The objectivity of representation Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9505-1 Authors AlfredoPaternoster, University of Bergamo, Via Pignolo 123, 24121 Bergamo, Italy Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The functional role of mirror neurons has been assessed in many different ways. They have been regarded, inter alia, as the core mechanism of mind reading, the mechanism of language understanding, the mechanism of imitation. In this paper we will discuss the thesis according to which MNs are a conceptual mechanism. This hypothesis is attractive since it could accommodate in an apparently simple way all the above-mentioned interpretations. We shall take into consideration some reasons suggesting the conceptualist characterization of MNs, (...) as well as some possible replies. We shall figure out how an argument for the conceptualist hypothesis could be deployed, focusing on the notion of off-line processes, which turns out to be the crucial property necessary to ascribe concept possession. Our conclusion will be that, despite of there being some evidence for the conceptualist account, the issue cannot be definitely settled, because there are both experimental shortages and conceptual difficulties. In particular, there are three distinct senses in which MNs can be regarded as a conceptual mechanism, but we shall argue that only one of these interpretations can be defended. (shrink)
: According to Crane intentionality is nothing less than the mark of the mental. Nonetheless, there are many issues raised by this concept, beginning with the problem of non-existent relata. In this comment-article I discuss the concept of intentionality in its generality, trying to state its ontological status and to assess its explanatory dispensability. In particular, I focus on the argument, addressed by Crane, whereby Wittgenstein eliminates intentionality, characterizing it as a grammatical fiction, a pseudo-entity created by the grammar of (...) the language of mental states ascriptions. I will argue that: although Crane’s specific argument against Wittgenstein is not conclusive, Wittgenstein’s linguistic strategy does not work; and yet we should not be committed to a robust realist account of intentionality. Keywords : Intentionality; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Mark of the Mental; Ontological Commitment; Realism/Anti-realism. L’intenzionalità è sufficientemente reale? Riassunto : Il concetto di intenzionalità è l’autentico cuore della filosofia di Tim Crane, secondo il quale l’intenzionalità è niente di meno che il marchio del mentale. Nondimeno, vi sono diversi noti problemi sollevati da questo concetto. In questo articolo-commento discuto il concetto di intenzionalità nelle sue linee generali cercando, da un lato, di determinarne lo statuto ontologico e, dall’altro, di valutarne la dispensabilità esplicativa. Mi concentro in particolare sull’argomento, discusso da Crane, con cui Wittgenstein elimina l’intenzionalità, caratterizzandola come una finzione grammaticale, una pseudo-entità creata della grammatica del linguaggio con cui attribuiamo stati mentali. Sosterrò che: sebbene lo specifico argomento di Crane non sia conclusivo, la strategia “linguistica” di Wittgenstein non funziona e tuttavia non dovremmo indulgere a una concezione realista “robusta” dell’intenzionalità. Parole chiave : Intentionalità; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Marchio del mentale; Impegno ontologico; Realismo/Anti-realismo. (shrink)
Metaphysical naturalism is the thesis according to which mental states can be reduced to, and thereby explained by, neurophysiological states. In this paper I discuss whether this thesis is plausible taking into consideration different kinds of mental states: propositional attitudes, on the one hand, and phenomenal states, on the other. I shall argue that, while metaphysical naturalism is false for standard propositional attitudes , it can be defended in the case of low-level phenomenal states, or raw feelings. As a consequence, (...) since the instantiation of high-order mental states requires the neurophysiological mechanisms that constitute raw feelings, the notion of self has a biological basis, and in this sense, we can speak of a “natural self”. The structure of the paper is the following. In the first paragraph I shall focus on the naturalization of paradigmatic intentional states . In the second paragraph I move to the discussion of raw feelings and show the consequences of my view for the notion of self. (shrink)
The paper discusses some recent suggestions offered by the so-called sensorimotor (or enactivist) theorists as to the problem of the explanatory gap, that is, the alleged impossibility of accounting for phenomenal consciousness in any scientific theory. We argue in the paper that, although some enactivist theorists’ suggestions appear fresh and eye-opening, the claim that the explanatory gap is (dis)solved is much overstated.
