Purpose: Commenting on the transcript of a lecture. Findings: The document reconstructs the development of the original 1973 lecture by Heinz von Foerster into his best-known paper, On Constructing a Reality. Many aspects of that paper can be identified as being shaped through interaction with the audience. Implications: The lecture documented here was a forerunner of a central paper in constructivism.
Experiences—visual, emotional, or otherwise—play a role in providing us with justification to believe claims about the world. Some accounts of how experiences provide justification emphasize the role of the experiences’ distinctive phenomenology, i.e. ‘what it is like’ to have the experience. Other accounts emphasize the justificatory role to the experiences’ etiology. A number of authors have used cases of cognitively penetrated visual experience to raise an epistemic challenge for theories of perceptual justification that emphasize the justificatory role of phenomenology rather (...) than etiology. Proponents of the challenge argue that cognitively penetrated visual experiences can fail to provide the usual justification because they have improper etiologies. However, extant arguments for the challenge’s key claims are subject to formidable objections. In this paper, I present the challenge’s key claims, raise objections to previous attempts to establish them, and then offer a novel argument in support of the challenge. My argument relies on an analogy between cognitively penetrated visual and emotional experiences. I argue that some emotional experiences fail to provide the relevant justification because of their improper etiologies and conclude that analogous cognitively penetrated visual experiences fail to provide the relevant justification because of their etiologies, as well. (shrink)
The debate on the ethical aspects of moral bioenhancement focuses on the desirability of using biomedical as opposed to traditional means to achieve moral betterment. The aim of this paper is to systematically review the ethical reasons presented in the literature for and against moral bioenhancement.
This paper concerns how extant theorists of predictive coding conceptualize and explain possible instances of cognitive penetration. §I offers brief clarification of the predictive coding framework and relevant mechanisms, and a brief characterization of cognitive penetration and some challenges that come with defining it. §II develops more precise ways that the predictive coding framework can explain, and of course thereby allow for, genuine top-down causal effects on perceptual experience, of the kind discussed in the context of cognitive penetration. §III develops (...) these insights further with an eye towards tracking one extant criterion for cognitive penetration, namely, that the relevant cognitive effects on perception must be sufficiently direct. Throughout these discussions, we extend the analyses of the predictive coding models, as we know them. So one open question that surfaces is how much of the extended analyses are genuinely just part of the predictive coding models, or something that must be added to them in order to generate these additional explanatory benefits. In §IV, we analyze and criticize a claim made by some theorists of predictive coding, namely, that (interesting) instances of cognitive penetration tend to occur in perceptual circumstances involving substantial noise or uncertainty. It is here that our analysis is most critical. We argue that, when applied, the claim fails to explain (or perhaps even be consistent with) a large range of important and uncontroversially interesting possible cases of cognitive penetration. We conclude with a general speculation about how the recent work on the predictive mind may influence the current dialectic concerning top-down effects on perception. (shrink)
:In this article, we consider contexts or domains in which moral bioenhancement interventions possibly or most likely will be implemented. By looking closely at similar or related existing practices and their relevant ethical frameworks, we hope to identify ethical considerations that are relevant for evaluating potential moral bioenhancement interventions. We examine, first, debates on the proper scope of moral education; second, proposals for identifying early risk factors for antisocial behaviour; and third, the difficult balancing of individual freedom and third party (...) concerns in psychiatry. In imagining moral bioenhancement in practice, we observe that unlike other forms of enhancement, moral enhancement fundamentally asks how the interests and preferences of the individual and the interests of others should be weighed. Highly diverse domains such as education, mental health, and the judicial domain might be involved, and moral bioenhancement might challenge existing institutional settings. Given these highly varied contexts and domains, it appears unlikely that there will be a distinct set of practices that will be referred to as “moral bioenhancement.”. (shrink)
Perception purports to help you gain knowledge of the world even if the world is not the way you expected it to be. Perception also purports to be an independent tribunal against which you can test your beliefs. It is natural to think that in order to serve these and other central functions, perceptual representations must not causally depend on your prior beliefs and expectations. In this paper, I clarify and then argue against the natural thought above. All perceptual systems (...) must solve an under-determination problem: the sensory data they receive could be caused by indefinitely many arrangements of distal objects and properties. Using a Bayesian approach to perceptual processing, I argue that in order to solve the under-determination problem, perceptual capacities must rely on prior beliefs or expectations of some kind. I then argue that perceptual states or processes can help ground knowledge of the world whether the ‘beliefs’ necessary for perceptual processing are encoded as sub-personal states within a perceptual system or cognitive states, such as person-level beliefs. My argument has two main parts. First, I give a preliminary argument that cognitive influence on perception can be appropriate, and I respond to three lines of objection. Second, I argue that cognitively influenced perceptual states can be instances of seeing that p, which makes the relevant states well suited to help ground knowledge that p. I conclude that a cognitively penetrated perceptual state or process can help ground knowledge under some circumstances. (shrink)
