In this chapter, we discuss a selection of current views of the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). We focus on the different predictions they make, in particular with respect to the role of prefrontal cortex (PFC) during visual experiences, which is an area of critical interest and some source of contention. Our discussion of these views focuses on the level of functional anatomy, rather than at the neuronal circuitry level. We take this approach because we currently understand more about experimental (...) evidence at this coarse level and because these results are appropriate for arbitrating between current theoretical frameworks. We discuss the Two-Visual-Systems Hypothesis (Milner & Goodale 1995; 2006), Local Recurrency (Lamme 2010; Lamme 2006), Higher Order (Lau 2008; Lau & Rosenthal 2011) and Global Workspace theories (Baars 1997; Baars 2005; Dehaene & Naccache 2001; Dehaene 2014). Despite the apparent stark differences between conscious and unconscious perceptual processing, available evidence suggests that their neural substrates must be largely shared. This indicates that the difference in neural activity between conscious and unconscious perceptual processing is likely to be subtle and highly specialized. We argue that current experimental evidence about the involvement of specific activity in prefrontal cortex supports the higher order neural theory of consciousness. In consequence, imaging techniques that focus only on marked differences between conscious and unconscious level of activity are likely to be insensitive to the relevant neural activity patterns that underlie conscious experiences. Finally, it follows from the evidence we discuss that the functional advantages of conscious over unconscious perceptual processing may be more limited than commonly thought. (shrink)
A record of the words and teachings of Confucius, _The Analects_ is considered the most reliable expression of Confucian thought. However, the original meaning of Confucius's teachings have been filtered and interpreted by the commentaries of Confucianists of later ages, particularly the Neo-Confucianists of the Song dynasty, not altogether without distortion.In this monumental translation by Professor D. C. Lau, an attempt has been made to interpret the sayings as they stand. The corpus of the sayings is taken as an organic (...) whole and the final test of the interpretation rests on the internal consistency it exhibits. In other words, _The Analects_ is read in the light of _The Analects._This results in a truer understanding of Confucius' thought than the traditional interpretation and paves the way for a re-assessment of its importance in the history of Chinese thought and its relevance to the present day world.This volume also contains an introduction to the life and teachings of Confucius, and three appendices on the events in the life of Confucius, on his disciples, and on the composition of _The Analects._. (shrink)
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)
How should we measure metacognitive sensitivity, i.e. the efficacy with which observers’ confidence ratings discriminate between their own correct and incorrect stimulus classifications? We argue that currently available methods are inadequate because they are influenced by factors such as response bias and type 1 sensitivity . Extending the signal detection theory approach of Galvin, Podd, Drga, and Whitmore , we propose a method of measuring type 2 sensitivity that is free from these confounds. We call our measure meta-d′, which reflects (...) how much information, in signal-to-noise units, is available for metacognition. Applying this novel method in a 2-interval forced choice visual task, we found that subjects’ metacognitive sensitivity was close to, but significantly below, optimality. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings, as well as related computational issues of the method. We also provide free Matlab code for implementing the analysis. (shrink)
Mencius, who lived in the 4th century B.C., is second only to Confucius in importance in the Confucian tradition. The _Mencius_ consists of sayings of Mencius and conversations he had with his contemporaries. When read side by side with the _Analects_, the _Mencius_ throws a great deal of light on the teachings of ConfuciusMencius developed many of the ideas of Confucius and at the same time discussed problems not touched upon by Confucius. He drew out the implications of Confucius' moral (...) principles and reinterpreted them for the conditions of his time. As the fullest of the four great Confucian texts, the _Mencius_ has been the required reading amongst Chinese scholars for two thousand years, and it still throws considerable light on the character of the Chinese people. (shrink)
Ethics education matters! Contrary to some common beliefs that ethical behavior is inborn, this study suggests that education does matter. This paper examines ethics education and its relationship with students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Attitudes Towards Business Ethics Questionnaire and 10 vignettes were deployed as the major measurement instruments. It is hypothesized that students with ethics education will have both a greater ethical awareness and ability to make more ethical decisions. Hypotheses were tested in two undergraduate business courses at (...) a major research university where 707 students were sampled. Results suggest that ethics education improved students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Interestingly, results also seem to show that students’ readiness moderated their learning outcomes. (shrink)
