The extensive involvement of nonconscious processes in human behaviour has led some to suggest that consciousness is much less important for the control of action than we might think. In this article I push against this trend, developing an understanding of conscious control that is sensitive to our best models of overt action control. Further, I assess the cogency of various zombie challenges—challenges that seek to demote the importance of conscious control for human agency. I argue (...) that though nonconscious contributions to action control are evidently robust, these challenges are overblown. (shrink)
Self-control, so important in the theory and practice of psychology, has usually been understood introspectively. This target article adopts a behavioral view of the self (as an abstract class of behavioral actions) and of self-control (as an abstract behavioral pattern dominating a particular act) according to which the development of self-control is a molar/molecular conflict in the development of behavioral patterns. This subsumes the more typical view of self-control as a now/later conflict in which an act (...) of self-control is a choice of a larger but later reinforcer over a smaller but sooner reinforcer. If at some future time the smaller-sooner reinforcer will be more valuable than the larger-later reinforcer, self-control may be achieved through a commitment to the largerlater reinforcer prior to that point. According to some, there is a progressive internalization of commitment in the development of self-control. This presents theoretical and empirical problems. In two experiments temporal patterning of choices increased self-control. (shrink)
Recently, a number of philosophers have begun to question the commonly held view that choice or voluntary control is a precondition of moral responsibility. According to these philosophers, what really matters in determining a person’s responsibility for some thing is whether that thing can be seen as indicative or expressive of her judgments, values, or normative commitments. Such accounts might therefore be understood as updated versions of what Susan Wolf has called “real self views,” insofar as they attempt to (...) ground an agent’s responsibility for her actions and attitudes in the fact (when it is a fact) that they express who she is as a moral agent. As such, they seem to be open to some of the same objections Wolf originally raised to such accounts, and in particular to the objection that they cannot license the sorts of robust moral assessments involved in our current practices of moral responsibility. My aim in this paper is to try to respond to this challenge, by clarifying the kind of robust moral assessments I take to be licensed by (at least some) non-volitional accounts of responsibility and by explaining why these assessments do not in general require the agent to have voluntary control over everything for which she is held responsible. I also argue that the limited applicability of the distinction between “bad agents” and “blameworthy agents” on these accounts is in fact a mark in their favor. (shrink)
Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control (...) mechanism from other mechanisms is that it relies on measuring one or more variables, which results in setting constraints in the control mechanism that determine its action on flexible constraints in other mechanisms. In the most basic arrangement, the measurement process directly determines the action of the control mechanism, but in more complex arrangements signals mediate between measurements and effectors. This opens the possibility of multiple responses to the same measurement and responses based on multiple measurements. It also allows crosstalk, resulting in networks of control mechanisms. Such networks integrate the behaviors of the organism but also present a challenge in tailoring responses to particular measurements. We discuss how integrated activity can still result in differential, versatile, responses. (shrink)
Fischer here defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control", which is "in-between" two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". He defends this "middle way" against the proponents of more--and less--robust notions of the freedom required for moral responsibility. Fischer offers a new solution to the Luck Problem, as well as providing a defense of the compatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility.
