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Chris Letheby [17]Christopher Letheby [1]
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Chris Letheby
University of Western Australia
  1. Philosophy of Psychedelics.Chris Letheby - 2021 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Recent clinical trials show that psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin can be given safely in controlled conditions, and can cause lasting psychological benefits with one or two administrations. Supervised psychedelic sessions can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and addiction, and improve well-being in healthy volunteers, for months or even years. But these benefits seem to be mediated by "mystical" experiences of cosmic consciousness, which prompts a philosophical concern: do psychedelics cause psychological benefits by inducing false or implausible beliefs about (...)
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  2. Self Unbound: Ego Dissolution in Psychedelic Experience.Chris Letheby & Philip Gerrans - 2017 - Neuroscience of Consciousness 3:1-11.
    Users of psychedelic drugs often report that their sense of being a self or ‘I’ distinct from the rest of the world has diminished or altogether dissolved. Neuroscientific study of such ‘ego dissolution’ experiences offers a window onto the nature of self-awareness. We argue that ego dissolution is best explained by an account that explains self-awareness as resulting from the integrated functioning of hierarchical predictive models which posit the existence of a stable and unchanging entity to which representations are bound. (...)
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  3. Psychedelics and Meditation: A Neurophilosophical Perspective.Chris Letheby - forthcoming - In Rick Repetti (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Meditation.
    Psychedelic ingestion and meditative practice are both ancient methods for altering consciousness that became widely known in Western society in the second half of the 20th century. Do the similarities begin and end there, or do these methods – as many have claimed over the years – share some deeper common elements? In this chapter I take a neurophilosophical approach to this question and argue that there are, indeed, deeper commonalities. Recent empirical studies show that psychedelics and meditation modulate overlapping (...)
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  4.  36
    Being for No-One.Chris Letheby - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (I):1-26.
    Can there be phenomenal consciousness without self-consciousness? Strong intuitions and prominent theories of consciousness say “no”: experience requires minimal self-awareness, or “subjectivity”. This “subjectivity principle” faces apparent counterexamples in the form of anomalous mental states claimed to lack self-consciousness entirely, such as “inserted thoughts” in schizophrenia and certain mental states in depersonalization disorder. However, Billon & Kriegel have defended SP by arguing that while some of these mental states may be totally selfless, those states are not phenomenally conscious and thus (...)
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  5. Psychedelics and Environmental Virtues.Nin Kirkham & Chris Letheby - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-25.
    The urgent need for solutions to critical environmental challenges is well attested, but often environmental problems are understood as fundamentally collective action problems. However, to solve to these problems, there is also a need to change individual behavior. Hence, there is a pressing need to inculcate in individuals the environmental virtues — virtues of character that relate to our environmental place in the world. We propose a way of meeting this need, by the judicious, safe, and controlled administration of “classic” (...)
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  6. The Epistemic Innocence of Psychedelic States.Chris Letheby - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 39:28-37.
    One recent development in epistemology, the philosophical study of knowledge, is the notion of ‘epistemic innocence’ introduced by Bortolotti and colleagues. This concept expresses the idea that certain suboptimal cognitive processes may nonetheless have epistemic (knowledge-related) benefits. The idea that delusion or confabulation may have psychological benefits is familiar enough. What is novel and interesting is the idea that such conditions may also yield significant and otherwise unavailable epistemic benefits. I apply the notion of epistemic innocence to research on the (...)
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  7. Psychedelic Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder.Shevaugn Johnson & Chris Letheby - forthcoming - Journal of Psychedelic Studies.
    In this opinion piece we propose the investigation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a psychiatric disorder characterised by appearance-based preoccupations and accompanying compulsions. While safe and effective treatments for BDD exist, non-response and relapse rates remain high. Therefore, there is a need to investigate promising new treatment options for this highly debilitating condition. Preliminary evidence suggests safety, feasibility, and potential efficacy of psychedelic treatments in disorders that share similar psychopathological mechanisms with BDD. (...)
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  8. The Varieties of Psychedelic Epistemology.Chris Letheby - 2019 - In Nikki Wyrd, David Luke, Aimee Tollan, Cameron Adams & David King (eds.), Psychedelicacies: more food for thought from Breaking Convention.
    Recent scientific research suggests that altered states of consciousness induced by classic psychedelic drugs can cause durable psychological benefits in both healthy and patient populations. The phenomenon of ‘psychedelic transformation’ has many philosophically provocative aspects, not least of which is the claim commonly made by psychedelic subjects that their transformation is centrally due to some kind of learning or knowledge gain. Can psychedelic experiences really be a source of knowledge? From the vantage point of philosophical materialism or naturalism, a negative (...)
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  9. Philosophy and Classic Psychedelics: A Review of Some Emerging Themes.Chris Letheby & Jaipreet Mattu - forthcoming - Journal of Psychedelic Studies.
    Serotonergic (or “classic”) psychedelics have struck many researchers as raising significant philosophical questions that, until recently, were largely unexplored by academic philosophers. This paper provides an overview of four emerging lines of research at the intersection of academic philosophy and psychedelic science that have gained considerable traction in the last decade: selfless consciousness, psychedelic epistemology, psychedelic ethics, and spiritual/religious naturalism. In this paper, we highlight philosophical questions concerning (i) psychedelics, self-consciousness, and phenomenal consciousness, (ii) the epistemic profile of the psychedelic (...)
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  10. The Philosophy of Psychedelic Transformation.Chris Letheby - 2015 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (9-10):170-193.
    Recent scientific research into the therapeutic potential and mechanisms of psychedelic drugs raises intriguing and hitherto largely unexplored philosophical questions. A brief overview of the relevant science is given before addressing these questions. It is argued that psychedelic transformation is a distinctive psycho- pharmacological intervention because its mechanism of action ineliminably involves conscious mental representations, and thus is more transparent to the subject than the mechanisms of other drug therapies. This argument connects with issues in the philosophy of (cognitive) scientific (...)
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  11. Naturalistic Entheogenics.Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    In this précis I summarise the main ideas of my book Philosophy of Psychedelics. The book discusses philosophical issues arising from the therapeutic use of “classic” psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and LSD. The book is organised around what I call the Comforting Delusion Objection to psychedelic therapy: the concern that this novel and promising treatment relies essentially on the induction of non-naturalistic metaphysical beliefs, rendering it epistemically objectionable. I begin the précis by summarizing material from chapters two and three (...)
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  12. Naturalizing Psychedelic Spirituality.Chris Letheby - 2017 - Zygon 52 (3):623-642.
    A pressing philosophical problem is how to respond to the existential, anxiety and disenchantment resulting from a naturalistic worldview that eschews transcendent foundations for meaning and value. This problem is becoming more urgent as the popularization of neuroscientific findings renders a disenchanted conception of human beings ever more vivid, compelling, and widespread. I argue that the study of transformative experiences occasioned by classic psychedelic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin may reveal the nature of a viable practical solution (...)
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  13.  5
    Self and Knowledge in Psychedelic Therapy.Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Much of my book Philosophy of Psychedelics is devoted to elaborating and defending two basic claims: that psychedelic therapy works mainly by changing mental representations of the self, and that it has many epistemic benefits consistent with a naturalistic worldview. The commentaries in this symposium generally focus on one or the other of these claims. On the mechanistic front, the commentaries by Hoffman and by Martin and Sterzer seek to supplement my account by drawing attention to factors it does not (...)
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  14.  79
    In Defence of Embodied Cognition: A Reply to Fred Adams.Christopher Letheby - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (3):403-414.
    Fred Adams : 619–628, 2010) criticizes the theory of embodied cognition which holds that conceptual and linguistic thought is grounded in the brain’s perceptual and sensorimotor systems. Among other things, Adams claims that: EC is potentially committed to an implausible criterion of sentence meaningfulness; EC lacks claimed advantages over rival accounts of conceptual thought; relevant experimental data do not show constitutive, but only causal, involvement of perception in conception; and EC cannot account for the comprehension of abstract concepts. I respond (...)
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  15. Psychedelics, Atheism, and Naturalism: Myth and Reality.Chris Letheby - forthcoming - Journal of Consciousness Studies.
    An emerging body of research suggests that psychedelic experiences can change users’ religious or metaphysical beliefs. Here I explore issues concerning psychedelic-induced belief change via a critique of some recent arguments by Wayne Glausser. Two scientific studies seem to show that psychedelic experiences can convert atheists to belief in God, but Glausser holds that academic and popular discussions of these studies are misleading. I offer a different analysis of the relevant findings, attempting to preserve the insights of Glausser’s critique while (...)
     
