'Fear' is used scientifically in two ways, which causes confusion: it refers to conscious feelings and to behavioral and physiological responses. Restricting the use of 'fear' to denote feelings and using 'threat-induced defensive reactions' for the responses would help avoid misunderstandings about the brain mechanisms involved.
When subjective state words are used to describe behaviors, or brain circuits that control them nonconsciously, the behaviors and circuits take on properties of the subjective state. Research on fear illustrates the problems that can result. Subjective state words should be limited to the description of inner experiences, and avoided when referring to circuits underlying nonsubjectively controlled behaviors.
While it is common to think that neuroscientists are proponents of basic emotions theory, this is not necessarily the case. My ideas, for example are more aligned with cognitive than basic emotions theories.
Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global The higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness has often been misunderstood by critics. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models (e.g. first-order local recurrency theories). For example, HOT has been criticized for over-intellectualizing consciousness. We show (...) that while higher-order states are cognitively assembled, the requirements are actually considerably less than often presumed. In this sense HOT may be viewed as an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views. Also, we clarify that most proponents of HOT do not stipulate consciousness as equivalent to metacognition or confidence. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can arguably account better for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories. This makes HOT particularly useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states. (shrink)
Pavlovian cues predict the occurrence of motivationally salient outcomes, thus serving as an important trigger of approach and avoidance behavior. The amygdala is a key substrate of Pavlovian conditioning, and the nature of its contribution varies by the motivational valence of unconditioned stimuli. The literature on aversive Pavlovian learning supports a serial-processing model of amygdalar function, while appetitive studies suggest that Pavlovian associations are processed through parallel circuits in the amygdala. It is proposed that serial and parallel forms of information (...) processing can be attributed to differential recruitment of amygdalar nuclei, with emphasis placed on the lateral amygdala. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The main cause of the crisis was the behavior of the banks?largely a result of misguided incentives unrestrained by good regulation. Conservative ideology, along with unrealistic economic models of perfect information, perfect competition, and perfect markets, fostered lax regulation, and campaign contributions helped the political process along. The banks misjudged risk, wildly overleveraged, and paid their executives handsomely for being short?sighted; lax regulation let them get away with it?putting at risk the entire economy. The mortgage brokers neglected due diligence, (...) since they would not bear the risk of default once their mortgages had been securitized and sold to others. Others can be blamed: the ratings agencies that judged subprime securities as investment grade; the Fed, which contributed low interest rates; the Bush administration, whose Iraq war and tax cuts for the rich made low interest rates necessary. But low interest rates can be a boon; it was the financial institutions that turned them into a bust. (shrink)
The main idea in this series of essays is that subjective awareness depends upon the intralaminar nuclei of each thalmus. This implies that the internal structure and external relations of ILN make subjective awareness possible. An array of material relevant to this proposal was briefly reviewed in Part I. This Part II considers in more detail some semantic aspects and a bit of philosophic background as these pertain to propositions 0, 1, and 2 of Part I. Part II should be (...) read in conjunction with Part I. (shrink)
What, precisely, is `salt'? It is a certainwhite, solid, crystalline, material, alsocalled sodium chloride. Does any of that solidwhite stuff exist in the sea? – Clearly not.One can make salt from sea water easily enough,but that fact does not establish thatsalt, as such, is present in brine. (Paper andink can be made into a novel – but no novelactually exists in a stack of blank paper witha vial of ink close by.) When salt dissolves inwater, what is present is no (...) longer `salt' butrather a collection of hydrated sodium cationsand chloride anions, neither of which isprecisely salt, nor is the collection. Theaqueous material in brine is also significantlydifferent from pure water. Salt may beconsidered to be present in seawater, but onlyin a more or less vague `potential' way.Actually, there is no salt in the sea. In bothancient and modern treatments of otherimportant chemical concepts, including thenotions of `element', related complication,especially polysemy (terms with multiplemeanings), also occurs.In a recent paper, Paul Needham discussed the(predicable) properties of chemical substances,phases, and solutions. He provided a valuablecharacterization of cases in which severalquantities occupy the same space. He alsoconcluded that solution properties are not`intensive', because solvent and solute do nothave parts in common. He tacitly assumed thatingredients are not altered by their inclusionin a solution. This may be the case in somespecial cases (deutero-benzene dissolved inbenzene, say) but is not true in general – andcertainly does not apply to the case of brine,which Needham used as an example – since theions that exist in the solution, and also theaqueous material there, are quite differentfrom the pure ingredients used in making thesolution. An adequate theory of wholes andparts (mereology) must take into account thatwhen individuals enter combinations ofinteresting sorts they no longer are the verysame individuals that existed prior to thecomposition. It appears that no such formaltheory now actually exists. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Fact checking has become a prominent facet of political news coverage, but it employs a variety of objectionable methodological practices, such as treating a statement containing multiple facts as if it were a single fact and categorizing as accurate or inaccurate predictions of events yet to occur. These practices share the tacit presupposition that there cannot be genuine political debate about facts, because facts are unambiguous and not subject to interpretation. Therefore, when the black-and-white facts?as they appear to the (...) fact checkers?conflict with the claims produced by politicians, the fact checkers are able to see only (to one degree or another) ?lies.? The examples of dubious fact-checking practices that we discuss show the untenability of the naïve political epistemology at work in the fact-checking branch of journalism. They may also call into question the same epistemology in journalism at large, and in politics. (shrink)
In 1931 eminent chemist Fritz Paneth maintained that the modern notion of “element” is closely related to (and as “metaphysical” as) the concept of element used by the ancients (e.g., Aristotle). On that basis, the element chlorine (properly so-called) is not the elementary substance dichlorine, but rather chlorine as it is in carbon tetrachloride. The fact that pure chemicals are called “substances” in English (and closely related words are so used in other European languages) derives from philosophical compromises made by (...) grammarians in the late Roman Empire (particularly Priscian [fl. ~520 CE]). When the main features of the constitution of isotopes became clear in the first half of the twentieth century, the formal (IUPAC) definition of a “chemical element” was changed. The features that are “essential” to being an element had previously been “transcendental” (“beyond the sphere of consciousness”) but, by the mid-twentieth century the defining characteristics of elements, as such, had come to be understood in detail. This amounts to a shift in a “horizon of invisibility” brought about by progress in chemistry and related sciences. Similarly, chemical insight is relevant to currently-open philosophical problems, such as the status of “the bundle theory” of the coherence of properties in concrete individuals. (shrink)
The target articles by Dixon (2012), Scarantino (2012), and Mulligan and Scherer (2012) explore the nature of emotion from philosophical and psychological perspectives. I discuss how neuroscience can also contribute to debates about the nature of emotion. I focus on the aspects of emotion that usually fall within the topic of basic emotions, but conclude that we may need to revise how we conceive and study these kinds of emotional states in relation to the brain.
Emotional states of consciousness, or what are typically called emotional feelings, are traditionally viewed as being innately programed in subcortical areas of the brain, and are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain. On this view, what differs in emotional and non-emotional states is the kind of inputs that are processed by a (...) general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences. Although subcortical circuits are not directly responsible for conscious feelings, they provide non-conscious inputs that coalesce with other kinds of neural signals in the cognitive assembly of conscious emotional experiences. In building the case for this proposal, we defend a modified version of what is known as the higher-order theory of consciousness. (shrink)
How certain neural mechanisms momentarily endow with the subjective awareness percepts and affects represented elsewhere is more likely to be clarified when structures essential to Mc are identified. The loss of C with bilateral thalmic lesions involving the intralaminar nuclei contrasts with retention of C after large cortical ablations depriving C of specific contents. A role of ILN in the perception of primitive sensations is suggested by their afference of directly ascending pathways. A role for ILN in awareness of cortical (...) activity is suggested by their widespread afference from cortex, a property shared with striatum. A role for ILN in volition is suggested by their heavy projection to striatum. Unlike striatum, ILN also project widely to almost all neocortex, enabling an effect on ideation; this last property is in common with other structures but none of them has the same direct cortical afference. And passage through the reticular nucleus of ILN efferents to cortex could impact the attention-selective action of nRt. It is suggested that the quickest route to a better understanding of C involves more intensive study of ILN. No other structure seems, in the light of our current knowledge, a more likely site for Mc. (shrink)