The vital status of patients who are a part of controlled donation after circulatory death (cDCD) is widely debated in bioethical literature. Opponents to currently applied cDCD protocols argue that they violate the dead donor rule, while proponents of the protocols advocate compatibility. In this article, we argue that both parties often misinterpret the moral implications of the dead donor rule. The rule as such does not require an assessment of a donor’s vital status, we contend, but rather an assessment (...) of whether procurement of organs in cDCD cause the death of the donor or not. We then argue that commonly practiced cDCD protocols do not violate the dead donor rule, since the donation does not trigger or cause the death of the donors. (shrink)
Causal selection has to do with the distinction we make between background conditions and “the” true cause or causes of some outcome of interest. A longstanding consensus in philosophy views causal selection as lacking any objective rationale and as guided, instead, by arbitrary, pragmatic, and non-scientific considerations. I argue against this position in the context of causal selection for disease traits. In this domain, causes are selected on the basis of the type of causal control they exhibit over a (...) disease of interest. My analysis clarifies the principled rationale that guides this selection and how it involves both pragmatic and objective considerations, which have been overlooked in the extant literature. (shrink)
Beliefs are held to norms in a way that seems to require control over what we believe. Yet we don’t control our beliefs at will, in the way we control our actions. I argue that this problem can be solved by recognising a different form of control, which we exercise when we revise our beliefs directly for reasons. We enjoy this form of attitudinal control not only over our beliefs, but also over other attitudes, including (...) intentions—that is, over the will itself. Closely tied to our capacity for reasoning, attitudinal control is in important respects more fundamental than the voluntary control that we exercise over our actions. In the course of developing this account I respond to two objections recently raised against an earlier version of it by Booth. (shrink)
Judgments of blame for others are typically sensitive to what an agent knows and desires. However, when people act negligently, they do not know what they are doing and do not desire the outcomes of their negligence. How, then, do people attribute blame for negligent wrongdoing? We propose that people attribute blame for negligent wrongdoing based on perceived mental control, or the degree to which an agent guides their thoughts and attention over time. To acquire information about others’ mental (...)control, people self-project their own perceived mental control to anchor third-personal judgments about mental control and concomitant responsibility for negligent wrongdoing. In four experiments (N = 841), we tested whether perceptions of mental control drive third-personal judgments of blame for negligent wrongdoing. Study 1 showed that the ease with which people can counterfactually imagine an individual being non-negligent mediated the relationship between judgments of control and blame. Studies 2a and 2b indicated that perceived mental control has a strong effect on judgments of blame for negligent wrongdoing and that first-personal judgments of mental control are moderately correlated with third-personal judgments of blame for negligent wrongdoing. Finally, we used an autobiographical memory manipulation in Study 3 to make personal episodes of forgetfulness salient. Participants for whom past personal episodes of forgetfulness were made salient judged negligent wrongdoers less harshly compared to a control group for whom past episodes of negligence were not salient. Collectively, these findings suggest that first-personal judgments of mental control drive third-personal judgments of blame for negligent wrongdoing and indicate a novel role for counterfactual thinking in the attribution of responsibility. (shrink)
Tested the 2-process theory of detection, search, and attention presented by the current authors in a series of experiments. The studies demonstrate the qualitative difference between 2 modes of information processing: automatic detection and controlled search; trace the course of the learning of automatic detection, of categories, and of automatic-attention responses; and show the dependence of automatic detection on attending responses and demonstrate how such responses interrupt controlled processing and interfere with the focusing of attention. The learning of categories is (...) shown to improve controlled search performance. A general framework for human information processing is proposed. The framework emphasizes the roles of automatic and controlled processing. The theory is compared to and contrasted with extant models of search and attention. (shrink)
Recent work in cognitive modelling has found that most of the data that has been cited as evidence for the dual-process theory (DPT) of reasoning is best explained by non-linear, “monotonic” one-process models (Stephens et al., 2018, 2019). In this paper, I consider an important caveat of this research: it uses models that are committed to unrealistic assumptions about how effectively task conditions can isolate Type-1 and Type-2 reasoning. To avoid this caveat, I develop a coordinated theoretical, experimental, and modelling (...) strategy to better test DPT. First, I propose that Type-1 and Type-2 reasoning are defined as reasoning that precedes and follows metacognitive control, respectively. Second, I argue that reasoning that precedes and follows metacognitive control can be effectively isolated using debiasing paradigms that manipulate metacognitive heuristics (e.g., processing fluency) to prevent or trigger metacognitive control, respectively. Third, I argue that monotonic modelling can allow us to decisively test DPT only when we use them to analyse data from this particular kind of debiasing paradigm. (shrink)