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  16. Naturalizando la epistemología psicodélica.Chris Letheby & Fernando Huesca - 2022 - Reflexiones Marginales.
    Resumen. El objetivo de este ensayo consiste en mostrar que tipo de conocimiento de puede adquirir en las experiencias psicodélicas, pero tomando como marco de referencia una posición naturalista. En este texto se analizan tres formas en las que esto es posible: 1) la introspección psicodinámica o el saber qué, 2) el saber cómo, que se vincula con el aprendizaje de alguna habilidad concreta y 3) el conocimiento por familiaridad. No son todas las que son posibles, pero si son suficientes (...)
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  17. Philosophical Perspectives on the Psychedelic Renaissance.Chris Letheby & Philip Gerrans (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
     
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  18. Psychedelics Alter Metaphysical Beliefs.Christopher Timmermann, Hannes Kettner, Chris Letheby, Leor Roseman, Fernando E. Rosas & Robin L. Carhart-Harris - 2021 - Scientific Reports 22166 (11):1-13.
    Can the use of psychedelic drugs induce lasting changes in metaphysical beliefs? While it is popularly believed that they can, this question has never been formally tested. Here we exploited a large sample derived from prospective online surveying to determine whether and how beliefs concerning the nature of reality, consciousness, and free‑will, change after psychedelic use. Results revealed significant shifts away from ‘physicalist’ or ‘materialist’ views, and towards panpsychism and fatalism, post use. With the exception of fatalism, these changes endured (...)
     
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