Aworkshop was held August 26–28, 2015, by the Earth- Life Science Institute (ELSI) Origins Network (EON, see Appendix I) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This meeting gathered a diverse group of around 40 scholars researching the origins of life (OoL) from various perspectives with the intent to find common ground, identify key questions and investigations for progress, and guide EON by suggesting a roadmap of activities. Specific challenges that the attendees were encouraged to address included the following: What key (...) questions, ideas, and investigations should the OoL research community address in the near and long term? How can this community better organize itself and prioritize its efforts? What roles can particular subfields play, and what can ELSI and EON do to facilitate research progress? (See also Appendix II.) The present document is a product of that workshop; a white paper that serves as a record of the discussion that took place and a guide and stimulus to the solution of the most urgent and important issues in the study of the OoL. This paper is not intended to be comprehensive or a balanced representation of the opinions of the entire OoL research community. It is intended to present a number of important position statements that contain many aspirational goals and suggestions as to how progress can be made in understanding the OoL. The key role played in the field by current societies and recurring meetings over the past many decades is fully acknowledged, including the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) and its official journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, as well as the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL). (shrink)
Multivariate pattern analysis, or MVPA, has become one of the most popular analytic methods in cognitive neuroscience. Since its inception, MVPA has been heralded as offering much more than regular univariate analyses, for—we are told—it not only can tell us which brain regions are engaged while processing particular stimuli, but also which patterns of neural activity represent the categories the stimuli are selected from. We disagree, and in the current paper we offer four conceptual challenges to the use of MVPA (...) to make claims about neural representation. Our view is that the use of MVPA to make claims about neural representation is problematic. (shrink)
In analyzing oppressive systems like racism, social theorists have articulated accounts of the dynamic interaction and mutual dependence between psychological components, such as individuals’ patterns of thought and action, and social components, such as formal institutions and informal interactions. We argue for the further inclusion of physical components, such as material artifacts and spatial environments. Drawing on socially situated and ecologically embedded approaches in the cognitive sciences, we argue that physical components of racism are not only shaped by, but also (...) shape psychological and social components of racism. Indeed, while our initial focus is on racism and racist things, we contend that our framework is also applicable to other oppressive systems, including sexism, classism, and ableism. This is because racist things are part of a broader class of oppressive things, which are material artifacts and spatial environments that are in congruence with an oppressive system. (shrink)
This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It is argued that collective mentality should be only be posited where specialized subroutines are integrated in a way that yields skillful, goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to concerns that are relevant to a group as such.
Altruistic self-sacrifice is rare, supererogatory, and not to be expected of any rational agent; but, the possibility of giving up one's life for the common good has played an important role in moral theorizing. For example, Judith Jarvis Thomson (2008) has argued in a recent paper that intuitions about altruistic self-sacrifice suggest that something has gone wrong in philosophical debates over the trolley problem. We begin by showing that her arguments face a series of significant philosophical objections; however, our project (...) is as much constructive as critical. Building on Thomson's philosophical argument, we report the results of a study that was designed to examine commonsense intuitions about altruistic self-sacrifice. We find that a surprisingly high proportion of people judge that they should give up their lives to save a small number of unknown strangers. We also find that the willingness to engage in such altruistic self-sacrifice is predicted by a person's religious commitments. Finally, we show that folk-moral judgments are sensitive to agent-relative reasons in a way that diverges in important ways from Thomson's proposed intuitions about the trolley problem. With this in mind, we close with a discussion of the relative merits of folk intuitions and philosophical intuitions in constructing a viable moral theory. (shrink)
While the balance between individual privacy and government monitoring or corporate surveillance has been a frequent topic across numerous disciplines, the issue of privacy within the family has been largely ignored in recent privacy debates. Yet privacy intrusions between parents and children or between adult partners or spouses can be just as profound as those found in the more “public spheres” of life. Popular access to increasingly sophisticated forms of electronic surveillance technologies has altered the dynamics of family relationships. Monitoring, (...) mediated and facilitated by practices of both covert and overt electronic surveillance, has changed the nature of privacy within the family. Parents are tracking children via GPS-enabled cell phone tracking software and are monitoring the Internet use of family members. Parents, siblings, and children are also posting information about their family members online, often without consent, and are creating social media profiles for others online. Prior scholarly work in philosophy and law has primarily addressed the privacy of children from third parties, usually commercial entities, and in the context of making medical decisions. Less attention has been directed at exploring a more general right of privacy of one family member against parents, siblings, children, or spouses. In this article, we do just that. We consider several moral rules that determine appropriate privacy boundaries within the family. More specifically, we will consider when overt or covert surveillance of a child, spouse, or partner by an adult family member is morally permitted. (shrink)