It has been argued that the explanation of self-control requires positing special motivational powers. Some think that we need will-power as an irreducible mental faculty; others that we need to think of the active self as a dedicated and depletable pool of psychic energy or – in today more respectable terminology – mental resources; finally, there is the idea that self-control requires postulating a deep division between reason and passion – a deliberative and an emotional motivational system. This (...) essay argues that no such special motivational powers are necessary. Yet, at the same time, self-control does powerfully illustrate the importance of a feature of the mind. What it illustrates, I argue, is the importance of the mental activity of attention in the control of all action. It is by appeal to this mental activity that we can dispense with special motivational powers. If we think of Humeanism as the view that there is fundamentally only one kind of motivational system and that all action is based in that system, then this essay contributes to a defense of Humeanism. On the other hand, the essay also shows that any model of agency in terms of only beliefs and desires, motivational and representational states, or preferences and credences is incomplete. A different conception of Humeanism as the view that every mental state is either motivational, representational, or a combination of them, is false. (shrink)
It seems that we can be directly accountable for our reasons-responsive attitudes—e.g., our beliefs, desires, and intentions. Yet, we rarely, if ever, have volitional control over such attitudes, volitional control being the sort of control that we exert over our intentional actions. This presents a trilemma: (Horn 1) deny that we can be directly accountable for our reasons-responsive attitudes, (Horn 2) deny that φ’s being under our control is necessary for our being directly accountable for φ-ing, (...) or (Horn 3) deny that the relevant sort of control is volitional control. This paper argues that we should take Horn 3. (shrink)
Self-control is integral to successful human agency. Without it we cannot extend our agency across time and secure central social, moral, and personal goods. But self-control is not a unitary capacity. In the first part of this paper we provide a taxonomy of self-control and trace its connections to agency and the self. In part two, we turn our attention to the external conditions that support successful agency and the exercise of self-control. We argue that what (...) we call moral security is a critical foundation for agency. Parts three and four explore what happens to agency when moral security is lacking, as in the case of those subject to racism, and those living in poverty. The disadvantages suffered by those who are poor, in a racial minority or other oppressed group, or suffering mental illness or addiction, are often attributed to a lack of individual self-control or personal responsibility. In particular, members of these groups are often seen as irresponsibly focused on short-term pleasures over long-term good, a view underwritten by particular psychological theories of self-control. We explore how narratives about racism and poverty undermine moral security, and limit and distort the possibility of synchronic and diachronic self-control. Where moral security is undermined, the connection between self-control and diachronic goods often fails to obtain and agency contracts accordingly. We close with some preliminary reflections on the implications for responsibility. (shrink)
It is tempting to think (though many deny) that epistemic agents exercise a distinctive kind of control over their belief‐like attitudes. My aim here is to sketch a “bottom‐up” model of epistemic agency, one that draws on an analogous model of practical agency, according to which an agent's conditional beliefs are reasons‐responsive planning states that initiate and sustain mental behavior so as to render controlled.
Control consciousness is the awareness or experience of seeming to be in control of one’s actions. One view, which I will be arguing against in the present paper, is that control consciousness is a form of sensory consciousness. In such a view, control consciousness is exhausted by sensory elements such as tactile and proprioceptive information. An opposing view, which I will be arguing for, is that sensory elements cannot be the whole story and must be supplemented (...) by direct contributions of nonsensory, motor elements. More specifically, I will be arguing for the view that the neural basis of control consciousness is constituted by states of recurrent activation in relatively intermediate levels of the motor hierarchy. (shrink)
This paper discusses the idea that the concept of privacy should be understood in terms of control. Three different attempts to spell out this idea will be critically discussed. The conclusion will be that the Source Control View on privacy is the most promising version of the idea that privacy is to be understood in terms of control.
