This volume makes a philosophical contribution to the application of neuroscience in education. It frames neuroscience research in novel ways around educational conceptualizing and practices, while also taking a critical look at conceptual problems in neuroeducation and at the economic reasons driving the mind-brain education movement. It offers alternative approaches for situating neuroscience in educational research and practice, including non-reductionist models drawing from Dewey and phenomenological philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. The volume gathers together an (...) international bevy of leading philosophers of education who are in a unique position to contribute conceptually rich and theoretically framed insight on these new developments. The essays form an emerging dialogue to be used within philosophy of education as well as neuroeducation, educational psychology, teacher education and curriculum studies. (shrink)
Adopting a broadly compatibilist approach, this volume's authors argue that the behavioral and mind sciences do not threaten the moral foundations of legal responsibility. Rather, these sciences provide fresh insight into human agency and updated criteria as well as powerful diagnostic and intervention tools for assessing and altering minds.
In _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ three prominent philosophers and a leading neuroscientist clash over the conceptual presuppositions of cognitive neuroscience. The book begins with an excerpt from Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker's _Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience_, which questions the conceptual commitments of cognitive neuroscientists. Their position is then criticized by Daniel Dennett and John Searle, two philosophers who have written extensively on the subject, and Bennett and Hacker in turn respond. Their impassioned debate encompasses a wide range of central themes: (...) the nature of consciousness, the bearer and location of psychological attributes, the intelligibility of so-called brain maps and representations, the notion of qualia, the coherence of the notion of an intentional stance, and the relationships between mind, brain, and body. Clearly argued and thoroughly engaging, the authors present fundamentally different conceptions of philosophical method, cognitive-neuroscientific explanation, and human nature, and their exchange will appeal to anyone interested in the relation of mind to brain, of psychology to neuroscience, of causal to rational explanation, and of consciousness to self-consciousness. In his conclusion Daniel Robinson explains why this confrontation is so crucial to the understanding of neuroscientific research. The project of cognitive neuroscience, he asserts, depends on the incorporation of human nature into the framework of science itself. In Robinson's estimation, Dennett and Searle fail to support this undertaking; Bennett and Hacker suggest that the project itself might be based on a conceptual mistake. Exciting and challenging, _Neuroscience and Philosophy_ is an exceptional introduction to the philosophical problems raised by cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)
Philosophy and Neuroscience: A Ruthlessly Reductive Account is the first book-length treatment of philosophical issues and implications in current cellular and molecular neuroscience. John Bickle articulates a philosophical justification for investigating "lower level" neuroscientific research and describes a set of experimental details that have recently yielded the reduction of memory consolidation to the molecular mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP). These empirical details suggest answers to recent philosophical disputes over the nature and possibility of psycho-neural scientific reduction, including the (...) multiple realization challenge, mental causation, and relations across explanatory levels. Bickle concludes by examining recent work in cellular neuroscience pertaining to features of conscious experience, including the cellular basis of working memory, the effects of explicit selective attention on single-cell activity in visual cortex, and sensory experiences induced by cortical microstimulation. (shrink)
Joshua Greene has argued that several lines of empirical research, including his own fMRI studies of brain activity during moral decision-making, comprise strong evidence against the legitimacy of deontology as a moral theory. This is because, Greene maintains, the empirical studies establish that “characteristically deontological” moral thinking is driven by prepotent emotional reactions which are not a sound basis for morality in the contemporary world, while “characteristically consequentialist” thinking is a more reliable moral guide because it is characterized by greater (...) cognitive command and control. In this essay, I argue that Greene does not succeed in drawing a strong statistical or causal connection between prepotent emotional reactions and deontological theory, and so does not undermine the legitimacy of deontological moral theories. The results that Greene relies on from neuroscience and social psychology do not establish his conclusion that consequentialism is superior to deontology. (shrink)
We outline a framework of multilevel neurocognitive mechanisms that incorporates representation and computation. We argue that paradigmatic explanations in cognitive neuroscience fit this framework and thus that cognitive neuroscience constitutes a revolutionary break from traditional cognitive science. Whereas traditional cognitive scientific explanations were supposed to be distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanations, neurocognitive explanations aim to be mechanistic through and through. Neurocognitive explanations aim to integrate computational and representational functions and structures across multiple levels of organization in order (...) to explain cognition. To a large extent, practicing cognitive neuroscientists have already accepted this shift, but philosophical theory has not fully acknowledged and appreciated its significance. As a result, the explanatory framework underlying cognitive neuroscience has remained largely implicit. We explicate this framework and demonstrate its contrast with previous approaches. (shrink)
Writing from a scientifically and philosophically informed perspective, the authors provide a critical overview of the conceptual difficulties encountered in many current neuroscientific and psychological theories.