Recent work in the cognitive and neurobiological sciences indicates an important relationship between emotion and moral judgment. Based on this evidence, several researchers have argued that emotions are the source of our intuitive moral judgments. However, despite the richness of the correlational data between emotion and morality, we argue that the current neurological, behavioral, developmental and evolutionary evidence is insufﬁcient to demonstrate that emotion is necessary for making moral judgments. We suggest instead, that the source of moral judgments lies in (...) our causal-intentional psychology; emotion often follows from these judgments, serving a primary role in motivating morally relevant action. (shrink)
The neural reuse framework developed primarily by Michael Anderson proposes that brain regions are involved in multiple and diverse cognitive tasks and that brain regions flexibly and dynamically interact in different combinations to carry out cognitive functioning. We argue that the evidence cited by Anderson and others falls short of supporting the fundamental principles of neural reuse. We map out this problem and provide solutions by drawing on recent advances in network neuroscience, and we argue that methods employed in network (...) neuroscience provide the means to fully engage in a research program operating under the principles of neural reuse. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collective mentality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally specific rather (...) than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
We welcome Mikhalevich & Powell’s (2020) (M&P) call for a more “‘inclusive”’ animal ethics, but we think their proposed shift toward a moral framework that privileges false positives over false negatives will require radically revising the paradigm assumption in animal research: that there is a clear line to be drawn between sentient beings that are part of our moral community and nonsentient beings that are not.
Inspired by the success of generative linguistics and transformational grammar, proponents of the linguistic analogy (LA) in moral psychology hypothesize that careful attention to folk-moral judgments is likely to reveal a small set of implicit rules and structures responsible for the ubiquitous and apparently unbounded capacity for making moral judgments. As a theoretical hypothesis, LA thus requires a rich description of the computational structures that underlie mature moral judgments, an account of the acquisition and development of these structures, and an (...) analysis of those components of the moral system that are uniquely human and uniquely moral. In this paper we present the theoretical motivations for adopting LA in the study of moral cognition: (a) the distinction between competence and performance, (b) poverty of stimulus considerations, and (c) adopting the computational level as the proper level of analysis for the empirical study of moral judgment. With these motivations in hand, we review recent empirical findings that have been inspired by LA and which provide evidence for at least two predictions of LA: (a) the computational processes responsible for folk-moral judgment operate over structured representations of actions and events, as well as coding for features of agency and outcomes; and (b) folk-moral judgments are the output of a dedicated moral faculty and are largely immune to the effects of context. In addition, we highlight the complexity of the interfaces between the moral faculty and other cognitive systems external to it (e.g., number systems). We conclude by reviewing the potential utility of the theoretical and empirical tools of LA for future research in moral psychology. (shrink)
Does the brain behave indeterministically? I argue that accounting for ion channels, key functional units in the brain, requires indeterministic models. These models are probabilistic, so the brain does behave indeterministically in a weak sense. I explore the implications of this point for a stronger sense of indeterminism. Ultimately I argue that it is not possible, either empirically or through philosophical argument, to show that the brain is indeterministic in that stronger sense.
This paper discusses a crisis of accountability that arises when scientific collaborations are massively epistemically distributed. We argue that social models of epistemic collaboration, which are social analogs to what Patrick Suppes called a “model of the experiment,” must play a role in creating accountability in these contexts. We also argue that these social models must accommodate the fact that the various agents in a collaborative project often have ineliminable, messy, and conflicting interests and values; any story about accountability in (...) a massively distributed collaboration must therefore involve models of such interests and values and their methodological and epistemic effects. (shrink)
It is received wisdom in philosophy and the cognitive sciences that individuals can be in emotional states but groups cannot. But why should we accept this view? In this paper, I argue that there is substantial philosophical and empirical support for the existence of collective emotions. Thus, while there is good reason to be skeptical about many ascriptions of collective emotion, I argue that some groups exhibit the computational complexity and informational integration required for being in genuinely emotional states.
