Weekly Papers on Philosophy of Mind (41)

Causation & Free Will, by SartorioCarolina. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Pp. viii + 188.

Abstract

Introduction

Given that recent research has shown that functional connectivity is not a static phenomenon, we aim to investigate the dynamic properties of the default mode network's (DMN) connectivity in patients with disorders of consciousness.

Methods

Resting-state fMRI volumes of a convenience sample of 17 patients in unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) and controls were reduced to a spatiotemporal point process by selecting critical time points in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Spatial clustering was performed on the extracted PCC time frames to obtain 8 different co-activation patterns (CAPs). We investigated spatial connectivity patterns positively and negatively correlated with PCC using both CAPs and standard stationary method. We calculated CAPs occurrences and the total number of frames.

Results

Compared to controls, patients showed (i) decreased within-network positive correlations and between-network negative correlations, (ii) emergence of “pathological” within-network negative correlations and between-network positive correlations (better defined with CAPs), and (iii) “pathological” increases in within-network positive correlations and between-network negative correlations (only detectable using CAPs). Patients showed decreased occurrence of DMN-like CAPs (1–2) compared to controls. No between-group differences were observed in the total number of frames

Conclusion

CAPs reveal at a more fine-grained level the multifaceted spatial connectivity reconfiguration following the DMN disruption in UWS patients, which is more complex than previously thought and suggests alternative anatomical substrates for consciousness. BOLD fluctuations do not seem to differ between patients and controls, suggesting that BOLD response represents an intrinsic feature of the signal, and therefore that spatial configuration is more important for consciousness than BOLD activation itself. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

The Knower paradox purports to place surprising a priori limitations on what we can know. According to orthodoxy, it shows that we need to abandon one of three plausible and widely-held ideas: that knowledge is factive, that we can know that knowledge is factive, and that we can use logical/mathematical reasoning to extend our knowledge via very weak single-premise closure principles. I argue that classical logic, not any of these epistemic principles, is the culprit. I develop a consistent theory validating all these principles by combining Hartry Field's theory of truth with a modal enrichment developed for a different purpose by Michael Caie. The only casualty is classical logic: the theory avoids paradox by using a weaker-than-classical K3 logic.
I then assess the philosophical merits of this approach. I argue that, unlike the traditional semantic paradoxes involving extensional notions like truth, its plausibility depends on the way in which sentences are referred to—whether in natural languages via direct sentential reference, or in mathematical theories via indirect sentential reference by Gödel coding. In particular, I argue that from the perspective of natural language, my non-classical treatment of knowledge as a predicate is plausible, while from the perspective of mathematical theories, its plausibility depends on unresolved questions about the limits of our idealized deductive capacities.

It’s time to get past the scare stories and start discussing the real uses and abuses of machine learning

Abstract

One of the most common excuses is ignorance. Ignorance does not always excuse, however, for sometimes ignorance is culpable. One of the most natural ways to think of the difference between exculpating and culpable ignorance is in terms of justification; that is, one’s ignorance is exculpating only if it is justified and one’s ignorance is culpable only if it not justified (call this the justification thesis). Rosen (J Phil 105(10):591–610, 2008) explores this idea by first offering a brief account of justification, and then two cases that he claims are counter examples to the justification thesis. The aim of this paper is to defend the justification thesis against Rosen’s two cases. The argument will proceed in the following way. First, I clarify a few things about the nature of culpable ignorance generally and why the justification thesis is so intuitive. I then present Rosen’s purported counterexamples. Once this is done, I argue that Rosen misses an important view of justification in the epistemology literature that I call the pragmatic view. I present a general picture of the pragmatic view, and explain how it fits naturally with our practices of criticizing people’s beliefs, including claims of culpable ignorance. Finally, I address Rosen’s cases arguing that, if the pragmatic view is right, then Rosen’s cases are not counterexamples to the justification thesis.

Abstract

I argue in favor of a certain connection between knowledge and the permissibility of action. On this approach, we do not think of the relation between those notions as reflecting a universal epistemic principle. Instead, we think of it as something resembling a platitude from folk psychology. With the help of some elementary tools from the logic of normativity and counterfactuals, I attempt to establish the connection by deriving it from more elementary principles. The new formulation involves a ceteris paribus clause. Though it is often difficult to specify the exact content of a ceteris paribus clause, we will see that our clause is derived from a descriptive generalization with independent motivation.

Abstract

Warning signals indicating that a food is potentially dangerous may evoke a response that is not limited to the feeling of disgust. We investigated the sequence of brain events in response to visual representations of disgusting food using a dynamic image analysis. Functional MRI was acquired in 30 healthy subjects while they were watching a movie showing disgusting food scenes interspersed with the scenes of appetizing food. Imaging analysis included the identification of the global brain response and the generation of frame-by-frame activation maps at the temporal resolution of 2 s. Robust activations were identified in brain structures conventionally associated with the experience of disgust, but our analysis also captured a variety of other brain elements showing distinct temporal evolutions. The earliest events included transient changes in the orbitofrontal cortex and visual areas, followed by a more durable engagement of the periaqueductal gray, a pivotal element in the mediation of responses to threat. A subsequent core phase was characterized by the activation of subcortical and cortical structures directly concerned not only with the emotional dimension of disgust (e.g., amygdala-hippocampus, insula), but also with the regulation of food intake (e.g., hypothalamus). In a later phase, neural excitement extended to broad cortical areas, the thalamus and cerebellum, and finally to the default mode network that signaled the progressive termination of the evoked response. The response to disgusting food representations is not limited to the emotional domain of disgust, and may sequentially involve a variety of broadly distributed brain networks. Hum Brain Mapp, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Abstract

Externalist representationalists claim that the phenomenal character of a visual perceptual experience is determined by the representational content of that experience. Their deployment of the idea that perceptual experience is transparent shows that they account for representational content with reference to the properties which are represented the properties out there in the world. I explain why this commits the externalist representationalist to objectivism and realism about colour properties. Colour physicalism has proved to be the position of choice for externalist representationalists (who tend to be motivated by a commitment to physicalism). However, my aim in this paper is to demonstrate that the proponent of the view which combines externalist representationalism with colour physicalism is unable to account for the phenomenal character of colour hallucination.