Neuroethics is an interdisciplinary field that arose in response to novel ethical challenges posed by advances in neuroscience. Historically, neuroethics has provided an opportunity to synergize different disciplines, notably proposing a two-way dialogue between an ‘ethics of neuroscience’ and a ‘neuroscience of ethics’. However, questions surface as to whether a ‘neuroscience of ethics’ is a useful and unified branch of research and whether it can actually inform or lead to theoretical insights and transferable practical knowledge to (...) help resolve ethical questions. In this article, we examine why the neuroscience of ethics is a promising area of research and summarize what we have learned so far regarding its most promising goals and contributions. We then review some of the key methodological challenges which may have hindered the use of results generated thus far by the neuroscience of ethics. Strategies are suggested to address these challenges and improve the quality of research and increase neuroscience's usefulness for applied ethics and society at large. Finally, we reflect on potential outcomes of a neuroscience of ethics and discuss the different strategies that could be used to support knowledge transfer to help different stakeholders integrate knowledge from the neuroscience of ethics. (shrink)
The concept of a socially extended mind suggests that our cognitive processes are extended not simply by the various tools and technologies we use, but by other minds in our intersubjective interactions and, more systematically, by institutions that, like tools and technologies, enable and sometimes constitute our cognitive processes. In this article we explore the potential of this concept to facilitate the development of a critical neuroscience. We explicate the concept of cognitive institution and suggest that science itself is (...) a good example. Science, through various practices and rules, shapes our cognitive activity so as to constitute a certain type of knowledge, packaged with relevant skills and techniques. To develop this example, we focus on neuroscience, its cultural impact, and the various institutional entanglements that complicate its influence on reframing conceptions of self and subjectivity, and on defining what questions count as important and what kind of answers will be valued. (shrink)
Cognitive neuroscience aspires to explain how the brain produces conscious states. Many people think this aspiration is threatened by the subjective nature of introspective reports, as well as by certain philosophical arguments. We propose that good neuroscientific explanations of conscious states can consolidate an interpretation of introspective reports, in spite of their subjective nature. This is because the relative quality of explanations can be evaluated on independent, methodological grounds. To illustrate, we review studies that suggest that aspects of the (...) feeling of being in control of one's bodily movement can be explained in terms of the complex and surprising way the brain predicts movement. This is a modest type of functional, contrastive explanation. Though we do not refute the threatening philosophical arguments, we show that they do not apply to this type of explanation. (shrink)
The article explores the agreements and disagreements between the author and the authors of Responsible Brains on how neuroscience relates to moral responsibility. The agreements are fundamental: neuroscience is not the harbinger of revolutionary revision of our views of when persons are morally responsible for the harms that they cause. The disagreements are in the details of what is needed for neuroscience to be the helper of the moral sciences.