We discuss cases where subjects seem to enjoy conscious experience when the relevant first-order perceptual representations are either missing or too weak to account for the experience. Though these cases are originally considered to be theoretical possibilities that may be problematical for the higher-order view of consciousness, careful considerations of actual empirical examples suggest that this strategy may backfire; these cases may cause more trouble for first-order theories instead. Specifically, these cases suggest that (I) recurrent feedback loops to V1 are (...) most likely not the neural correlate of first-order representations for conscious experience, (II) first-order views seem to have a problem accounting for the phenomenology in these cases, and either (III) a version of the ambitious higher-order approach is superior in that it is the simplest theory that can account for all results at face value, or (IV) a view where phenomenology is jointly determined by both first-order and higher-order states. In our view (III) and (IV) are both live options and the decision between them may ultimately be an empirical question that cannot yet be decided. (shrink)
It is usually taken as given that consciousness involves superior or more elaborate forms of information processing. Contemporary models equate consciousness with global processing, system complexity, or depth or stability of computation. This is in stark contrast with the powerful philosophical intuition that being conscious is more than just having the ability to compute. I argue that it is also incompatible with current empirical findings. I present a model that is free from the strong assumption that consciousness predicts superior performance. (...) The model is based on Bayesian decision theory, of which signal detection theory is a special case. It reflects the fact that the capacity for perceptual decisions is fundamentally limited by the presence and amount of noise in the system. To optimize performance, one therefore needs to set decision criteria that are based on the behaviour, i.e. the probability distributions, of the internal signals. One important realization is that the knowledge of how our internal signals behave statistically has to be learned over time. Essentially, we are doing statistics on our own brain. This ‘higherorder’ learning, however, may err, and this impairs our ability to set and maintain optimal criteria for perceptual decisions, which I argue is central to perception consciousness. I outline three possibilities of how conscious perception might be affected by failures of ‘higher-order’ representation. These all imply that one can have a dissociation between consciousness and performance. This model readily explains blindsight and hallucinations in formal terms, and is beginning to receive direct empirical support. I end by discussing some philosophical implications of the model. (shrink)
Metacognition is the capacity to evaluate the success of one's own cognitive processes in various domains; for example, memory and perception. It remains controversial whether metacognition relies on a domain-general resource that is applied to different tasks or if self-evaluative processes are domain specific. Here, we investigated this issue directly by examining the neural substrates engaged when metacognitive judgments were made by human participants of both sexes during perceptual and memory tasks matched for stimulus and performance characteristics. By comparing patterns (...) of fMRI activity while subjects evaluated their performance, we revealed both domain-specific and domain-general metacognitive representations. Multivoxel activity patterns in anterior prefrontal cortex predicted levels of confidence in a domain-specific fashion, whereas domain-general signals predicting confidence and accuracy were found in a widespread network in the frontal and posterior midline. The demonstration of domain-specific metacognitive representations suggests the presence of a content-rich mechanism available to introspection and cognitive control. (shrink)
People have intuitively assumed that many acts of volition are not influenced by unconscious information. However, the available evidence suggests that under suitable conditions, unconscious information can influence behavior and the underlying neural mechanisms. One possibility is that stimuli that are consciously perceived tend to yield strong signals in the brain, and this makes us think that consciousness has the function of sending such strong signals. However, if we could create conditions where the stimuli could produce strong signals but not (...) the conscious experience of perception, perhaps we would find that such stimuli are just as effective in influencing volitional behavior. (shrink)
It has been over a decade and half since Christof Koch and the late Francis Crick first advocated the now popular NCC project (Crick and Koch, 1990), in which one tries to find the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) for perceptual processes. In his chapter in this book Chris Frith provides a splendid review of how neuroimaging has contributed greatly to this project. For the sake of contrast, this chapter takes a more critical stance on what we have actually learned. (...) Many authors have written on whether looking for the neural correlates would eventually lead to an explanatory theory of consciousness, while the proponents defend that focusing on correlates is a strategically sensible first step, given the complexity of the problem (Crick and Koch, 1998;Crick and Koch, 2003). My point here is not to argue whether studying the NCC is useful, but rather, to question whether we are really studying the NCC at all. I argue that in hoping to sidestep the difficult conceptual issues, we have sometimes also missed the phenomenon of perceptual consciousness itself. (shrink)
The intuition that consciousness is hard to explain may fade away as empirically adequate theories of consciousness develop. We review socio-historical factors that account for why, as a field, the neuroscience of consciousness has not been particularly successful at developing empirically adequate theories. Based on this we argue that the meta-problem may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, created in part because we inadvertently focused too much on the so-called 'hard problem', limiting scientific progress.