The first decade of event-related potential (ERP) research had established that the most consistent correlates of the onset of visual consciousness are the early visual awareness negativity (VAN), a posterior negative component in the N2 time range, and the late positivity (LP), an anterior positive component in the P3 time range. Two earlier extensive reviews ten years ago had concluded that VAN is the earliest and most reliable correlate of visual phenomenal consciousness, whereas LP probably reflects later processes associated with (...) reflective/access consciousness. This article provides an update to those earlier reviews. ERP and MEG studies that have appeared since 2010 and directly compared ERPs between aware and unaware conditions are reviewed, and important new developments in the field are discussed. The result corroborates VAN as the earliest and most consistent signature of visual phenomenal consciousness, and casts further doubt on LP as an ERP correlate of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
To gain insight into the reasons that the public may have for endorsing or eschewing pharmacological moral enhancement for themselves or for others, we used empirical tools to explore public attitudes towards these issues. Participants from the United States were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and were randomly assigned to read one of several contrastive vignettes in which a 13-year-old child is described as bullying another student in school and then is offered an empathy-enhancing program. The empathy-enhancing program is described (...) as either involving taking a pill or playing a video game on a daily basis for four weeks. In addition, participants were asked to imagine either their own child bullying another student at school, or their own child being bullied by another student. This resulted in a 2 × 2 between-subjects design. In an escalating series of morally challenging questions, we asked participants to rate their overall support for the program; whether they would support requiring participation; whether they would support requiring participation of children who are at higher risk to become bullies in the future; whether they would support requiring participation of all children or even the entire population; and whether they would be willing to participate in the program themselves. We found that people were significantly more troubled by pharmacological as opposed to non-pharmacological moral enhancement interventions. The results indicate that members of the public for the greater part oppose pharmacological moral bioenhancement, yet are open to non-biomedical means to attain moral enhancement. [248 words]. (shrink)
In the context of debates on psychiatry issues pertaining to moral dimensions of psychiatric health care are frequently discussed. These debates invite reflection on the question whether forensic practitioners have a role in stimulating patients’ moral development and moral growth in the context of forensic psychiatric and psychological treatment and care. We conducted a qualitative study to examine to what extent forensic practitioners consider moral development and moral growth to be a part of their current professional practices and to what (...) extent they think that stimulating moral development is a legitimate objective in the context of forensic psychiatric treatment. In addition, we asked how forensic practitioners balance pubic safety and risk management concerns with the interests and wellbeing of the individual patient. We conclude that: elements of moral development and moral growth in forensic psychiatric care practices are to a certain extent inevitable and not necessarily questionable or undesirable; yet, as in similar debates these elements need to be made explicit in order to discuss the accompanying ethical challenges and boundaries. An open academic, professional and public debate on aspects of stimulating moral betterment within current practices is therefore desirable. (shrink)
El artículo presenta una visión histórica de la sociedad mapuche y del vínculo “interétnico”; y por otro lado se refiere a los diversos modos de comprensión de “Chile”, para examinar el tema de la existencia o no de una “deuda histórica” con la sociedad mapuche. Remarca que con el advenimiento de la República, los mapuche dejaron de ser vistos como un pueblo o nación y comienzan a ser tratados como chilenos, con lo que se puso fin a la política colonial (...) de los parlamentos. Frente a esto, la sociedad mapuche no logró articular un frente común para encarar el nuevo momento histórico. Agrega que la “Pacificación de la Araucanía” y la “política reduccional” funcionaron no como un proyecto de “inclusión”, sino de “exclusión”. Tras presentar los enfoques de los recientes gobiernos en lo concerniente al tema, y el de los historiadores Gonzalo Vial, Vitale y Pérez, concluye con una propuesta que pasa por separarse de la cultura dominante, y elaborar un política “sensible a las diferencias”. (shrink)
Preface, by N. Foerster.--The pretensions of science, by L. T. More.--Humanism: an essay at definition, by I. Babbitt.--The humility of common sense, by P. E. More.--The pride of modernity, by G. R. Elliott.--Religion without humanism, by T. S. Eliot.--The plight of our arts, by F. J. Mather, Jr.--The dilemma of modern tragedy, by A. R. Thompson.--An American tragedy, by R. Shafer.--Pandora's box in American fiction, by H. H. Clark.--Dionysus in dismay, by S. P. Chase.--Our critical spokesmen, by G. B. Munson.--Behaviour (...) and continuity, by B. Bandler, II.--The well of discipline, by S. B. Gass.--Courage and education, by R. L. Brown.--A list of books (p. 291-294). (shrink)
The study of letters, by Norman Foerster.--Language, by J.C. McGalliard.--Literary history, by René Wellek.--Literary criticism, by Austin Warren.--Imaginative writing, by W.L. Schramm.--Notes.--Bibliography (p. 239-255).