One of the main obstacles to the realization of intentions for future actions and to the successful pursuit of long-term goals is lack of self-control. But, what does it mean to engage in self-controlled behaviour? On a motivational construal of self-control, self-control involves resisting our competing temptations, impulses, and urges in order to do what we deem to be best. The conflict we face is between our better judgments or intentions and “hot” motivational forces that drive or (...) compel us to act in opposing ways. In contrast, on an executive construal of self-control, the emphasis is not on overcoming temptation, but on overriding or inhibiting “cold” automatically triggered routines and habits that are at odds with what we intend to do. Our general aim in this chapter is to contribute to the development of an overarching theory of self-control by exploring ways in which these two apparently competing frameworks can be reconciled. We propose that self-control is best understood as a hybrid set of skills. We draw on recent work on expert motor skill to highlight important ways in which experts differ from novices in the capacities they deploy and the ways in which they deploy them. We consider analogies (and disanalogies) between the domain of sports expertise and the domain of self-control. We end by considering how such a hybrid approach can help us reconcile a motivational and an executive approach to self-control. (shrink)
Mere capacity views hold that agents who can intervene in an unfolding movement are performing an agentially controlled action, regardless of whether they do intervene. I introduce a simple argument to show that the noncausal explanation offered by mere capacity views fails to explain both control and action. In cases where bodily subsystems, rather than the agent, generate control over a movement, agents can often intervene to override non-agential control. Yet, contrary to what capacity views suggest, in (...) these cases, this capacity to intervene does not amount to agential control or action. I illustrate this with a case study of how passive breathing, a mere behavior, is misclassified by mere capacity views. I end by revisiting the central alternative to mere capacity views: causal control views. Advances in our understanding of how agents exert control over unfolding movements indicate that the nature of control is characterized by ubiquitous, small-scale causal interventions. (shrink)
Several prominent incompatibilists, e.g., Robert Kane and Derk Pereboom, have advanced an analogical argument in which it is claimed that a deterministic world is essentially the same as a world governed by a global controller. Since the latter world is obviously one lacking in an important kind of freedom, so must any deterministic world. The argument is challenged whether it is designed to show that determinism precludes freedom as power or freedom as self-origination. Contrary to the claims of its adherents, (...) the global controller nullifies freedom because she is an agent, whereas natural forces are at work in conventional deterministic worlds. Other key differences that undermine the analogy are identified. It is also shown that the argument begs the question against the classical compatibilist, who believes that determinism does not preclude alternative possibilities. (shrink)
This paper empirically raises and examines the question of ‘conceptual control’: To what extent are competent thinkers able to reason properly with new senses of words? This question is crucial for conceptual engineering. This prominently discussed philosophical project seeks to improve our representational devices to help us reason better. It frequently involves giving new senses to familiar words, through normative explanations. Such efforts enhance, rather than reduce, our ability to reason properly, only if competent language users are able to (...) abide by the relevant explanations, in language comprehension and verbal reasoning. This paper examines to what extent we have such ‘conceptual control’ in reasoning with new senses. The paper draws on psycholinguistic findings about polysemy processing to render this question empirically tractable and builds on recent findings from experimental philosophy to address it. The paper identifies a philosophically important gap in thinkers’ control over the key process of stereotypical enrichment and discusses how conceptual engineers can use empirical methods to work around this gap in conceptual control. The paper thus empirically demonstrates the urgency of the question of conceptual control and explains how experimental philosophy can empirically address the question, to render conceptual engineering feasible as an ameliorative enterprise. (shrink)
People experiencing alien control report that their thoughts, movements, actions, and emotions have been replaced by those of an "other." The latter is commonly a perceived persecutor of the patient. Here I describe the clinical phenomenology of alien control, mechanistic models that have been used to explain it, problems inherent in these models, the brain deficits and functional abnormalities associated with this symptom, and the means by which disordered agency may be examined in this perplexing condition. Our current (...) state of knowledge implicates potentially reversible dysfunction in certain key brain regions (especially the right parietal cortex), which is temporally related to the presence of symptoms. Alien control is quintessentially a disorder of agency. (shrink)
Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a complex disorder characterised by self-starvation, an act of self-destruction. It is often described as a disorder marked by paradoxes and, despite extensive research attention, is still not well understood. Much AN research focuses upon the distorted body image that individuals with AN supposedly experience. However, based upon reports from individuals describing their own experience of AN, I argue that their bodily experience is much more complex than this focus might lead us to believe. Such research (...) often presents an overly cognitive understanding of bodily experience in AN, underplaying the affective, felt experience of individuals with AN, as well as descriptions of empowerment, strength and control reported in the early stages of AN. This paper seeks to enrich our understanding of bodily experience in AN as it progresses throughout the various stages of the disorder. I show how the classical phenomenological distinction between the body-as-subject and the body-as-object, as well as Leder’s conception of the visceral body, can inform our understanding of bodily experience in AN. I suggest that the project of self-starvation is an attempt to overcome the noisy demands of the visceral body, which are experienced as threatening the body-as-subject, through a process of objectifying the body-as-object. By cashing out AN as a project of radical bodily control that, tragically, comes to control the individual, we can capture important aspects of the bodily experience of AN and the temporal progression of the disorder. -/- . (shrink)
This article focuses on maternal-fetal surgery (MFS) and on the concept of clinical equipoise that is a widely accepted requirement for conducting randomized controlled trials (RCT). There are at least three reasons why equipoise is unsuitable for MFS. First, the concept is based on a misconception about the nature of clinical research and the status of research subjects. Second, given that it is not clear who the research subject/s in MFS is/are, if clinical equipoise is to be used as a (...) criterion to test the ethical appropriateness of RCT, its meaning should be unambiguous. Third, because of the multidisciplinary character of MFS, it is not clear who should be in equipoise. As a result, we lack an adequate criterion for the ethical review of MFS protocols. In our account, which is based on Chervenak and McCullough's seminal work in the field of obstetric ethics, equipoise is abandoned. and RCT involving MFS can be ethically initiated when a multidisciplinary ethics review board (ERB), having an evidence-based assessment of the risks involved, is convinced that the value of answering the research hypothesis, for the sake of the health interests of future pregnant women carrying fetuses with certain congenital birth defects, justifies the actual risks research participants might suffer within a set limit of low/manageable. (shrink)
AI systems are bringing an augmentation of human capabilities to shape the world. They may also drag a replacement of human conscience in large chunks of life. AI systems can be designed to leave moral control in human hands, to obstruct or diminish that moral control, or even to prevent it, replacing human morality with pre-packaged or developed ‘solutions’ by the ‘intelligent’ machine itself. Artificial Intelligent systems (AIS) are increasingly being used in multiple applications and receiving more attention (...) from the public and private organisations. The purpose of this article is to offer a mapping of the technological architectures that support AIS, under the specific focus of the moral agency. Through a literature research and reflection process, the following areas are covered: a brief introduction and review of the literature on the topic of moral agency; an analysis using the BDI logic model (Bratman 1987); an elemental review of artificial ‘reasoning’ architectures in AIS; the influence of the data input and the data quality; AI systems’ positioning in decision support and decision making scenarios; and finally, some conclusions are offered about regarding the potential loss of moral control by humans due to AIS. This article contributes to the field of Ethics and Artificial Intelligence by providing a discussion for developers and researchers to understand how and under what circumstances the ‘human subject’ may, totally or partially, lose moral control and ownership over AI technologies. The topic is relevant because AIS often are not single machines but complex networks of machines that feed information and decisions into each other and to human operators. The detailed traceability of input-process-output at each node of the network is essential for it to remain within the field of moral agency. Moral agency is then at the basis of our system of legal responsibility, and social approval is unlikely to be obtained for entrusting important functions to complex systems under which no moral agency can be identified. (shrink)
Do people sometimes exercise self-control in such a way as to bring it about that they do not act on present-directed motivation that continues to be motivationally strongest for a significant stretch of time (even though they are able to act on that motivation at the time) and intentionally act otherwise during that stretch of time? This paper explores the relative merits of two different theories about synchronic self-control that provide different answers to this question. One is due (...) to Sripada (Noûs 1–38, 2012) and the other to Mele (Irrationality, 1987; Autonomous agents, 1995; Motivation and agency, 2003). Special attention is paid to evidence Sripada offers for an affirmative answer to the question, and some guidance is offered on the project of finding evidence for an affirmative answer. (shrink)
Sensations of acting and control have been neglected in theory of action. I argue that they form the core of action and are integral and indispensible parts of our actions, participating as they do in feedback loops consisting of our intentions in acting, the bodily movements required for acting and the sensations of acting. These feedback loops underlie all activities in which we engage when we act and generate our control over our movements.The events required for action according (...) to the causal theory, or Searle. (shrink)
