E. O. Wilson (1974: 54) describes the problem that social organisms pose: “On what bases do we distinguish the extremely modified members of an invertebrate colony from the organs of a metazoan animal?” This framing of the issue has inspired many to look more closely at how groups of organisms form and behave as emergent individuals. The possible existence of “superorganisms” test our best intuitions about what can count and act as genuine biological individuals and how we should study them. (...) As we will discuss, colonies of certain organisms display many of the properties that we usually reserve only to individual organisms. Although there is good reason to believe that many social insects form genuine emergent biological individuals, the conclusion offered here is of a slightly different sort. I will argue that to understand some social insects' interactions and the emergent traits they give rise to, it may be helpful to shift our understanding from a community-level approach to an ecosystem-level approach. I will argue that viewing certain insect colonies (termites) as parts of ecosystems allows us to better understand some of the adaptations that have emerged from their evolution. (shrink)
At the phenomenal level, consciousness can be described as a singular, unified field of recursive self-awareness, consistently coherent in a particualr way; that of a subject located both spatially and temporally in an egocentrically-extended domain, such that conscious self-awareness is explicitly characterized by I-ness, now-ness and here-ness. The psychological mechanism underwriting this spatiotemporal self-locatedness and its recursive processing style involves an evolutionary elaboration of the basic orientative reference frame which consistently structures ongoing spatiotemporal self-location computations as i-here-now. Cognition computes action-output (...) in the midst of ongoing movement, and consequently requires a constant self-locating spatiotemporal reference frame as basis for these computations. Over time, constant evolutionary pressures for energy efficiency have encouraged both the proliferation of anticipative feedforward processing mechansims, and the elaboration, at the apex of the sensorimotor processing hierarchy, of self-activating, highly attenuated recursively-feedforward circuitry processing the basic orientational schema independent of external action output. As the primary reference frame of active waking cognition, this recursive i-here-now processing generates a zone of subjective self-awareness in terms of which it feels like something to be oneself here and now. This is consciousness. (shrink)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is optimistically portrayed in contemporary media. This already happened with psychosurgery during the first half of the twentieth century. The tendency of popular media to hype the benefits of DBS therapies, without equally highlighting risks, fosters public expectations also due to the lack of ethical analysis in the scientific literature. Media are not expected (and often not prepared) to raise the ethical issues which remain unaddressed by the scientific community. To obtain a more objective portrayal of (...) DBS in the media, a deeper collaboration between the science community and journalists, and particularly specialized ones, must be promoted. Access to databases and articles, directly or through science media centers, has also been proven effective in increasing the quality of reporting. This article has three main objectives. Firstly, to explore the past media coverage of leukotomy, and to examine its widespread acceptance and the neglect of ethical issues in its depiction. Secondly, to describe how current enthusiastic coverage of DBS causes excessive optimism and neglect of ethical issues in patients. Thirdly, to discuss communication models and strategies to enhance media and science responsibility. (shrink)
The twentieth century Russian philosopher Nikolai Lossky was one of the earliest and most important proponents—but also critics—of Bergson’s philosophy in Russia at a time when many Russian philosophers were preoccupied with the same complex of philosophical questions and answers that Bergson was addressing. Thus, if only from the standpoint of intellectual history, Lossky is central to the study of the reception of Bergson in Russia. In this article, I present the principal historical links, points of agreement between Bergson and (...) Lossky, such as their respective anti-Kantianism, intuitivism, ontological realism, vitalism, organicism, Neo-Platonism, as well as their points of disagreement, including some of Lossky’s key criticisms of Bergson, with special emphasis on the issues of intuition, ideal being, substance and change, time, and sensible qualities. This paper is meant as an introduction to the translations of Lossky’s “Heдocтaтки гнoceoлoгiи Бepгcoнa и влiянie иxъ нa eгo мeтaфизикy” (The Defects of Bergson’s Epistemology and Their Consequences on His Metaphysics) (1913) and his review of Bergson’s, Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion (1932), which are published in the present issue of Studies in East European Thought. (shrink)
