The present paper unravels ontological and normative conditions of personhood for the purpose of critiquing ‘Cognitivist Views’. Such views have attracted much attention and affirmation by presenting the ontology of personhood in terms of higher-order cognition on the basis of which normative practices are explained and justified. However, these normative conditions are invoked to establish the alleged ontology in the first place. When we want to know what kind of entity has full moral status, it is tempting to establish an (...) ontology that fits our moral intuitions about who should qualify for such unique normative standing. But this approach conflates personhood’s ontology and normativity insofar as it stresses the primacy of the former while implicitly presupposing the latter; it thereby suffers from a ‘Normative Fallacy’ by inferring from ‘ought’ to ‘is’. Following my critique of Cognitivism, I sketch an alternative conception, contending that, whereas the Cognitivist ontology of personhood presupposes the normative, a social ontology is constituted by it. In due consideration of evidence from developmental psychology, the social embeddedness of persons—manifested in the ability of taking a ‘second-person stance’—is identified as a key feature of personhood that precedes higher-order cognition, and is directly linked to basic normative concerns. (shrink)
Mobile health devices pose novel questions at the intersection of philosophy and technology. Many such applications not only collect sensitive data, but also aim at persuading users to change their lifestyle for the better. A major concern is that persuasion is paternalistic as it intentionally aims at changing the agent’s actions, chipping away at their autonomy. This worry roots in the philosophical conviction that perhaps the most salient feature of living autonomous lives is displayed via agency as opposed to patiency—our (...) lives go well in virtue of what we do, rather than what happens to us. Being persuaded by a device telling us how to conduct our lives seemingly renders the agent passive, an inert recipient of technological commands. This agential bias, however, has led to a marginalization of patiential characteristics that are just as much part of our lives as are agential characteristics. To appreciate the inherent interlocking of acting and being acted upon, it is vital to acknowledge that agency and patiency are correlates, not mutually exclusive opposites. Furthermore, it is unclear whether an action can only count as agential so long as its causes are internal. Drawing on the extended mind and extended will framework, I argue that mHealth applications merely serve as volitional aids to the agent’s internal cognition. Autonomously set goals can be achieved more effectively via technology. To be persuaded by an mHealth device does not mainly—let alone exclusively—emphasize patiency; on the contrary, it can be an effective tool for technologically enhancing agency. (shrink)
In philosophy, the criteria for personhood (PH) at a specific point in time (synchronic), and the necessary and sufficient conditions of personal identity (PI) over time (diachronic) are traditionally separated. Hence, the transition between both timescales of a person's life remains largely unclear. Personal habits reflect a decision-making (DM) process that binds together synchronic and diachronic timescales. Despite the fact that the actualization of habits takes place synchronically, they presuppose, for the possibility of their generation, time in a diachronic sense. (...) The acquisition of habits therefore rests upon PI over time; that is, the temporal extension of personal decisions is the necessary condition for the possible development of habits. Conceptually, habits can thus be seen as a bridge between synchronic and diachronic timescales of a person's life. In order to investigate the empirical mediation of this temporal linkage, we draw upon the neuronal mechanisms underlying DM; in particular on the distinction between internally and externally guided DM. Externally guided DM relies on external criteria at a specific point in time (synchronic); on a neural level, this has been associated with lateral frontal and parietal brain regions. In contrast, internally guided DM is based on the person's own preferences that involve a more longitudinal and thus diachronic timescale, which has been associated with the brain's intrinsic activity. Habits can be considered to reflect a balance between internally and externally guided DM, which implicates a particular temporal balance between diachronic and synchronic elements, thus linking two different timescales. Based on such evidence, we suggest a habit-based neurophilosophical approach of PH and PI by focusing on the empirically-based linkage between the synchronic and diachronic elements of habits. By doing so, we propose to link together what philosophically has been described and analyzed separately as PH and PI. (shrink)