It is well known that on the Internet, computer algorithms track our website browsing, clicks, and search history to infer our preferences, interests, and goals. The nature of this algorithmic tracking remains unclear, however. Does it involve what many cognitive scientists and philosophers call ‘mindreading’, i.e., an epistemic capacity to attribute mental states to people to predict, explain, or influence their actions? Here I argue that it does. This is because humans are in a particular way embedded in the process (...) of algorithmic tracking. Specifically, if we endorse common conditions for extended cognition, then human mindreading (by website operators and users) is often literally extended into, that is, partly realized by, not merely causally coupled to, computer systems performing algorithmic tracking. The view that human mindreading extends outside the body into computers in this way has significant ethical advantages. It points to new conceptual ways to reclaim our autonomy and privacy in the face of increasing risks of computational control and online manipulation. These benefits speak in favor of endorsing the notion of extended mindreading. (shrink)
In a recent article, George Sher argues that a realistic conception of human agency, which recognizes the limited extent to which we are conscious of what we do, makes the task of specifying a conception of the kind of control that underwrites ascriptions of moral responsibility much more difficult than is commonly appreciated. Sher suggests that an adequate account of control will not require that agents be conscious of their actions; we are responsible for what we do, in (...) the absence of consciousness, so long as our obliviousness is explained by some subset of the mental states constitutive of the agent. In this response, I argue that Sher is wrong on every count. First, the account of moral responsibility in the absence of consciousness he advocates does not preserve control at all; rather, it ought to be seen as a variety of attributionism (a kind of account of moral responsibility which holds that control is unnecessary for responsibility, so long as the action is reflective of the agent’s real self). Second, I argue that a realistic conception of agency, that recognizes the limited role that consciousness plays in human life, narrows the scope of moral responsibility. We exercise control over our actions only when consciousness has played a direct or indirect role in their production. Moreover, we cannot escape this conclusion by swapping a volitionist account of moral responsibility for an attributionist account: our actions are deeply reflective of our real selves only when consciousness has played a causal role in their production. (shrink)
Self-control has been described as the ability to master motivation that is contrary to one’s better judgement; that is, an ability that prevents such motivation from resulting in behaviour that is contrary to one’s overall better judgement (Mele, Irrationality: An essay on Akrasia, self-deception and self-control, p. 54, 1987). Recent discussions in philosophy have centred on the question of whether synchronic self-control, in which one exercises self-control whilst one is currently experiencing opposing motivation, is actional or (...) non-actional. The actional theorist maintains that such exercises are actions, whilst the non-actional theorist claims that synchronic self-control consists in the having of unmotivated thoughts which occur at times when agents experience recalcitrant motivations and which serve to attenuate the strength of those motivations. In this paper I discuss a class of cases which has been largely ignored in these discussions, cases which I argue are common synchronic self-control problems, but in which a lack of motivation is the characteristic symptom. I argue that such cases present problems for actional accounts and add some support to the non-actional approach. (shrink)
The past 25 years have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of cognitive control in the regulation of complex behavior. It now sits alongside attention, memory, language, and thinking as a distinct domain within cognitive psychology. At the same time it permeates each of these sibling domains. This introduction reviews recent work on cognitive control in an attempt to provide a context for the fundamental question addressed within this topic: Is cognitive control to be understood as (...) resulting from the interaction of multiple distinct control processes, or are the phenomena of cognitive control emergent? (shrink)
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a condition in which a person appears to possess more than one personality, and sometimes very many. Some recent criminal cases involving defendants with DID have resulted in "not guilty" verdicts, though the defense is not always successful in this regard. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Stephen Behnke have argued that we should excuse DID sufferers from responsibility, only if at the time of the act the person was insane (typically delusional); (...) otherwise the presumption should be that persons with DID are indeed responsible for their actions. We find their interpretation of DID and of the way in which the requirements for criminal insanity relate to this condition worrying and likely to result in injustice to DID sufferers. Our thesis is that persons with DID cannot be responsible for their actions if the usual features of the condition are present. A person with DID is a single person in the grip of a very serious mental disorder. By focusing on the features of DID which have, as we argue, the effect of deluding the patient, we try to show that such a person is unable to fulfill the ordinary conditions of responsible agency (namely, autonomy and self-control). (shrink)
Previously, I have argued that moral responsibility for actions is associated with guidance control. This sort of control does not necessarily involve the freedom to do otherwise. In this paper I extend the view to apply to omissions. That is, moral responsibility for an omission is associated with guidance control of that omission. This helps to provide a systematic, unified account of moral responsibility.
In this paper, I argue that the rejection of doxastic voluntarism is not as straightforward as its opponents take it to be. I begin with a critical examination of William Alston's defense of involuntarism and then focus on the question of whether belief is intentional.
