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    ABSTRACT: I use an example from neuropsychiatry, namely delusional misidentification, to show a distinction between levels of explanation and kinds of explanation. Building on a pragmatic view of explanation, different kinds of explanation arise because we have different kinds of explanatory concerns. One important kind of explanatory concern involves asking a certain kind of "why" question. Answering such questions provides a personal explanation, namely, renders intelligible the beliefs and actions of other persons. I use contrasting theories of delusional misidentification to highlight how different facts about the phenomenon that is being explained impose constraints on the availability of personal explanation.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2014; 5:373. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00373
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    ABSTRACT: This paper is a critique of 'integrative medicine' as an ideal of medical progress on the grounds that it fails to realise the cognitive value of alternative medicine. After a brief account of the cognitive value of alternative medicine, I outline the form of 'integrative medicine' defended by the late Stephen Straus, former director of the US National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Straus' account is then considered in the light of Zuzana Parusnikova's recent criticism of 'integrative medicine' and her distinction between 'cognitive' and 'opportunistic' engagement with alternative medicine. Parusnikova warns that the medical establishment is guilty of 'dogmatism' and proposes that one can usefully invoke Karl Popper's 'critical rationalism' as an antidote. Using the example of Straus, I argue that an appeal to Popper is insufficient, on the grounds that 'integrative medicine' can class as a form of cognitively-productive, critical engagement. I suggest that Parusnikova's appeal to Popper should be augmented with Paul Feyerabend's emphasis upon the role of 'radical alternatives' in maximising criticism. 'Integrative medicine' fails to maximise criticism because it 'translates' alternative medicine into the theories and terminology of allopathic medicine and so erodes its capacity to provide cognitively-valuable 'radical alternatives'. These claims are then illustrated with a discussion of 'traditional' and 'medical' acupuncture. I conclude that 'integrative medicine' fails to exploit the cognitive value of alternative medicine and so should be rejected as an ideal of medical progress.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 07/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.05.005
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    ABSTRACT: This paper seeks to illuminate the nature of empathy by reflecting upon the phenomenology of depression. I propose that depression involves alteration of an aspect of experience that is seldom reflected upon or discussed, thus making it hard to understand. This alteration involves impairment or loss of a capacity for interpersonal relatedness that mutual empathy depends upon. The sufferer thus feels cut off from other people, and may remark on their indifference, hostility or inability to understand. Drawing upon the example of depression, I argue that empathy is not principally a matter of 'simulating' another person's experience. It is better conceived of as a perception-like exploration of others' experiences that develops progressively through certain styles of interpersonal interaction.
    Medicine Health Care and Philosophy 06/2013; 17(2). DOI:10.1007/s11019-013-9499-8
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 04/2013; 106(4):150-5. DOI:10.1177/0141076813482256
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    ABSTRACT: In the context of a broad welcome to Bullot & Reber's (B&R's) proposals concerning the incorporation of contextual awareness into the study of the psychology of art appreciation, I raise two concerns. First, the proposal makes no allowance for degrees of relevance of contextual awareness to appreciation. Second, the authors assume that "basic exposure" and "artistic understanding" can be maintained as separate phases or modes, but this may be more problematic than anticipated.
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 04/2013; 36(2):156-157. DOI:10.1017/S0140525X1200177X
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    ABSTRACT: Baumard et al. attribute to humans a sense of fairness. However, the properties of this sense are so underspecified that the evolutionary account offered is not well-motivated. We contrast this with the framework of Universal Moral Grammar, which has sought a descriptively adequate account of the structure of the moral domain as a precondition for understanding the evolution of morality.
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 02/2013; 36(1):94-5. DOI:10.1017/S0140525X12000830
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    ABSTRACT: While some deaths are worse than others, there is no such thing as a 'good death' since the plausible desiderata of a 'good death' form an inconsistent set. Because death is of the greatest existential consequence to us, a 'good' death must be a self-aware death in which we grasp the import of what is happening to us; however, such realization is incompatible with our achieving the tranquillity of mind which is another requirement for the 'good' death. Nevertheless, the welcome recognition in recent years by medical personnel, palliative care workers and hospice staff that dying is an existential predicament as well as a physiological condition has enabled more people to avoid a 'soulless death in intensive care', even if it pays insufficient regard to the personal virtues that we need if we are to mitigate the worst evils of dying.
    Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 10/2012; 18(5):1082-6. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2753.2012.01922.x
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    ABSTRACT: Medical humanities have a central role to play in combating biopiracy. Medical humanities scholars can articulate and communicate the complex structures of meaning and significance which human beings have invested in their ways of conceiving health and sickness. Such awareness of the moral significance of medical heritage is necessary to ongoing legal, political, and ethical debates regarding the status and protection of medical heritage. I use the Indian Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as a case study of the role of medical humanities in challenging biopiracy by deepening our sense of the moral value of medical heritage.
    Bioethics Quarterly 05/2012; 33(3):175-83. DOI:10.1007/s10912-012-9179-3
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    ABSTRACT: People with depression often report alterations in their experience of time, a common complaint being that time has slowed down or stopped. In this paper, I argue that depression can involve a range of qualitatively different changes in the structure of temporal experience, some of which I proceed to describe. In addition, I suggest that current diagnostic categories such as "major depression" are insensitive to the differences between these changes. I conclude by briefly considering whether the kinds of temporal experience associated with depression are specific to depression.
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 04/2012; 37(2):114-38. DOI:10.1093/jmp/jhs010
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    ABSTRACT: This paper elucidates the origins of scientific work on stem cells. From the late nineteenth century onwards, the notion of stem cells became customary in scientific communities of Imperial Germany. Adopting the term Stammzelle from Ernst Haeckel, Theodor Boveri was influential in introducing the concept in embryological studies and early genetics around 1900, describing a capacity of stem cells for self-renewal as well as differentiation. At the same time, blood stem cells were conceptualized by histologists such as Ernst Neumann and Artur Pappenheim in studies of physiological haematopoiesis and various forms of leukaemia. Furthermore, building on Julius Cohnheim's theory that tumours arise from 'embryonic remnants' in the adult body, pathologists aimed at identifying the cells of origin, particularly in the embryo-like teratomas. Embryonic stem cells thus assumed an ambiguous status, partly representing common heritage and normal development, and partly being seen as potential causes of cancer if they had been left behind or displaced during ontogeny. In the 1950s and 1960s experimental research on teratocarcinomas by Leroy Stevens and Barry Pierce in the USA brought together the strands of embryological and pathological work. Alongside the work of Ernest McCulloch and James Till at the Ontario Cancer Institute from the early 1960s on stem cells in haematopoiesis, this led into the beginnings of modern stem cell research.
    Notes and Records of The Royal Society 12/2011; 65(4):359-78. DOI:10.2307/23056304
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