Ethical questions have traditionally been approached through conceptual analysis. Inspired by the rapid advance of modern brain imaging techniques, however, some ethical questions appear in a new light. For example, hotly debated trolley dilemmas have recently been studied by psychologists and neuroscientists alike, arguing that their findings can support or debunk moral intuitions that underlie those dilemmas. Resulting from the wedding of philosophy and neuroscience, neuroethics has emerged as a novel interdisciplinary field that aims at drawing conclusive relationships between neuroscientific (...) observations and normative ethics. A major goal of neuroethics is to derive normative ethical conclusions from the investigation of neural and psychological mechanisms underlying ethical theories, as well as moral judgments and intuitions. The focus of this article is to shed light on the structure and functioning of neuroethical arguments of this sort, and to reveal particular methodological challenges that lie concealed therein. We discuss the methodological problem of how one can—or, as the case may be, cannot—validly infer normative conclusions from neuroscientific observations. Moreover, we raise the issue of how preexisting normative ethical convictions threaten to invalidate the interpretation of neuroscientific data, and thus arrive at question-begging conclusions. Nonetheless, this is not to deny that current neuroethics rightly presumes that moral considerations about actual human lives demand empirically substantiated answers. Therefore, in conclusion, we offer some preliminary reflections on how the discussed methodological challenges can be met. (shrink)
Brain transplant thought experiments figure prominently in the debate on personal identity. Such hypotheticals are usually taken to provide support for psychological continuity theories. This standard interpretation has recently been challenged by Marya Schechtman. Simon Beck argues that Schechtman's critique rests upon ‘two costly mistakes’—claiming that (1) when evaluating these cases, philosophers mistakenly try to figure out the intuitions that they think people inhabiting such a possible world ought to have, instead of pondering their own intuitions. Beck further asserts that (...) (2) brain transplant thought experiments cannot confirm any given theory of personal identity but rather they can only rule out theories. I argue on grounds of the social ontology of personhood that Beck has things back to front. Since our concept of personhood is shaped and informed by contingent de facto norms and structures of the natural world, and as such is heavily normatively laden, the conceptual genesis of personhood must be taken into account. This calls for constructing thought experiments as realistically as possible in order to trigger reliable intuitions. Furthermore, drawing on recent evidence from cognitive science, an empirically informed look at brain transplant thought experiments considering ‘Embodied Cognition’ reveals that Beck's arguments not only fall short for supporting psychological continuity theories, but also suggests an advantage of Schechtman's ‘Person Life View’. (shrink)
Persons are widely believed to be rational, planning agents that are both author and main character of their life stories. A major goal is to keep these narratives coherent as they unfold, and part of a fulfilled life allegedly stems from this coherence. My aim is to challenge these convictions by considering two related claims about persons and their lives. Contrary to the widespread theoretical conviction in philosophy of mind and action, persons are fundamentally emotional and affective rather than rational (...) and deliberative beings. And so, on a practical level, persons need not constantly aspire to integrate their past, present, and future into a coherent whole in order to live fulfilled lives. Needless to say, I cannot hope to defend these claims and their relation in great detail with a few brief strokes. In addition to theoretical reflections, I discuss some practical implications and potential benefits that come with discarding the daunting task of continuously keeping track of one's life story. Drawing on insights from a contemplative Buddhist tale, I venture that the practice of letting go can break the spell, and give rise to an alleviating source of liberation from life's troubles.Export citation. (shrink)
Nils-Frederic Wagner takes issue with my argument that influential critics of “transplant” thought experiments make two cardinal mistakes. He responds that the mistakes I identify are not mistakes at all. The mistakes are rather on my part, in that I have not taken into account the conceptual genesis of personhood, that my view of thought experiments is idiosyncratic and possibly self-defeating, and in that I have ignored important empirical evidence about the relationship between brains and minds. I argue that (...) my case still stands and that transplant thought experiments can do damage to rivals of a psychological continuity theory of personal identity like Marya Schechtman’s Person Life View. (shrink)