Recent behavioral experiments, along with imaging experiments and neuropsychological studies appear to support the hypothesis that emotions play a causal or constitutive role in moral judgment. Those who resist this hypothesis tend to suggest that affective mechanisms are better suited to play a modulatory role in moral cognition. But I argue that claims about the role of emotion in moral cognition frame the debate in ways that divert attention away from other plausible hypotheses. I suggest that the available data may (...) be more plausibly explained by appeal to predictive and evaluative mechanisms, which are neither wholly affective nor straightforwardly cognitive. By recognizing this fact, we can begin to see why questions about the role of emotion in moral psychology are likely to be empirically misguided. (shrink)
It would be a mistake to deny commonsense intuitions a role in developing a theory of consciousness. However, philosophers have traditionally failed to probe commonsense in a way that allows these commonsense intuitions to make a robust contribution to a theory of consciousness. In this paper, I report the results of two experiments on purportedly phenomenal states and I argue that many disputes over the philosophical notion of ‘phenomenal consciousness’ are misguided—they fail to capture the interesting connection between commonsense ascriptions (...) of pain and emotion. With this data in hand, I argue that our capacity to distinguish between ‘mere things’ and ‘subjects of moral concern’ rests, to a significant extent, on the sorts of mental states that we take a system to have. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that recent research on episodic memory supports a limited defense of the phenomena that Daniel Wegner has termed transactive memory. Building on psychological and neurological research, targeting both individual and shared memory, I argue that individuals can collaboratively work to construct shared episodic memories. In some cases, this yields memories that are distributed across multiple individuals instead of being housed in individual brains.
Is it possible to interfere with individual decision-making while preserving freedom of choice? The purpose of this article is to assess whether ‘libertarian paternalism’, a set of political and ethical principles derived from the observations of behavioural sciences, can form the basis of a viable framework for the ethical analysis of public health interventions. First, the article situates libertarian libertarianism within the broader context of the law and economics movement. The main tenets of the approach are then presented and particular (...) attention is given to its operationalization through the notion of a ‘nudge’. Essentially, a ‘nudge’ consists in an intervention, which aims to suggest one choice over another by gently steering individual choices in welfare-enhancing directions yet without imposing any significant limit on available choices. Finally, the article concludes that, while it fails as an overreaching framework of ethical analysis, libertarian paternalism nonetheless constitutes a valuable addition to the conceptual toolbox of public health ethics. (shrink)
Developmental psychologists have long argued that the capacity to distinguish moral and conventional transgressions develops across cultures and emerges early in life. Children reliably treat moral transgressions as more wrong, more punishable, independent of structures of authority, and universally applicable. However, previous studies have not yet examined the role of these features in mature moral cognition. Using a battery of adult-appropriate cases (including vehicular and sexual assault, reckless behavior, and violations of etiquette and social contracts) we demonstrate that these features (...) also distinguish moral from conventional transgressions in mature moral cognition. Each hypothesized moral transgressions was treated as strongly and clearly immoral. However, our data suggest that although the majority of hypothesized conventional transgressions also form an obvious cluster, social conventions seem to lie along a continuum that stretches from mere matters of personal preference (e.g., getting tattoos or wearing black shoes with a brown belt) to transgressions that are treated as matters for legitimate social sanction (e.g., violating traﬃc laws or not paying your taxes). We use these ﬁndings to discuss issues of universality, domain-speciﬁcity, and the importance of using a well-studied set of moral scenarios to examine clinical populations and the underlying neural architecture of moral cognition. (shrink)
Some people succeed in adopting feminist ideals in spite of the prevalence of asymmetric power relations. However, those who adopt such ideals face a number of psychological difficulties in inhibiting stereotype-based judgments. I argue that a Spinozan theory of belief fixation offers a more complete understanding of the mechanisms that underwrite our intuitive stereotype-based judgments. I also argue that a Spinozan theory of belief fixation offers resources for avoiding stereotype-based judgments where they are antecedently recognized to be pernicious and insidious. (...) Key Words: Spinozan theory of mind • stereotypes • feminism • dual-process theory. (shrink)
In the last two decades, philosophy of neuroscience has predominantly focused on explanation. Indeed, it has been argued that mechanistic models are the standards of explanatory success in neuroscience over, among other things, topological models. However, explanatory power is only one virtue of a scientific model. Another is its predictive power. Unfortunately, the notion of prediction has received comparatively little attention in the philosophy of neuroscience, in part because predictions seem disconnected from interventions. In contrast, we argue that topological predictions (...) can and do guide interventions in science, both inside and outside of neuroscience. Topological models allow researchers to predict many phenomena, including diseases, treatment outcomes, aging, and cognition, among others. Moreover, we argue that these predictions also offer strategies for useful interventions. Topology-based predictions play this role regardless of whether they do or can receive a mechanistic interpretation. We conclude by making a case for philosophers to focus on prediction in neuroscience in addition to explanation alone. (shrink)
