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2007 - Volume 28, Numbers 3 and 4, Summer and Autumn

Why History Matters: Associations and Causal Judgment in Hume and Cognitive Science

It is commonly thought that Hume endorses the claim that causal cognition can be fully explained in terms of nothing but custom and habit. Associative learning does, of course, play a major role in the cognitive psychology of the Treatise. But Hume recognizes that associations cannot provide a complete account of causal thought. If human beings lacked the capacity to reflect on rules for judging causes and effects, then we could not (as we do) distinguish between accidental and genuine regularities, and Hume could not (as he does) carry out his science of human nature. One might reply that what appears to be rule-governed behavior might emerge from associative systems that do not literally employ rules. But this response fails: there is a growing consensus in cognitive science that any adequate account of causal learning must invoke active, controlled cognitive processes. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Mark Collier, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, Morris, 600 East Fourth Street, Morris, Minnesota 56267. Email: mcollier@morris.umn.edu

The Phenomenology of Freedom

John Searle describes our sense of freedom as an experience of a “gap” between an intentional action and its psychological antecedents, specifically, our reasons. Since the gap is itself understood as a lack of causation, then no agent can accept the antecedent determination of voluntary action except at the price of “practical inconsistency.” I argue that despite Searle’s insightful discussion, the sense of freedom is not an experience of a gap as he describes it but, instead, is a higher-order attitude concerning one’s limited grasp of causes. As a result, a determinist can engage in voluntary action without falling into inconsistency.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Tomis Kapitan, Department of Philosophy, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115. Email: Kapitan@niu.edu

Process, Quantum Coherence, and the Stream of Consciousness

Process philosophy has emerged as an approach to consciousness within contemporary science although re-consideration of Whitehead and James clearly contrasts with twentieth century materialism. In spite of controversy a number of researchers have described the concept of quantum coherence within living organisms that provides the basis of new process oriented theories. Among these researchers are Penrose and Hameroff who suggest that quantum gravity yields coherent processes fundamental to the idea of consciousness. Pribram emphasizes holographic processes in the brain that give rise to quantum brain dynamics. Bohm also recognizes a central role of holographic processes in physics. The work of these researchers and the convergence with earlier work in metaphysics are described. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Keith A. Choquette, Ph.D., Brockton Library, 304 Main Street, Brockton, Massachusetts 02301. Email: keithc@ocln.org

The Frontal Feedback Model of the Evolution of the Human Mind: Part 2, The Human Brain and the Frontal Feedback System

The frontal feedback model argues that the sudden appearance of art and advancing technologies around 40,000 years ago in the hominid archaeological record was the end result of a recent fundamental change in the functional properties of the hominid brain, which occurred late in that brain’s evolution. This change was marked by the switching of the driving mechanism behind the global, dynamic function of the brain from an “object-centered” bias, reflective of nonhuman primate and early hominid brains, to a “self-centered” bias, reflective of modern Homo sapiens and perhaps late Homo erectus brains. Such a change in the global-functional properties of the brain was provided for by the progressive enlargement of the primate frontal lobe throughout its evolution. In late-developing hominids, this progressive enlargement effectively succeeded in reversing the preferred direction of information flow in the highest association areas of the neocortex from a caudo-rostral bias to a rostro-caudal bias. It was this reversal specifically that provided for the ability of humans to use symbolic thought in the creative expression of art, language, and the development of advancing technologies. Part 2 discusses the specific changes in the brain that occurred as a result of the reversal and how those changes were and are manifested as human abilities and experience.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Raymond A. Noack, 517 Ninth Avenue, Suite 204, Seattle, Washington 98104. Email: cmsresearch2000@yahoo.com

The Knobe Effect: A Brief Overview 

Joshua Knobe (2003a) has discovered that the perceived goodness or badness of side effects of actions influences people’s ascriptions of intentionality to those side effects. I present the paradigmatic cases that elicit what has been called the Knobe effect and offer some explanations of the effect. I put these explanations into two broad groups. One explains the Knobe effect by referring to our concept of intentional action. The other explains the Knobe effect without referring to our concept of intentional action. I discuss some problems with these explanations and conclude with some possible avenues for future research. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Adam Feltz, Department of Philosophy, 151 Dodd Hall, 641 University Way, P.O. Box 3061500, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1500. Email: adf04@fsu.edu

An Improved Reply to the Argument from Categorization

One argument raised against the classical view of concepts is the argument from categorization, which infers from empirical evidence concerning acts of categorization that the best explanation for that evidence is inconsistent with the classical view. Building on an argument and basic distinction drawn by Georges Rey, the present paper gives an improved response to the argument from categorization by drawing further distinctions among various epistemic and satisfaction conditions for concepts. The paper shows that given such further distinctions, one sort of objection to Rey’s account can be avoided, and it is seen with further force that the classical view escapes refutation at the hands of the argument from categorization. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dennis Earl, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy and Religion, Coastal Carolina University, P.O. Box 261954, Conway, South Carolina 29528-6054. Email: dearl@coastal.edu

Time, Thought, and Consciousness 

State of consciousness and reflective awareness are intrinsically related, in that the different states of consciousness entail “specific forms – including absence – of reflective awareness” (Rapaport, 1951, p. 708). Both phenomena of consciousness would also seem to bear an important relationship with various forms of thought. What has not, hitherto, been explicated is the relationship among time, thought and consciousness, and we have set ourselves the goal of doing just that. While our primary focus is on a theoretical discussion of that intersection, we also incorporate some new empirical data that we have recently gathered, looking at thought (specifically “trance logic”) while swimming under water at depths in excess of 30 meters. 

Requests for reprints should be sent to Joseph Glicksohn, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, and The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 52100, Israel. Email: jglick@bgumail.bgu.ac.il


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