Towards the end of his life St. Thomas Aquinas produced a brief, nontechnical work summarizing some of the main points of his massive Summa Theologiae. This 'compendium' was intended as an introductory handbook for students and scholars who might not have access to the larger work. It remains the best concise introduction to Aquinas's thought. Richard Regan is a highly respected Aquinas translator, who here relies on the definitive Leonine edition of the Latin text. His work will be received (...) as the premier English version of this important text. (shrink)
Discussion of J. Kevin O’Regan’s “Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-20 DOI 10.1007/s13164-012-0090-7 Authors J. Kevin O’Regan, Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, CNRS - Université Paris Descartes, Centre Biomédical des Saints Pères, 45 rue des Sts Pères, 75270 Paris cedex 06, France Ned Block, Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Journal Review of (...) Philosophy and Psychology Online ISSN 1878-5166 Print ISSN 1878-5158. (shrink)
This paper presents a design for a social and political philosophy course for fourth- and fifth-year undergraduates. The theoretical foundation of the courses is based upon Rawls' theory of original position as a starting point to engage with the history of political thought. Students are able to approach problems in the history philosophy through a practical investigation of contemporary structural issues in public policy. The success of the course lies in students’ engagement with an in-class theoretical and hands-on research project (...) that develops over the course of a semester. (shrink)
Most individuals realise that we have a moral obligation to avoid the evils of war. But this realization raises a host of difficult questions when we, as responsible individuals, witness harrowing injustices such as ""ethnic cleansing"" in Bosnia or starvation in Somalia. With millions of lives at stake, is war ever justified? And, if so, for what purpose? In this book, Richard J. Regan confronts these controversial questions by first considering the basic principles of just-war theory and then applying (...) those principles to historical and ongoing conflicts. Part One presents two opposing viewpoints: first, that war is not subject to moral norms and, second, that war is never morally permissible. The author rejects both perspectives, and moves to define the principles of just-war theory. He evaluates the roles of the president, Congress and, most importantly, the UN Security Council in determining when long-term US military involvement is justified. The moral limits of war conduct and the moral problem of using, or threatening to use, nuclear weapons are also discussed. On the just cause to wage war, Regan argues that defense of nations and nationals - whether in self-defense or in defense of others - remains the ""only"" classical cause that in the modern world would justify resorting to war. With respect to military intervention in secessionist and revolutionary wars, he contends that such intervention might be justified, but that prudence dictates extreme caution. In considering acceptable war conduct, Regan elaborates the specific principle of discrimination and proportionality; he maintains that civilians uninvolved in the enemy's war should not be directly targeted and that the costs of military action must be proportionate to the anticipated benefits of destroying military targets. The second part of the book presents case studies of eight historical wars - World War I, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the revolution and civil war in Nicaragua, the civil war in El Salvador, the Gulf War, the intervention in Somalia, and the Bosnian War - and poses several provocative questions about each. It invites readers and students to apply just-war principles to complex war-related situations and to understand the factual contingencies involved in moral judgements about war decisions. The book should be of particular interest to students of the moral issues of international relations and to readers interested more generally in philosophy, theology and political science. (shrink)
The catastrophe of the eye -- A new view of seeing -- Applying the new view of seeing -- The illusion of seeing everything -- Some contentious points -- Towards consciousness -- Types of consciousness -- Phenomenal consciousness, raw feel, and why they're hard -- Squeeze a sponge, drive a porsche : a sensorimotor account of feel -- Consciously experiencing a feel -- The sensorimotor approach to color -- Sensory substitution -- The localization of touch -- The phenomenality plot -- (...) Consciousness. (shrink)
