This volume is a collection of essays by various contributors in honor of the late Laurence Berns, Richard Hammond Elliot Tutor Emeritus at St. John's College, Annapolis. The essays address the literary, political, theological, and philosophical themes of his life's work as a scholar, teacher, and constant companion of the "great books.".
Robert Rupert argues against the view that human cognitive processes comprise elements beyond the boundary of the organism, developing a systems-based conception in place of this extended view. He also argues for a conciliatory understanding of the relation between the computational approach to cognition and the embedded and embodied views.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to severe shortages of many essential goods and services, from hand sanitizers and N-95 masks to ICU beds and ventilators. Although rationing is not unprecedented, never before has the American public been faced with the prospect of having to ration medical goods and services on this scale.
Stolorow and his collaborators' post-Cartesian psychoanalytic perspective – intersubjective-systems theory – is a phenomenological contextualism that illuminates worlds of emotional experience as they take form within relational contexts. After outlining the evolution and basic ideas of this framework, Stolorow shows both how post-Cartesian psychoanalysis finds enrichment and philosophical support in Heidegger's analysis of human existence, and how Heidegger's existential philosophy, in turn, can be enriched and expanded by an encounter with post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. In doing so, he creates an important psychological (...) bridge between post-Cartesian psychoanalysis and existential philosophy in the phenomenology of emotional trauma. (shrink)
We seek to change the conversation about brain death by highlighting the distinction between brain death as a biological concept versus brain death as a legal status. The fact that brain death does not cohere with any biologically plausible definition of death has been known for decades. Nevertheless, this fact has not threatened the acceptance of brain death as a legal status that permits individuals to be treated as if they are dead. The similarities between “legally dead” and “legally blind” (...) demonstrate how we may legitimately choose bright-line legal definitions that do not cohere with biological reality. Not only does this distinction bring conceptual coherence to the conversation about brain death, but it has practical implications as well. Once brain death is recognized as a social construction not grounded in biological reality, we create the possibility of changing the social construction in ways that may better serve both organ donors and recipients alike. (shrink)
Trauma and Human Existence effectively interweaves two themes central to emotional trauma--the first pertains to the contextuality of emotional life in general, and of the experience of emotional trauma in particular, and the second pertains to the recognition that the possibility of emotional trauma is built into the basic constitution of human existence. This volume traces how both themes interconnect, largely as they crystallize in the author’s personal experience of traumatic loss. As discussed in the book's final chapter, whether or (...) not this constitutive possibility will be brought lastingly into the foreground of our experiential world depends on the relational contexts in which we live. (shrink)
The concept of brain death has become deeply ingrained in our health care system. It serves as the justification for the removal of vital organs like the heart and liver from patients who still have circulation and respiration while these organs maintain viability. On close examination, however, the concept is seen as incoherent and counterintuitive to our understandings of death. In order to abandon the concept of brain death and yet retain our practices in organ transplantation, we need to either (...) change the definition of death or no longer maintain a commitment to the dead donor rule, which is an implicit prohibition against removing vital organs from individuals before they are declared dead. After exploring these two options, the author argues that while new definitions of death are problematic, alternatives to the dead donor rule are both ethically justifiable and potentially palatable to the public. Even so, the author concludes that neither of these approaches is likely to be adopted and that resolution will most probably come when technological advances in immunology simply make the concept of brain death obsolete. (shrink)
The concept of brain death was recently described as being “at once well settled and persistently unresolved.” Every day, in the United States and around the world, physicians diagnose patients as brain dead, and then proceed to transplant organs from these patients into others in need. Yet as well settled as this practice has become, brain death continues to be the focus of controversy, with two journals in bioethics dedicating major sections to the topic within the last two years.By way (...) of background, the Uniform Determination of Death Act states that “[a]n individual who has sustained either: irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.” In other words, death can be defined by either cardiorespiratory or neurological criteria, with “brain death” representing the loss of all brain function. This standard, or closely related variants, has become the accepted approach throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. (shrink)
This essay joins Wilhelm Dilthey’s conception of the metaphysical impulse as a flight from the tragedy of human finitude with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s understanding of how language bewitches intelligence. We contend that there are features of the phenomenology of language that play a constitutive and pervasive role in the formation of metaphysical illusion.
This paper engages critically with anti-representationalist arguments pressed by prominent enactivists and their allies. The arguments in question are meant to show that the “as-such” and “job-description” problems constitute insurmountable challenges to causal-informational theories of mental content. In response to these challenges, a positive account of what makes a physical or computational structure a mental representation is proposed; the positive account is inspired partly by Dretske’s views about content and partly by the role of mental representations in contemporary cognitive scientific (...) modeling. (shrink)
The Jeffreys–Lindley paradox displays how the use of a \ value ) in a frequentist hypothesis test can lead to an inference that is radically different from that of a Bayesian hypothesis test in the form advocated by Harold Jeffreys in the 1930s and common today. The setting is the test of a well-specified null hypothesis versus a composite alternative. The \ value, as well as the ratio of the likelihood under the null hypothesis to the maximized likelihood under the (...) alternative, can strongly disfavor the null hypothesis, while the Bayesian posterior probability for the null hypothesis can be arbitrarily large. The academic statistics literature contains many impassioned comments on this paradox, yet there is no consensus either on its relevance to scientific communication or on its correct resolution. The paradox is quite relevant to frontier research in high energy physics. This paper is an attempt to explain the situation to both physicists and statisticians, in the hope that further progress can be made. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the Natural-Kinds Argument for cognitive extension, which purports to show that the kinds presupposed by our best cognitive science have instances external to human organism. Various interpretations of the argument are articulated and evaluated, using the overarching categories of memory and cognition as test cases. Particular emphasis is placed on criteria for the scientific legitimacy of generic kinds, that is, kinds characterized in very broad terms rather than in terms of their fine-grained causal roles. Given the current (...) state of cognitive science, I conclude that we have no reason to think memory or cognition are generic natural kinds that can ground an argument for cognitive extension. (shrink)
Abstract The concept of interpersonal forgiveness is described first through an examination of ancient writings and contemporary philosophical and psychological discourse. Two psychological models are then described. The first concerns developmental patterns in how people think about forgiving another. The second describes how people may go about forgiving another. Implications for counseling and education are drawn.
Savulescu and colleagues have provided interesting insights into how the UK public view the ‘best interests’ of children like Charlie Gard. But is best interests the right standard for evaluating these types of cases? In the USA, both clinical decisions and legal judgments tend to follow the ‘harm principle’, which holds that parental choices for their children should prevail unless their decisions subject the child to avoidable harm. The case of Charlie Gard, and others like it, show how the USA (...) and the UK have strikingly different approaches for making decisions about the treatment of severely disabled children. (shrink)
Summary of claims: (1) One of the most important relationships between the ontical and the ontological in Heidegger’s thought is the central, ontologically revelatory role that he gives to moods. (2) Heidegger uses the word “mood” as a term of art to refer to the whole range of disclosive affectivity. (3) Because of the role that Heidegger grants to mood as a primordial way of disclosing Being-in-the-world, and because it is impossible to think mood without also thinking the lived body, (...) Heidegger has placed the latter at the center of Dasein’s disclosedness. (4) Heidegger’s account of mood thus entails and highlights, rather than neglects, the ontological significance of the body. (shrink)
In this paper, I claim that extant empirical data do not support a radically embodied understanding of the mind but, instead, suggest (along with a variety of other results) a massively representational view. According to this massively representational view, the brain is rife with representations that possess overlapping and redundant content, and many of these represent other mental representations or derive their content from them. Moreover, many behavioral phenomena associated with attention and consciousness are best explained by the coordinated activity (...) of units with redundant content. I finish by arguing that this massively representational picture challenges the reliability of a priori theorizing about consciousness. (shrink)
This entry addresses the question of group minds, by focusing specifically on empirical arguments for group cognition and group cognitive states. Two kinds of positive argument are presented and critically evaluated: the argument from individually unintended effects and the argument from functional similarity. A general argument against group cognition – which appeals to Occam’s razor – is also discussed. In the end, much turns on the identification of a mark of the cognitive; proposed marks are briefly surveyed in the final (...) section. (shrink)
A theory of cognitive systems individuation is presented and defended. The approach has some affinity with Leonard Talmy's Overlapping Systems Model of Cognitive Organization, and the paper's first section explores aspects of Talmy's view that are shared by the view developed herein. According to the view on offer -- the conditional probability of co-contribution account (CPC) -- a cognitive system is a collection of mechanisms that contribute, in overlapping subsets, to a wide variety of forms of intelligent behavior. Central to (...) this approach is the idea of an integrated system. A formal characterization of integration is laid out in the form of a conditional-probabilitybased measure of the clustering of causal contributors to the production of intelligent behavior. I relate the view to the debate over extended and embodied cognition and respond to objections that have been raised in print by Andy Clark, Colin Klein, and Felipe de Brigard. (shrink)
