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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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Lavelle, Jane Suilin, , . Theory-Theory and the Direct Perception of Mental States
2012, Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3(2): 213-230.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Philosophers and psychologists have often maintained that in order to attribute mental states to other people one must have a ‘theory of mind’. This theory facilitates our grasp of other people’s mental states. Debate has then focussed on the form this theory should take. Recently a new approach has been suggested, which I call the ‘Direct Perception approach to social cognition’. This approach maintains that we can directly perceive other people’s mental states. It opposes traditional views on two counts: by claiming that mental states are observable and by claiming that we can attribute them to others without the need for a theory of mind. This paper argues that there are two readings of the direct perception claims: a strong and a weak one. The Theory-theory is compatible with the weak version but not the strong one. The paper argues that the strong version of direct perception is untenable, drawing on evidence from the mirror neuron literature and arguments from the philosophy of science and perception to support this claim. It suggests that one traditional ‘theory of mind’ view, the ‘Theory-theory’ view, is compatible with the claim that mental states are observable, and concludes that direct perception views do not offer a viable alternative to theory of mind approaches to social cognition.

Comment: A good argument against direct perception as an alternative to theory theory. Since the direct perception theory is somewhat trendy, this paper would be a useful counterpoint in philosophy of mind courses.

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