•  14
    The evolution of aesthetic experience
    Philosophy for Our Times. 2021.
    Our love for art is a compound byproduct of four different evolutionary events which attached reward to conscious experience itself, to the direction of attention to significant items in consciousness, to representations of scenarios in the brain's default mode network, and to the experience of novel stimuli. Aesthetic experiences contain varying amounts of these rewards, which helps to explain their diversity.
  •  95
    Neuroscience can relate to ethics and normative issues via the brain’s cognitive control network. This network accomplishes several executive processes, such as planning, task-switching, monitoring, and inhibiting. These processes allow us to increase the accuracy of our perceptions and our memory recall. They also allow us to plan much farther into the future, and with much more detail than any of our fellow mammals. These abilities also make us fitting subjects for responsibility claims. Their…Read more
  •  90
    US criminal courts have recently moved toward seeing juveniles as inherently less culpable than their adult counterparts, influenced by a growing mass of neuroscientific and psychological evidence. In support of this trend, this chapter argues that the criminal law’s notion of responsible agency requires both the cognitive capacity to understand one’s actions and the volitional control to conform one’s actions to legal standards. These capacities require, among other things, a minimal working se…Read more
  •  30
  •  657
    [This download includes the table of contents and chapter 1.] When we praise, blame, punish, or reward people for their actions, we are holding them responsible for what they have done. Common sense tells us that what makes human beings responsible has to do with their minds and, in particular, the relationship between their minds and their actions. Yet the empirical connection is not necessarily obvious. The “guilty mind” is a core concept of criminal law, but if a defendant on trial for murder…Read more
  •  18
    Three Laws of Qualia
    with V. S. Ramachandran
    In Jonathan Shear & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Models of the Self, Imprint Academic. pp. 83. 1999.
    Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia ’ based on a loose analogy with Newton’s three la…Read more
  • The Problem of Self-Belief
    Dissertation, University of California, Davis. 1994.
    In John Perry's 'messy shopper' example, a man in a supermarket sees a trail of sugar on the floor and follows it, intending to inform the mess-maker. When he later discovers that he in fact is making the mess, this discovery seems intuitively to involve a change in belief. The discovery also seems to bring about certain actions, and belief ascriptions made to the shopper can be seen to contain referential opacities. All of these should be accounted for, in a proper treatment of the 'shopper pro…Read more
  •  303
    The Legal Self: Executive processes and legal theory
    Consciousness and Cognition 20 (1): 151-176. 2011.
    When laws or legal principles mention mental states such as intentions to form a contract, knowledge of risk, or purposely causing a death, what parts of the brain are they speaking about? We argue here that these principles are tacitly directed at our prefrontal executive processes. Our current best theories of consciousness portray it as a workspace in which executive processes operate, but what is important to the law is what is done with the workspace content rather than the content itself. …Read more
  •  398
    On the Criminal Culpability of Successful and Unsucessful Psychopaths
    with Katrina L. Sifferd
    Neuroethics 6 (1): 129-140. 2013.
    The psychological literature now differentiates between two types of psychopath:successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record). Recent research indicates that earlier findings of reduced autonomic activity, reduced prefrontal grey matter, and compromised executive activity may only be true of unsuccessful psychopaths. In contrast, successful psychopaths actually show autonomic and executive function that exceeds that of normals, while having no differenc…Read more
  •  7
    In this chapter we will argue that the capacities necessary to moral and legal agency can be understood as executive functions in the brain. Executive functions underwrite both the cognitive and volitional capacities that give agents a fair opportunity to avoid wrongdoing: to recognize their acts as immoral and/or illegal, and to act or refrain from acting based upon this recognition. When a person’s mental illness is serious enough to cause severe disruption of executive functions, she is very …Read more
  •  839
    The emerging neuroscience of psychopathy will have several important implications for our attempts to construct an ethical society. In this article we begin by describing the list of criteria by which psychopaths are diagnosed. We then review four competing neuropsychological theories of psychopathic cognition. The first of these models, Newman’s attentional model, locates the problem in a special type of attentional narrowing that psychopaths have shown in experiments. The second and third, Bla…Read more
  •  141
    Grounding responsibility in something (more) solid
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41. 2018.
    The cases that Doris chronicles of confabulation are similar to perceptual illusions in that, while they show the interstices of our perceptual or cognitive system, they fail to establish that our everyday perception or cognition is not for the most part correct. Doris's account in general lacks the resources to make synchronic assessments of responsibility, partially because it fails to make use of knowledge now available to us about what is happening in the brains of agents.
  •  696
    Child Soldiers, Executive Functions, and Culpability
    International Criminal Law Review 16 (2): 258-286. 2016.
    Child soldiers, who often appear to be both victims and perpetrators, present a vexing moral and legal challenge: how can we protect the rights of children while seeking justice for the victims of war crimes? There has been little stomach, either in domestic or international courts, for prosecuting child soldiers—but neither has this challenge been systematically addressed in international law. Establishing a uniform minimum age of criminal responsibility would be a major step in the right direc…Read more
  •  112
    Confabulation
    In Harold Pashler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the mind, Sage Publications. pp. 183-186. 2013.
