Philosophy of Neuroscience

Edited by Robert Foley (University of Western Ontario)
Assistant editor: Michelle Thomas (University of Western Ontario)
About this topic
Summary The philosophy of neuroscience includes applications of neuroscience to philosophical problems as well as philosophical investigations of neuroscience. The application of neuroscience to philosophical problems (such as problems in philosophy of mind) is sometimes referred to as "neurophilosophy". The philosophical investigation of neuroscience is a sub-discipline of the philosophy of science.
Key works See the pioneering Churchland 1986 for an early overview of key themes in philosophy of neuroscience. Anthologies of note include Bickle 2009 and Bechtel et al 2001.
Introductions For a concise introductory overview, see Bickle et al 2006. See also Brook & Mandik 2007 and Bechtel et al 2001.
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  1. Grey Matter – The Problems of Incidental Findings in Neuroimaging Research.Nicholas Murphy & Charles Weijer - 2021 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 49 (2):282-284.
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  2. Neuromedia, Cognitive Offloading, and Intellectual Perseverance.Cody Turner - forthcoming - Synthese.
    This paper engages in what might be called anticipatory virtue epistemology, as it anticipates some virtue epistemological risks related to a near-future version of brain-computer interface technology called neuromedia (Lynch 2014, 2016, Carter 2017, Pritchard 2018b). I analyze how neuromedia is poised to negatively affect the intellectual character of agents, focusing specifically on the virtue of intellectual perseverance, which involves a disposition to mentally persist in the face of challenges towards the realization of one’s intellectual goals (King 2014, Battaly 2017). (...)
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  3. Noología en tiempos de neurociencias e inteligencia artificial.Jesús Conill - 2022 - Quaestio 21:215-232.
    This paper shows the relevance of Zubirian noology for metaphysics in the 21st century, which is marked by the rise of neurosciences and artificial intelligence. Zubiri’s noological analysis, which is closely linked to neurobiology, contributes to offering a new conception of human reality and intelligence.
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  4. Neuroimages: Some Serving Suggestions.Benedict Charles Taylor-Green - 2021 - NanoEthics 15 (3):315-319.
    This art-science interaction evokes two ‘neuroimages’. However, the term ‘neuroimage’ does not refer, as usual, to images that emerge from scientific practices that seek to gain insight into the structural and functional properties of brains. Rather, it is meant that the images considered have as their theme neurotechnologies: specifically, those that concern the control of neuroprostheses, and neuroprostheses themselves. The first neuroimage appears in a biosignal sensing cap catalogue, and the second appears in the science fiction film Blade Runner 2049. (...)
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  5. Hypnosis and Meditation: A Neurophenomenological Comparison.Jelena Markovic & Evan Thompson - 2017 - In Amir Raz & Michael Lifshitz (eds.), Hypnosis and Meditation: Towards an Integrative Science of Conscious Planes. Oxford, UK: pp. 79-106.
    A necessary first step in collaboration between hypnosis research and meditation research is clarification of key concepts. The authors propose that such clarification is best advanced by neurophenomenological investigations that integrate neuroscience methods with phenomenological models based on first-person reports of hypnotic versus meditative experiences. Focusing on absorption, the authors argue that previous treatments of hypnosis and meditation as equivalent are incorrect, but that they can be fruitfully compared when characteristic features of the states described by these concepts are examined. (...)
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  6. Reactive Natural Kinds and Varieties of Dependence: When is a Disease Kind Really ‘on the Move’?Harriet Fagerberg - manuscript
    Medical kinds often have an interesting metaphysical structure: they constitute natural kinds but are in part explained or impacted upon by our practices of classification. This prompts the question: when is a natural disease kind truly reactive in response to our practice of classification, and when is it merely associated with or intersecting with a social kind? This paper proposes an answer. I begin with a permissive account of ‘real’ kinds and their structure, distinguishing natural kinds, indifferent kinds and reactive (...)
