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Akins, Kathleen, , . A bat without qualities?
1993, In Martin Davies & Glyn W. Humphreys (eds.), Consciousness: Psychological and Philosophical Essays. Blackwell. pp. 345–358.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Discusses the alleged elusiveness of phenomenal consciousness / argues . . . that there is no way of telling ahead of time just what science will reveal to us / if we start from the thought that science can shed some light upon an alien point of view, we may well find ourselves with the intuition, nevertheless, that there is something that science must leave out / perhaps science can reveal the shape or structure of experience, but it leaves out the tone or shading / perhaps science can make plain to us the representational properties of experience, but it is silent about the phenomenal feel argues that this intuition . . . is to be resisted because it rests upon the flawed idea that we can separate the qualitative from the representational aspects of experience: the idea that it makes sense to try to imagine an experience that is qualitatively just like the visual experience that I am having now, but represents quite different objects and properties in the world

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Akins, Kathleen, , . Of sensory systems and the “aboutness” of mental states
1996, Journal of Philosophy 93(7): 337-372.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: The author presents a critique of the classical conception of the senses assumed by the majority of naturalist authors who attempt to explain mental content. This critique is based on neurobiological data on the senses that suggest that they do not seem to describe objective characteristics of the world, but instead act “narcissistically”, so to speak, representing information depending on the specific interests of the organism.

Comment: This paper provides a good explanation of the integrated sensory-motor approach in philosophy of mind and how it differs from the classical conception. A good, easy to understand presentation of a challenge to the naive view that the senses give us objective information about the way the world is.

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Balog, Katalin, , . Jerry Fodor on Non-Conceptual Content
2009, Synthese, 170, 311-320
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Proponents of non-conceptual content have recruited it for various philosophical jobs. Some epistemologists have suggested that it may play the role of “the given” that Sellars is supposed to have exorcised from philosophy. Some philosophers of mind (e.g., Dretske) have suggested that it plays an important role in the project of naturalizing semantics as a kind of halfway between merely information bearing and possessing conceptual content. Here I will focus on a recent proposal by Jerry Fodor. In a recent paper he characterizes non-conceptual content in a particular way and argues that it is plausible that it plays an explanatory role in accounting for certain auditory and visual phenomena. So he thinks that there is reason to believe that there is non-conceptual content. On the other hand, Fodor thinks that non-conceptual content has a limited role. It occurs only in the very early stages of perceptual processing prior to conscious awareness. My paper is examines Fodor’s characterization of non-conceptual content and his claims for its explanatory importance. I also discuss if Fodor has made a case for limiting non-conceptual content to non-conscious, sub-personal mental states.

Comment: Useful discussion of Fodor’s view on non-conceptual content; I use the Fodor piece as main reading, and this as further reading.

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Boden, Margaret A., , . Intentionality and physical systems
1970, Philosophy of Science 32 (June):200-214.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Intentionality is characteristic of many psychological phenomena. It is commonly held by philosophers that intentionality cannot be ascribed to purely physical systems. This view does not merely deny that psychological language can be reduced to physiological language. It also claims that the appropriateness of some psychological explanation excludes the possibility of any underlying physiological or causal account adequate to explain intentional behavior. This is a thesis which I do not accept. I shall argue that physical systems of a specific sort will show the characteristic features of intentionality. Psychological subjects are, under an alternative description, purely physical systems of a certain sort. The intentional description and the physical description are logically distinct, and are not intertranslatable. Nevertheless, the features of intentionality may be explained by a purely causal account, in the sense that they may be shown to be totally dependent upon physical processes.

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Chatterjee, Anjan, , . The promise and predicament of cosmetic neurology
2006, Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (2): 110-113
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: Advances in cognitive neuroscience make cosmetic neurology in some form inevitable and will give rise to extremely difficult ethical issues.

Comment: This short paper introduces the ethical challenges related to cognitive enhancement. It lists some existing enhancing drugs, discusses the differences between developing drugs which treat diseases and those developed to enhance healthy individuals. The ethical challenges it considers include: safety and possible harmfulness of enhancing drugs; whether suffering and hardships are integral parts of human development and thus removing them might be problematic; whether the possibility of enhancement won’t result in explicit and implicit coercive pressure to enhance, at the cost of human happiness. Chatterjee’s text will serve well as an introduction to human enhancement in medical and applied ethics classes. In higher level classes it will be useful to supplement it with other, more in-depth papers engaging with specific problems.

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Churchland, Patricia, , . Epistemology in The Age of Neuroscience
1987, Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987): 546-83.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Comment: Churchland argues that advances in neuroscience should should bring about reform in a number of central areas of philosophy. Formal logic does not model human reasoning, formal semantics cannot account for how human language is meaningful, there are no foundations of knowledge, there is no a priori knowledge, and true belief is not a goal of human nervous systems.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on epistemology (in particular, a section on naturalised epistemology), the philosophy of cognitive science, the philosophy of biology or metaphilosophy. Though the paper touches on foundational issues in philosophy, it is a relatively straightforward read and an excellent conversation starter. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels, but also appropriate for graduate-level courses.

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Churchland, Patricia, , . The impact of Neuroscience on Philosophy
2008, Neuron 60, November 6
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Diversifying SyllabiChurchland claims that experimental science has gradually (and rightfully and successfully) replaced philosophical investigations of the world, and suggests that the time has come for philosophy of mind and moral philosophy to “cede” to experimental science. She claims that conceptual analysis has been undermined by “a torrent of neuro­psychological results” that contradict folk psychology (i.e. intuition). Thus, self­respecting philosophers of mind have begun to engage with experimental science. Moral philosophers have not yet realized that their field is going in the same direction, and that their stories are about to be superceded by a “naturalistic framework for looking at human morality and decision making” (409). She gives some examples from animal studies bearing on social behaviour and organization like monogamy, trust and cooperation, social attachment, group cooperation or amalgamation. One central point is that moral rules play only a partial role, if at all, in the “brain’s decision” when faced with “constraint­satisfaction problems” (410).

Comment: This text offers a perfect way to address the common reservations regarding the validity and usefullness of philosophy in the age of neuroscience among the students. It clearly distinguishes between the questions which can and cannot be answered empirically, and shows how the aims of philosophy and neuroscience differ. As the text is very approachable, it can easily be used even outside of a philosophy class; in more focused ethics or philosophy of mind classes it might be best accompanied by more specialised texts.

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Churchland, Patricia S., , . Brain-Wise
2002, MIT Press.
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Progress in the neurosciences is profoundly changing our conception of ourselves. Contrary to time-honored intuition, the mind turns out to be a complex of brain functions. And contrary to the wishful thinking of some philosophers, there is no stemming the revolutionary impact that brain research will have on our understanding of how the mind works. Brain-Wise is the sequel to Patricia Smith Churchland’s Neurophilosophy, the book that launched a subfield. In a clear, conversational manner, this book examines old questions about the nature of the mind within the new framework of the brain sciences. What, it asks, is the neurobiological basis of consciousness, the self, and free choice? How does the brain learn about the external world and about its own introspective world? What can neurophilosophy tell us about the basis and significance of religious and moral experiences? Drawing on results from research at the neuronal, neurochemical, system, and whole-brain levels, the book gives an up-to-date perspective on the state of neurophilosophy – what we know, what we do not know, and where things may go from here.

Comment: This book is a very deep and clear work about mind. This latter one is examined considering brain sciences. This book is a good way to familiarise whit the mind-related philosophical debate.

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Cooper, Rachel, , . Classifying madness: a philosophical examination of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
2005, Dordrecht: Springer.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher: Classifying Madness concerns philosophical problems with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly known as the D.S.M. The D.S.M. is published by the American Psychiatric Association and aims to list and describe all mental disorders. The first half of Classifying Madness asks whether the project of constructing a classification of mental disorders that reflects natural distinctions makes sense. Chapters examine the nature of mental illness, and also consider whether mental disorders fall into natural kinds. The second half of the book addresses epistemic worries. Even supposing a natural classification system to be possible in principle, there may be reasons to be suspicious of the categories included in the D.S.M. I examine the extent to which the D.S.M. depends on psychiatric theory, and look at how it has been shaped by social and financial factors. I aim to be critical of the D.S.M. without being antagonistic towards it. Ultimately, however, I am forced to conclude that although the D.S.M. is of immense practical importance, it is unlikely to come to reflect the natural structure of mental disorders.

Comment: The early chapters are particularly useful in teaching, as they discuss the treatment of mental disorders as natural kinds. They are particularly useful in teaching applied ethics related to mental disorders and can inform a discussion on the claims made by the members of the antipsychiatrist movement. The text can also provide good support for advanced level teaching focusing on natural kinds and social constructs.

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Cooper, Rachel, , . Psychiatry and philosophy of science
2014, Routledge.
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Publisher: Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science explores conceptual issues in psychiatry from the perspective of analytic philosophy of science. Through an examination of those features of psychiatry that distinguish it from other sciences – for example, its contested subject matter, its particular modes of explanation, its multiple different theoretical frameworks, and its research links with big business – Rachel Cooper explores some of the many conceptual, metaphysical and epistemological issues that arise in psychiatry. She shows how these pose interesting challenges for the philosopher of science while also showing how ideas from the philosophy of science can help to solve conceptual problems within psychiatry. Cooper’s discussion ranges over such topics as the nature of mental illnesses, the treatment decisions and diagnostic categories of psychiatry, the case-history as a form of explanation, how psychiatry might be value-laden, the claim that psychiatry is a multi-paradigm science, the distortion of psychiatric research by pharmaceutical industries, as well as engaging with the fundamental question whether the mind is reducible to something at the physical level. “Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science” demonstrates that cross-disciplinary contact between philosophy of science and psychiatry can be immensely productive for both subjects and it will be required reading for mental health professionals and philosophers alike.

Comment: This book is written in a very approachable way and requires little prior knowledge of psychiatry or philosophy, which makes it an excellent resource for undergraduate teaching. Chapters two and three contain one of the most informative and clear reviews of the debate about the nature of mental illness. Chapters four to seven focus on the scientific status of psychiatry and look at the possibility of neurobiological reductionism. The text can be used in a number of teaching situations, stretching from moral dilemmas related to mental illness, to the philosophy of mind questions on mind-brain reductionism.