Psychiatry as a discipline oscillates between the language of emotions and that of biology; ranging from the immersion into the subjective experience of another person to the objective approach of biomedical science. The tension between these different approaches may seem irreconcilable and confusing to some. This was not the case for Karl Jaspers who pioneered a systematic reflection on the concepts underlying psychiatric theory and practice. In this essay, we engage with Jaspers' thinking and create a dialogue with contemporary psychiatric (...) research and philosophy of mind. Jaspers' conception of erklären and verstehen and his position on research in the neuroscience of mental disorders is brought together with the thought of Thomas Nagel and John Searle. We argue for the compatibility of Jaspers' ideas with Nagel's and Searle's views on the mind/body problem. Furthermore, we look at current trends in biological research in psychiatry through the lens of Jaspers' General Psychopathology, from there we derive suggestions and insights for psychiatric theory and practice. (shrink)
I am very grateful to Simon Beck for his thoughtful response to my paper “Transplanting Brains?” (2016). Needless to say, he raises more issues than I can hope to answer in a brief response. While Beck seemingly feels that the deck has been stacked against him, I think that the majority of his criticisms result from misconceptions and misunderstandings that I intend to straighten out in what follows. Before proceeding, I would like to draw attention to a worry that is (...) lurking in the shadows. Perhaps Beck and I talk at cross purposes. While Beck is concerned with a metaphysical theory of personal identity that supposedly holds across all possible worlds—and as such places heavy importance on counterfactuals and intuitions—I am concerned only with the natural world with the aim of generating empirically substantiated hypotheses about how things really are when it comes to persons persisting through time. Now, here is a disclaimer: If the natural world does not exhaust reality, then my discussion is only partial. It goes without saying that most contemporary philosophers given a choice between going with science and going with intuitions, go with science. (shrink)
When it comes to improving the health of the general population, mHealth technologies with self-monitoring and intervention components hold a lot of promise. We argue, however, that due to various factors such as access, targeting, personal resources or incentives, self-monitoring applications run the risk of increasing health inequalities, thereby creating a problem of social justice. We review empirical evidence for “intervention-generated” inequalities, present arguments that self-monitoring applications are still morally acceptable, and develop approaches to avoid the promotion of health inequalities (...) through self-monitoring applications. (shrink)
According to several recent studies, a big chunk of college students in North America and Europe uses so called ‘smart drugs' to enhance their cognitive capacities aiming at improving their academic performance. With these practices, there comes a certain moral unease. This unease is shared by many, yet it is difficult to pinpoint and in need of justification. Other than simply pointing to the medical risks coming along with using non-prescribed medication, the salient moral question is whether these practices are (...) troubling in and of themselves. In due consideration of empirical insights into the concrete effects of smart drugs on brain and behavior, our attempt is to articulate wherein this moral unease consists and to argue for why the authors believe cognitive enhancement to be morally objectionable. The authors will contend that the moral problem with these practices lies less in the end it seeks, than in the underlying human disposition it expresses and promotes. Some might ask, what is wrong with molding our cognitive capacities to achieve excellence, get a competitive edge, or, as the whim takes us? In all of these occasions, the usage of smart drugs serves a certain goal, a telos. The goal is, broadly speaking, this: outsmarting opponents in an arms race for limited resources and thereby yielding a competitive edge. In plain words: competition is valued higher than cooperation or solidarity. What is wrong with striving for this goal? The authors submit that the question whether people really want to live in a society that promotes the mentality ‘individual competition over societal cooperation' deserves serious consideration. In developing their answer, the authors draw on an ‘Ethics of Constraint' framework, arguing that widespread off-label use of smart drugs bears the risk of negative neural/behavioral consequences for the individual that might, in the long run, be accompanied by changing social value orientations for the worse. (shrink)