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  7. The Literalist Fallacy & the Free Energy Principle: Model Building, Scientific Realism and Instrumentalism.Michael David Kirchhoff, Julian Kiverstein & Ian Robertson - manuscript
    Disagreement about how best to think of the relation between theories and the realities they represent has a longstanding and venerable history. We take up this debate in relation to the free energy principle (FEP) - a contemporary framework in computational neuroscience, theoretical biology and the philosophy of cognitive science. The FEP is very ambitious, extending from the brain sciences to the biology of self-organisation. In this context, some find apparent discrepancies between the map (the FEP) and the territory (target (...)
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  8. Conceptual Change in Visual Neuroscience: The Receptive Field Concept.A. Nicolás Venturelli - 2021 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 34 (1):41-57.
    I focus on the concept of the receptive field of a sensory neuron, taking it as a prominent case to address conceptual change in the history of neuroscience. I argue for an interpretation of its ro...
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  9. The Socio-Political Perspectives of Neuroethics: An Approach to Combat the Reproducibility Crisis in Science?Emily Doerksen & Jean-Christophe Boivin - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 13 (1):31-32.
    Dubljević and company’s proposed approach for incorporating a socio-political perspective into neuroethics has clear potential to help mitigate the effects of research ‘hype’ relating to neuroethics. Their approach serves as a social regulation meant to improve the realizability of neuroethics research. Drawing on Dubljević et al. s suggestion, we consider how incorporating a socio-political perspective in other scientific disciplines could help the scientific community as a whole move beyond the infamous ‘reproducibility crisis’ in science. The reproducibility crisis is a concern (...)
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  10. Neuroimaging Research: From Null-Hypothesis Falsification to Out-of-Sample Generalization.Danilo Bzdok, Gaël Varoquaux & Bertrand Thirion - unknown
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  11. The Future of Data Analysis in the Neurosciences.Danilo Bzdok & B. T. Thomas Yeo - unknown
    Neuroscience is undergoing faster changes than ever before. Over 100 years our field qualitatively described and invasively manipulated single or few organisms to gain anatomical, physiological, and pharmacological insights. In the last 10 years neuroscience spawned quantitative big-sample datasets on microanatomy, synaptic connections, optogenetic brain-behavior assays, and high-level cognition. While growing data availability and information granularity have been amply discussed, we direct attention to a routinely neglected question: How will the unprecedented data richness shape data analysis practices? Statistical reasoning is (...)
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  12. Inference in the Age of Big Data: Future Perspectives on Neuroscience.Danilo Bzdok & B. Yeo - unknown
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  13. Classical Statistics and Statistical Learning in Imaging Neuroscience.Danilo Bzdok - unknown
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  14. Filled/Non-Filled Pairs: An Empirical Challenge to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.Amber Hopkins & Kelvin J. McQueen - 2022 - Consciousness and Cognition 97:103245.
    Perceptual filling-in for vision is the insertion of visual properties (e.g., color, contour, luminance, or motion) into one’s visual field, when those properties have no corresponding retinal input. This paper introduces and provides preliminary empirical support for filled/non-filled pairs, pairs of images that appear identical, yet differ by amount of filling-in. It is argued that such image pairs are important to the experimental testing of theories of consciousness. We review recent experimental research and conclude that filling-in involves brain activity with (...)
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  15. Moral Neuroenhancement for Prisoners of War.Blake Hereth - forthcoming - Neuroethics.
    Moral agential neuroenhancement (MANE) can transform us into better people. However, critics of MB raise four central objections to MANEs use: (1) It destroys moral freedom; (2) it kills one moral agent and replaces them with another, better agent; (3) it carries significant risk of infection and illness; (4) it benefits society but not the enhanced person; and (5) it’s wrong to experiment on nonconsenting persons. Herein, I defend MANE’s use for prisoners of war (POWs) fighting unjustly. First, the permissibility (...)
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  16. Psychopathy: Neurohype and Its Consequences.Jarkko Jalava & Stephanie Griffiths - 2022 - In Luca Malatesti, John McMillan & Predrag Šustar (eds.), Psychopathy: Its Uses, Validity and Status. Cham: Springer. pp. 79-98.