We chart how neuroscience and philosophy have together advanced our understanding of moral judgment with implications for when it goes well or poorly. The field initially focused on brain areas associated with reason versus emotion in the moral evaluations of sacrificial dilemmas. But new threads of research have studied a wider range of moral evaluations and how they relate to models of brain development and learning. By weaving these threads together, we are developing a better understanding of the neurobiology (...) of moral judgment in adulthood and to some extent in childhood and adolescence. Combined with rigorous evidence from psychology and careful philosophical analysis, neuroscientific evidence can even help shed light on the extent of moral knowledge and on ways to promote healthy moral development. (shrink)
A variety of scientific disciplines have set as their task explaining mental activities, recognizing that in some way these activities depend upon our brain. But, until recently, the opportunities to conduct experiments directly on our brains were limited. As a result, research efforts were split between disciplines such as cognitive psychology, linguistics, and artificial intelligence that investigated behavior, while disciplines such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and genetics experimented on the brains of non-human animals. In recent decades these disciplines integrated, and with (...) the advent of techniques for imaging activity in human brains, the term cognitive neuroscience has been applied to the integrated investigations of mind and brain. This book is a philosophical examination of how these disciplines continue in the mission of explaining our mental capacities. (shrink)
In spite of the remarkable progress made in the burgeoning field of social neuroscience, the neural mechanisms that underlie social encounters are only beginning to be studied and could —paradoxically— be seen as representing the ‘dark matter’ of social neuroscience. Recent conceptual and empirical developments consistently indicate the need for investigations, which allow the study of real-time social encounters in a truly interactive manner. This suggestion is based on the premise that social cognition is fundamentally different when we (...) are in interaction with others rather than merely observing them. In this article, we outline the theoretical conception of a second-person approach to other minds and review evidence from neuroimaging, psychophysiological studies and related fields to argue for the development of a second-person neuroscience, which will help neuroscience to really go social; this may also be relevant for our understanding of psychiatric disorders construed as disorders of social cognition. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize a view of functional localization in neuroscience, which I call “computational absolutism”. “Absolutism” in general is the view that each part of the brain should be given a single, univocal function ascription. Traditional varieties of absolutism posit that each part of the brain processes a particular type of information and/or performs a specific task. These function attributions are currently beset by physiological evidence which seems to suggest that brain areas are multifunctional—that they process distinct (...) information and perform different tasks depending on context. Many theorists take this contextual variation as inimical to successful localization, and claim that we can avoid it by changing our functional descriptions to computational descriptions. The idea is that we can have highly generalizable and predictive functional theories if we can discover a single computation performed by each area regardless of the specific context in which it operates. I argue, drawing on computational models of perceptual area MT, that this computational version of absolutism fails to come through on its promises. In MT, the modeling field has not produced a univocal computational description, but instead a plurality of models analyzing different aspects of MT function. Moreover, CA cannot appeal to theoretical unification to solve this problem, since highly general models, on their own, neither explain nor predict what MT does in any particular context. I close by offering a perspective on neural modeling inspired by Nancy Cartwright’s and Margaret Morrison’s views of modeling in the physical sciences. (shrink)
Many empirically minded philosophers have used neuroscientific data to argue against the multiple realization of cognitive functions in existing biological organisms. I argue that neuroscientists themselves have proposed a biologically based concept of multiple realization as an alternative to interpreting empirical findings in terms of one‐to‐one structure‐function mappings. I introduce this concept and its associated research framework and also how some of the main neuroscience‐based arguments against multiple realization go wrong. *Received October 2009; revised December 2009. †To contact the (...) author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, 260 English‐Philosophy Building, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; e‐mail: carrie‐[email protected] (shrink)
Recent evidence from the neurosciences and cognitive sciences provides some support for a narrative theory of self-understanding. However, it also suggests that narrative self-understanding is unlikely to be accurate, and challenges its claims to truth. This article examines a range of this empirical evidence, explaining how it supports a narrative theory of self-understanding while raising questions of these narrative's accuracy and veridicality. I argue that this evidence does not provide sufficient reason to dismiss the possibility of truth in narrative self-understanding. (...) Challenges to the possibility of attaining true, accurate self-knowledge through a self-narrative have previously been made on the basis of the epistemological features of narrative. I show how the empirical evidence is consistent with the epistemological concerns, and provide three ways to defend the notion of narrative truth. I also aim to show that neuroethical discussions of self-understanding would benefit from further engagement with the philosophical literature on narrative truth. (shrink)
_Educational Neuroscience_ provides an overview of the wide range of recent initiatives in educational neuroscience, examining a variety of methodological concerns, issues, and directions. Encourages interdisciplinary perspectives in educational neuroscience Contributions from leading researchers examine key issues relating to educational neuroscience and mind, brain, and education more generally Promotes a theoretical and empirical base for the subject area Explores a range of methods available to researchers Identifies agencies, organizations, and associations facilitating development in the field Reveals a (...) variety of on-going efforts to establish theories, models, methods, ethics, and a common language. (shrink)
Writing from a scientifically and philosophically informed perspective, the authors provide a critical overview of the conceptual difficulties encountered in many current neuroscientific and psychological theories.