In this article we critically review the neural mechanisms of moral cognition that have recently been studied via electroencephalography (EEG). Such studies promise to shed new light on traditional moral questions by helping us to understand how effective moral cognition is embodied in the brain. It has been argued that conflicting normative ethical theories require different cognitive features and can, accordingly, in a broadly conceived naturalistic attempt, be associated with different brain processes that are rooted in different brain networks and (...) regions. This potentially morally relevant brain activity has been empirically investigated through EEG-based studies on moral cognition. From neuroscientific evidence gathered in these studies, a variety of normative conclusions have been drawn and bioethical applications have been suggested. We discuss methodological and theoretical merits and demerits of the attempt to use EEG techniques in a morally significant way, point to legal challenges and policy implications, indicate the potential to reveal biomarkers of psychopathological conditions, and consider issues that might inform future bioethical work. (shrink)
Schizophrenia is a disturbance of the self, of which the attribution of agency is a major component. In this article, we review current theories of the Sense of Agency, their relevance to schizophrenia, and propose a novel framework for future research. We explore some of the models of agency, in which both bottom-up and top-down processes are implicated in the genesis of agency. We further this line of inquiry by suggesting that ongoing neurological activity (the brain’s resting state) in self-referential (...) regions of the brain can provide a deeper level of influence beyond what the current models capture. Based on neuroimaging studies, we suggest that aberrant activity in regions such as the default mode network of individuals with schizophrenia can lead to a misattribution of internally/externally generated stimuli. This can result in symptoms such as thought insertion and delusions of control. Consequently, neuroimaging can contribute to a more comprehensive conceptualization and measurement of agency and potential treatment implications. (shrink)
Review:Die Kunst vernetzt zu denken: Ideen und Werkzeuge für einen neuen Umgang mit Komplexität [The Art of Network Thinking: Ideas and Tools for a New Way of Dealing with Complexity.] Book by Frederic Vester . Published by Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart, Germany, 1999, , 315 pp., ISBN 3-421-05308-1, EUR 22.80. , Munich, Germany, 2002, 348 pp, ISBN 3-423-33077-5, EUR 12.50).
What does it mean to persist as an individual person throughout the course of a lifetime? Wagner develops a theory that regards persons as psychophysical actors whose identity is determined by the contingent de facto norms and structures of the world of action. Personal identity is understood as being a potentially mutable relationship that localizes our existence on a continuum between humanness and personhood.
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.
Frédéric Chopin is the epitome of the romantic artist; he had a chronic pulmonary disease that ultimately caused his death at the age of 39. An overlooked neurological condition is discussed in this paper. We consider the possibility of a temporal lobe epilepsy, as throughout his life Chopin had hallucinatory episodes, which can accompany seizure disorders.
This paper analyses the life and work of the historian Frederic C. Lane, Assistant Director of the Social Sciences for the Rockefeller Foundation in Europe, 1951–1954. During this period, Lane worked in close contact with Joseph Willits – head of the Social Sciences Division – and contributed to the definition of Rockefeller policies towards Europe during an early stage of the Cold War.
Le nouveau livre de Frédéric Brahami montre comment il faut considérer globalement la réaction des penseurs postrévolutionnaires à la Révolution pour saisir la façon dont s’est élaborée la philosophie politique qui est encore la nôtre, pour autant que nous lisions notre actualité politique à la lumière des sciences sociales. Pour fournir les schèmes de notre pensée politique, il a fallu que les critiques contre-révolutionnaires de la modernité politique soient reprises par les progressistes sensibles à la « question sociale ». (...) La pensée sociale du xixe siècle pouvait alors dégager la raison immanente aux mœurs modernes, en découvrant la double nécessité d’en faire l’objet d’une science et de les comprendre politiquement. Au-delà d’une généalogie alternative et stimulante de la politique moderne, c’est tout une philosophie de l’histoire sociale et intellectuelle qui est là engagée, au terme de laquelle nos sociétés démocratiques apparaissent comme ces sociétés qui ne cessent de se réfléchir elles-mêmes en se pensant politiquement. (shrink)
Though his best-selling novel of school life Eric, or, Little by Little: A Tale of Roslyn School has over the years been the subject of much attention, the wider educational thought and practice of Frederic William Farrar, teacher, novelist, scientist, classicist, theologian, and Dean of Canterbury, has for the most part been neglected by scholars. This paper discusses certain aspects of Farrar the educationist, including his distinctive evangelical attitude toward children; his fervent criticism of the prevailing Classical public school curriculum; (...) his advocacy that much more science be taught; his strong antipathy to corporal and other punishment; his distaste for the increasing athleticism in the public schools; his view of the main purpose of education, namely the inculcation of morality, religious conviction, and intellectual rigor. (shrink)