The recent literature on mental causation has not been kind to nonreductive, materialist functionalism (‘functionalism’, hereafter, except where that term is otherwise qualified). The exclusion problem2 has done much of the damage, but the epiphenomenalist threat has taken other forms. Functionalism also faces what I will call the ‘problem of metaphysically necessary effects’ (Block, 1990, pp. 157-60, Antony and Levine, 1997, pp. 91-92, Pereboom, 2002, p. 515, Millikan, 1999, p. 47, Jackson, 1998, pp. 660-61). Functionalist mental properties are individuated partly (...) by their relation to the very effects those properties’ instantiations are thought to cause. Consequently, functionalist causal generalizations would seem to have the following problematical structure: The state of being, among other things, a cause of e (under such-andsuch conditions) causes e (under those conditions).3 The connection asserted lacks the contingency one would expect of a causal generalization. Mental states of the kind in question are, by metaphysical necessity, causes of e; any state that does not cause e is thereby a different kind of state. Yet, a mental state’s being the sort of state it is must play some causal role if functionalism is to account for mental causation.4 In what follows, I first articulate more fully the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I then criticize three functionalist attempts to solve the problem directly. Given the failure of functionalist efforts to meet the problem head-on, I consider less direct strategies: these involve formulating functionalism or its causal claims in such a way that they appear not to generate the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I argue against these indirect solutions, in each case concluding either that the problem still arises or that avoiding it requires the adoption of an unorthodox form of functionalism (itself a surprising result). In the final.. (shrink)
Causal theories of mental content (CTs) ground certain aspects of a concept's meaning in the causal relations a concept bears to what it represents. Section 1 explains the problems CTs are meant to solve and introduces terminology commonly used to discuss these problems. Section 2 specifies criteria that any acceptable CT must satisfy. Sections 3, 4, and 5 critically survey various CTs, including those proposed by Fred Dretske, Jerry Fodor, Ruth Garrett Millikan, David Papineau, Dennis Stampe, Dan Ryder, and the (...) author himself. The final section considers general objections to the causal approach. (shrink)
It seems intuitive to the believer that God intended through instruction in the Law to define morality, intended to lead humankind to “the right and the good.” Further, God's love for humankind, exemplified by the incarnation, atonement and teachings of Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, should lead to a better world. Indeed, the Christian worldview is a coherent and valid way to look at bioethical issues in public policy and at the bedside. Yet, as this paper explores, in (...) a pluralistic society such as the United States, it is neither possible nor desirable for Christians to try to force their views on others. Still, it is obligatory for Christians to stand up and articulate their views in the public square. We should try to persuade others using either prudential or moral arguments. While we must be willing to live with “the will of the people,” at the same time, we must not be intimidated into accepting the position that our voice is not valid because it has a religious basis. (shrink)
In Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Clark, 2008), Andy Clark bolsters his case for the extended mind thesis and casts a critical eye on some related views for which he has less enthusiasm. To these ends, the book canvasses a wide range of empirical results concerning the subtle manner in which the human organism and its environment interact in the production of intelligent behavior. This fascinating research notwithstanding, Supersizing does little to assuage my skepticism about the hypotheses (...) of extended cognition and extended mind. In particular, Supersizing fails to make the case for the extended view as a revolutionary thesis in the theoretical foundations of cognitive science. (shrink)
This paper presents the leading idea of my doctoral dissertation and thus has been shaped by the reactions of all the members of my thesis committee: Charles Chastain, Walter Edelberg, W. Kent Wilson, Dorothy Grover, and Charles Marks. I am especially grateful for the help of Professors Chastain, Edelberg, and Wilson; each worked closely with me at one stage or another in the development of the ideas contained in the present work. Shorter versions of this paper were presented at the (...) 47th Annual Northwest Conference on Philosophy (1995), the 1996 Mid-South Philosophy Conference, the 1997 meeting of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, and at the University of Washington, Seattle; thanks to all audiences for their insightful comments and questions and also to my conference commentators, Eric Gampel, Jonathan Cohen, and Bruce Glymour, respectively, each of whom offered a thoughtful critique. Lastly, I extend my gratitude to anonymous referees, including two from Mind and Language, whose remarks led to significant improvements in the paper. Address for correspondence: 13416, 4th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98168, USA E-mail: [email protected] (shrink)