What can neuroscience offer to educators? Much of the debate has focused on whether basic research on the brain can translate into direct applications within the classroom. Accompanying ethical concern has centered on whether neuroeducation has made empty promises to educators. Relatively little investigation has been made into educators’ expectations regarding neuroscience research and how they might find it professionally useful. In order to address this question, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 educators who were repeat attendees of (...) the Learning & the Brain conferences. Responses suggest that ‘brain based’ pedagogical strategies are not all that is sought; indeed, respondents were more often drawn to the conference out of curiosity about the brain than a desire to gain new teaching methods. Of those who reported that research had influenced their classroom practice, most did not distinguish between neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Responses indicated that learning about neuroscience can help educators maintain patience, optimism and professionalism with their students, increase their credibility with colleagues and parents, and renew their sense of professional purpose. While not necessarily representative of the entire population, these themes indicate that current research in neuroscience can have real relevance to educators’ work. Future ethical discussions of neuroeducation should take into account this broader range of motivations and benefits. (shrink)
This book explores the impact of neuroscience research over the past 20 or more years on brain function as it affects moral decisions. Findings show that the mind and brain are very close, if not the same, and that the brain 'makes' the mind. This is bringing about a change of focus from examining mental activity to the physical activity of the brain to understand thinking and behavior. We are discovering that the physical features of the brain play the (...) major role in shaping our thoughts and emotions, including the way we deal with 'moral' issues. This book sets out the historical framework of the transition from 'mentalism' to 'physicalism', shows how the physical brain works in moral decisions and then examines three broad areas of moral decision-making - the brain in 'bad' acts, the brain in decisions involving sexual relations, and the brain in money decision-making. (shrink)
This introductory chapter attempts to clarify the philosophical, empirical, and theoretical bases on which a cognitive neuroscience approach to consciousness can be founded. We isolate three major empirical observations that any theory of consciousness should incorporate, namely (1) a considerable amount of processing is possible without consciousness, (2) attention is a prerequisite of consciousness, and (3) consciousness is required for some specific cognitive tasks, including those that require durable information maintenance, novel combinations of operations, or the spontaneous generation of (...) intentional behavior. We then propose a theoretical framework that synthesizes those facts: the hypothesis of a global neuronal workspace. This framework postulates that, at any given time, many modular cerebral networks are active in parallel and process information in an unconscious manner. An information becomes conscious, however, if the neural population that represents it is mobilized by top-down attentional amplification into a brain-scale state of coherent activity that involves many neurons distributed throughout the brain. The long-distance connectivity of these `workspace neurons' can, when they are active for a minimal duration, make the information available to a variety of processes including perceptual categorization, long-term memorization, evaluation, and intentional action. We postulate that this global availability of information through the workspace is what we subjectively experience as a conscious state. A complete theory of consciousness should explain why some cognitive and cerebral representations can be permanently or temporarily inaccessible to consciousness, what is the range of possible conscious contents, how they map onto specific cerebral circuits, and whether a generic neuronal mechanism underlies all of them. We confront the workspace model with those issues and identify novel experimental predictions. Neurophysiological, anatomical, and brain-imaging data strongly argue for a major role of prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, and the areas that connect to them, in creating the postulated brain-scale workspace. (shrink)
The article began life as, and retains the character of, spoken argument for not allowing the neurosciences to shape the agenda of the history of the human sciences. This argument is then used to suggest purposes and content for the journal, History of the Human Sciences. The style is rhetorical, even polemical, but open-ended. I challenge two clichés about the neurosciences, that they intellectually challenge other areas of knowledge, and that they are reconfiguring the human with the notion of ‘brainhood’. (...) The suggestion is that the real challenges lie elsewhere; specifically with understanding the relations of different forms of knowledge and making it conceivable by political action, or simply mode of life, to implement one way of being human rather than another. The conclusion re-asserts the value of the heading, ‘history of the human sciences’, and of the value of the journal with this name, as a forum in which to reflect on the identity and relations of forms of knowledge about ‘the human’ in all their variety. (shrink)
People are minded creatures; we have thoughts, feelings and emotions. More intriguingly, we grasp our own mental states, and conduct the business of ascribing them to ourselves and others without instruction in formal psychology. How do we do this? And what are the dimensions of our grasp of the mental realm? In this book, Alvin I. Goldman explores these questions with the tools of philosophy, developmental psychology, social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He refines an approach called simulation theory, which (...) starts from the familiar idea that we understand others by putting ourselves in their mental shoes. Can this intuitive idea be rendered precise in a philosophically respectable manner, without allowing simulation to collapse into theorizing? Given a suitable definition, do empirical results support the notion that minds literally create surrogates of other peoples mental states in the process of mindreading? Goldman amasses a surprising array of evidence from psychology and neuroscience that supports this hypothesis. (shrink)
As philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism continue to gain traction, we are likely to see a fundamental shift in the way people think about free will and moral responsibility. Such shifts raise important practical and existential concerns: What if we came to disbelieve in free will? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some (...) maintain or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of belief in free will? In this chapter we consider the practical implications of free will skepticism and argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. We argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for example, would not be threatened. On treatment of criminals, we argue that although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, preventive detention and rehabilitation programs would still be justified. While we will touch on all these issues below, our focus will be primarily on this last issue. -/- We begin in section I by considering two different routes to free will skepticism. The first denies the causal efficacy of the types of willing required for free will and receives its contemporary impetus from pioneering work in neuroscience by Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and John-Dylan Haynes. The second, which is more common in the philosophical literature, does not deny the causal efficacy of the will but instead claims that whether this causal efficacy is deterministic or indeterministic, it does not achieve the level of control to count as free will by the standards of the historical debate. We argue that while there are compelling objections to the first route—e.g., Al Mele (2009), Eddy Nahmias (2002, 2011), and Neil Levy (2005)—the second route to free will skepticism remains intact. In section II we argue that free will skepticism allows for a workable morality, and, rather than negatively impacting our personal relationships and meaning in life, may well improve our well-being and our relationships to others since it would tend to eradicate an often destructive form of moral anger. In section III we argue that free will skepticism allows for adequate ways of responding to criminal behavior—in particular, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alternation of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justified and sufficient for good social policy. We present and defend our own preferred model for dealing with dangerous criminals, an incapacitation account built on the right to self-protection analogous to the justification for quarantine (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014a; Caruso 2016a), and we respond to recent objections to it by Michael Corrado and John Lemos. (shrink)
Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this article we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene's neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has (...) often failed to meet this constraint by failing to correctly ‘fix’ key aspects of moral judgment, criticism we support by detailed examples from the scientific literature. (shrink)
Correctly understood, teleosemantics is the claim that “representation” is a function term. Things are called “representations” if they have a certain kind of function or telos and perform it in a certain kind of way. This claim is supported with a discussion and proposals about the function of a representation and of how representations perform that function. These proposals have been retrieved by putting together current descriptions from the literature on neural representations with earlier explorations of the features common to (...) most things we are inclined to call representations as these were assessed in Millikan. Of interest is the degree to which these independent sources converge. I conclude that there is no need to employ any new or technical sense of the term “representation” for it to play an important role in neuroscience. (shrink)
In Flourish, the positive psychologist Martin Seligman (2011) identifies five commonly recognized factors that are characteristic of human flourishing or wellbeing: (1) “positive emotion,” (2) “relationships,” (3) “engagement,” (4) “achievement,” and (5) “meaning” (p. 24). Although there is no settled set of necessary and sufficient conditions neatly circumscribing the bounds of human flourishing (Seligman, 2011), we would mostly likely consider a person that possessed high levels of these five factors as paradigmatic or prototypical of human flourishing. Accordingly, if we wanted (...) to go about the practical task of actually increasing our level of wellbeing, we ought to do so by focusing on practically increasing the levels of the five factors that are characteristic of wellbeing. If, for instance, an activity such as musical engagement can be shown to positively influence each or all of these five factors, this would be compelling evidence that an activity such as musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. I’m of the belief that psychological research can and should be used, not only to identify and diagnose maladaptive psychological states, but identify and promote adaptive psychological states as well. In this article I advance the hypothesis and provide supporting evidence for the claim that musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. Since there has not yet been a substantive and up-to-date investigation of the possible role of music in contributing to one’s living a flourishing life, the purpose of this article is to conduct this investigation, thereby bridging the gap and stimulating discussion between the psychology of music and the psychology of wellbeing. (shrink)