    Many argue that psychopaths suffer from a stable pattern of neurobiological dysfunctions that should be taken into account in sentencing and treatment decisions. These arguments are compelling only if the neuroimaging data are consistent. It is possible that such consistency is created by reviewers who ignore contradictory findings. To evaluate this, we examined how accurately forensic literature reported neuroimaging findings on psychopaths in a theoretically central structure – the amygdala. We found that forensic commentators consistently under-reported null-findings, creating a misleading (...)
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  17. سيمفونية الإدراك وسؤال «مولينو» المُحير.Salah Osman - 2021 - With Mind We Start Academy.
    ماذا يحدث إذا أبصر الأعمى فجأة، هل سيتخلص فورًا من «عُكازه»؟ أو بعبارة أخرى، هل سيُدرك بالرؤية ما كان يدركه باللمس (عُكازه) بحيث يستطيع تمييزه من بين كافة الأشياء، وتحديد هويته، وبناء خبرة حسية تُطابق بين الجسم الملموس والجسم المرئي؟ تلك هي المشكلة التي حيرت الفكر الفلسفي لبضعة قرون، وشغلت – وما زالت تشغل – حيزًا هامًا من مناقشات علماء النفس وطب العيون والفسيولوجيا العصبية في عالمنا المعاصر.
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  18. Associations of the Disrupted Functional Brain Network and Cognitive Function in End-Stage Renal Disease Patients on Maintenance Hemodialysis: A Graph Theory-Based Study of Resting-State Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.Die Zhang, Yingying Chen, Hua Wu, Lin Lin, Qing Xie, Chen Chen, Li Jing & Jianlin Wu - 2021 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 15.
    Objective: Cognitive impairment is a common neurological complication in patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. Brain network analysis based on graph theory is a promising tool for studying CI. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze the changes of functional brain networks in patients on MHD with and without CI by using graph theory and further explore the underlying neuropathological mechanism of CI in these patients.Methods: A total of 39 patients on MHD and 25 healthy controls (...)
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  19. Does the Neurotypical Human Have a ‘Theory of Mind’?Joseph Gough - 2021 - Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2021.
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  20. Comentário à sessão Neurociências e livre arbítrio.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2016 - Anatomia Do Crime 3:31-35.
  21. Neuroparenting: the Myths and the Benefits. An Ethical Systematic Review.Anke Snoek & Dorothee Horstkötter - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (3):387-408.
    Parenting books and early childhood policy documents increasingly refer to neuroscience to support their parenting advice. This trend, called ‘neuroparenting’ has been subject to a growing body of sociological and ethical critical examination. The aim of this paper is to review this critical literature on neuroparenting. We identify three main arguments: that there is a gap between neuroscientific findings and neuroparenting advice, that there is an implicit normativity in the translation from neuroscience to practice, and that neuroparenting is a form (...)
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  22. Model Organisms for Studying Decision-Making: A Phylogenetically Expanded Perspective.Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1055-1066.
    This article explores the use of model organisms in studying the cognitive phenomenon of decision-making. Drawing on the framework of biological control to develop a skeletal conception of decision-making, we show that two core features of decision-making mechanisms can be identified by studying model organisms, such as E. coli, jellyfish, C. elegans, lamprey, and so on. First, decision mechanisms are distributed and heterarchically structured. Second, they depend heavily on chemical information processing, such as that involving neuromodulators. We end by discussing (...)
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  23. Could artificial intelligence have consciousness? Some perspectives from neurology and parapsychology.Yew-Kwang Ng - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-12.
    The possibility of AI consciousness depends much on the correct answer to the mind–body problem: how our materialistic brain generates subjective consciousness? If a materialistic answer is valid, machine consciousness must be possible, at least in principle, though the actual instantiation of consciousness may still take a very long time. If a non-materialistic one is valid, machine consciousness is much less likely, perhaps impossible, as some mental element may also be required. Some recent advances in neurology and many results of (...)