This paper provides a novel argument for granting memory the status of a generative source of justification and knowledge. Memory can produce justified output beliefs and knowledge on the basis of unjustified input beliefs alone. The key to understanding how memory can generate justification and knowledge, memory generativism, is to bear in mind that memory frequently omits part of the stored information. The proposed argument depends on a broadly reliabilist approach to justification.

Abstract

Núñez and Fias raised concerns on whether our results demonstrate a linear number-space mapping. Patro and Nuerk urge caution on the use of animal models to understand the origin (cultural vs. biological) of the orientation of spatial–numerical association. Here, we discuss why both objections are unfounded.
Publication date: Available online 10 October 2017 Source:Physics Reports Author(s): John Lee Grenfell We review the field of exoplanetary biosignatures with a main focus upon atmospheric gas-phase species. Due to the paucity of data in Earth-like planetary atmospheres a common approach is to extrapolate knowledge from the Solar System and Early Earth to Earth-like exoplanets. We therefore review the main processes (e.g. atmospheric photochemistry and transport) affecting the most commonly-considered species (e.g. O2, O3, N2O, CH4 etc.) in the context of the modern Earth, Early Earth, the Solar System and Earth-like exoplanets. We consider thereby known abiotic sources for these species in the Solar System and beyond. We also discuss detectability issues related to atmospheric biosignature spectra such as band strength and uniqueness. Finally, we summarize current space agency roadmaps related to biosignature science in an exoplanet context.

Abstract

I argue in favor of a certain connection between knowledge and the permissibility of action. On this approach, we do not think of the relation between those notions as reflecting a universal epistemic principle. Instead, we think of it as something resembling a platitude from folk psychology. With the help of some elementary tools from the logic of normativity and counterfactuals, I attempt to establish the connection by deriving it from more elementary principles. The new formulation involves a ceteris paribus clause. Though it is often difficult to specify the exact content of a ceteris paribus clause, we will see that our clause is derived from a descriptive generalization with independent motivation.

Abstract

Experimental work has shown that spatial experiences influence spatiotemporal metaphor use. In these studies, participants are asked a question that yields different responses depending on the metaphor participants use. It has been claimed that English speakers are equally likely to respond with either variant in the absence of priming. Related studies testing non-spatial experiences demonstrate varied results with a wide range of primes. Here, the effects of eye movement and stimuli presentation modality on comprehension of this question are investigated in different formats. In addition, the results of prior reported controls are re-analyzed in a meta-analysis to verify reliable ambiguity of the test question. Results suggest that English speakers have a baseline preference for the Moving Ego metaphor variant, with a stronger preference in verbal rather than written presentation. The findings have implications both for (re)interpretation of prior studies' results and future study designs.

Abstract

We investigated people's ability to infer others’ mental states from their emotional reactions, manipulating whether agents wanted, expected, andcaused an outcome. Participants recovered agents’ desires throughout. When the agent observed, but did not cause the outcome, participants’ ability to recover the agent's beliefs depended on the evidence they got (i.e., her reaction only to the actual outcome or to both the expected and actual outcomes; Experiments 1 and 2). When the agent caused the event, participants’ judgments also depended on the probability of the action (Experiments 3 and 4); when actions were improbable given the mental states, people failed to recover the agent's beliefs even when they saw her react to both the anticipated and actual outcomes. A Bayesian model captured human performance throughout (rs ≥ .95), consistent with the proposal that people rationally integrate information about others’ actions and emotional reactions to infer their unobservable mental states.

Abstract

Semantics in the Montagovian tradition combine two basic tenets. One tenet is that semantic value of a sentence is an intension, a function from points of evaluations into truth-values. The other tenet is that the semantic value of a composite expression is the result of applying the function denoted by one component to arguments denoted by the other components. Many philosophers object to intensional semantics on the grounds that intensionally equivalent sentences do not substitute salva veritate into attitude ascriptions. They propose instead that the semantic values of sentences must be structured propositions. In rejecting intensional semantics, philosophers who endorse structured propositions also usually reject functional compositionality. Undermining both tenets of the Montagovian programme. I defend a semantic theory that incorporates both structured propositions and functional compositionality. I argue that this semantic theory can preserve many explanatory benefits of Montague semantics. Finally, I show how treating composition functional application can resolve core problems internal to a theory of structured propositions.

Abstract

From a theoretical perspective, most discussions of statistical learning (SL) have focused on the possible “statistical” properties that are the object of learning. Much less attention has been given to defining what “learning” is in the context of “statistical learning.” One major difficulty is that SL research has been monitoring participants’ performance in laboratory settings with a strikingly narrow set of tasks, where learning is typically assessed offline, through a set of two-alternative-forced-choice questions, which follow a brief visual or auditory familiarization stream. Is that all there is to characterizing SL abilities? Here we adopt a novel perspective for investigating the processing of regularities in the visual modality. By tracking online performance in a self-paced SL paradigm, we focus on the trajectory of learning. In a set of three experiments we show that this paradigm provides a reliable and valid signature of SL performance, and it offers important insights for understanding how statistical regularities are perceived and assimilated in the visual modality. This demonstrates the promise of integrating different operational measures to our theory of SL.

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