Many current neurophysiological, psychophysical, and psychological approaches to vision rest on the idea that when we see, the brain produces an internal representation of the world. The activation of this internal representation is assumed to give rise to the experience of seeing. The problem with this kind of approach is that it leaves unexplained how the existence of such a detailed internal representation might produce visual consciousness. An alternative proposal is made here. We propose that seeing is a way of (...) acting. It is a particular way of exploring the environment. Activity in internal representations does not generate the experience of seeing. The out- side world serves as its own, external, representation. The experience of seeing occurs when the organism masters what we call the gov- erning laws of sensorimotor contingency. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a natural and principled way of accounting for visual consciousness, and for the differences in the perceived quality of sensory experience in the different sensory modalities. Sev- eral lines of empirical evidence are brought forward in support of the theory, in particular: evidence from experiments in sensorimotor adaptation, visual “filling in,” visual stability despite eye movements, change blindness, sensory substitution, and color perception. (shrink)
Observers inspected normal, high quality color displays of everyday visual scenes while their eye movements were recorded. A large display change occurred each time an eye blink occurred. Display changes could either involve "Central Interest" or "Marginal Interest" locations, as determined from descriptions obtained from independent judges in a prior pilot experiment. Visual salience, as determined by luminance, color, and position of the Central and Marginal interest changes were equalized. -/- The results obtained were very similar to those obtained in (...) prior experiments showing failure to detect changes occurring simultaneously with saccades, flicker, or “mudsplashes” in the visual scene: Many changes were very hard to detect, and Marginal Interest changes were harder to detect than Central Interest changes. -/- Analysis of eye movements showed, as expected, that the probability of detecting a change depended on the eye’s distance from the change location. However a surprising finding was that both for Central and Marginal Interest changes, evenwhen observers were directly fixating the change locations (within 1 degree),more than 40% of the time they still failed to see the changes. It seems that looking at something does not guarantee you “ see” it. (shrink)
The De Malo represents some of St. Thomas Aquinas' most mature thinking on goodness, badness, and human agency. Together with the second part of the Summa Theologiae, it is one of his most sustained contributions to moral philosophy and theology. Aquinas examines the full range of questions associated with evil: its origin, its nature, its variety, its relation to good, and its compatibility with the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God. This edition offers the Leonine Commission's authoritative edition of the (...) Latin text with a new, clear, and readable English translation by Richard Regan with an extensive introduction and notes by Brian Davies. (shrink)
Change-blindness occurs when large changes are missed under natural viewing conditions because they occur simultaneously with a brief visual disruption, perhaps caused by an eye movement, a flicker, a blink, or a camera cut in a film sequence. We have found that this can occur even when the disruption does not cover or obscure the changes. When a few small, high-contrast shapes are briefly spattered over a picture, like mudsplashes on a car windscreen, large changes can be made simultaneously in (...) the scene without being noticed. (shrink)
Richard J. Regan's new translation of texts from Thomas Aquinas' _Summa Theologica_ II–II--on the virtues prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance--combines accuracy with an accessibility unmatched by previous presentations of these texts. While remaining true to Aquinas' Latin and preserving a question-and-answer format, the translation judiciously omits references and citations unessential to the primary argument. It thereby clears a path through the original especially suitable for beginning students of Aquinas. Regan's Introduction carefully situates Aquinas' analysis of these virtues within (...) the greater ethical system of the _Summa Theologica_, and each selection is introduced by a thoughtful headnote. A glossary of key terms and a select bibliography are also included. (shrink)
The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the ''''felt''''aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of''''give-and-take'''' between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We are also (...) ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally weconsider a number of testable empirical consequences,one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of ''''change blindness''''. (shrink)
The second edition of Aquinas, _On Law, Morality, and Politics _ retains the selection of texts presented in the first edition but offers them in new translations by Richard J. Regan--including that of his Aquinas, _Treatise on Law_. A revised Introduction and glossary, an updated select bibliography, and the inclusion of summarizing headnotes for each of the units--Conscience, Law, Justice, Property, War and Killing, Obedience and Rebellion, and Practical Wisdom and Statecraft—further enhance its usefulness.