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  24. On the Neurocognitive Co-Evolution of Tool Behavior and Language: Insights From the Massive Redeployment Framework.François Osiurak, Caroline Crétel, Natalie Uomini, Chloé Bryche, Mathieu Lesourd & Emanuelle Reynaud - 2021 - Topics in Cognitive Science 13 (4):684-707.
  25. Mental Mechanisms: Philosophical Perspectives on Cognitive Neuroscience, by William Bechtel. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008, 328 Pp. [REVIEW]Sara Bizarro - 2008 - Disputatio 25:66-72.
    Book review of William Bechtel's book Mental Mechanist. The book outlines a new and original program for the philosophy of cognitive science using an original concept of mechanism as its core idea. Bechtel’s concept of mechanism is intended to allow for a naturalized science of the mind that is continuous with the other sciences. The review goes through all the claims made in the book.
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  26. Moral Psychology, Vol. 3, The Neuroscience of Morality: Emotion, Brain Disorders, and Development.Walter Sinnott Armstrong (ed.) - 2007
  27. Extending the Reach of Tooling Theory: A Neurocognitive and Phylogenetic Perspective.Jennifer A. D. Colbourne, Alice M. I. Auersperg, Megan L. Lambert, Ludwig Huber & Christoph J. Völter - 2021 - Topics in Cognitive Science 13 (4):548-572.
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  28. Neuroscience and Narrative.Lewis Mehl-Madrona & Barbara Mainguy - forthcoming - Anthropology of Consciousness.
    Anthropology of Consciousness, EarlyView.
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  29. Eliminative Materialism, Neuroscience and the Criminal Law.A. E. Lelling - 1993 - University of Pennsylvania Law Review 141.
  30. Intertheoretic Reduction: A Neuroscientist’s Field Guide.P. M. Churchland & P. S. Churchland - 1998 - In Y. Christen & P. Churchland (eds.), Neurophilosophy and Alzheimer’s Disease. Springer.
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  31. Neuro-Doping as a Means to Avert Fascistoid Ideology in Elite Sport.Torbjörn Tännsjö - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (2):169-178.
    Assume that neuro-doping is safe and efficient. This means that the use of it, and similar future safe methods of enhancement in sport, may help those who are naturally weak to catch up with those who are naturally strong and sometimes even defeat them. The rationale behind anti-doping measures seem to presuppose that this is unfair. But the idea that those who are naturally strong should defeat those who are naturally weak rests on a fascistoid ideology that sport had better (...)
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  32. (November 2021 to 2014) The UNBELIEVABLE Similarities Between the Ideas of Some People (2011-2016) and My Ideas (2002-2008) in Physics (Quantum Mechanics, Cosmology), Cognitive Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy (This Manuscript Would Require a REVOLUTION in International Academy Environment!).Gabriel Vacariu - 2021 - Dissertation, University of Bucharest
    (October 2021 to 2014) The UNBELIEVABLE similarities between the ideas of some people (2011-2016) and my ideas (2002-2008) in physics (quantum mechanics, cosmology), cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and philosophy (this manuscript would require a REVOLUTION in international academy environment!).
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  33. Magnets, Spins, and Neurons: The Dissemination of Model Templates Across Disciplines.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2014 - The Monist 97 (3):280-300.
    One of the most conspicuous features of contemporary modeling practices is the dissemination of mathematical and computational methods across disciplinary boundaries. We study this process through two applications of the Ising model: the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses and the Hopfield model of associative memory. The Hopfield model successfully transferred some basic ideas and mathematical methods originally developed within the study of magnetic systems to the field of neuroscience. As an analytical resource we use Paul Humphreys's discussion of computational and (...)
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  34. Selbsterfahrung und neurobiologische Fremdbeschreibung.Wolf Singer - 2006 - In Hans-Peter Krüger (ed.), Hirn Als Subjekt?: Philosophische Grenzfragen der Neurobiologie. Akademie Verlag. pp. 39-59.