Frédéric Bastiat is often regarded as a brilliant journalist with no academic skills. This degrading appraisal is discussed and the article demonstrates that Bastiat was a praxeologist ahead of this time. Opposed to the use of the realm of social science; conceiving economics as determining general laws, on the basis of absolute principles, such as the axiom of action; spinned out by a deductive approach; aware that the study of human action must be completed by that of individual interactions (...) ; in a limited time Bastiat has been able to draw conclusions and anticipate situations of universal nature.Frédéric Bastiat est souvent considéré comme un brillant journaliste, sans qualités académiques. Cette appréciation dévalorisante est discutée et larticle montre que Bastiat était un théoricien praxéologiste avant lheure. Opposé à lapplication de la méthode des sciences physiques aux sciences sociales ; concevant la science économique comme déterminant des lois générales, à partir de principes absolus, tels que laxiome de laction, prolongés par une démarche déductive ; conscient que létude de laction humaine doit être complétée par celle des interactions individuelles ; Bastiat a pu, dans un temps limité, dégager des conclusions et anticiper des situations au caractère universel. (shrink)
Many people believe today that legislation is a tool powerful enough to shape society and to cure social diseases. Others think that legislation is useful to gain political support from special interest groups in search of privileges, at the expense of those whose cost of rejecting these actions is higher than their individual share of cost of such protection. Yet others think that legislation is the appropriate tool to implement public policy, according with their own utopia.To all those people, both (...) of his era and ours, Frédéric Bastiat wrote one of the most persuasive and clearest discussions on the nature and the ends that the law must pursue. In his book The Law Bastiat shows how and why pursuing ends other than justice ultimately leads to the perversion of the law and the fragmentation of society into special interest groups.De nos jours, beaucoup de gens pensent que la législation est suffisamment puissante pour modeler la société et remédier aux maux sociaux. Dautres pensent que la législation est utile pour acquérir les faveurs politiques de groupes dintérêts spéciaux à la recherche de privilèges, au détriment de ceux pour qui le coût du rejet de telles actions est supérieur à leur part individuelle du coût dune telle protection. Dautres encore pensent que la législation est loutil approprié pour instaurer des politiques publiques en accord avec leur propre utopie.A tous ces gens, à la fois ceux de son époque et ceux de la nôtre, Frédéric Bastiat adressa une des discussions les plus convaincantes et les plus claires de la nature de la loi et des finalités que celle-ci doit poursuivre. Dans cet ouvrage, La Loi, Bastiat montre comment et pourquoi la poursuite de fins autres que la justice conduit de manière ultime à la perversion du droit et à la fragmentation de la société en des groupes dintérêts spéciaux. (shrink)
Ambitieux : sans doute est-ce un des mots qui caractérise le mieux l’ouvrage de Frédéric Darbellay. L’auteur prend en effet à bras le corps une des questions pendantes de l’histoire des sciences : la construction des savoirs disciplinaires et le nécessaire dialogue entre les disciplines pour une connaissance élargie. Certes – nous y reviendrons – c’est au prix d’une analogie heuristique, filée tout le long de l’ouvrage, que la question est abordée : l’on entendra en effet le plus souvent (...) « in.. (shrink)
Professeur de philosophie de la religion à la Faculté de théologie protestante de notre Université, Frédéric Rognon (FR) présente une analyse de l’œuvre de Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), qui fut longtemps professeur à l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Bordeaux et membre engagé de l’Église Réformée de France. La première partie de l’étude reprend nombre des 58 ouvrages publiés par Ellul en les distribuant successivement entre sociologie et théologie. La seconde partie en examine d’abord les troi..
Comme Célestin Bouglé, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl fait partie de ces compagnons de route de l’aventure durkheimienne qui n’ont pas cru que le projet sociologique dût tourner le dos aux questions traditionnellement qualifiées de « philosophiques » ni au mode d’interrogation spécifique qui leur était lié. Plutôt que de voir dans cette particularité une insuffisance ou un anachronisme, Frédéric Keck, dans cet ouvrage de premier plan, nous invite à en percevoir la richesse, comme si cette continuité reven..