I make a contribution to the sociology of epistemologies by examining the neuroscience literature on love from 2000 to 2016. I find that researchers make consequential assumptions concerning the production or generation of love, its temporality, its individual character, and appropriate control conditions. Next, I consider how to account for these assumptions’ being common in the literature. More generally, I’m interested in the ways in which epistemic communities construe, conceive of, and publicly represent and work with their objects of (...) inquiry—and what’s thereby assumed about them and about the world. I argue that these implicit or explicit assumptions are a distinct type of explanandum, whose distinctiveness sociology hasn’t adequately appreciated and taken advantage of. I think it should and I hope it will. (shrink)
A number of scientists have recently argued that neuroscience provides strong evidence against the requirements of the folk notion of free will. In one such line of argumentation, it is claimed that choice is required for free will, and neuroscience is showing that people do not make choices. In this article, we argue that this no-choice line of argumentation relies on a specific conception of choice. We then provide evidence that people do not share the conception of choice (...) required of the argument, nor do people hold that free will requires the conception of choice on which the argument relies. This leaves the proponents of the no-choice argument with a dilemma: Either they adopt a conception of choice that is not required of the folk concept of free will and thus they cease to be talking about the folk concept of free will, or they adopt a conception of choice that aligns with the folk concept of choice and thus the no-choice argument fails. (shrink)
The insanity defense presents many difficult questions for the legal system. It attracts attention beyond its practical significance (it is seldom used successfully) because it goes to the heart of the concept of legal responsibility. “Not guilty by reason of insanity” generally requires that as a result of mental illness the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the crime. The many difficult and complex questions presented by the insanity defense have led some in the (...) legal community to hope that neuroscience might help resolve some of these problems, but that hope is not likely to be realized. (shrink)
In a previous paper, I argued that neuroscience and psychology could in principle undermine libertarian free will by providing support for a subset of what I called “statements of local determination.” I also argued that Libet-style experiments have not so far supported statements of that sort. In a commentary to the paper, Adina Roskies and Eddy Nahmias accept the claim about Libet-style experiments, but reject the claim about the possibilities of neuroscience. Here, I explain why I still disagree (...) with their conclusion, despite being sympathetic to a lot of what they say in support of it. (shrink)
Given that teachers become primary fundamental exemplars and models for their students and the students are likely to emulate the presented teachers’ behaviors, it is necessary to consider how to promote teachers’ abilities as potential moral educators during the course of teacher education. To achieve this ultimate aim in teacher education, as argued by moral philosophers, psychologists, and educators, teachers should be able to well understand the mechanisms of moral functioning and how to effectively promote moral development based on evidence. (...) Recent findings in the fields of social sciences that have examined how morality is functioning among human beings, moral psychology in particular, provide us with the evidence through experiments and observations. Furthermore, thanks to the development of scientific research methods that enable researchers to investigate the neural-level nature of human behavior, the researchers now can examine neural correlates of moral functioning that constitutes the basis of moral behavior and development. To facilitate the understanding of the field of neuroscience of morality and its educational implications within the context of teacher education, first, the recent trend in the field will be reviewed, and second, how it can provide useful insights to teachers and teacher educations will be discussed. (shrink)
Neuroscience can relate to ethics and normative issues via the brain’s cognitive control network. This network accomplishes several executive processes, such as planning, task-switching, monitoring, and inhibiting. These processes allow us to increase the accuracy of our perceptions and our memory recall. They also allow us to plan much farther into the future, and with much more detail than any of our fellow mammals. These abilities also make us fitting subjects for responsibility claims. Their activity, or lack thereof, is (...) at the heart of culpability. For instance, planning to kill someone is strong evidence of what the law calls men rea—a guilty mind. Claims about norms, or ethical “should” claims, express two-level propositions, directed at the behaving person at one level, and at that person’s mind and cognitive control network at another level. Thus, “People should stop themselves from hurting others,” is a claim about how people should behave and also a claim about how their cognitive control networks should behave—i.e., they should inhibit harmful behavior, or the intentions leading up to it. Planning is both an ability of the full person, and of that person’s mind. Neuroscience affirms the common notion, seen both in law and folk psychology, that what makes us guilty or culpable are certain events and states that exist in our minds. Overt behavior, including speech, is fallible evidence of these states and processes. Cases of negligence still involve the executive processes, but “negatively,” in that negligence results when certain types of executive activity fail to take place. (shrink)
This collection of 21 essays explores the creative interaction among the cognitive neurosciences, philosophy, and theology. It is the result of an international research conference co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory, Rome, and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley.