This study examines the effects of corporate governance mechanisms on CSR performance in an emerging economy, China. Because of the need of gaining legitimacy in the new institutional context, Chinese firms have to adopt global CSR practices in order to remain competitive. Using the corporate governance framework, this study examines how board composition, ownership, and TMT composition influence corporate social performance. The propositions are tested using data gathered from 471 firms in China. By and large, empirical findings supported the hypothesized (...) relationships. (shrink)
From virtue ethics and interactionist perspectives, we hypothesized that personal justice norms (distributive and procedural justice norms) were shaped directly and multiplicatively by ethical dispositions (equity sensitivity and need for structure) and ethical climates (egoistic, benevolent, and principle climates). We collected multisource data from 123 companies in Hong Kong, with personal factors assessed by participants’ self-reports and contextual factors by aggregations of their peers. In general, LISREL analyses with latent product variables supported the direct and multiplicative relationships. Our findings could (...) lay the groundwork for justice research from a morality perspective in future. (shrink)
Studying the neural correlates of conscious awareness depends on a reliable comparison between activations associated with awareness and unawareness. One particularly difficult confound to remove is task performance capacity, i.e. the difference in performance between the conditions of interest. While ideally task performance capacity should be matched across different conditions, this is difficult to achieve experimentally. However, differences in performance could theoretically be corrected for mathematically. One such proposal is found in a recent paper by Lamy, Salti and Bar-Haim [Lamy (...) D, Salti M, Bar-Haim Y. Neural correlates of subjective awareness and unconscious processing: an ERP study. J Cognitive Neurosci 2009,21:1435-46], who put forward a corrective method for an electroencephalography experiment. We argue that their analysis is essentially grounded in a version of High Threshold Theory, which has been shown to be inferior in general to Signal Detection Theory. We show through a series of computer simulations that their correction method only partially removes the influence of perfor- mance capacity, which can yield misleading results. We present a mathematical correction method based on Signal Detection Theory that is theoretically capable of removing performance capacity confounds. We discuss the limitations of mathemati- cally correcting for performance capacity confounds in imaging studies and its impact for theories about consciousness. (shrink)
Awareness and un-clinging have been emphasised in Buddhist discourse as important facets of mindfulness practice for over 2500 years. However, there is a lack of rigorous research examining the relationship between these two elements and their importance to well-being. To evaluate these abstract constructs, the current study adopted multiple assessment modalities; namely, a self-report scale, experience sampling, and semi-structured interviews. A total of 415 participants completed the questionnaire survey. Among them, 71 participants further took part in the experience sampling procedure (...) and semi-structured interviews. The findings reveal that self-reported awareness was mildly correlated with momentary mindfulness but was not significantly correlated with rater-rated mindfulness. Self-reported un-clinging was moderately correlated with rater-rated mindfulness but was not significantly correlated with momentary mindfulness. Un-clinging, but not awareness, can distinguish meditators from non-meditators. Lastly, based on the Buddha’s mindfulness discourse, a path analysis model illustrates that the effects of un-clinging and awareness on stress reduction are mediated by emotional intelligence and non-attachment. Practical implications and future research designs are discussed. (shrink)
Plagiarism by students is a common and worldwide phenomenon with a significant impact on our society. Numerous studies on the pervasive nature of plagiarism among students have focused on the behavioral aspects of plagiarism and how to prevent it. Based on an empirical study of a sample of 463 eighth graders in Hong Kong, this article offers an analytical model to understand the ethical decision-making process in plagiarism among students. Using this model, students' plagiaristic behavior can be analyzed in terms (...) of their moral judgment, moral intensity, and perceived risks. (shrink)
