Advance Praise: "A distillation of the wisdom accumulated over a lifetime by one of our leading thinkers in psychiatry. . . .It should interest. . .anyone who has thought seriously about the brain, the mind and the meaning of illness." --Albert J. Stunkard, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania.
The debate between the “Transcendental” and “Neo-” Thomists is an ongoing concern. Specifically, Jeremy Wilkins and John F.X. Knasas differ sharply over the correct interpretation of St. Thomas, Bernard Lonergan, and the very nature of cognition itself (ACPQ 78 ). This debate is clouded, however, due to a lack of appreciation for key terms, specifically, “sensation” and Lonergan’s own phrase “the notion of being.” Using the distinction between precisive and non-precisive abstraction, the author clarifies the relevant sense of “sensation” and (...) its related concepts. The clarification reveals that Wilkins and Knasas use such terms in markedly different, though compatible ways. Second, the notion of being as it is presented in various texts of Lonergan is examined. Contrary to what is supposed by Knasas, the notion of being, for Lonergan, contributes no formal or constitutive element to human knowing, and is in fact a pure potency with respect to intelligibility. Accordingly, any concerns or charges of crypto-Kantianism with respect to Lonergan are unfounded. (shrink)
Knowledge of mechanisms is critical for causal reasoning. We contrasted two possible organizations of causal knowledge—an interconnected causal network, where events are causally connected without any boundaries delineating discrete mechanisms; or a set of disparate mechanisms—causal islands—such that events in different mechanisms are not thought to be related even when they belong to the same causal chain. To distinguish these possibilities, we tested whether people make transitive judgments about causal chains by inferring, given A causes B and B causes C, (...) that A causes C. Specifically, causal chains schematized as one chunk or mechanism in semantic memory led to transitive causal judgments. On the other hand, chains schematized as multiple chunks led to intransitive judgments despite strong intermediate links. Normative accounts of causal intransitivity could not explain these intransitive judgments. (shrink)
Conviction Narrative Theory is a theory of choice under radical uncertainty—situations where outcomes cannot be enumerated and probabilities cannot be assigned. Whereas most theories of choice assume that people rely on probabilistic judgments, such theories cannot account for adaptive decision-making when probabilities cannot be assigned. CNT proposes that people use narratives—structured representations of causal, temporal, analogical, and valence relationships—rather than probabilities, as the currency of thought that unifies our sense-making and decision-making faculties. According to CNT, narratives arise from the interplay (...) between individual cognition and the social environment, with reasoners adopting a narrative that feels ‘right’ to explain the available data; using that narrative to imagine plausible futures; and affectively evaluating those imagined futures to make a choice. Evidence from many areas of the cognitive, behavioral, and social sciences supports this basic model, including lab experiments, interview studies, and econometric analyses. We propose 12 principles to explain how the mental representations interact with four inter-related processes, examining the theoretical and empirical basis for each. We conclude by discussing how CNT can provide a common vocabulary for researchers studying everyday choices across areas of the decision sciences. (shrink)
Public health and service delivery programmes, interventions and policies are typically developed and implemented for the primary purpose of effecting change rather than generating knowledge. Nonetheless, evaluations of these programmes may produce valuable learning that helps determine effectiveness and costs as well as informing design and implementation of future programmes. Such studies might be termed ‘opportunistic evaluations’, since they are responsive to emergent opportunities rather than being studies of interventions that are initiated or designed by researchers. However, current ethical guidance (...) and registration procedures make little allowance for scenarios where researchers have played no role in the development or implementation of a programme, but nevertheless plan to conduct a prospective evaluation. We explore the limitations of the guidance and procedures with respect to opportunistic evaluations, providing a number of examples. We propose that one key missing distinction in current guidance is moral responsibility: researchers can only be held accountable for those aspects of a study over which they have control. We argue that requiring researchers to justify an intervention, programme or policy that would occur regardless of their involvement prevents or hinders research in the public interest without providing any further protections to research participants. We recommend that trial consent and ethics procedures allow for a clear separation of responsibilities for the intervention and the evaluation. (shrink)
We consider various curious features of general relativity, and relativistic field theory, in two spacetime dimensions. In particular, we discuss: the vanishing of the Einstein tensor; the failure of an initial-value formulation for vacuum spacetimes; the status of singularity theorems; the non-existence of a Newtonian limit; the status of the cosmological constant; and the character of matter fields, including perfect fluids and electromagnetic fields. We conclude with a discussion of what constrains our understanding of physics in different dimensions.