Neurolaw is a new, rapidly developing area of interdisciplinary research on the meaning and implications of neuroscience for the law and legal practices. In this article three recently published volumes in this field will be reviewed.
We sketch a framework for building a unified science of cognition. This unification is achieved by showing how functional analyses of cognitive capacities can be integrated with the multilevel mechanistic explanations of neural systems. The core idea is that functional analyses are sketches of mechanisms , in which some structural aspects of a mechanistic explanation are omitted. Once the missing aspects are filled in, a functional analysis turns into a full-blown mechanistic explanation. By this process, functional analyses are seamlessly integrated (...) with multilevel mechanistic explanations. (shrink)
Joaquín M. Fuster is an eminent cognitive neuroscientist whose research over the last five decades has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the neural structures underlying cognition and behaviour. This book provides his view on the eternal question of whether we have free will. Based on his seminal work on the functions of the prefrontal cortex in decision-making, planning, creativity, working memory, and language, Professor Fuster argues that the liberty or freedom to choose between alternatives is a function of (...) the cerebral cortex, under prefrontal control, in its reciprocal interaction with the environment. Freedom is therefore inseparable from that circular relationship. The Neuroscience of Freedom and Creativity is a fascinating inquiry into the cerebral foundation of our ability to choose between alternative actions and to freely lead creative plans to their goal. (shrink)
This paper introduces the motivation and idea behind the recently founded interdisciplinary initiative Critical Neuroscience ( http://www.critical-neuroscience.org ). Critical Neuroscience is an approach that strives to understand, explain, contextualize, and, where called for, critique developments in and around the social, affective, and cognitive neurosciences with the aim to create the competencies needed to responsibly deal with new challenges and concerns emerging in relation to the brain sciences. It addresses scholars in the humanities as well as, importantly, neuroscientific (...) practitioners, policy makers, and the public at large. Does neuroscience indeed have such wide-ranging effects or are we collectively overestimating its impacts at the expense of other important drivers of social and cultural change? Via what channels is neuroscience interacting with contemporary conceptions of selfhood, identity, and well-being? Importantly, Critical Neuroscience strives to make the results of these assessments relevant to scientific practice itself. It aspires to motivate neuroscientists to be involved in the analysis of contextual factors, historical trajectories, conceptual difficulties, and potential consequences in connection to their empirical work. This paper begins to spell out a philosophical foundation for the project by outlining examples of the interaction taking place between the neurosciences and the social and cultural contexts in which they are embedded and by exposing some of the assumptions and argumentative patterns underlying dominant approaches. Recent anthropological work will be discussed to convey a sense of the de facto interactions between neuroscientific knowledge, its promissory projections, and the self-understandings of laypeople. This can be seen as a first step towards a phenomenology of the “seductive allure” that the neurosciences are exerting upon both the academic and the popular imagination. The concept of “critique” relevant to the project's overall orientation is outlined in the final section. (shrink)
The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which (...) make critical use of distinctly teleological functional considerations in brain cartography. Only by invoking teleological criteria can researchers distinguish the fruitful ways of identifying brain components from the myriad of possible ways. One likely reason for reluctance to turn to neuroscience is fear of reduction, but we argue that, in the context of a teleological perspective on function, this concern is misplaced. Adducing such theoretical considerations as top-down and bottom-up constraints on neuroscientific and psychological models, as well as existing cases of productive, multidisciplinary cooperation, we argue that integration of neuroscience into psychology and evolutionary biology is likely to be mutually beneficial. We also show how it can be accommodated methodologically within the framework of an interfield theory. (shrink)
This volume explores how conceptions of pragmatism set forth in American philosophy serve as orienting perspectives in psychotherapy. Drawing on the influential contributions of William James and John Dewey, the author demonstrates how realistic, comparative approaches to understanding strengthen everyday therapeutic practice. He also examines recent developments in neuroscience that shape training and practice in the broader field of psychotherapy, encompassing psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive and humanistic traditions. By following a clinical pragmatism, psychotherapy can be viewed as an instrumental project (...) that is governed by _results_ rather than a commitment to particular theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, or technical strategies. Through a variety of case studies, this volume emphasizes the crucial role of experiential learning in change and growth, and the recognition of the person as an individual. (shrink)