Given the importance of scientific research in shaping our perception of the world, and our senses of what policies will and won’t succeed in altering that world, it is of great practical, political, and moral importance that we carry out scientific research with integrity. The phenomenon of scientific fraud stands in the way of that, as scientists may knowingly enter claims they take to be false into the scientific literature, often knowingly doing so in defiance of norms they profess allegiance (...) to. In this chapter we take a look at some of the causes of scientific fraud, and how it might be manifested in large-scale research teams and situations of anonymous authorship. We find that such cases make trouble for what might seem like intuitive answers to the question “who should be held responsible for this fraud?”, and we argue that in such cases it would be better to hold the entire community responsible for seeing to it that there is less fraud. (shrink)
Bryce Huebner’s Macrocognition is a book with a double mission. The first and main mission is “to show that there are cases of collective mentality in our world” . Cases of collective mentality are cases where groups, teams, mobs, firms, colonies or some other collectivities possess cognitive capacities or mental states in the same sense that we individually do. To accomplish this mission, Huebner develops an account of macrocognition, where “the term ‘macrocognition’ is intended as shorthand for the claim (...) that system-level cognition is implemented by an integrated network of specialized computational mechanisms” .The second mission of Huebner’s book is to elaborate an account of cognitive architecture that could set the groundwork for identifying under what conditions groups, and individuals indeed, are fruitfully and justifiably said to be minded. To this end, Huebner tackles several foundational issues in cognitive science, including traditional philosophical questions a .. (shrink)
The just war tradition assumes that civil war is a possible site of justice. It has an uneasy relationship with liberalism, because the latter resists the idea that insurgency and counterinsurgency can be justified in moral terms. The paper suggests that, even if this is true, these two schools of thought are closer to each other than often appears to be the case. In particular, the paper argues that insurgency and counterinsurgency can be justified using the liberal assumptions that nonviolent (...) opposition is the proper non-institutional technique to fight oppressive regimes, and that law enforcement is the appropriate response to unjustified rebellions. Given these assumptions, insurgent warfare is limited to circumstances in which, firstly, nonviolent resistance is no longer a reasonable course of action; and secondly, insurgents have the intention to create the political conditions that are needed to make it a coherent option again.Counter insurgent warfare, in turn, is restrained to those situations in which, first, there is a rebellion or revolution even though the use of nonviolent strategies for conflict and change remains a reasonable choice; and second, police agencies lack the resources that arerequired for managing and suppressing rebel activities. Of course, these requirements should be taken as presumptions, and there may be cases when they do not hold. (shrink)
Thought experimental methods play a central role in empirical moral psychology. Against the increasingly common interpretation of recent experimental data, I argue that such methods cannot demonstrate that moral intuitions are produced by reflexive computations that are implicit, fast, and largely automatic. I demonstrate, in contrast, that evaluating thought experiments occurs at a near-glacial pace relative to the speed at which reflexive information processing occurs in a human brain. So, these methods allow for more reflective and deliberative processing than has (...) commonly been assumed. However, these methods may still provide insight into some human strategies for navigating unfamiliar moral dilemmas. (shrink)
There are many ways to advance our understanding of the human mind by studying different kinds of sociality. Our aim in this introduction is to situate claims about extended cognition within a broader framework of research on human sociality. We briefly discuss the existing landscape, focusing on ways of defending socially extended cognition. We then draw on resources from the recent literature on the socially extended mind, as well as the literature on collective intentionality, to provide a framework for thinking (...) about the social dimension of individual minds. We then turn to a brief overview of the individualistic approaches advanced by Ludwig and Spaulding in this volume. And we close with a discussion of the transformative role of the social mind in individual life presented by Kern and Moll, as well as the distributed approach to interacting systems defended by Goldstone and Theiner. (shrink)