The problem of understanding how physical processes in the brain could give rise to consciousness has been identified with the 'comparative explanatory gap', the problem of explaining why different experiences have the differing qualities they do, and the 'absolute explanatory gap', the problem of explaining why anything can be conscious at all. The main innovation of the sensorimotor theory is that it provides a very appealing way of closing the comparative gap by postulating that the quality of experiences corresponds to (...) objective sensorimotor laws that characterize one's bodily interaction with the environment. Here I expound in greater detail how the approach deals with the absolute gap. I refine my previous efforts at understanding what we mean by 'being conscious of something' by abandoning my previous hierarchical approach; by introducing the concept of 'mental manipulation'; and by relying more on a notion of self than I have done previously. I end up with a more variegated notion of consciousness than in previous work, that includes the idea of a complex interwoven patchwork of consciousness with no simple conscious/nonconscious distinction across different species or agents. The approach suggests we need to review the links between consciousness and ethics. (shrink)
Following arguments put forward in my book (Why red doesn’t sound like a bell: understanding the feel of consciousness. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, 2011), this article takes a pragmatic, scientist’s point of view about the concepts of consciousness and “feel”, pinning down what people generally mean when they talk about these concepts, and then investigating to what extent these capacities could be implemented in non-biological machines. Although the question of “feel”, or “phenomenal consciousness” as it is called by (...) some philosophers, is generally considered to be the “hard” problem of consciousness, the article shows that by taking a “sensorimotor” approach, the difficulties can be overcome. What remains to account for are the notions of so-called “access consciousness” and the self. I claim that though they are undoubtedly very difficult, these are not logically impossible to implement in robots. (shrink)
How could neural processes be associated with phenomenal consciousness? We present a way to answer this question by taking the counterintuitive stance that the sensory feel of an experience is not a thing that happens to us, but a thing we do: a skill we exercise. By additionally noting that sensory systems possess two important, objectively measurable properties, corporality and alerting capacity, we are able to explain why sensory experience possesses a sensory feel, but thinking and other mental processes do (...) not. We are additionally able to explain why different sensory feels differ in the way they do. (shrink)
Call u the triplet of cone quantum catch for the light that is incident on a surface, and v the triplet of cone quantum catch for the light that is reflected off that surface. Philipona & O'Regan (2006) present results from numerical calculations showing that: 1. each surface can be associated with a 3 by 3 matrix A such that the relation v = A u to a very high degree of accuracy for any natural illuminant, 2. the vast (...) majority of such matrices associated with Munsell chips have three real eigenvalues, 3. Munsell chips that are most often given a name in the World Color Survey are chips whose associated matrices have a singular configuration of eigenvalues, as measured by a "singularity index". The conclusion of the paper is that this striking coincidence lends credence to the idea that data about color naming derive from facts about natural lights, surface reflexion properties, and human photopigments, rather than from facts about neural pathways or cortical representations. (shrink)
The most important clarification we bring in our reply to commentators concerns the problem of the “explanatory gap”: that is, the gulf that separates physical processes in the brain from the experienced quality of sensations. By adding two concepts (bodiliness and grabbiness) that were not stressed in the target article, we strengthen our claim and clarify why we think we have solved the explanatory gap problem, – not by dismissing qualia, but, on the contrary, by explaining why sensations have a (...) “feel” and why “feels” feel the way they do. We additionally clarify our views on: internal representations (we claim internal representations cannot explain why sensation has a feel), on behaviorism (we are not behaviorists), on perception and action (we believe there can be perception without action), and on the brain (we believe the brain does do something important in perception). (shrink)
We address the thesis recently proposed by Andy Clark, that skill-mediated access to modality implies phenomenal feel. We agree that a skill theory of perception does indeed offer the possibility of a satisfactory account of the feel of perception, but we claim that this is not only through explanation of access to modality but also because skill actually provides access to perceptual property in general. We illustrate and substantiate our claims by reference to the recently proposed 'sensorimotor contingency' theory of (...) visual awareness. We discuss why this theory offers a distinctively attractive access-based approach to perceptual consciousness because it 'dereifies' experience and permits otherwise problematic aspects of phenomenal perceptual consciousness to be explained. We suggest our approach thus offers the prospect of 'naturalizing phenomenology'. (shrink)
The sensorimotor theory of perceptual consciousness offers a form of enactivism in that it stresses patterns of interaction instead of any alleged internal representations of the environment. But how does it relate to forms of enactivism stressing the continuity between life and mind? We shall distinguish sensorimotor enactivism, which stresses perceptual capacities themselves, from autopoietic enactivism, which claims an essential connection between experience and autopoietic processes or associated background capacities. We show how autopoiesis, autonomous agency, and affective dimensions of experience (...) may fit into sensorimotor enactivism, and we identify differences between this interpretation and autopoietic enactivism. By taking artificial consciousness as a case in point, we further sharpen the distinction between sensorimotor enactivism and autopoietic enactivism. We argue that sensorimotor enactivism forms a strong default position for an enactive account of perceptual consciousness. (shrink)
This book explores the moral dimensions of public policy from an Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective. Regan begins with a thorough exposition of natural law theory and proposes ways in which ethical conclusions can be drawn from it. He then goes on to link natural law theory to an analysis of particular areas of public policy as diverse as public morals, social justice, and the morality of warfare.