Experimenters generally infer whether participants have visual experiences based on metacognitive responses. We showed a well-studied blindsight participant, GY, several definitions of the term “qualia” and then questioned him about whether he felt or he experienced qualia in his normal and blind fields. We found, contrary to others who have used different methods for measuring qualia, that GY does not have qualia for stationary stimuli in his blind field. This novel method for directly assessing qualia embraces the idea that experiences (...) should be related by the experiencer, not the experimenter. (shrink)
In this article, we present an attempt to reconcile intellectualism and the anti-intellectualist ability account of knowledge-how by reducing “S knows how to F” to, roughly speaking, “S knows that she has the ability to F demonstrated by a concrete way w.” More precisely, “S has a certain ability” is further formalized as the proposition that S can guarantee a certain goal by a concrete way w of some method under some precondition. Having the knowledge of our own ability, we (...) can plan our future actions accordingly, which would not be possible by merely having the ability without knowing it, and this pinpoints the crucial difference between knowledge-how and ability. Our semi-formal account avoids most of the objections to both intellectualism and the anti-intellectualist ability account, and provides a multistage learning process of knowledge-how, which reveals various subtleties. (shrink)
Proposals to lower the age of voting, to 15 for example, are regularly met with worries that people that age are not sufficiently ‘competent’. Notice however that we allow people that age to sign binding legal contracts, provided that those contracts are co-signed by their parents. Notice, further, that in a democracy voters are collectively ‘joint authors’ of the laws that they enact. Enfranchising some less competent voters is no worry, the Condorcet Jury Theorem assures us, so long as the (...) electorate's competence averaging across all voters remains better-than-random. (shrink)
We develop an extension of the familiar linear mixed logit model to allow for the direct estimation of parametric non-linear functions defined over structural parameters. Classic applications include the estimation of coefficients of utility functions to characterize risk attitudes and discounting functions to characterize impatience. There are several unexpected benefits of this extension, apart from the ability to directly estimate structural parameters of theoretical interest.
In a range of contexts, individuals arrive at collective decisions by sharing confidence in their judgements. This tendency to evaluate the reliability of information by the confidence with which it is expressed has been termed the ‘confidence heuristic’. We tested two ways of implementing the confidence heuristic in the context of a collective perceptual decision-making task: either directly, by opting for the judgement made with higher confidence, or indirectly, by opting for the faster judgement, exploiting an inverse correlation between confidence (...) and reaction time. We found that the success of these heuristics depends on how similar individuals are in terms of the reliability of their judgements and, more importantly, that for dissimilar individuals such heuristics are dramatically inferior to interaction. Interaction allows individuals to alleviate, but not fully resolve, differences in the reliability of their judgements. We discuss the implications of these findings for models of confidence and collective decision-making. (shrink)
Kant insists that the use of concepts must be subject to empirical conditions if they are to have objective validity. This article analyses Kants distinction between empirical and transcendental truths. Since transcendental concepts are pure concepts without spatio-temporal content, their objective validity is of the same second-order kind as that of unschematized categories. This characteristic of transcendental concepts implies that the cognitive powers picked out by them are not particular psychological mechanisms, but rather abstract functional structures. Transcendental concepts owe their (...) objective validity to the realizability of the functional structures by empirical cognizers like humans. This relation in turn helps to explain the nature of transcendental truths. (shrink)
aFunctional Imaging Laboratory, Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, University College London, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK bDepartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK cOxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, UK dDepartment of Psychiatry and Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Oxford, UK..