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  35. The Mere Substitution Defence of Nudging Works for Neurointerventions Too.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    Nudges are often defended on the basis that they merely substitute existing influences on choice with other influences that are similar in kind; they introduce no new kind of influence into the choice situation. I motivate the view that, if this defence succeeds in establishing the moral innocuousness of typical nudges, it also establishes the moral innocuousness of an intuitively wrongful neurochemical intervention. I then consider two attempts to rebut this view and argue that both fail. I end by spelling (...)
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  36. Ethical Issues in Global Neuroimaging Genetics Collaborations.Andrea Palk, Judy Illes, Paul Thompson & D. Stein - 2020 - NeuroImage 117208 (221):1-10.
  37. Philosophy of Neuroscience.William Bechtel & Linus Ta-Lun Huang - 2022 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This Element provides a comprehensive introduction to philosophy of neuroscience. It covers such topics as how neuroscientists procure knowledge, including not just research techniques but the use of various model organisms. It presents examples of knowledge acquired in neuroscience that are then employed to discuss more philosophical topics such as the nature of explanations developed in neuroscience, the different conception of levels employed in discussions of neuroscience, and the invocation of representations in neuroscience explanations. The text emphasizes the importance of (...)
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  38. Baby Steps to Superintelligence: Neuroprosthetics and Children.Matthew S. Lucas - 2012 - Journal of Evolution and Technology 22 (1):132-145.
    Children surviving neural injuries face challenges not seen by their adult counterparts, namely that they experience neural injury before reaching neurodevelopmental maturity. Neural prostheses offer one possible path to recovery, along with the potential for functional outcomes that could exceed expectations. Although the first cochlear implant was placed more than fifty years ago, the field of neuroprosthetics is still relatively young. Several types of neural prostheses are in development stages ranging from animal models to human trials. In this paper, I (...)
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  39. Gabriel Vacariu, (October 2021 to 2014) The UNBELIEVABLE SIMILARITIES Between the Ideas of Some People (2011-2021) and My Ideas (2002-2008) in Physics (Quantum Mechanics, Cosmology), Cognitive Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy (This Manuscript Would Produce a REVOLUTION in Right International Academic Environment!) Here (the LIST is BELOW).Gabriel Vacariu - manuscript
    Gabriel Vacariu, (October 2021 to 2014) The UNBELIEVABLE SIMILARITIES between the ideas of some people (2011-2021) and my ideas (2002-2008) in physics (quantum mechanics, cosmology), cognitive neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and philosophy (this manuscript would produce a REVOLUTION in right international academic environment!) here (the LIST is BELOW) .
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  40. Some Methodological Issues in Neuroethics: The Case of Responsibility and Psychopathy.Luca Malatesti & John McMillan - 2021 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 30 (4):681-693.
    There are some distinct methodological challenges, and possible pitfalls, for neuroethics when it evaluates neuroscientific results and links them to issues such as moral or legal responsibility. Some problems emerge in determining the requirements for responsibility. We will show how philosophical proposals in this area need to interact with legal doctrine and practice. Problems can occur when inferring normative implications from neuroscientific results. Other problems arise when it is not recognized that data about brain anatomy or physiology are relevant to (...)
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  41. Neuroscience and Narrative.Lewis Mehl-Madrona & Barbara Mainguy - forthcoming - Anthropology of Consciousness.
    Anthropology of Consciousness, EarlyView.
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  42. Neuroscience Experiment: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives.John Bickle, Carl F. Craver & Ann Sophie Barwich (eds.) - forthcoming
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  43. CONSCIOUSNESS AS A PROBLEM OF CHARLES D. LAUGHLIN's BIOGENETIC STRUCTURALIST NEUROPHENOMENOLOGY.Anna Shutaleva - 2020 - Vestnik Tomskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Filosofiya. Sotsiologiya. Politologiya – Tomsk State University Journal of Philosophy, Sociology and Political Science 53:141-147.
