Eric LaRock

Oakland University
Center For Consciousness Science, University Of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
  • Oakland University
    Department of Philosophy
    Associate Professor
  • Center For Consciousness Science, University Of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
    Affiliate Faculty (Part-time)
Saint Louis University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2005
  •  94
    E. J. Lowe's Metaphysics and Analytic Theology. Special Issue edited by Mihretu P. Guta and Eric LaRock.
    with Mihretu P. Guta
    TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology. forthcoming.
    The essays in this special issue focus on connecting the relevant aspects of Lowe’s work to any issue in philosophical theology or philosophy of religion, especially incarnation, trinity, divine attributes, human agency and divine sovereignty, unified experience and the existence of God, divine causation, divine temporality or atemporality et cetera.
  •  34
    Eliminative Materialism and Ordinary Language
    with Daniel Lorca
    Philosophia Christi 21 (2): 419-426. 2019.
    Advocates of eliminative materialism (EM) assure us that our current, ordinary approach to describing the mind will eventually be eliminated, instead of reduced, by a matured neuroscience. However, once we take into account the flexibility, explanatory power, and overall sophistication of ordinary language, then the promissory note offered by eliminative materialism loses all credibility. To bolster the preceding claim, we present three original problems for EM: the accountability problem, the s…Read more
  • Saving Our Souls From Materialism
    with Robin Collins
    In Thomas M. Crisp (ed.), Neuroscience and the Soul. pp. 137-146. 2016.
    We refute three key claims against dualism: (1) the claim that dualism implies that we would not expect to observe such a radical causal dependence of our conscious lives on the physical world, which is what we do observe; (2) the claim that dualism implies mysteries beyond necessity, and hence that dualism is, theoretically speaking, less simple than physicalism; and (3) that dualism implies a metaphysical simple (e.g., a human soul) is incapable of undergoing a process of development. We con…Read more
  •  71
    A Strong Emergence Hypothesis of Conscious Integration and Neural Rewiring
    with Jeffrey Schwartz, Iliyan Ivanov, and David Carreon
    International Philosophical Quarterly 60 (1): 97-115. 2020.
    In this paper we discuss the two-system framework, examine its strengths, point out a fundamental weakness concerning the unity of conscious experience, and then propose a new hypothesis that avoids that weakness and other related concerns. According to our strong emergence hypothesis, what emerges are not merely mental properties in specialized, distributed neural areas, but also a new, irreducibly singular entity that functions in a recurrent manner to integrate its mental properties and to re…Read more
  •  2
    I examine several leading neuronal accounts of binding and conclude that, while those neuronal accounts might be necessary in some important senses (e.g., when it comes to error minimization), they fail to provide satisfying solutions to the hard problems of unified experience. I then present a new, testable hypothesis called emergent subject dualism to account for the unity of experience across modalities of the brain.
  •  98
    How Subjects Can Emerge from Neurons
    with Mostyn Jones
    Process Studies 48 (1): 40-58. 2019.
    We pose a foundational problem for those who claim that subjects are ontologically irreducible, but causally reducible (weak emergence). This problem is neuroscience’s notorious binding problem, which concerns how distributed neural areas produce unified mental objects (such as perceptions) and the unified subject that experiences them. Synchrony, synapses and other mechanisms cannot explain this. We argue that this problem seriously threatens popular claims that mental causality is reducible …Read more
  •  63
    Against the Functionalist Reading of Aristotle’s Philosophy of Perception and Emotion
    International Philosophical Quarterly 42 (2): 231-258. 2002.
    Examining the literature on Aristotelian psychology can leave one with the impression that his theory of perception and emotion is credible primarily because it accords with contemporary functionalism, a physicalist theory that has achieved orthodoxy in contemporary philosophy of mind. In my view, squeezing Aristotle into a functionalist mold is a mistake, for functionalism entaiIs at least two theses that Aristotle would reject: (1) that material types make no essential difference to perception…Read more
  •  30
    I explicate the Churchland's dualistic interaction and neural dependence objections to Cartesian dualism and argue that Aquinas’s conception of Aristotelian hylomorphism provides a way out of those objections.
  •  210
    Working Memory and Consciousness: the current state of play
    with Marjan Persuh and Jacob Berger
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 12. 2018.
    Working memory, an important posit in cognitive science, allows one to temporarily store and manipulate information in the service of ongoing tasks. Working memory has been traditionally classified as an explicit memory system – that is, as operating on and maintaining only consciously perceived information. Recently, however, several studies have questioned this assumption, purporting to provide evidence for unconscious working memory. In this paper, we focus on visual working memory and critic…Read more
  •  76
    Intrinsic perspectives, object feature binding, and visual consciousness
    Theory and Psychology 17 (6): 799-09. 2007.
