Monthly Papers on Philosophy of Mind (4)

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Abstract

Executive functioning has been said to bear on a range of traditional philosophical topics, such as consciousness, thought, and action. Surprisingly, philosophers have not much engaged with the scientific literature on executive functioning. This lack of engagement may be due to several influential criticisms of that literature by Daniel Dennett, Alan Allport, and others. In this paper I argue that more recent research on executive functioning shows that these criticisms are no longer valid. The paper clears the way to a more fruitful philosophical engagement with findings on the central executive system.

Abstract

The Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is a leading scientific theory of consciousness, which implies a kind of panpsychism. In this paper, I consider whether IIT is compatible with a particular kind of panpsychism, known as Russellian panpsychism, which purports to avoid the main problems of both physicalism and dualism. I will first show that if IIT were compatible with Russellian panpsychism, it would contribute to solving Russellian panpsychism’s combination problem, which threatens to show that the view does not avoid the main problems of physicalism and dualism after all. I then show that the theories are not compatible as they currently stand, in view of what I call the coarse-graining problem. After I explain the coarse-graining problem, I will offer two possible solutions, each involving a small modification of IIT. Given either of these modifications, IIT and Russellian panpsychism may be fully compatible after all, and jointly enable significant progress on the mind–body problem.

Based on a review and meta-analyses of empirical literature in parapsychology, Mossbridge and Radin (2018) argued for anomalous replicable effects that suggest the possibility of precognitive ability or retrocausal phenomena. However, these conclusions are refuted on statistical and theoretical grounds—the touted effects are neither meaningful, interpretable, nor even convincingly replicable. Moreover, contrary to assertions otherwise, the possibility of authentic retrocausation is discredited by modern theories in physics. Accordingly, Mossbridge and Radin’s interpretations are discussed in terms of misattribution biases that serve anxiolytic functions when individuals confront ambiguity, with potential reinforcement from perceptual–personality variables such as paranormal belief. Finally, we argue that research in human consciousness should be multidisciplinary, and notably, leverage informed investigators in the physical sciences to advance truly valid and cumulative theory building. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

From meat to mind: the root of consciousness

From meat to mind: the root of consciousness, Published online: 04 April 2018; doi:10.1038/d41586-018-03920-z

Douwe Draaisma enjoys Michael Gazzaniga’s exploration of the biological basis of consciousness.

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, EarlyView.
An ear mounted device with a battery of brain-scanning electrodes knows which sounds you’re paying attention to – it might also help you get a good night’s sleep

Abstract

Some thoughts just come to mind together. This is usually thought to happen because they are connected by associations, which the mind follows. Such an explanation assumes that there is a particular kind of simple psychological process responsible. This view has encountered criticism recently. In response, this paper aims to characterize a general understanding of associative simplicity, which might support the distinction between associative processing and alternatives. I argue that there are two kinds of simplicity that are treated as characteristic of association, and as a result three possible versions of associative processing. This provides a framework that informs our understanding of association as a current and historical concept, including how various specific versions in different parts of psychology relate to one another. This framework can also guide debates over normative evaluations of actions produced by processes thought to be associative.

Abstract

Traditionally, theories of mindreading have focused on the representation of beliefs and desires. However, decades of social psychology and social neuroscience have shown that, in addition to reasoning about beliefs and desires, human beings also use representations of character traits to predict and interpret behavior. While a few recent accounts have attempted to accommodate these findings, they have not succeeded in explaining the relation between trait attribution and belief-desire reasoning. On my account, character-trait attribution is part of a hierarchical system for action prediction, and serves to inform hypotheses about agents’ beliefs and desires, which are in turn used to predict and interpret behavior.

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