Collectivities (states, club, unions, teams, etc.) are often fruitfully spoken of as though they possessed representational capacities. Despite this fact, many philosophers reject the possibility that collectivities might be thought of as genuinely representational. This paper addresses the most promising objection to the possibility of collective representation, the claim that there is no explanatory value to positing collective representations above and beyond the representational states of the individuals that compose a particular collectivity. I claim that this argument either proves too (...) much, also giving us reason to abandon person-level representations, or it proves too little, demonstrating precisely the sort of continuity between individual and collective representations that would warrant the positing of genuine collective representations. I conclude with a brief sketch of two promising cases of collective representation that lend credence to my claim that individual representations and collective representations are analogous in a way that warrants the study of collective mentality from within the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
Means-based harms are frequently seen as forbidden, even when they lead to a greater good. But, are there mitigating factors? Results from five experiments show that judgments about means-based harms are modulated by: 1) Pareto considerations (was the harmed person made worse off?), 2) the directness of physical contact, and 3) the source of the threat (e.g. mechanical, human, or natural). Pareto harms are more permissible than non-Pareto harms, Pareto harms requiring direct physical contact are less permissible than those that (...) do not, and harming someone who faces a mechanical threat is less permissible than harming someone who faces a non-mechanical threat. These results provide insight into the rich representational structure underlying folk-moral computations, including both the independent and interacting roles of the inevitability, directness and source of harm. (shrink)
This article considers the important but neglected contribution of James Bryce —noted historian, Gladstonian statesman, and ambassador to the US—to the constitutional debates over Home Rule for Ireland in late Victorian Britain. It focuses on Bryce's reflections on the nature of sovereignty and constitutional government provoked by the need to reconcile Home Rule with parliamentary sovereignty, recently canonized by Bryce's Unionist counterpart and friend, A. V. Dicey. Challenging a tradition of scholarship that sees the Home Rule debates (...) as “a sideshow” and Bryce's contribution as “illogical,” I suggest that Bryce's contribution in fact represents an innovative imperial constitutionalism of what may be called “soft” federalism, which rests not on a codified constitution enforced by courts but on a paradoxical understanding of Parliament's de facto sovereignty as constrained by moral commitments. In this light, the jurisprudential debates appear less a sideshow than an important part of the political contest itself. (shrink)
This book contains thirteen original essays about Puritan culture in colonial New England. Prompted by the growing interest in secular studies, as well as postnational, transnational, and postcolonial critique in the humanities, American Literature and the New Puritan Studies seeks to represent and advance contemporary interest in a field long recognized, however problematically, as foundational to the study of American literature. It invites readers of American literature and culture to reconsider the role of seventeenth-century Puritanism in the creation of the (...) United States of America and its consequent cultural and literary histories. It also records the significant transformation in the field of Puritan studies that has taken place in the last quarter century. In addition to re-reading well known texts of seventeenth-century Puritan New England, the volume contains essays focused on unknown or lesser studied events and texts, as well as new scholarship on post-Puritan archives, monuments, and historiography. (shrink)
Ross examines the relation between thought and madness within the practical and theoretical wings of Kant's critical philosophy. She argues that the notion of critique is formulated as a guard against the tendency of thought to madness. She locates the significance of David-Ménard's essay on Kant's pre-critical works in the idea that Kant's own tendency to madness functions in these early works as a motivational principle for the mature, critical system.
The Philosophy of Daniel Dennett explores the intellectual significance of Daniel C. Dennett's 45 years of philosophical research, while providing a critical and constructive overview of Dennett's stance-based methodology and his claims about metal representation, consciousness, cultural evolution, and religion.
language-theoretic attempt to ground a post-liberal theory of democracy on Kant's intuitions concerning subjective autonomy is flawed because it leaves unexamined the internally contradictory experiential content of the Cartesian subject's experience of self. This case is made through reference to aspects of Habermas reconstructions of Kant and Mead; iek's criticisms of Kant, Heidegger and Habermas; and Honneth's idea that autonomy, for the post-Cartesian self, involves the ability of the subject to come to terms with the experience of negativity. The article (...) concludes by arguing that a post-liberal account of democracy needs to leave behind the Kantian notion of autonomous subjectivity and base itself on a fundamentally different, post-individualist understanding of the self. Key Words: autonomy critical theory democratic theory Jürgen Habermas Axel Honneth subjectivity Slavojiek. (shrink)
David-Ménard examines the problem of the genesis of Kant's moral philosophy. The separation between Kantian practical reason and the inclinations of sense which it regulates is shown by the author to originate in Kant's attempt to regulate his own tendency to hypochondria. Her argument links the themes from two of Kant's precritical works which attest to this tendency-"An Essay on the Maladies of the Mind" and Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime-to the final form of the (...) critical philosophy. (shrink)