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Cosmides, Leda, , John Tooby. Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer
1997, Center for Evolutionary Psychology.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind.Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionarybiology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision,reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic withinit.In this view, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection tosolve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This way of thinking about the brain, mind,and behavior is changing how scientists approach old topics, and opening up new ones. This chapter is aprimer on the concepts and arguments that animate it.

Comment: This is an enjoyable introduction to the influential evolutionary psychology research program. It touches on many issues of longstanding interest to philosophers, such as the roles of nature and nurture and the normativity of abstract reasoning. I have used it in philosophy of biology and philosophy of social science courses. For more advanced students, it can be read together with Elisabeth Lloyd’s paper ‘Evolutionary Psychology: The Burdens of Proof.’

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Debus, Dorothea, , . Mental Time Travel: Remembering the Past, Imagining the Future, and the Particularity of Events
2014, Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (3):333-350
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: The present paper offers a philosophical discussion of phenomena which in the empirical literature have recently been subsumed under the concept of ‘mental time travel’. More precisely, the paper considers differences and similarities between two cases of ‘mental time travel’, recollective memories (‘R-memories’) of past events on the one hand, and sensory imaginations (‘S-imaginations’) of future events on the other. It develops and defends the claim that, because a subject who R-remembers a past event is experientially aware of a past particular event, while a subject who S-imagines a future event could not possibly be experientially aware of a future particular event, R-memories of past events and S-imaginations of future events are ultimately mental occurrences of two different kinds.

Comment: This paper is concerned with both metaphysics and cognitive science. It could be used to raise questions about how we imagine future events involving ourselves and other people, and how this is similar or dissimilar to how we remember events. It could be used together with papers in cognitive neuroscience investigating the brain areas active in imagination and memory, most likely in a third or fourth year module.

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Dissanayake, Ellen, , . Becoming Homo Aestheticus: Sources of Aesthetic Imagination in Mother-Infant Interactions
2001, Substance 30 (1/2):85.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: Along with the vital abilities to cry and to suckle, human neonates are born with remarkable capacities that predispose them for social interaction with others. For example, newborns prefer human faces and human voices to any other sight or sound (Johnson et al. 1991, 11). They can imitate face, mouth, and hand movements and respond appropriately to another person’s emotional expressions of sadness, fear, and surprise. It is perhaps less well known that at birth, infants can also estimate and anticipate intervals of time and temporal sequences (DeCasper and Carstens 1980). They can remember these temporal patterns and categorize them in both time and space, and in terms of affect and arousal (Beebe, Lachman and Jaffe 1997). By six weeks of age, these innate perceptual and cognitive abilities permit normal infants to engage in complex communicative interchanges with adult partners–the playful behavior that is commonly or colloquially called “babytalk.”

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Drayson, Zoe, , . Extended cognition and the metaphysics of mind
2010, Cognitive Systems Research 11 (4):367-377.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between several ideas about the mind and cognition. The hypothesis of extended cognition claims that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head, that elements of the world around us can actually become parts of our cognitive systems. It has recently been suggested that the hypothesis of extended cognition is entailed by one of the foremost philosophical positions on the nature of the mind: functionalism, the thesis that mental states are defined by their functional relations rather than by their physical constituents. Furthermore, it has been claimed that functionalism entails a version of extended cognition which is sufficiently radical as to be obviously false. I survey the debate and propose several ways of avoiding this conclusion, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing the hypothesis of extended cognition from the related notion of the extended mind.

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Drayson, Zoe, , . What is Action-Oriented Perception?
2017, in Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the 15th International Congress (College Publications, 2017).
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Contemporary scientific and philosophical literature on perception often focuses on the relationship between perception and action, emphasizing the ways in which perception can be understood as geared towards action or ‘action-oriented’. In this paper I provide a framework within which to classify approaches to action-oriented perception, and I highlight important differences between the distinct approaches. I show how talk of perception as action-oriented can be applied to the evolutionary history of perception, neural or psychological perceptual mechanisms, the semantic content or phenomenal character of perceptual states, or to the metaphysical nature of perception. I argue that there are no straightforward inferences from one kind of action-oriented perception to another. Using this framework and its insights, I then explore the notion of action-oriented perceptual representation which plays a key role in some approaches to embodied cognitive science. I argue that the concept of action-oriented representation proposed by Clark and Wheeler is less straightforward than it might seem, because it seems to require both that the mechanisms of perceptual representation are action-oriented and that the content of these perceptual representations are action-oriented. Given that neither of these claims can be derived from the other, proponents of action-oriented representation owe us separate justification for each claim. I will argue that such justifications are not forthcoming in the literature, and that attempts to reconstruct them run into trouble: the sorts of arguments offered for the representational mechanisms being action-oriented seem to undermine the sorts of arguments offered for the representational content being action-oriented, and vice-versa.

Comment: Useful background reading concerning perception and action; cover enactivism, but also other perception/action issues

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