    The article deals with the problem of cognition in the framework of the biogenetic structuralist neurophenomenology of Charles Laughlin. The aim of the article is to study the possibilities of applying the biogenetic structuralist theory as a theoretical and methodological basis for the study of consciousness in Laughlin’s theory. A feature of biogenetic structuralism is the interdisciplinary fusion of anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience. The methodology of biogenetic structuralism allows exploring universal structures of consciousness, which are caused by the genetically predisposed (...)
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  44. Neuroanthropology: a biogenetic structuralist theory as a theoretical and methodological basis for the neurophenomenological study of consciousness.Anna Shutaleva - 2020 - Voprosy Filosofii 7:104-112.
    Changes that occurred in science in the second half of the twentieth century, led to the emergence of a number of Sciences, the subject of study of which requires the involvement of interdisciplinary methodology and theory of neuroscience, for example, neurobiology, neurolinguistics, neuroanthropology, neurophilosophy, neurophenomenology, etc. One of the features of modern anthropology is that the subject of its research involves an interdisciplinary dialogue, the involvement of methods and theories of socio-human and natural Sciences, which led to the formation of (...)
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  45. Mirror Neurons, Consciousness, and the Bearer Question.Mihretu P. Guta - forthcoming - In Mind-Brain Anthology edited by Brian K. and Cristi C.
    In this chapter, I aim to examine the two central properties that are said to underlie the theory of mirror neurons, namely action execution and action observation. I shall call these the functional properties of mirror neurons. I will argue that attributing the functional properties of mirror cognition, as many neuroscientists do, to the so-called ‘mirror neurons’ suffers from the problem of misidentification. This is the problem of incorrectly identifying an object or a property of one sort with some other (...)
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  46. Neuroscience and the Concept of Culpability.Tyler Fagan - 2022 - In Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2nd edition. pp. 713-718.
    Culpability lies at the heart of our moral and legal practices of blaming, censuring, and punishing. Put simply, an agent is culpable for an action if the action is wrongful and the agent is responsible for that action. This seemingly straightforward concept remains contested within philosophy and legal theory, however, especially in the relatively new fields of neuroethics and neurolaw. How to understand responsible agency, which agents are potential bearers of culpability in general—and for which actions—and the possible evidentiary relevance (...)
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  47. A Critical Analysis of Neurological Theories on Empathy in Healthcare.Ylva Gustafsson - 2021 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 14 (2):97-113.
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  48. Building Blocks for the Development of a Self-Consistent Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness.Joachim Keppler - 2021 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 15.
    The goal of this work is to compile the basic components for the construction of an electromagnetic field theory of consciousness that meets the standards of a fundamental theory. An essential cornerstone of the conceptual framework is the vacuum state of quantum electrodynamics which, contrary to the classical notion of the vacuum, can be viewed as a vibrant ocean of energy, termed zero-point field (ZPF). Being the fundamental substrate mediating the electromagnetic force, the ubiquitous ZPF constitutes the ultimate bedrock of (...)
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  49. A Dilemma For Neurodiversity.Kenneth Shields & David Beversdorf - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (2):125-141.
    One way to determine whether a mental condition should be considered a disorder is to first give necessary and sufficient conditions for something to be a disorder and then see if it meets these conditions. But this approach has been criticized for begging normative questions. Concerning autism, a neurodiversity movement has arisen with essentially two aims: advocate for the rights and interests of individuals with autism, and de-pathologize autism. We argue that denying autism’s disorder status could undermine autism’s exculpatory role (...)
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  50. Nonconsensual neurocorrectives, bypassing, and free action.Gabriel De Marco - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    As neuroscience progresses, we will not only gain a better understanding of how our brains work, but also a better understanding of how to modify them, and as a result, our mental states. An important question we are faced with is whether the state could be justified in implementing such methods on criminal offenders, without their consent, for the purposes of rehabilitation and reduction of recidivism; a practice that is already legal in some jurisdictions. By focusing on a prominent type (...)
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