Emergence is a notorious philosophical term of art. A variety of theorists have appropriated it for their purposes ever since George Henry Lewes gave it a philosophical sense in his 1875 Problems of Life and Mind. We might roughly characterize the shared meaning thus: emergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.) Each (...) of the quoted terms is slippery in its own right, and their specifications yield the varied notions of emergence that we discuss below. There has been renewed interest in emergence within discussions of the behavior of complex systems and debates over the reconcilability of mental causation, intentionality, or consciousness with physicalism. (shrink)
The following framework of theses, roughly hewn, shapes contemporary discussion of the problem of mental causation: (1) Non-Identity of the Mental and the Physical Mental properties and states cannot be identified with specific physical properties and states. (2) Causal Closure (Completeness) of the Physical The objective probability of every physical event is fixed by prior physical events and laws alone. (This thesis is sometimes expressed in terms of explanation: In tracing the causal history of any physical event, one need not (...) advert to any non-physical events or laws. To the extent that there is any explanation available for a physical event, there is a complete explanation available couched entirely in physical vocabulary. We prefer the probability formulation, as it should be acceptable to any physicalist, though some reject the explanation formulation.) (3) Causal Exclusion There is at most one complete and wholly independent explanation for any given event or sequence of events. (shrink)
Is bodily awareness a condition on bodily action? I approach this question by weaving an argument based on considerations from action theory, the phenomenology of embodied agency, and from the psychology and neuroscience of action. In this paper, I discuss two accounts on which bodily awareness is a condition on bodily action. The first is an influential philosophical account from O'Shaughnessy, which claims that bodily awareness is necessary for the online control of bodily action. I argue that there are empirical (...) counterexamples to O'Shaughnessy's account. Instead I propose an account on which the capacity for bodily awareness is a condition on our capacity for ordinary bodily action. This alternative account does justice to the causal and functional character of ordinary bodily action as well as its phenomenology. It is also consistent with the psychology and neuroscience of action. I provide a two-stage argument for my view. The first stage shows that a sense of the spatial possibilities of one's body is a condition on intentionally acting with one's body. The second stage demonstrates that bodily awareness is a condition on a normal afferented agent's sense of the actions open to him through examining the role of bodily awareness in motor imagery and the role of motor imagery in preparatory processes for everyday actions. (shrink)
What is the significance of bodily awareness for bodily action? The orthodox philosophical account from O'Shaughnessy claims that bodily awareness is necessary for bodily action. Whilst O'Shaughnessy's account appears to be consonant with the phenomenology of ordinary agency, it falls afoul to empirical counterexamples. The failure of O'Shaughnessy's account and its cousins might suggest that bodily action does not depend on bodily awareness. On the contrary, I argue that the contrast between the character of afferented and deafferented agency shows that (...) bodily awareness is crucial to explaining the distinctive character of bodily action in neurologically normal agents. In particular, the capacity to feel one's body ‘from the inside’ appears to be a condition on the capacity to act with one's body in a way that is not like remote control. This dependency of capacities is at once empirically adequate and in tune with the phenomenology of ordinary agency. (shrink)
Recent research on proprioception reveals that it relies on a systematically distorted model of bodily dimensions. This generates a puzzle about proprioception in action control: action requires accurate bodily parameters. Proprioception is crucial for ordinary action, but if it relies on a systematically distorted body model, then proprioception should contain systematic errors. But we cannot respond by discarding proprioception from motor control, since we know from the severe problems deafferented agents face in acting that ordinary action requires proprioception. The solution (...) is that the possibility of bodily action is provided for by multimodal body representations for action. (shrink)
This commentary challenges Railton’s claim that the affective system is the key source of control of action. Whilst the affective system is important for understanding how acting for a reason is possible, we argue that there are many levels of control of action and adaptive behaviour and that the affective system is only one source of control. Such a model seems to be more in line with the emerging picture from affective and movement neuroscience.
There is a wide range of things we do out of emotion. For example, we smile with pleasure, our voices drop when we are sad, we recoil in shock or jump for joy, we apologize to others out of remorse. It is uncontroversial that some of these behaviors are actions. Clearly, apologizing is an action if anything is. Things seem less clear in the case of other emotional behaviors. Intuitively, the drop in a sad person’s voice is something that happens (...) to her, rather than something she actively performs. Perhaps more interestingly, even jumping for joy can seem a problematic case: although its execution involves the active performance of certain movements, it has been argued to contrast, e.g., with an act of apology, in that it is not performed in order to achieve some end, such as repairing a relationship. This can make this behavior seem considerably different from paradigm actions. Our central concern in this paper is with which emotional behaviors should be classed as actions and why... (shrink)
This paper proposes a revision of our understanding of causation that is designed to address what Hartry Field has suggested is the central problem in the metaphysics of causation today: reconciling Bertrand Russell’s arguments that the concept of causation can play no role in the advanced sciences with Nancy Cartwright’s arguments that causal concepts are essential to a scientific understanding of the world. The paper shows that Russell’s main argument is, ironically, very similar to an argument that Cartwright has put (...) forward against the truth of universal laws of nature. The paper uses this insight to develop an account of causation that does justice to traditional views yet avoids the arguments of Russell. (shrink)