In the De potentia, Thomas Aquinas runs a series of disputations on the power of God. The treatise considers ten questions related to God's power to create external things, namely the universe, angels, and human beings. His explanation of creation here is the most developed treatment found in any of his writings, but the principal purpose of the work is to analyze the internal life of God--that is, the Trinity. According to Aquinas, we predicate the Persons of the Trinity as (...) relations, not as absolute things, and he examines the processions of the Son and the Holy Spirit in the light of reason. The complete De potentia is a very long document. In this new translation, Fr. Richard Regan offers an abridged version that passes over some of the full text while retaining what is most important when it comes to following the flow of Aquinas's thought. (shrink)
Word recognition performance varies systematically as a function of where the eyes fixate in the word. Performance is maximal with the eye slightly left of the center of the word, and decreases drastically to both sides of this 'Optimal Viewing Position'. While manipulations of lexical factors have only marginal effects on this phenomenon, previous studies have pointed to a relation between the viewing position effect and letter legibility: When letter legibility drops, the viewing position effect becomes more exaggerated. To further (...) investigate this phenomenon, we improved letter legibility by magnifying letter size in a way that was proportional to the.. (shrink)
Overview. Consciousness is often considered to have a "hard" part and a not-so-hard part. With the help of work in artificial intelligence and more recently in embodied robotics, there is hope that we shall be able solve the not-so-hard part and make artificial agents that understand their environment, communicate with their friends, and most importantly, have a notion of "self" and "others". But will such agents feel anything? Building the feel into the agent will be the "hard" part.
Recent results showing that large changes in a scene are not noticed if they occur at the same time as a global visual disturbance caused by saccades, ﬂicker, "mudsplashes", or ﬁlm cuts, are generally explained in terms of a theory in which it is assumed that the observer's internal representation of the outside world is very sparse, containing only what the observer is currently processing. The present paper presents some clariﬁcations of the theory, and some new implications and predictions that (...) arise from it. (shrink)
When looking at a scene, observers feel that they see its entire structure in great detail and can immediately notice any changes in it. However, when brief blank fields are placed between alternating displays of an original and a modified scene, a striking failure of perception is induced: identification of changes becomes extremely difficult, even when changes are large and made repeatedly. Identification is much faster when a verbal cue is provided, showing that poor visibility is not the cause of (...) this difficulty. Identification is also faster for objects mentioned in brief verbal descriptions of the scene. These results support the idea that observers never form a complete, detailed representation of their surroundings. In addition, results also indicate that attention is required to perceive change, and that in the absence of localized motion signals it is guided on the basis of high-level interest. (shrink)
O'Regan and Noe present a wonderfully detailed and comprehensive defense of a position whose broad outline we absolutely and unreservedly endorse. They are right, it seems to us, to stress the intimacy of conscious content and embodied action, and to counter the idea of a Grand Illusion with the image of an agent genuinely in touch, via active exploration, with the rich and varied visual scene. This is an enormously impressive achievement, and we hope that the comments that follow (...) will be. (shrink)
The target article appeals to recent empirical data to support the idea that there is more to phenomenality than is available to access consciousness. However, this claim is based on an unwarranted assumption, namely, that some kind of cortical processing must be phenomenal. The article also considerably weakens Block's original distinction between a truly nonfunctional phenomenal consciousness and a functional access consciousness. The new form of phenomenal consciousness seems to be a poor-man's cognitive access.