The advent of quantum mechanics in the early 20 th Century had profound consequences for science and mathematics, for philosophy (Schrödinger), and for logic (von Neumann). In 1968, Putnam wrote that quantum mechanics required a revolution in our understanding of logic per se. However, applications of quantum logics have been little explored outside the quantum domain. Dummett saw some implications of quantum logic for truth, but few philosophers applied similar intuitions to epistemology or ontology. Logic remained a truth-functional ’science’ of (...) correct propositional reasoning. Starting in 1935, the Franco-Romanian thinker Stéphane Lupasco described a logical system based on the inherent dialectics of energy and accordingly expressed in and applicable to complex real processes at higher levels of reality. Unfortunately, Lupasco’s fifteen major publications in French went unrecognized by mainstream logic and philosophy, and unnoticed outside a Francophone intellectual community, albeit with some translations into other Romance languages. In English, summaries of Lupasco’s logic appeared ca. 2000, but the first major treatment and extension of his system was published in 2008 (see Brenner 2008). This paper is a further attempt to establish Lupasco’s concepts as significant contributions to the history and philosophy of logic, in line with the work of Gödel, general relativity, and the ontological turn in philosophy. (shrink)
Intra-molecular connectivity (that is, chemical structure) does not emerge from computations based on fundamental quantum-mechanical principles. In order to compute molecular electronic energies (of C 3 H 4 hydrocarbons, for instance) quantum chemists must insert intra-molecular connectivity “by hand.” Some take this as an indication that chemistry cannot be reduced to physics: others consider it as evidence that quantum chemistry needs new logical foundations. Such discussions are generally synchronic rather than diachronic —that is, they neglect ‘historical’ aspects. However, systems of (...) interest to chemists generally are metastable . In many cases chemical systems of a given elemental composition may exist in any one of several different metastable states depending on the history of the system. Molecular structure generally depends on contingent historical circumstances of synthesis and separation, rather than solely or mainly on relative energies of alternative stable states, those energies in turn determined by relationships among components. Chemical structure is usually ‘kinetically-determined’ rather than ‘thermodynamically-determined.’ For instance, cyclical hydrocarbon ring-systems (as in cyclopropene) are produced only in special circumstances. Adequate theoretical treatments must take account of the persistent effects of such contingent historical events whenever they are relevant—as they generally are in chemistry. (shrink)
ABSTRACTMichelle Amazeen's rebuttal of Uscinski and Butler 2013 is unsuccessful. Amazeen's attempt to infer the accuracy of fact checks from their agreement with each other fails on its own terms and, in any event, could as easily be explained by fact checkers’ political biases as their common access to the objective truth. She also ignores the distinction between verifiable facts and unverifiable claims about the future, as well as contestable claims about the causes of political, social, and economic phenomena. The (...) social benefits that she claims for the fact-checking enterprise must, at the very least, be weighed against the strong possibility that what passes for fact checking is actually just a veiled continuation of politics by means of journalism rather than being an independent, objective counterweight to political untruths. (shrink)
One of the main functions that introductory chemistry courses have fulfilled during the past century has been to provide evidence for the general validity of 'the atomic hypothesis.' A second function has been to demonstrate that an analytical approach has wide applicability in rationalizing many kinds of phenomena. Following R.G. Collingwood, these two functions can be recognized as related to a philosophical 'cosmology' (worldview, weltanshauung) that became dominant in the later Renaissance. Recent developments in many areas of science, and in (...) chemistry, have emphasized the central importance of understanding synthetic, developmental, and evolutionary aspects of nature. This paper argues that these scientific developments, and changes in other aspects of culture, amount to a widespread shift to an alternative cosmology, a quite different general worldview. To the extent that this is the case, introductory chemistry courses ought to be changed in fundamental ways. Rather that having a main focus on analysis to microscopic components, introductory chemistry instruction should emphasize current scientific understanding of the (synthetic) evolutionary origins of the present world. This altered approach would provide good preparation for future professional work, while also making better contact with the perceived concerns of students. (shrink)
The work of Luciano Floridi lies at the interface of philosophy, information science and technology, and ethics, an intersection whose existence and significance he was one of the first to establish. His closely related concepts of a philosophy of information, informational structural realism, information logic, and information ethics provide a new ontological perspective from which moral concerns can be addressed, especially but not limited to those arising in connection with the new information and communication technologies. In this paper, I relate (...) Floridi's approach to another novel perspective, namely, that of an extension of logic to complex real processes, including those of information production and transfer. This non-propositional, non-truth-functional logic ) is grounded in the fundamental dualism inherent in energy and accordingly present at all levels of reality. The LIR description of the dynamics of processes and their evolution is relevant to what Floridi refers to as the possible non-linguistic aspects of information. It suggests answers to some of Floridi's “outstanding problems” in PI related to the ontological status of information and how it is used in cognition. Floridi's IL retains the formal structure of the doxastic and epistemic logics from which he correctly distinguishes it and is the basis for his conceptual PI. However, LIR fulfills Floridi's implied requirement that logic be regarded as a natural phenomenon dealing with other natural phenomena, recovering its original philosophical function. LIR provides a logical foundation for discussion of ethical questions based on kinds of information that complements IL. Both are reconsiderations of logic that, as Marijuan suggests, may be necessary for the advancement of information technology in an ethical direction. IE focuses on entities as constituted by information in an overall strategy that generalizes the concept of moral agents. LIR and its related ontology naturalize critical aspects of Floridi's theses, especially, the moral value of being as such and a non-separable joint responsibility of individuals and groups. I compare IE to other current approaches to ethics and information technology. Ethical information is defined “ecologically” in process terms as reality in a physical space, with an intentional “valence,” positive and negative, in the morally valued interaction between producer and receiver. LIR is neither topic-neutral nor context independent and can support an ethics involving apparently contradictory perspectives. Ethics involves practical reasoning, and unlike standard logics, LIR supports Magnani's approach to abductive reasoning in rational moral decision making. The basis of moral responsibility and the consequent behavior of individuals involved in information and communications technologies is the same logical–metaphysical principle of dynamic opposition instantiated at other levels of reality. The way moral responsibilities are actively accepted by individuals supervenes on their primitive psychological structure, which in turn reflects an evolutionary development grounded in the fundamental dualism of the physical world. The paper concludes with some suggestions of areas of philosophical research, such as causality, identity, and the ontological turn, where convergence of the Floridi and LIR approaches might be envisaged. Their overall motivation is the same, namely, the development of strategies for reinforcing and increasing ethical sensitivity wherever possible. The ethical information concept outlined in the paper supports the function of IE, assigned to it by Floridi, of potentially determining what is right and what is wrong. (shrink)
The conjunction of process and reality is familiar from the original theory of A. N. Whitehead and the subsequent development of process philosophy and metaphysics by Nicholas Rescher. Classical logic, however, is either ignored or stated to be inappropriate to a discussion of process. In this paper, I will show that the value of a process view of reality can be enhanced by reference to a new, transconsistent logic of reality that is grounded in the physical properties of energy in (...) its various forms. These properties justify a principle of dynamic antagonism or opposition that explicates the phenomena of change at all levels of reality. It can be, accordingly, a preferred logic for understanding the dynamics of real processes. (shrink)
The main scientific problems of chemical bonding were solved half a century ago, but adequate philosophical understanding of chemical combination is yet to be achieved. Chemists routinely use important terms ("element," "atom," "molecule," "substance") with more than one meaning. This can lead to misunderstandings. Eliminativists claim that what seems to be a baseball breaking a window is merely the action of "atoms, acting in concert." They argue that statues, baseballs, and similar macroscopic things "do not exist." When macroscopic objects like (...) baseballs move, exceedingly large numbers (1025) of microscopic components coordinate their activities. Understanding how this happens requires attention to the interactions that link parts into larger units. Eliminativists say that everything that truly exists has causal relationships in addition to those of its components—"nonredundant causality." This paper holds that if a number of entities interact in such a way that the effect of that collection on test objects is different than it would have been in the absence of the interaction, then identification of that collection as a single composite agent is warranted, for purposes to which that difference is relevant. Ordinary "chemical substances" (both elementary materials such as dihydrogen and compounds such as water) fulfill this version of the requirement of nonredundant causality. Other sorts of chemical coherences, including chemical dissipative structures (e.g., flames), also fulfill that criterion. All these types of coherences qualify as "substances" (as that term is used in philosophy) even though they are not all "chemical substances.". (shrink)