One of the trademarks of Nicolai Hartmann’s ontology is his theory of levels of reality. Hartmann drew from many sources to develop his version of the theory. His essay “Die Anfänge des Schichtungsgedankens in der alten Philosophie” testifies of the fact that he drew from Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus. But this text was written relatively late in Hartmann’s career, which suggests that his interest in the theories of levels of the ancients may have been retrospective. In “Nicolai Hartmann und seine (...) Zeitgenossen,” Martin Morgenstern puts the emphasis on contemporaries of Hartmann: Émile Boutroux, Max Scheler, Heinrich Rickert, Karl Jaspers, and Arnold Gehlen. But there is another plausible source for Hartmann’s conception of levels that has so far remained overlooked in the literature. Hartmann studied with and was influenced by Nikolai Lossky. Lossky has a theory of levels that he adopted from Vladimir Solovyov. Solovyov presents his theory of levels, among other places, in Oпpaвдaнie дoбpa, where he says that the five principal stages of the cosmogonic process of ascension toward universal perfection, which are given in experience, are the mineral or inorganic realm, the vegetal realm, the animal realm, the realm of natural humanity, and the realm of spiritual or divine humanity. This theory appears to bear significant similarities with the theory of levels of reality that Hartmann will develop a few decades later. Solovyov was widely read in Russia and it would be unlikely that Hartmann was not at least minimally acquainted with his work. Chances are that Hartmann came into contact with it in some details. An intellectual lineage could thus likely be traced from Hartmann back to Solovyov. In this paper, I document and discuss this possible lineage. (shrink)
Nikolai Lossky is key to the history of the Husserl-Rezeption in Russia. He was the first to publish a review of the Russian translation of Husserl’s first volume of the Logische Untersuchungen that appeared in 1909. He also published a presentation and criticism of Husserl’s transcendental idealism in 1939. An English translation of both of Lossky’s publications is offered in this volume for the first time. The present paper, which is intended as an introduction to these documents, situates Lossky within (...) the Rezeptionsgeschichte of Husserl in Russia and explains why he is central to it. It also explains what Lossky principally found in Husserl: he saw in the latter’s critique of psychologism support for his own ontology, epistemology, and axiology. Lossky characterizes his ontology as an ideal-realism. According to ideal-realism, both the realm of ideal beings and the realm of real beings are mind-independent. Per his epistemology, which he calls “intuitivism,” real beings are intuited by sensual intuition and ideal beings by intellectual intuition. The realm of ideal beings includes the subrealm of values, which is intuited by axiological intuition. This thoroughly realist conception contrasted sharply with the subjectivist tendencies of the time. So, when Lossky took cognizance of Husserl’s critique of psychologism, he thereupon found an ally in his battle against the various subjectivisms. But, when Husserl took the transcendental idealist turn, Lossky was at the forefront of the backlash against the new direction Husserl wanted to give to phenomenology. (shrink)
This is a review of Alexandre Kojève, The Religious Metaphysics of Vladimir Solovyov, translated by Ilya Merlin and Mikhail Pozdniakov, Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018. This slim book is a translation of Kojève’s essay “La métaphysique religieuse de Vladimir Soloviev,” which was first published in two installments in the Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses in 1934. The French text was itself based on Kojève’s doctoral dissertation, Die religiöse Philosophie Wladimir Solowjews, defended in Heidelberg under the direction of Karl Jaspers (...) in 1926. The translation is accompanied by an introduction from the translators discussing translation issues. In this review, I summarize Kojève’s essay and editorialize on the issue of the principal influences on Solovyov’s metaphysics. Kojève claims that most of Solovyov’s metaphysics was in fact borrowed from Schelling and perhaps also to some extent from Jakob Böhme. If that is the case, then what is usually considered the prototypical Russian metaphysics is... not Russian. (shrink)