Environmental displacement is a global phenomenon affecting millions of people. Due to climate change and the corresponding sea-level rise, it is estimated that about eight million of indigenous people of Pacific Islands will be forced to settle elsewhere by 2050. This is one of many examples confirming the need to ascertain the legal status of environmental refugee in international law. The term?environmental refugee? is controversially discussed and internationally not recognised. First, this article discusses the reasons for reluctance of international organisations (...) to accept this term. Second, noting the cold reception of this term at the regional and state levels, a discussion on whether fears associated with this term are based on solid arguments becomes pertinent. Third, this article outlines the possibility of granting refugee status under international law, especially under human rights and environmental law. Fourth, academic discourses will be examined as they play a crucial role in the conceptual development of?environmental refugee? and, to some academics, the existing refugee definition already encompasses?environmental refugees?. Taking into account the developments of the environmental and human rights regime, this article concludes that time is ripe for international law to provide refugee status to environmentally displaced people. (shrink)
Context: Von Foerster’s concept of eigenbehavior can be recognized against the broader context of enactivism as it has been advocated by Varela, Thompson and Rosch, by Noë and recently by Hutto and Myin, among others. This flourishing constellation of ideas is on its way to becoming the new paradigm of cognitive science. However, in my reading, enactivism, putting stress on the constitutive role of action when it comes to mind and perception, faces a serious philosophical challenge when attempting to account (...) for the way we actually perceive our environments, most importantly for the fact that we perceive things or objects. Von Foester’s eigenbehavior is understood here as a concept supposed to take on this challenge. Problem: In this article I tackle the following issues: Enactivism must be able to account for the apparent stability of the perceived world: this is not a realm of a never-ending flux of stimuli; it is a realm of stable things. Enactivism is committed to the anti-Cartesian endeavor seeking to bridge the gap between the inner and the outer; between the subjective and the objective. Now, these two points constrain each other so that one cannot address simply by regarding the apparent stability of things as a projection that springs out of the internal machinery binding inputs with outputs. This is because the very idea of such an internal machinery opposes, i.e., it employs the Cartesian dichotomy. So, enactivism is in need of an account of that would not oppose its anti-Cartesian commitment. Method: I introduce the ontology of location and niche theory, as it has been brought forth by Varzi, Casati, and Smith, and develop it so that it can be used in the philosophy of mind. This is a conceptual, semi-formal philosophical analysis. Results: I shall come up with the idea of object conceived of a product of action, and - drawing on von Foerster’s central idea - as a product of coordination of perceptions. Yet, it is not coordination of stimuli but coordination of cognitive connections. The notion of connection is thus articulated in the article and cast as the central concept in my proposal. Implications: We are able to account for both and (2. The apparent stability of the perceived world is due to the setting up and maintaining of connections between the perceiver and the things perceived, resulting in the establishment of what I call a cognitive niche. Constructivist content: Constructivism, broadly construed, takes, in my reading, a negative stance in the first place. Namely, it opposes what I call the metaphysics of the ready-made world. So, it holds that there is no ready-made reality; however it remains open when it comes to positive claims: a mind-independent reality does not exist at all or it does exist but it is not ready-made and as such it must be brought to completion, so to speak, or enacted, as Varela et al. would say, by a cognitive subject. In this article, I follow the latter and address one specific issue: how the enacted world gains its relatively stable architecture. (shrink)
Of Jewish-German origin, Jona Oberski was born in Amersterdam. During the Nazi rule that coincided with her childhood she was arrested by the Germans and deported to the Bergen-Belsin concentration camp after having also spent time in the Westerbork camp. While at Belsen her father died at the camp, and her mother later died in 1945, after the liberation. Oberski was adopted by a couple from Amsterdam, and years later dedicated herself to the studying of Physics, the area in (...) which she currently works. Through the lens of a little protagonist, and the “ignorant” lens of the infancy of the atrocious reality in which it lives preserves only some details, impressions, and lived experiences that are narrated as if they had occurred in the present, even though they have passed. This article enters into this dialogic process and tries to establish new beginnings, negating or affirming old standards and models, notions and visions, questioning and answering old and new questions. (shrink)
This dissertation defends materialism from the epistemic arguments against materialism. Materialism is the view that everything is ultimately physical. The epistemic arguments against materialism claim that there is an epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths (for example, that knowing the physical truths does not put you in a position to know the phenomenal truths), and conclude from this that there is a corresponding gap in the world between physical and phenomenal truths, and materialism is false. -/- Chapter 1 introduces (...) materialism and the arguments against materialism that I respond to in this dissertation. -/- Chapters 2 and 3 explore the phenomenal concept strategy (PCS), one promising materialist response to the epistemic arguments against materialism. The PCS admits that there is an epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths, but claims that it arises because of something special about our concepts of consciousness and not because of something special about consciousness itself. -/- Chapter 4 considers what reason there is to think that there is an epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths in the first place. I argue that some arguments might succeed in showing that there is such an epistemic gap, but that if these arguments succeed then they end up vindicating the PCS. -/- Chapter 5 considers more generally what is required for an epistemic gap to exist. In particular, it considers whether conceptual analysis is necessary to close an epistemic gap. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea of moral offsetting: the idea that good actions can offset bad actions in a way roughly analogous to carbon offsetting. For example, a meat eater might try to offset their consumption of meat by donating to an animal welfare charity. In this paper, I clarify the idea of moral offsetting, consider whether the leading moral theories and theories of moral worth are consistent with the possibility of moral offsetting, and consider potential benefits of moral offsetting. (...) I also compare moral offsetting to a related practice that I call ‘moral triaging’. (shrink)