How we ought to diagnose, categorise and respond to spectrum disabilities such as autism and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a topic of lively debate. The heterogeneity associated with ADHD and autism is described as falling on various continua of behavioural, neural, and genetic difference. These continua are varyingly described either as extending into the general population, or as being continua within a given disorder demarcation. Moreover, the interrelationships of these continua are likewise often vague and subject to diverse interpretations. (...) -/- In this paper, I explore geneticists' and self-advocates’ perspectives concerning autism and ADHD as continua. These diagnoses are overwhelmingly analysed as falling on a continuum or continua of underlying traits, which supports the notion of “the neurodiversity spectrum”, i.e., a broader swath of human neural and behavioural diversity on which some concentrations of different functioning are diagnosed. I offer a taxonomy of conceptions of the genetic, phenotypic, and endophenotypic dimensionality within and beyond these diagnostic categories, and suggest that the spectrum of neurodiversity is characteristically endophenotypic. (shrink)
Debates concerning whether Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder mitigates responsibility often involve recourse to its genetic and neurodevelopmental etiology. For such arguments, individuals with ADHD have diminished self-control, and hence do not fully satisfy the control condition for responsibility, when there is a genetic or neurodevelopmental etiology for this diminished capacity. In this article, I argue that the role of genetic and neurobiological explanations has been overstated in evaluations of responsibility. While ADHD has genetic and neurobiological causes, rather than embrace the essentialistic (...) notion that it directly diminishes self-control and, therefore, responsibility, we ought to think of ADHD as constraining only some self-control practices. In particular, situational self-control strategies remain feasible for people with ADHD. However, not all individuals have access to these strategies. I suggest a way to evaluate responsibility in terms of situational rather than agential pleas, which tracks whether the individual had access to self-control behaviors. While I restrict my discussion to ADHD, the access-based approach is also relevant for assessments of responsibility for other cases where self-control failures are at stake. (shrink)
Willpower is a metaphor that is widespread in both common usage and expert literature across disciplines. This paper looks into willpower as a ‘metaphor we live by’, analyzing and exploring the consequences of the tacit information content of the willpower metaphor for agentive self-understanding and efficacy. In addition to contributing to stigma associated with self-control failures, the metaphor causally contributes to self-control failures by obscuring available self-control strategies and instructing agents to superfluous self-control efforts.
Self-control is that which is enacted to align our behaviour with intentions, motives, or better judgment in the face of conflicting impulses of motives. In this paper, I ask, what explains interpersonal differences in self-control? After defending a functionalist conception of self-control, I argue that differences in self-control are analogous to differences in mobility: they are modulated by inherent traits and environmental supports and constraints in interaction. This joint effect of individual (neuro)biology and environmental factors is best understood in terms (...) of access to self-control behaviours. I sketch an account of access as including the three criteria of means, awareness, and non-excessive effort. I further demonstrate that people with disorders such as ADHD have limited access to self-control behaviours and stand therefore at a disadvantage with regard to self-control. (shrink)
While nudging has garnered plenty of interdisciplinary attention, the ethics of applying it to climate policy has been little discussed. However, not all ethical considerations surrounding nudging are straightforward to apply to climate nudges. In this article, we overview the state of the debate on the ethics of nudging and highlight themes that are either specific to or particularly important for climate nudges. These include: the justification of nudges that are not self-regarding; how to account for climate change denialists; transparency; (...) knowing the right or best behaviours; justice concerns; and whether the efficacy of nudges is sufficient for nudges to be justified as a response to the climate crisis. We conclude that climate nudges raise distinct ethical questions that ought to be considered in developing climate nudges. (shrink)
Ethicists have for the past 20 years debated the possibility of using neurointerventions to improve intelligence and even moral capacities, and thereby create a safer society. Contributing to a recent debate concerning neurointerventions in criminal rehabilitation, Nicole Vincent and Elizabeth Shaw have separately discussed the possibility of responsibility enhancement. In their ethical analyses, enhancing a convict’s capacity responsibility may be permissible. Both Vincent and Shaw consider self-control to be one of the constituent mental capacities of capacity responsibility. In this paper, (...) we critically examine the promise of improving convicts’ capacity responsibility by neuroenhancements of self-control to see whether the special characteristics of the inmate population make a difference in the analyses. As improving self-control by means of neurointerventions seems plausible, we then ask whether it is or could be a justified measure in court rulings. We conclude that, even if there are cases in which neurointerventions were warranted in the context of the stated goals of the criminal court, i.e., decreasing recidivism and rehabilitating the offenders to the society, due to the range of individual variability in the constitution of self-control, the prescription of specific neurointerventions of self-control falls outside the scope of legitimate court rulings. (shrink)
Realists about mental disorder have been hasty about dismissing social explanations of how mental disorder is constituted. However, many social ontologies are realist ontologies. In order to create a meaningful distinction between realism and social metaphysics about mental disorder, I propose that realism about mental disorder is best understood as Individual Trait Realism (ITR) about them. For ITR, mental disorders exist in virtue of traits. I defend the view that ITR is compatible with social metaphysics, arguing that, in asking whether (...) constituents in the social sphere figure the metaphysics of psychopathology, we are asking questions on three different strata of explanation: the strata of demarcation, instantiation, and individual traits. Distinguishing between these strata allows for nuanced realism that need not reject the social constitution of mental disorder. (shrink)
Bermúdez suggests that agents use framing to succeed in self-control. This commentary suggests that frames are effective in steering behavior because they modulate information salience. This analysis extends to self-control strategies beyond framing, raising the question whether there remains an explanatory role for dual process theories for self-control.
Pharmacological cognitive enhancement (PCE) refers to the use of pharmaceuticals to improve cognitive function when that use is not intended to prevent or treat disease. Those who favour a liberal approach to PCE trust users to make informed decisions about whether enhancing is in their best interest. The author argues that making informed decisions about PCE requires a nuanced risk-benefit analysis that is not accessible to many users. Presently, the PCE use of prescription medications such as methylphenidate and modafinil is (...) widespread but most commonly happens without medical supervision. Direct and indirect barriers generate a situation where the risks and benefits of PCE are inequitably distributed; as a result, PCE is sometimes not in the user’s best interest. This is likely to also be the case for future pharmaceuticals. As a result, even if PCE pharmaceuticals were equitably distributed, its associated risks and benefits would not be. The article concludes with a discussion of the prospects of the clinical consultation on one hand, and e-health solutions on the other, in ameliorating the situation, arguing for cautious optimism. (shrink)