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    ABSTRACT: A key component of much current research in behavioral ecology, cognitive science, and economics is a model of the mind at least partly based on beliefs and desires. However, despite this prevalence, there are still many open questions concerning both the structure and the applicability of this model. This is especially so when it comes to its 'desire' part: in particular, it is not yet entirely clear when and why we should expect organisms to be desire-based-understood so as to imply that they consult explicit tokenings of what they ought to do-as opposed to being drive-based-understood so as to imply that they react to the world using behavioral reflexes. In this paper, I present the beginnings of an answer to this question. To do this, I start by showing that an influential recent attempt to address these issues-due to Kim Sterelny-fails to be fully successful, as it does not make sufficiently clear what the relative benefits and disadvantages of drive-based and desire-based cognitive architectures are. I then present an alternative account of this matter based on the idea that organisms that can follow explicit behavioral rules (i.e. which have desires) avoid having to memorize a large set of state of the world-action connections-which can (though need not) be adaptive. Finally, I apply this account to the question of what the cognitive value of mental representations should be seen to be; here, I conclude that-contrary to some recent claims-relying on mental representations can make decision making easier, not harder, but also that-in line with these recent claims-whether it does so depends on the details of the case.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years there has been increasing evidence that an area in the brain called the cortical midline structures (CMSs) is implicated in what has been termed self-related processing. This article will discuss recent evidence for the relation between CMS and self-consciousness in light of several important philosophical distinctions. First, we should distinguish between being a self (i.e., being a subject of conscious experience) and being aware of being a self (i.e., being able to think about oneself as such). While the former consists in having a first-person perspective on the world, the latter requires the ability to explicitly represent one's own perspective as such. Further, we should distinguish between being aware of oneself "as subject" and being aware of oneself "as object." The focus of existing studies investigating the relation between CMS and self has been predominantly on the ability to think about oneself (and in particular thinking of oneself "as object"), while the more basic aspects involved in being a self have been neglected. However, it is important to widen the scope of the cognitive neuroscience to include the latter, not least because this might have important implications for a better understanding of disorders of the self, such as those involved in schizophrenia. In order to do so, cognitive neuroscience should work together with philosophy, including phenomenology. Second, we need to distinguish between personal and subpersonal level explanations. It will be argued that although it is important to respect this distinction, in principle, some subpersonal facts can enter into constitutive conditions of personal-level phenomena. However, in order for this to be possible, one needs both careful conceptual analysis and knowledge about relevant cognitive mechanisms.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 09/2013; 7:536.
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    The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 05/2012; 16(5):702-3; author reply 703-4.
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    ABSTRACT: This article uses Lancaster’s characteristics approach to rank sets of alternative combinations of commodity characteristics. It is assumed that there exists a reference point or reference level from which the individual evaluates set expansions in appropriate directions. We provide an axiomatic characterization for such a case.
    Social Choice and Welfare 10/2011; 37(4):717-728.
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is almost universally regarded as setting the "gold standard" for medical evidence. Claims that RCTs carry special epistemic weight are often based on the notion that evidence from randomized studies, and only such evidence, can establish that any observed connection between treatment and outcome was caused by the treatment on trial. Any non-randomized trial, on the contrary, inevitably leaves open the possibility that there is some underlying connection independent of receiving the treatment between outcome and one or more differentiating characteristics between those in the experimental and control groups; and hence inevitably leaves open the possibility that treatment and an observed better outcome were "merely correlated" rather than directly causally connected. Here I scrutinize this argument and point towards a more tenable and more modest position by recalling some of the forgotten insights of the RCT pioneer, Austin Bradford Hill.
    Preventive Medicine 08/2011; 53(4-5):235-8.
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    ABSTRACT: The author claims that concept possession is not only necessary but also sufficient for self-consciousness, where self-consciousness is understood as the awareness of oneself as a self. Further, he links concept possession to intelligent behavior. His ultimate aim is to provide a framework for the study of self-consciousness in infants and non-human animals. I argue that the claim that all concepts are necessarily related to the self-concept remains unconvincing and suggest that what might be at issue here are not so much conceptual but rather metacognitive abilities.
    Consciousness and Cognition 05/2011; 21(2):721-2; author reply 725-6.
  • The Lancet 04/2011; 377(9775):1400-1.
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    ABSTRACT: A notion called operational C⁎-separability of local C*-algebras (A(V1) and A(V2)) associated with spacelike separated spacetime regions V1 and V2 in a net of local observable algebras satisfying the standard axioms of local, algebraic relativistic quantum field theory is defined in terms of operations (completely positive unit preserving linear maps) on the local algebras A(V1) and A(V2). Operational C*-separability is interpreted as a “no-signaling” condition formulated for general operations, for which a straightforward no-signaling theorem is shown not to hold. By linking operational C*-separability of (A(V1),A(V2)) to the recently introduced (Rédei & Summers, forthcoming) operational C*-independence of (A(V1),A(V2)) it is shown that operational C*-separability typically holds for the pair (A(V1),A(V2)) if V1 and V2 are strictly spacelike separated double cone regions. The status in local, algebraic relativistic quantum field theory of a natural strengthening of operational C*-separability, i.e. operational W*-separability, is discussed and open problems about the relation of operational separability and operational independence are formulated.
    Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part B Studies In History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 11/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: Obviously medicine should be evidence-based. The issues lie in the details: what exactly counts as evidence? Do certain kinds of evidence carry more weight than others? (And if so why?) And how exactly should medicine be based on evidence? When it comes to these details, the evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement has got itself into a mess - or so it will be argued. In order to start to resolve this mess, we need to go 'back to basics'; and that means turning to the philosophy of science. The theory of evidence, or rather the logic of the interrelations between theory and evidence, has always been central to the philosophy of science - sometimes under the alias of the 'theory of confirmation'. When taken together with a little philosophical common sense, this logic can help us move towards a position on evidence in medicine that is more sophisticated and defensible than anything that EBM has been able so far to supply.
    Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 04/2010; 16(2):356-62.
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    ABSTRACT: Does the position of the Roman Catholic Church on contraception also imply that the usage of condoms by HIV-discordant couples is illicit? A standard argument is to appeal to the doctrine of double effect to condone such usage, but this meets with the objection that there exists an alternative action that brings about the good effect-namely, abstinence. I argue against this objection, because an HIV-discordant couple does not bring about any bad outcome through condom usage-there is no disrespect displayed for the generative function of sex. One might retort that the badness of condom usage consists in thwarting the unitive function of sex. I argue that also this objection cannot be upheld. In conclusion, if there are no in-principle objections against condom usage for HIV-discordant couples, then policies that deny access to condoms to such couples are indefensible. HIV-discordant couples have a right to continue consummating their marriage in a manner that is minimally risky and this right cannot be trumped by utilitarian concerns that the distribution of condoms might increase promiscuity and along with it the HIV infection rate.
    Journal of medical ethics 12/2009; 35(12):743-6.
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