Prima facie, it seems highly plausible to suppose that there is some kind of constitutive relationship between self-control and the self, i.e., that self-control is “control at the service of the self” or even “control by the self.” This belief is not only attractive from a pre-theoretical standpoint, but it also seems to be supported by theoretical reasons. In particular, there is a natural fit between a certain attractive approach to self-control—the so-called “divided mind approach”—and (...) a certain well-established approach to the self—the so-called “deep self” approach. I argue, however, that this initial impression is misleading: on closer inspection, the combination of the divided mind approach to self-control with the deep self approach fails to provide us with a theoretical foundation for the claim that self-control is constitutively linked to the self. I show that, in an interesting twist, combining these two approaches actually supports the opposite claim, leading us to the view that self-control and the self can come apart, and, more specifically, that we sometimes exercise self-control without our self or even against our self. (shrink)
This article considers what can be learned regarding the ethical acceptability of intrusive interventions intended to halt the spread of infectious disease (‘Infection Control’ measures) from existing ethical discussion of intrusive interventions used to prevent criminal conduct (‘Crime Control’ measures). The main body of the article identifies and briefly describes six objections that have been advanced against Crime Control, and considers how these might apply to Infection Control. The final section then draws out some more general (...) lessons from the foregoing analysis for the ethical acceptability of different kinds of Infection Control. (shrink)
Cognitive control is easy to identify in its effects, but difficult to grasp conceptually. This creates somewhat of a puzzle: Is cognitive control a bona fide process or an epiphenomenon that merely exists in the mind of the observer? The topiCS special edition on cognitive control presents a broad set of perspectives on this issue and helps to clarify central conceptual and empirical challenges confronting the field. Our commentary provides a summary of and critical response to each (...) of the papers. (shrink)
In this paper, I take it for granted both that there are two types of blameworthiness—accountability blameworthiness and attributability blameworthiness—and that avoidability is necessary only for the former. My task, then, is to explain why avoidability is necessary for accountability blameworthiness but not for attributability blameworthiness. I argue that what explains this is both the fact that these two types of blameworthiness make different sorts of reactive attitudes fitting and that only one of these two types of attitudes requires having (...) been able to refrain from φ-ing in order for them to be fitting. (shrink)
I hope to show that, although belief is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, "believing at will" is impossible; one cannot believe in the way one ordinarily acts. Further, the same is true of intention: although intention is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, the features of belief that render believing less than voluntary are present for intention, as well. It turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that you can no more intend at will than believe at will.
Various publications claim that medical AI systems perform as well, or better, than clinical experts. However, there have been very few controlled trials and the quality of existing studies has been called into question. There is growing concern that existing studies overestimate the clinical benefits of AI systems. This has led to calls for more, and higher-quality, randomized controlled trials of medical AI systems. While this a welcome development, AI RCTs raise novel methodological challenges that have seen little discussion. We (...) discuss some of the challenges arising in the context of AI RCTs and make some suggestions for how to meet them. (shrink)
Tom Dougherty argues that culpably deceiving another person into sex is seriously wrong no matter what the content about which she is deceived. We argue that his explanation of why deception invalidates consent has extremely implausible implications. Though we reject Dougherty’s explanation, we defend his verdict about deception and consent to sex. We argue that he goes awry by conflating the disclosure requirement for consent and the understanding requirement. When these are distinguished, we can identify how deceptive disclosure invalidates consent. (...) This alternative explanation also allows for a response to Neil Manson’s recent criticisms of Dougherty’s argument. (shrink)
Controlling access to the Internet by means of filtering softwarehas become a growth industry in the U.S. and elsewhere. Its usehas increased as the mandatory response to the current plagues ofsociety, namely, pornography, violence, hate, and in general,anything seen to be unpleasant or threatening. Also of potentialconcern is the possible limitation of access to Web sites thatdiscuss drugs, without distinguishing advocacy from scientificand informed analysis of addiction. With the rise of an effectivecreationist movement dedicated to the elimination of evolutionarytheory in (...) the curriculum, it is to be expected that attempts willbe made to limit access to sites presenting such theories, incertain jurisdictions in the U.S. The current preferred method ofchoice to limit access is to filter content either by blockingaccess to specific Web sites, referred to by their URLs, or byusing a large set of keywords to prevent accessing sites thatcontain one or more of these words. Another more insidious schemeis to encourage or even require every Web site to rate itscontent along a number of dimensions, including violence,language, sexual explicitness, and nudity. Then individualbrowsers can be programmed to return references only to thosesites that fall below a pre-specified profile. The dangers forfree speech inherent in such schemes will be discussed. Effortsto produce legislation in the U.S. to mandate the use offiltering or rating programs will be described, as will somerecent court decisions involving their use in libraries. (shrink)
This study tested the prediction that dissociative tendencies modulate the impact of a hypnotic induction on cognitive control in different subtypes of highly suggestible individuals. Low suggestible , low dissociative highly suggestible , and high dissociative highly suggestible participants completed the Stroop color-naming task in control and hypnosis conditions. The magnitude of conflict adaptation was used as a measure of cognitive control. LS and LDHS participants displayed marginally superior up-regulation of cognitive control following a hypnotic induction, (...) whereas HDHS participants’ performance declined. These findings indicate that dissociative tendencies modulate the influence of a hypnotic induction on cognitive control in high hypnotic suggestibility and suggest that HS individuals are comprised of distinct subtypes with dissimilar cognitive profiles. (shrink)
'Gaining control' tells the story of how human behavioral capacities evolved from those of other animal species. Exploring what is known about the psychological capacities of other groups of animals, the authors reconstruct a fascinating history of our own mental evolution. The result is a provocative and insightful book.
I first clarify the idea that blameworthiness requires consciousness as the view that one can be blameworthy only for what is a response to a reason of which one is conscious. Next I develop the following argument: blameworthiness requires exercising control in a way distinctive of persons and doing this, in view of what it is to be a person, requires responding to a reason of which one is conscious. Then I defend this argument from an objection inspired by (...) Arpaly and Schroeder according to which responding to moral reasons suffices for exercising control distinctive of persons. (shrink)
In this chapter I defend a novel view of the relationships among intention for the future, self-control, and co-operation. I argue that when an agent forms an intention for the future she comes to regard herself as criticizable if she does not act in accordance with her intention and as praiseworthy if she does. In forming intentions, then, agents acquire dispositions to have reflexive evaluative attitudes. In contexts where the agent has inclinations that run contrary to her unrescinded intention, (...) these evaluative attitudes help her to resist these inclinations. Intentions have, in other words, a built-in mechanism for self-control. I go on to argue that this mechanism can also function as a mechanism for co-operative behaviour. Sometimes a common species of co-operation just is the exercise of self-controlled behaviour in a social context. If this is on the right track, agents like us are not just equipped to formulate and abide by plans for the future, we are also thereby equipped for exercising self-control and participating in co-operative ventures. (shrink)
This article’s aim is to shed light on direct control, especially as it pertains to free will. I sketch two ways of conceiving of such control. Both sketches extend to decision making. Issues addressed include the problem of present luck and the relationship between direct control and complete control.
Ontologies formally represent reality in a way that limits ambiguity and facilitates automated reasoning and data fusion, but is often daunting to the non-technical user. Thus, many researchers have endeavored to hide the formal syntax and semantics of ontologies behind the constructs of Controlled Natural Languages (CNLs), which retain the formal properties of ontologies while simultaneously presenting that information in a comprehensible natural language format. In this paper, we build upon previous work in this field by evaluating prospects of implementing (...) International Technology Alliance Controlled English (ITACE) as a middleware for ontology editing. We also discuss at length a prototype of a natural language conversational interface application designed to facilitate ontology editing via the formulation of CNL constructs. (shrink)
I investigate what we mean when we hold people responsible for beliefs. I begin by outlining a puzzle concerning our ordinary judgments about beliefs and briefly survey and critique some common responses to the puzzle. I then present my response where I argue a sense needs to be articulated in which we do have a kind of control over our beliefs if our practice of attributing responsibility for beliefs is appropriate. In developing this notion of doxastic control, I (...) draw from John Fischer's discussions of “guidance control”. A central feature of this kind of control is the idea of “ownership”. I argue that we can own our beliefs and that we expect each other to do so. We take responsibility for our beliefs and taking responsibility includes taking control of them. I end by considering objections to my view as well as some implications of it. (shrink)