This paper critiques the view that consciousness is likely something extra which accompanies or is produced by neural states, something beyond the functional cognitive processes realized in the brain. Such a view creates the `explanatory gap'between function and nomenology which many suppose cannot be filled by functionalist theories of mind. Given methodological considerations of simplicity, ontological parsimony, and theoretical conservatism, an alternative hypothesis is recommended, that subjective qualitative experience is identical to certain information-bearing, behaviour-controlling functions, not something which emerges from (...) them. This hypothesis explains the isomorphism between the structure of experience and neural organization, while providing a naturalistic account of qualiait's relational properties of informational states, not a sparate ontology of phenomenal essences. On this functionalist view, the hard, empirical problem of consciousness is to discover precisely which neural functions constitute subjective experience. (shrink)
The brain disease model of addiction is widely endorsed by agencies concerned with treating behavioral disorders and combatting the stigma often associated with addiction. However, both its accuracy and its effectiveness in reducing stigma have been challenged. A proposed alternative, the “choice” model, recognizes the residual rational behavior control capacities of addicted individuals and their ability to make choices, some of which may cause harm. Since harmful choices are ordinarily perceived as blameworthy, the choice model may inadvertently help justify stigma. (...) This paper seeks to fully naturalize the choice model by highlighting the determinants of voluntary action and thus increase its potential for destigmatizing addiction. In light of a deterministic understanding of behavior, it is unreasonable to suppose that addicted individuals could have made different choices in becoming addicted and in subsequent situations. To the extent that stigma is motivated by the supposition that addicted individuals could have chosen otherwise in actual situations, a deterministic understanding of addictive behavior promises to mitigate blame and stigma. (shrink)
The words quoted above distill the common secular conception of death. If we decline the traditional religious reassurances of an afterlife, or their fuzzy new age equivalents, and instead take the hard-boiled and thoroughly modern materialist view of death, then we likely end up with Gonzalez-Cruzzi. Rejecting visions of reunions with loved ones or of crossing over into the light, we anticipate the opposite: darkness, silence, an engulfing emptiness. But we would be wrong.
Phenomenal consciousness is often thought to involve a first-person perspective or point of view which makes available to the subject categorically private, first-person facts about experience, facts that are irreducible to third-person physical, functional, or representational facts. This paper seeks to show that on a representational account of consciousness, we don't have an observational perspective on experience that gives access to such facts, although our representational limitations and the phenomenal structure of consciousness make it strongly seem that we do. Qualia (...) seem intrinsic and functionally arbitrary, and thus categorically private, because they are first-order sensory representations that are not themselves directly represented. Further, the representational architecture that on this account instantiates conscious subjectivity helps to generate the intuition of observerhood, since the phenomenal subject may be construed as outside, not within, experience. Once the seemings of private phenomenal facts and the observing subject are discounted, we can understand consciousness as a certain variety of neurally instantiated, behaviour controlling content, that constituted by an integrated representation of the organism in the world. Neuroscientific research suggests that consciousness and its characteristic behavioural capacities are supported by widely distributed but highly integrated neural processes involving communication between multiple functional sub- systems in the brain. This 'global workspace' may be the brain's physical realization of the representational architecture that constitutes consciousness. (shrink)
Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility is an edited collection of new essays by an internationally recognized line-up of contributors. It is aimed at readers who wish to explore the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications.
In Freedom: An Impossible Reality, Ray Tallis argues that we escape imprisonment by causal determinism, and thus gain free will, by the virtual distance from natural laws afforded us by intentionality, a human capacity that he claims cannot be naturalized. I respond that we can’t know in advance that intentionality will never be subsumed by science, and that our capacities to entertain possibilities and decide among them are natural cognitive endowments that supervene on generally reliable neural processes. Moreover, any disconnection (...) from the multi-level determinants that account for human behavior cannot augment, but would likely undermine, effective human agency. Our full inclusion in nature, understood in terms of a pragmatic, explanatory determinism, is therefore not a prison from which we need to escape. (shrink)
REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, Graham Cairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, Henry Stapp.
This chapter contains sections titled: Epistemic Commitments of Naturalism The Unity of Scientific Explanations The Explanatory Poverty of the Supernatural The Demands of Objectivity Projecting God Nature is Enough Notes.