    I argue that Van der Velde and I agree on two fundamental issues surrounding the vision-related binding problem and recent solutions that have been offered: (1) that tagging theories fail to account for object feature binding in visual consciousness and (2) that feedforward-feedback processes in the visual cortical hierarchy play a role in generating a feature-unified object of visual consciousness. Van der Velde develops and discusses an important objection to tagging theories that could help t…Read more
  •  46
    An Empirical Case Against Central State Materialism
    Philosophia Christi 14 (2): 409-428. 2012.
    I argue that recent empirical investigations reveal new problems and new evidence that should compel advocates of causal functionalism (of the sort defended by David Armstrong and David Lewis) to reconsider the feasibility of their account of mind.
  •  80
    After providing a critique of Andreas Engel's neural mechanistic approach to object feature binding (OFB), I develop a Kantian approach to OFB that bears affinity with recent findings in cognitive psychology. I also address the diachronic object unity (DOU) problem and discuss the shortcomings of a purely neural mechanistic approach to this problem. Finally, I motivate a Kantian approach to DOU which suggests that DOU requires the persisting character of the cognizing subject. If plausible, the …Read more
  •  81
    A central issue in philosophy and neuroscience is the problem of unified visual consciousness. This problem has arisen because we now know that an object's stimulus features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) generate activity in separate areas of the visual cortex (Felleman & Van Essen, 1991). For example, recent evidence indicates that there are very few, if any, neural connections between specific visual areas, such as those that correlate with color and motion (Bartels & Zeki, 2006; Zek…Read more
  •  53
    From Biological Naturalism to Emergent Subject Dualism
    Philosophia Christi 15 (1): 97-118. 2013.
    I argue (1) that Searle's reductive stance about mental causation is unwarranted on evolutionary, logical, and neuroscientific grounds; and (2) that his theory of weak emergence, called biological naturalism, fails to provide a satisfactory account of objectual unity and subject unity. Finally I propose a stronger variety of emergence called emergent subject dualism (ESD) to fill the gaps in Searle's account, and support ESD on grounds of recent evidence in neuroscience. Hence I show how it is …Read more
  •  83
    Disambiguation, binding, and the unity of visual consciousness
    Theory and Psychology 17 (6): 747-77. 2007.
    Recent findings in neuroscience strongly suggest that an object’s features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) are represented in separate areas of the visual cortex. Although represented in separate neuronal areas, somehow the feature representations are brought together as a single, unified object of visual consciousness. This raises a question of binding: how do neural activities in separate areas of the visual cortex function to produce a feature-unified object of visual consciousness? S…Read more
  •  112
    Inverse zombies, anesthesia awareness, and the hard problem of unconsciousness
    Consciousness and Cognition 17 (4): 1163-1168. 2008.
    Philosophical (p-) zombies are constructs that possess all of the behavioral features and responses of a sentient human being, yet are not conscious. P-zombies are intimately linked to the hard problem of consciousness and have been invoked as arguments against physicalist approaches. But what if we were to invert the characteristics of p-zombies? Such an inverse (i-) zombie would possess all of the behavioral features and responses of an insensate being yet would nonetheless be conscious. W…Read more
  •  160
    Is consciousness really a brain process?
    International Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2): 201-229. 2008.
    I argue on the basis of recent findings in neuroscience that consciousness is not a brain process, and then explore some alternative, non-reductive options concerning the metaphysical relationship between consciousness and the brain, such as weak and strong accounts of the emergence of consciousness and the constitution view of consciousness. I propose an Aristotelian account of the strong emergence of consciousness. This account motivates a wider ontology than reductive physicalism and makes re…Read more
  •  85
    Aristotle and Agent-Directed Neuroplasticity
    International Philosophical Quarterly 53 (4): 385-408. 2013.
    I propose an Aristotelian approach to agent causation that is consistent with the hypothesis of strong emergence. This approach motivates a wider ontology than materialism by maintaining (1) that the agent is generated by the brain without being reducible to it on grounds of the unity of experience and (2) that the agent possesses (formal) causal power to affect (i.e., mold, sculpt, or organize) the brain on grounds of agent-directed neuroplasticity. After providing recent empirical evidence f…Read more
  •  67
    Cognition and emotion: Aristotelian affinities with contemporary emotion research
    with Konstantinos Kafetsios
    Theory and Psychology 15 (5): 639-657. 2005.
    We provide a critique of the usual functionalist, cognition-first reading of Aristotle’s theory of emotion and then offer an alternative understanding of Aristotle's theory of cognition and emotion that brings to bear certain biological considerations evidenced in his arguments on the integration of form and matter (hylomorphism) and the hierarchical organization of the biological world. This, of course, does not suggest that we are critical of all varieties of functionalism, but only those whic…Read more