John Frederic Daniell invented the constant battery in 1836. He meant it to be a philosophical instrument to be utilized in both lecture demonstrations and electrochemical laboratory research. But the constant battery was taken up in electrometallurgy, not primarily as a source of electric current but more as an electrodeposition device. As such it became an essential tool in the development of galvanoplasties. This article traces the tortuous transformation of this lecture demonstration apparatus into an electrometallurgical tool, and includes some (...) aspects of British and French patent laws, and the electrogilding industry. (shrink)
The scientific study of consciousness in the late 19th century, which took place in Western countries across disciplines such as neurology, physiology, neuropathology, psychology, psychiatry and philosophy, appears to have striking parallels to current crossdisciplinary developments in the neurosciences. The 19th century period, however, has received little scholarly attention from historians of medicine, psychology, or science. Historians of depth psychology have investigated the area as part of the history of psychiatry, but cleaved most closely to the versions presented by early (...) psychoanalysts- turned-historians, who have consistently portrayed Freud as the only legitimate history of the period, thus marking the territory of the late 19th century as inherently Freudo-centric. More recently a new line of historiography emanating from the work of the late Henri Ellenberger has launched a post-Freudian perspective in which the classical depth psychologies of Freud, Jung, and Adler may now be understood in a wider and deeper historical context defined by the development of a so-called French, Swiss, English, and American psychotherapeutic axis between 1881 and 1918, before the advent of psychoanalysis. Chief among the prime movers of this axis was Frederic William Henry Myers, graduate of Cambridge University, and co-founder of the Society for Psychical Research in England in 1882. Myers' grasp of the literature of the day regarding the scientific study of consciousness was both profound, and highly influential, particularly on such figures as William James. Since the period itself has yet to be fully reconstructed, the identity of Myers and his contribution to the scientific study of consciousness remain obscure, but are also receiving new attention in the area of modern consciousness studies. (shrink)
L'authenticité du maigre dossier de correspondance documentant les relations entre l'empereur Frédéric II Hohenstaufen et la cour impériale de Nicée est un sujet de débats constants, tant pour les pièces grecques que latines. L'édition récente d'un nouveau témoin de l'une de ces dernières, en permettant d'en préciser le contexte de rédaction - probablement privé - incite à désattribuer définitivement une lettre qui ne fut sans doute jamais envoyée par Frédéric II à Jean III Vatatzès, et dont le sens (...) véritable n'est même pas celui d'un pastiche. Cette désattribution met sur la piste d'une réflexion sur les contextes de transmission et de rédaction des dictamina politiques latins du XIIIe siècle. Elle incite à réfléchir sur la nécessité de développer des critères méthodologiques tenant compte de ceux-ci pour contourner les apories de la critique interne dans l'examen de dossiers de traitement particulièrement délicat, tels que des correspondances diplomatiques uniquement transmises dans des recueils épistolaires. (shrink)
Leibniz' Bedeutung für die Entwicklung der amerikanischen Philosophie ist bisher wenig erforscht worden. In diesem Aufsatz untersuche ich den Beitrag zweier amerikanischer Idealisten der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts zur Leibniz-Forschung. Der erstere, Frederic Henry Hedge, ein enger Mitarbeiter Emersons und eine zentrale Figur der transcendentalist movement, legte die erste Übersetzung der Monadologie ins Englische vor und schrieb die erste wichtige wissenschaftliche Abhandlung über Leibniz in einer amerikanischen Zeitschrift. Der zweite, H. A. P. Torrey, von prägendem Einfluß auf die Gedanken John (...) Deweys, schrieb eine Reihe kritischer Essays zur Théodicée, die Auswirkungen auf Deweys Buch über Leibniz hatten. In diesem Aufsatz gebe ich eine Überblick der Arbeiten von Hedge und Torrey, bewerte ihre Arbeiten zu Leibniz und untersuche einige Aspekte ihres Einflusses auf das amerikanische Denken. Ich folgere, daß Leibniz' Einfluß auf die amerikanische Philosophie größer ist als allgemein angenommen und schlage weitere Forschungsmöglichkeiten vor. (shrink)
Louis Frédéric Ancillon was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres whose imagined dialogue between Berkeley and Hume was read to the Academy in 1796 and published in 1799. It is important as an indicator of the reception of Hume and Berkeley in francophone philosophical circles in late eighteenth-century Prussia. Our introduction is followed by an English translation with notes.