Recently, there has been a resurgence of scholarly criticisms regarding the plausibility of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Papacy. Broadly speaking, these problems include scholarly criticisms of the scriptural passages which Roman Catholic theologians claim support the papacy, historical discrepancies regarding apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter, and a priori intuitions about the moral nature of those who attain Papal Status. In this paper, I respond to these objections by utilizing Swinburne’s C-inductive strategy (Bayesian Confirmation Theory) – found in (...) his text, The Existence of God – and conclude that overall, there is a strong P-Inductive argument for the Papacy. (shrink)
Philosophers have long debated ‘substrate’ and ‘bundle’ theories as to how properties hold together in objects ― but have neglected to consider that every chemical entity is defined by closure of relationships among components ― here designated ‘Closure Louis de Broglie.’ That type of closure underlies the coherence of spectroscopic and chemical properties of chemical substances, and is importantly implicated in the stability and definition of entities of many other types, including those usually involved in philosophic discourse ― such as (...) roses, statues, and tennis balls. Characteristics of composites are often presumed to ‘supervene on’ properties of components. This assumption does not apply when cooperative interactions among components are significant. Once correlations dominate, then adequate descriptions must involve different entities and relationships than those that are involved in ‘fundamental-level’ description of similar but uncorrelated systems. That is to say, descriptions must involve different semantics than would be appropriate if cooperative interactions were insignificant. This is termed ‘Closure Henri Poincaré. Networks of chemical reactions that have certain types of closure of processes display properties that make other more-complex coherences possible. This is termed ‘Closure Jacques Cauvin.’ Each of these three modes of closure provides a sufficient basis for warranted recognition of causal interaction, thus each of them has epistemological significance. Other modes of epistemologically-important closure probably exist. It is important to recognize that causal efficacy generally depends on closure of relationships of constituents. (shrink)
When a group of processes achieves such closure that a set of states of affairs recurs continually, then the effect of that coherence on the world differs from what would occur in the absence of that closure. Such altered effectiveness is an attribute of the system as a whole, and would have consequences. This indicates that the network of processes, as a unit, has ontological significance. Whenever a network of processes generates continual return to a limited set of states of (...) affairs, the system may function as a “whole”— with respect to appropriate interaction partners. The balance achieved by the processes provides the form of definiteness of a unified agent. The causal powers of such coherent aggregates are indeed just the powers of the “constituents acting in concert”. However, the components act in concert in the specific way they do only because of their inclusion in the closed set of interactions that defines the coherence. This renders the causal powers of the coherence defined by that closure non-redundant, and hence the coherence, as a unit, is ontologically significant. The form of definiteness that provides internal coherence also grounds external efficacy of the societal aggregation. The closure is a structural feature of the coherence — possibly, but not necessarily, apparent in spatial structuring. This approach can provide a unified account that includes quantum microphysics, systems biology, and the philosophy of organism ─ without reducing any of these to another. (shrink)
Nature abounds in compound individuals. Discrete, functioning entities are made up of components which are, in some sense, also individuals. Scientists sometimes need to be concerned with whether aggregates (e.g.. species of plants) or components (e.g., quarks) exist. but such questions are not generally regarded as having great importance for science. It has often happened, however, that scientific developments have had major significance for subsequent philosophical discussion of problems of the one and the many. Recently, there has been considerable increase (...) in scientific understanding of spontaneous development of spatial and temporal organization (structure) in physical. chemical, and biological systems. In an earlier note (PS 11:35), I suggested that this progress in science raises points that may be helpful in dealing with a question of current importance for process philosophy. This paper provides support for that suggestion. The first section introduces the philosophical problem. The middle sections provide brief non-technical introduction to scientific concepts. The final section combines both topics. (shrink)