One of the methods used at Penn State to teach engineering students about ethics is a one-credit First-Year Seminar entitled “How Good Engineers Solve Tough Problems.” Students meet in class once a week to understand ethical frameworks, develop ethical problem-solving skills, and to better understand the professional responsibilities of engineers. Emphasis is on the ubiquity of ethical problems in professional engineering. A learning objective is the development of moral imagination, similar to the development of technical imagination in engineering design courses. (...) Making sound arguments is also addressed in the process of reasoning through cases, and critiquing other’s arguments. Over the course of the semester, students solve five engineering ethics cases. Each week, a student team of four people is responsible for reading the assigned section of the text, developing a summary, and leading the class discussion. (shrink)
When visual attention is directed away from a stimulus, neural processing is weak and strength and precision of sensory data decreases. From a computational perspective, in such situations observers should give more weight to prior expectations in order to behave optimally during a discrimination task. Here we test a signal detection theoretic model that counter-intuitively predicts subjects will do just the opposite in a discrimination task with two stimuli, one attended and one unattended: when subjects are probed to discriminate the (...) unattended stimulus, they rely less on prior information about the probed stimulus’ identity. The model is in part inspired by recent findings that attention reduces trial-by-trial variability of the neuronal population response and that they use a common criterion for attended and unattended trials. In five different visual discrimination experiments, when attention was directed away from the target stimulus, subjects did not adjust their response bias in reaction to a change in stimulus presentation frequency despite being fully informed and despite the presence of performance feedback and monetary and social incentives. This indicates that subjects did not rely more on the priors under conditions of inattention as would be predicted by a Bayes-optimal observer model. These results inform and constrain future models of Bayesian inference in the human brain. (shrink)
A recent fMRI study by Webb et al. (Cortical networks involved in visual awareness independent of visual attention, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016;113:13923–28) proposes a new method for finding the neural correlates of awareness by matching atten- tion across awareness conditions. The experimental design, however, seems at odds with known features of attention. We highlight logical and methodological points that are critical when trying to disentangle attention and awareness.
By his critical reflections on the crisis of modern civilization, Jan Patočka, phenomenologist of the Other Europe, incarnates the critical consciousness of the phenomenological movement. He was in fact one of the first European philosophers to have emphasized the necessity of abandoning the hitherto Eurocentric propositions of solution to the crisis when he explicitly raised the problems of a “Post-European humanity”. In advocating an understanding of the history of European humanity different from those of Husserl and Heidegger, Patočka directs his (...) philosophical reflections back to sketch a more profound phenomenology of the natural world insufficiently thematized in Husserl and absent in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. By virtue of its emphasis on the structural characteristics of movement, of praxis, and of the disclosure of the abyssal nature of human existence and of the original nothingness as the (non-)foundation of the phenomenal world, Patočka’s phenomenology of the natural world constitutes an opening towards the reception of Others and other cultures, in particular that of Chinese Taoist philosophy. (shrink)
Nussbaum’s theory of the emotions draws heavily on the Stoic account. In her theory, emotions are a kind of value judgment or thought. This is in stark contrast to the well-known proposal from William James, who took emotions to be bodily feelings. There are various motivations for taking emotions as judgments. One main reason is that emotions are intentional mental states. They are always about something, directed at particular objects or state of affairs. For example, fear seems to involve the (...) anticipation of danger. To grief for the passing of a loved one involves the thought that someone dear to us is now gone. In Upheavals of Thought and also in her Hochelaga Lecture, Nussbaum analyzed compassion as a set of judgments, including for example the judgment that someone is experiencing serious suffering, and that the person in question does not deserve the suffering. (shrink)