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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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Chatterjee, Anjan, , . The promise and predicament of cosmetic neurology
2006, Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (2): 110-113
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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 S., , . Brain-Wise
2002, MIT Press.
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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, , . 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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