In this book we offer a theory of the self, whose core ideas are that the self is a process of self-representing, and this process aims mainly at defending the self-conscious subject against the threat of its metaphysical inconsistence. In other words, the self is essentially a repertoire of psychological manoeuvres whose outcome is a self-representation aimed at coping with the fundamental fragility of the human subject. Our picture of the self differs from both the idealist and the eliminative approaches (...) widely represented in contemporary discussion. Against the idealist approach, we deny that the self is something primitive and logically prior. Rather, we take it to be the result of a process of construction that starts with subpersonal unconscious processes. On the other hand, we also reject the anti-realistic, eliminative argument that, from the non-primary, derivative nature of the self, infers its status as an illusory by-product of real neurobiological events, devoid of any explanatory role. (shrink)
Research misconduct has been thoroughly discussed in the literature, but mainly in terms of definitions and prescriptions for proper conduct. Even when case studies are cited, they are generally used as a repository of “lessons learned.” What has been lacking from this conversation is how the lessons of responsible conduct of research are imparted in the first place to graduate students, especially those in technical fields such as engineering. Nor has there been much conversation about who is responsible for what (...) in training students in Responsible Conduct of Research or in allocating blame in cases of misconduct. This paper explores three seemingly disparate cases of misconduct—the 2004 plagiarism scandal at Ohio University; the famous Robert Millikan article of 1913, in which his reported data selection did not match his notebooks; and the 1990 fabrication scandal in Dr. Leroy Hood’s research lab. Comparing these cases provides a way to look at the relationship between the graduate student (or trainee) and his/her advisor (a relationship that has been shown to be the most influential one for the student) as well as at possibly differential treatment for established researchers and researchers-in-training, in cases of misconduct. This paper reflects on the rights and responsibilities of research advisers and their students and offers suggestions for clarifying both those responsibilities and the particularly murky areas of research-conduct guidelines. (shrink)
The use of performance-enhancing drugs is a significant problem in sport. It cheats clean athletes of their hard-earned rewards from perfecting their skills though dedication and hard work. It defrauds fans by substituting a distorted playing field for a true competition. Anti-doping agencies have been charged with enforcing drug policies, primarily through the use of drug testing programs. We propose that drug testing, while important, is not sufficient to achieve deterrence. Engaging the principles of perceptual deterrence and development of a (...) moral community of athletes can greatly enhance compliance with rules. (shrink)
If the cultural variations concerning knowledge and research on ordinary reasoning are part of cultural history, what kind of historiographical method is needed in order to present the history of its evolution? This paper proposes to introduce the study of theories of reasoning into a historiographic perspective because we assume that the answer to the previous question does not only depend of internal controversies about how reasoning performance is explained by current theories of reasoning. [...].
This article argues that Bowers and Paternoster’s emphasis on a moral community marks an important step towards a more ethical and effective approach to anti-doping. However, it also argues that the authors’ proposed strategies undermine their stated goal of effectively engaging athletes as partners in anti-doping efforts and raise ethical concerns. Their proposed emphasis on exploiting shaming as a punishment and their general view of athletes as adversaries fosters mistrust between athletes and those who enforce the anti-doping rules. Instead, (...) this article describes a model for empowering athletes as stakeholders in anti-doping policy as a means to provide anti-doping rules with increased moral legitimacy among athletes. (shrink)
This article focuses on Jacques Rancière’s reflections on Alfredo Jaar’s The Rwanda Project in the context of wider discussions of the politics of naming the dead. Against the claim that his reflections reveal a depoliticizing, universalist commitment to naming all the dead, it contends that foregrounding the relation between naming and counting in this discussion shows Rancière’s focus to be the policing and politics of naming. In an original argument, it focuses specifically on how, for Rancière, in this context, (...) individualized proper names function politically and dissensually. To do so it explores Rancière’s analysis of the role of the mainstream media during the Rwandan genocide in perpetuating the police order which divided nameable individuals from anonymous masses, thereby constituting living and dead Rwandans as of little or no account, and his account of how Jaar’s art is able to disrupt the ‘partition of the sensible’ underpinning this count. The article concludes by considering how Rancière’s ideas about the relationship between naming and counting and between politics and police serve as a useful supplement to and extension of existing discussions of grievability. (shrink)
Maurizio Ferraris’ Goodbye Kant! Cosa resta oggi della Critica della ragion pura has been a notable success in the field of popular philosophical writing in Italy. With refreshing irreverence and wit, the book mounts a sustained attack on the supposed confusions of Kant’s first Critique, and bemoans their influence on later philosophy. In particular, Ferraris argues that by attempting to found the necessary features of experience on physics, Kant confuses experience and ontology with science and epistemology and arrives at the (...) implausible conclusion that our experience and knowledge, and perhaps even the existence, of things depend on how our minds are structured. Unsurprisingly, Goodbye Kant! has provoked strong reactions from Kant scholars. Alfredo Ferrarin’s Congedarsi da Kant? collects four particularly considered responses, along with a reply from Ferraris himself. (shrink)
In its discussion of Gil Courtemanche’s Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali and Alfredo Jaar’s installation of “Real Pictures,” both of which are representations of the Rwandan Genocide, this analysis contributes to a larger discussion on ethical representations of violence. Generally the discussion of the ethics of representation analyzes the ways in which the author or artist portrays the violent events. It focuses on the importance of the historical and political context when describing the events, as well as (...) on the ways in which the author or artist avoids the potential objectifying or dehumanizing effects of representations on the victims, as well as, the perpetrators. This article highlights another important element to be considered in the study of ethical representations- that of how the reader is engaged in the representation and as a result may or may not contribute to stereotypes, objectification, and other negative consequences possible when representing violence. Those who represent violence must not only consider ethical implications with their own interactions with the event and text or image, but also how they encourage their audience to interact with them. (shrink)
Pereira’s “The Projective Theory of Consciousness” is an experimental statement, drawing on many diverse sources, exploring how consciousness might be produced by a projective mechanism that results both in private selves and an experienced world. Unfortunately, pulling together so many unrelated sources and methods means none gets full attention. Furthermore, it seems to me that the uncomfortable breadth of this paper unnecessarily complicates his project; in fact it may hide what it seeks to reveal. If this conglomeration of diverse sources (...) and methods were compared to trees, the reader may feel like the explorer who cannot see the forest for the trees. Then again, it may be the author who is so preoccupied with foreground figures that the everpresent background is ultimately obscured. (shrink)