  • The Name and Nature of Confabulation
    In Paco Calvo & John Symons (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology, Routledge Press. pp. 647-658. 2009.
  •  154
    The Paradoxical Self
    with V. S. Ramachandran
    In Narinder Kapur (ed.), The Paradoxical Brain, Cambridge University Press. pp. 94-109. 2011.
  • Phantom Limbs, Body Image, and Neural Plasticity
    with V. S. Ramachandran and Diane Rogers-Ramachandran
    International Brain Research Organization News 26 (1): 10-21. 1998.
  •  150
    Mindmelding: Connected Brains and the Problem of Consciousness
    Mens Sana Monographs 6 (1): 110-130. 2008.
    Contrary to the widely-held view that our conscious states are necessarily private (in that only one person can ever experience them directly), in this paper I argue that it is possible for a person to directly experience the conscious states of another. This possibility removes an obstacle to thinking of conscious states as physical, since their apparent privacy makes them different from all other physical states. A separation can be made in the brain between our conscious mental representation…Read more
  •  581
    The Misidentification Syndromes as Mindreading Disorders
    Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 15 (1-3): 233-260. 2010.
    The patient with Capgras’ syndrome claims that people very familiar to him have been replaced by impostors. I argue that this disorder is due to the destruction of a representation that the patient has of the mind of the familiar person. This creates the appearance of a familiar body and face, but without the familiar personality, beliefs, and thoughts. The posterior site of damage in Capgras’ is often reported to be the temporoparietal junction, an area that has a role in the mindreading system…Read more
  •  2487
    The science of art: A neurological theory of aesthetic experience
    with Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (6-7): 15-41. 1999.
    We present a theory of human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it. Any theory of art has to ideally have three components. The logic of art: whether there are universal rules or principles; The evolutionary rationale: why did these rules evolve and why do they have the form that they do; What is the brain circuitry involved? Our paper begins with a quest for artistic universals and proposes a list of ‘Eight laws of artistic experience’ -- a set of heuristics that artists…Read more
  • On the Churchlands
    Wadsworth. 2004.
    Presenting an engaging overview of the Churchlands that is accessible to undergraduate philosophy students and general readers, this title—a volume in the Wadsworth Philosophy Topics Series--provides a concise introduction to this pertinent topic of philosophical interest. The Wadsworth Philosophy Topics Series presents readers with concise, timely, and insightful introductions to a variety of traditional and contemporary philosophical subjects. With this series edited by Daniel Kolak of the Wil…Read more
  •  1192
    [This download contains the introductory chapter.] People confabulate when they make an ill-grounded claim that they honestly believe is true, for example in claiming to recall an event from their childhood that never actually happened. This interdisciplinary book brings together some of the leading thinkers on confabulation in neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy.
  •  284
    Loved Ones Near and Far: Feinberg's Personal Significance Theory
    Neuropsychoanalysis 12 (2): 163-166. 2010.
    This paper examines Todd Feinberg's theory of the misidentification syndromes.
  •  1
    Cognitive Science is a major new guide to the central theories and problems in the study of the mind and brain. The authors clearly explain how and why cognitive science aims to understand the brain as a computational system that manipulates representations. They identify the roots of cognitive science in Descartes - who argued that all knowledge of the external world is filtered through some sort of representation - and examine the present-day role of Artificial Intelligence, computing, psychol…Read more
  •  837
    [This download contains the Table of Contents and Chapter 1]. I argue here that the claim that conscious states are private, in the sense that only one person can ever experience them directly, is false. There actually is a way to connect the brains of two people that would allow one to have direct experience of the other's conscious, e.g., perceptual states. This would allow, for instance, one person to see that the other had deviant color perception (which was masked by correct linguistic prac…Read more
  •  1421
    Autonomic responses of autistic children to people and objects
    with Portia Iversen and V. S. Ramachandran
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 268 1883-1888. 2001.
    Several recent lines of inquiry have pointed to the amygdala as a potential lesion site in autism. Because one function of the amygdala may be to produce autonomic arousal at the sight of a significant face, we compared the responses of autistic children to their mothers’ face and to a plain paper cup. Unlike normals, the autistic children as a whole did not show a larger response to the person than to the cup. We also monitored sympathetic activity in autistic children as they engaged in a wide…Read more
  •  150
    Confabulation
    In Patrick Wilken, Axel Cleermans & Timothy Bayne (eds.), The Oxford Companion to Consciousness, Oxford University Press. pp. 174-177. 2009.
    When people confabulate, they make an ill-grounded claim that they honestly believe is true, for example recalling an event from their childhood that never actually happened. This interdisciplinary book brings together some of the leading thinkers on confabulation in neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy