Spokesperson

Voluntary member

Emeritus

Ongoing projects

Understanding Self-Deception. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

A mother sits in a courtroom, overhearing evidence that her son has committed a grave crime. While the evidence convinces everyone else in the courtroom, the mother is unpersuaded—she refuses to believe her son is guilty. This mother is self-deceived about her own son's innocence. Self-deception is considered to be a driving feature of many contemporary issues, from political polarisation to mental disorders. Despite the importance of self-deception, there remains significant gaps in our understanding of the phenomenon. Three such gaps relate to the process of self-deception (how does one successfully deceive themselves?), the outcome of self-deception (what do the self-deceived believe?), and the value of self-deception (is self-deception always harmful or is it sometimes beneficial?). By connecting research on self-deception from philosophy and behavioural economics, I will make progress on each of these issues. First, I will provide a novel philosophical account of the process, outcome, and value of self-deception, based on principles drawn from behavioural economics. Second, I will directly test some of the key research questions from the philosophical literature, by using experimental paradigms adopted from behavioural economics. Finally, I will outline the importance of philosophy to behavioural economic accounts of self-deception.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Understanding ideological bias through data-driven methods: testing cognitive social learning processes through intersectional analysis of past data (c.1800-c.1940) 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Ideological bias concerning age, gender, ethnicity and social class is a major ethical concern in contemporary society, influencing human behaviour both at macro- and micro-levels. Recent studies have demonstrated that machine learning methods (from artificial intelligence) not only capture, but amplify the ideological biases in the data they are trained on. In this project, we aim to strategically turn this undesirable property to our advantage and exploit the study of ideological biases for visual cultures in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (c.1800-c.1940). Recent cognitive studies make clear how ideological biases largely result from processes of social learning. To study the construction and dissemination of ideological bias we put forth three case studies in crucial areas of social control: education (children's literature), mass communication (magic lantern slides and performances), and regulation (police reports). These interlinked areas of study come with a wealth of rights-free digitized material and pre-existing scholarship. Through the application of standard routines from machine learning, we aim to elicit implicit patterns and trends relating to ideological bias and confront these with received knowledge. The current project is innovative in its methodology through its study of pixel data through computer vision in the humanities which has received too little attention so far. Moreover, it uses data-driven technology to present a novel intersectional viewpoint on the construction of ideological bias in the past. Finally, by being embedded in recent cognitive studies, the project will be able to make claims on how implicit bias functioned in the past, understanding better what people thought and how such thinking structured behavioural interactions with their surrounding world.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Relearning Perception Action In Rehabilitation from a Systems perspective (REPAIRS). 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Movement disorders related to perception and action, such as stroke, significantly impair functioning in daily living, severely impacting the life of affected individuals and having a huge economic impact. Although rehabilitation practice aims to restore functional ability through re-learning perception-action couplings, it leads to marginal improvements of daily functioning at best. Here it is argued that to improve effectiveness of rehabilitation a systems approach should be adopted to understand processes underlying perception-action disorders. A systems approach takes into account nonlinear interactions between components, enabling to explain for instance why patients do not respond stereotypical to rehabilitation training. REPAIRS (RE-learning Perception-Action In Rehabilitation from a Systems perspective) is a unique and timely training-through-research school, aiming to improve rehabilitation effectiveness. REPAIRS starts from systems-based fundamental knowledge on learning perception-action couplings to build applications to rehabilitation, while exploiting recent technology advancements. This research school provides the required critical mass of top-level researchers connecting European academic, clinical and technology experts to train the next generation of researchers and entrepreneurs in this perspective. REPAIRS studies interaction between four levels of the perception-action cycle: brain, muscles & joints, agent-environment and social, which is integrated with requirements on translation from clinical, technology and philosophical domains. The focus on interactions between levels and domains naturally ensures an interdisciplinary and intersectoral training. Integrating this with a high-level training of transferrable skills, dissemination and communication while exploiting an Experiential Skill Learning Workshop, will boost the employability of the young researchers involved and the innovation potential of Europe through reshaping rehabilitation.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Consideration of Musical Texture as a Perceptual Phenomenon; Implementation of visual texture analysis methods, on the phenomenon of musical texture. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Texture as a distinct theoretical term appeared in musicians' discourse only towards the second part of the 20th century, and research of musical texture is in its early stage. A limited number of studies were published on this topic, and researchers differ in their approaches to analyzing musical texture. What most scholars do agree upon is that musical texture is a meta-parameter, that stem from the interrelations of all sonic events. In this research I examine the phenomenon of musical texture in regard to the research of visual texture, a distinct research field in cognitive science. Doing this I reexamine musical texture as a perceptual phenomenon, and present a theoretical model to analyze features in the music that contribute to the formation of musical texture. This model is continuously tested and refined through analyzing a wide variety of musical works, with an emphasis on contemporary music, where texture is especially evident On the artistic level of my research, I explore texture possibilities in music, through composing pieces and shorter musical fragments ('textural etudes') in which I use texture as a starting point of the creative process. The synergy between the artistic and theoretical aspects of the research is evident: I use composition as a testing field to explore issues I encounter in the theoretic research, and through a systematic study of texture I adopt new ways of expression and enrich my compositional language.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

KIMUPE – KineMusical Performance – An artistic journey into creative multimodal improvisation. 08/10/2019 - 07/10/2023

Abstract

Musicians move. Evidently. To produce sound, to show their musical intentions to other musicians, to communicate with an audience. But, can movement be used to develop musical skills? To develop improvisation skills? In this project, I will explore the natural connection between music and movement as the basis for developing improvisation skills and study how artistic growth in improvisation can be steered and shaped by exploiting this connection. The driving questions are: How can movement be artistically deployed? Can movement become a basis for developing creative improvisation skills and my own musical language? In the past 10 years, I have studied movement in the instrumental learning process from a theoretical, didactic and empirical perspective (see publications.lucnijs.be). However, increasingly I feel confronted with the need to also search for an answer to such questions through my own artistic practice. I am convinced that my artistic practice must become a fundament that underpins my current work and constitutes the basis for its further development. So, I want to unfold an artistic path that explores the integration of music and movement through an iterative process using free artistic exploration and a constraints-led approach based on different movement approaches (e.g. Laban, Gaga, Viewpoints, Dalcroze). I will investigate my own artistic growth, using a methodology that involves 3 tracks: (1) desk research, participation in movement workshops, conceptual design and elaboration of the theoretical framework on kinemusical performance, (2) empirical work in several movement-oriented phases, combining quantitative measurement of motor involvement (using neuronmocap sensors) and musical outcomes with a phenomenological investigation (think aloud procedure, video stimulated recall, diary) of my lived experience, (3) the artistic use of the motion capture data for 'augmented' multimodal performances, in which my improvisations emerge from the interactive loop between music, movement and visuals. The envisaged outcomes are: a series of kinemusical performances, several publications in international peer-reviewed journals, a written thesis, a series of video performances and a photo report, a publication for the educational implementation, software for multimodal performances, an analysis method for de movement data.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The Reliable Bias Model of Implicit Cognition. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

Ruth believes it is racist to think that all black men are dangerous. Nevertheless, when she encounters a black man at night, she is afraid and tries to avoid this man. Ruth does not explicitly endorse the claim that all black man are dangerous but there seems to be an implicit aspect of her mind that does. This aspect is called "implicit bias". Psychological studies suggest that someone can be implicitly racist or sexist. Implicit bias is widely discussed, both in academia and in public debates about racism and sexism. Recently, the standard psychological models of implicit bias have been criticized. The standard models mistakenly claim that if a response is automatic (i.e. unintentionally activated and quick), it is the result of a mental shortcut which avoids a person's goals and desires. This project proposes a different model: the Reliable Bias Model of Implicit Cognition. The model can explain why some mental states are automatic but nevertheless goal-directed. Ruth's avoidant behaviour is guided by the goal to stay safe. It is not because a response is automatic that one's goals are not taken into account. This model will not only be useful for psychological research. There are also philosophical questions related to implicit bias, such as: Are we to blame for our implicit biases? Are we able to and should we control them? What does implicit bias tell us about our ability to gain knowledge? The project will use the Reliable Bias Model to answer these questions.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Perspectives on reality: Investigating the emergence of scientific narratives about experiments and their results. 01/10/2019 - 31/07/2023

Abstract

This project investigates the role of perspectives in scientific knowledge production. The general idea is that, e.g., a scientific model does not depict reality as it is per se; it rather offers one of multiple possible points of view for producing and evaluating knowledge for specific uses. Perspectives always arise out of a specific historical context. For example, whether a new measurement counts as knowledge depends not only on its correctness, but also on whether the experimental procedure lives up to the scientific community's knowledge standards. As such, perspectivists try to steer between absolutist scientific realism (absolute, ahistorical truth) and constructivism (everything-goes relativism). The current literature, however, is unclear on how to identify perspectives and their influence on knowledge production. As such, they are not yet really applicable to actual historical research. To improve on this I will study, for one episode where the historical literature shows a clear influence of different perspectives, how particular scientists distinguished these perspectives, and how these influenced their work. I will focus on how M. Abraham and P. Ehrenfest, between 1900 – 1912, used electron models from different perspectives (electromagnetic, relativity, and quantum) to interpret measurements of the electron's mass, and evaluated others' use of these models. This will then inform my work on a historically adequate account of perspectives and their influence.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Predictive Sensorimotor Theory: An Investigation Into Nonrepresentationalist Solutions. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The theoretical environment in the philosophy of the cognitive sciences is diffuse. In explaining conscious perceptual experience we uphold a wide variety of different theories. Two popular promising theories about experience are predictive processing (PP) and sensorimotor theory (SMT). It seems that the respective theories have what the other lacks. Where PP's cerebral focus feels too narrow, SMT's bodily focus can seem to play down the importance of the neural underpinnings of experience. Despite this promising fit, SMT rejects the representations at work in PP, making them incompatible. In this research I intend to fuse PP and SMT, forming a hybrid theory. The challenge is to make the theory internally coherent. The field however is shrouded in vague terminology, and the aforementioned incompatibility may be as well. The concept 'representation' is famous for being indeterminate, and the first stage will involve clarification of terminology, as to sharpen the exact points of conflict. In stage 2, I intend to resolve this conflict, and open up the path for hybridity. This will be done by explaining PP's representational functions in terms of non-representational sensorimotor activity. In stage 3, I will assess the extent to which this hybrid theory is internally coherent without loss of explanatory reach or power. Or, if this project fails, I will analyze where the conflict is insurmountable, as to give a clear idea of how to proceed in explaining consciousness.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Facing the interface. Investigating whether and how contentless perception can interact with belief and knowledge. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

When you see a lemon, you will be able to think you see a lemon. Moreover, when you see a shape you know to be a lemon, you might see it as more yellowish than an arbitrary shape. In other words, while what you perceive influences what you believe and know, what you know and believe also influences what you perceive. But exactly how does what you perceive influence what you believe and know? And exactly how do your beliefs and your knowledge influence what you perceive? In this project, it is investigated how such interface questions can be answered without assuming that the interaction between perception and thought is analogous in any way to meaningful communication. That is, interface questions are handled from the perspective of Pure Interaction views of perception, according to which perception is adaptive interaction of an organism with its environment, which happens without that perception "describes" either the environment or the interaction. It is investigated to what extent main interface effects can be explained in terms of attunement of an organism to the regularities in its environment, and of attention. It will be taken into account that attunement and attention are often sculpted by shared social practices. Finally, the project will seek whether attunement and attention can explain other processes in which knowledge influences such as in placebo effects or in psychotherapy.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

International Network for Sensory Research. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Psychologists, philosophers and cognitive scientists have assumed until very recently that we can study the senses – vision, audition, olfaction – independently from one another. The assumption was that we can study various aspects of, say, vision, without paying much attention to the other sense modalities. But recent empirical evidence shows that this has been a mistake: our perceptual processes are normally multimodal – different sense modalities influence each other in various ways. The aim of the International Network for Sensory Research is to trace the theoretical, empirical and methodological consequences of these findings. The new evidence about the multimodality of perception radically changes the lay of the land in a number of classic and contemporary debates about perception and about the mind in general. And sometimes it even changes the way we should ask questions about perception.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Removing the mind from the head. A Wittgensteinian perspective. 01/10/2018 - 31/01/2022

Abstract

What is the mind? Notice that we talk about minds all the time. "Mind your head." "What did you have in mind?" "It slipped my mind." What do we mean? Many philosophers have thought that if the mind is anything, then it must be the brain. Others have argued that the mind is an external phenomenon. You desire that piece of cake, not just because some neurons are firing inside your brain, but because the cake is in front of you, it looks delicious, you can smell the frosting etc. Mental events then are not simply brain states. Rather, they consist in processes involving your body. But who is right? Internalists, who claim that the mind is an internal, brain-bound phenomenon? Or externalists, who insist that the mind is an external, interactive affair? In my project, I claim that both internalists and externalists are wrong. The mind is neither a state in your brain nor a process involving your body. I base this claim on the work of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein was neither an internalist nor an externalist. He focused instead on behaviour, not in order to reduce the mind to behaviour, but rather because some of our psychological concepts, such as "thinking", are distinctive ways of characterizing our behaviours. I argue that this Wittgensteinian perspective offers a fresh take on how to understand the mind. For if Wittgenstein is right, then your mind is not locked away inside your head. Instead, your mind is revealed in the things you say and do.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Inter-level causality in the life sciences. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

For most people, it will be uncontroversial that causal relations can exist between mechanisms and their parts: a decrease in serotonin levels can cause depression, and a bust spark plug causes engine failure. Yet in the philosophy of science, many believe that these inter-level relations are in fact only causal because they are hybrid: they contain both a causal, horizontal part, and a noncausal vertical part. Although most philosophers agree on this, they disagree about how to characterize the non-causal, vertical relation. Several attempts have been made, including constitution and mutual manipulability, but all these attempts face problems of their own. Consequently, the debate has becomoe mired by all kinds of difficulties. The present project seeks to remedy this situation by rejecting the interdict on inter-level causality. If analyized properly, many scientific studies and experiments aim at uncovering inter-level causal relation. Thus, it seems that in this case, philosphers have it wrong. The project tries to dispell the arguments used to justify the interdict, and show why they were so convincing in the first place.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Enactive Approach to Pretending. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

This research aims to explore the potential of Enactivism for explaining pretending. Pretending is part of a common development of children, and belongs to our cultural repertoire. Yet, pretending is still not well understood. Many are inclined to speak of pretending as representing 'x as y'. This is known as Cognitivism. It says that pretending requires representing absence, knowledge of what is real and not real, and knowledge of norms. To explain these features of pretending, Cognitivism relies mainly on the workings of internal mental architectures. These explanations do not capture well the interactive and social nature of pretending. In my proposal, I will investigate how an Enactivist approach explains pretending while avoiding the problems of Cognitivists. Enactivism includes interaction in its explanation of cognition, and often relies on dynamical explanations of cognition that stress the interplay between the brain, the body and the (social) environment. It proposes that knowledge of social norms is developed in pretend play, not assumed. Enactivism has only begun to be applied to basic forms of pretend playing with objects, but more needs to be said to account for absences or keeping track of fiction. This proposal will extend the earlier work, looking at development of role play and imaginary play, and aims to show that Enactivist account of complex pretending is possible. This research is useful for therapeutic practice that makes use of pretend play.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Seeing things you don't see: Unifying the philosophy, psychology and neuroscience of multimodal mental imagery (STYDS). 01/09/2017 - 28/02/2023

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to bring together empirical findings about multimodal perception and empirical findings about (visual, auditory, tactile) mental imagery and argue that on occasions like the one described in the last paragraph, we have multimodal mental imagery: perceptual processing in one sense modality (here: vision) that is triggered by sensory stimulation in another sense modality (here: audition).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Bonus ERC project 'Seeing things you don't see'. 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2022

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to bring together empirical findings about multimodal perception and empirical findings about (visual, auditory, tactile) mental imagery and argue that on occasions like the one described in the last paragraph, we have multimodal mental imagery: perceptual processing in one sense modality (here: vision) that is triggered by sensory stimulation in another sense modality (here: audition).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Emphasis on the similarities between our mind and animal minds. Against over-intellectualizing the 01/09/2015 - 31/08/2025

Abstract

The project in philosophy of mind, psychology and cognitive science focuses on mental states that represent objects as edible, climbable, reachable. In other words, mental states that represent objects as affording actions for us. I make four claims about these mental states First, they play a very important role in our mental life, because each time we are performing an intentional action, we must be in a mental state of this kind. Second, these mental states are in fact perceptual states. It is an important question in the philosophy of perception what properties we perceive objects as having. Shape, size and color are obvious candidates. I argue that we perceive objects as having a property that is less obviously perceptual: the property of affording an action. Hence, I call these mental states action-oriented perceptual states. Third, I argue that animals and small children can be in action-oriented perceptual states. Even if they cannot have some more complex mental states, such as beliefs or thoughts, they must have action-oriented perceptual states. Thus, these mental states are evolutionarily and developmentally basic. Finally, I also claim that these mental states are explanatorily basic, in the sense that the way they represent the world can be explained in a relatively simple manner, one that does not apply in the case of more complex mental states. There is no monolithic explanation for how the mind works: different explanatory schemes apply in the case of different mental states. The underlying motivation for focusing on these action-oriented perceptual states is to emphasize the similarities between our mind and animal minds. A big chunk of what goes on in our mind is very similar to the simple mental processes of animals. Our complex linguistic and reasoning abilities could be described as the icing on the cake.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Past projects

The Art of the Impossible: A Philosophical Study of Theatrical Magic (PhiloMagic). 01/08/2019 - 31/07/2021

Abstract

PhiloMagic is an interdisciplinary project in philosophical aesthetics in the analytic tradition. It focuses primarily on the art of theatrical magic (think David Copperfield, not Harry Potter), which the American Society for Aesthetics recognizes as a "neglected art." PhiloMagic builds on my prize-winning essay, "The Experience of Magic," which is the first systematic philosophical treatment of theatrical magic in the analytic—or, to my knowledge, any—tradition. For my fellowship, I will spend 24 months at the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp under the supervision of Professor Bence Nanay. While in Antwerp, my main objectives are to complete a book manuscript (entitled The Art of the Impossible), write and submit for publication three accompanying scholarly articles, and organize a series of four study groups (each culminating in a public lecture) as well as an international workshop in the philosophy and psychology of magic.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Constructive memory. Rethinking memory to redefine personal identity. 15/07/2019 - 14/07/2020

Abstract

The question of the relations between memory and personal identity is a key question in the history of philosophy, but also is at the confluent of several research fields, such as psychology, neuroscience and philosophy of mind. My work inherits from a philosophical tradition in which self continuity is grounded in memory (Locke, 1694; Parfit, 1984). Nevertheless, I argue that the concept of memory itself needs to be rethought to endorse this function, and in particular has to be consistent with recent empirical findings on episodic memory. The analysis of phenomena like non-pathological false recognition and memory distortions (Schacter, Guerin, St Jacques, 2011), the consequences of episodic amnesia on the ability to think about one's future (Tulving, 1985) compel us to redefine both the mechanisms and the functions of episodic memory and to consider its relevance for the definition of the self from a different perspective. In particular, according to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis (Schacter and Addis, 2007) one of the functions of episodic memory is to allow individuals to recombine elements of their past experiences in order to prepare their own future. Accordingly, we have to rethink the significance of episodic memory for the personal self, as it is not only the instrument of self-recognition but the means to a different end, the construction of a self that envisions its future.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Medical Treatment, Evidence of Effectiveness, and Placebo. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

Medical treatment is of profound importance to patients and society. This project explores the key features of medical treatment and its relation to disease, what sorts of evidence are required for the assessment of treatment effectiveness, and the roles placebos should play in research and treatment. The dominant paradigm in the field is evidence-based medicine, which has engendered a great deal of philosophical controversy. One debate has focused on whether mechanistic evidence (how a system works) and difference-making evidence (such as from placebo-controlled trials) are both required to establish a causal claim in the health sciences. Yet research gaps exist with respect to how these types of evidence specifically apply to medical treatment. Alternative classifications of types of evidence may do a better job of assessing treatment effectiveness and elucidating the nature of the conceptual link between disease and treatment. This project will explore current debates in these areas and endeavor to contribute to a better philosophical understanding of medical treatment.

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Research team(s)

Disentangling Consciousness and Attention: Using a Multilevel Analysis of Cognitive Control to Account for Mental Action 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This project investigates the relation between consciousness and attention, a relation which needs to be specified in order to make progress on the problem of consciousness. The central questions are whether there can be consciousness without attention and whether there can be attention without consciousness. Progress on both questions is stagnating, because they are currently posed as if attention were a single phenomenon. This is not the case, as research on attention shows. The problem is that there's currently no satisfying taxonomy of the different attention types, which makes it very difficult for consciousness researchers to translate and integrate findings from the attention literature into their theorizing. The aim is to fill this lacuna, by developing such a taxonomy. This will lead to a reformulation of both questions according to the identified attention types. These new questions will then be reassessed on the basis of relevant empirical findings. The result will be a more fine-grained account of the relation between both concepts, which will undoubtedly fuel subsequent theorizing and experimentation in the field of consciousness. My results will impact two related philosophical problems, which will also be addressed: the first concerns the 'metaphysics' of attention or finding its essential features. The other is to assess whether attention can provide counterexamples to representationalism, which states that the character of experience is determined by its content.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Consideration of Musical Texture as a Perceptual Phenomenon; Implementation of visual texture analysis methods, on the phenomenon of musical texture. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

Texture as a distinct theoretical term appeared in musicians' discourse only towards the second part of the 20th century, and research of musical texture is in its early stage. A limited number of studies were published on this topic, and researchers differ in their approaches to analyzing musical texture. What most scholars do agree upon is that musical texture is a meta-parameter, that stem from the interrelations of all sonic events. In this research I examine the phenomenon of musical texture in regard to the research of visual texture, a distinct research field in cognitive science. Doing this I reexamine musical texture as a perceptual phenomenon, and present a theoretical model to analyze features in the music that contribute to the formation of musical texture. This model is continuously tested and refined through analyzing a wide variety of musical works, with an emphasis on contemporary music, where texture is especially evident On the artistic level of my research, I explore texture possibilities in music, through composing pieces and shorter musical fragments ('textural etudes') in which I use texture as a starting point of the creative process. The synergy between the artistic and theoretical aspects of the research is evident: I use composition as a testing field to explore issues I encounter in the theoretic research, and through a systematic study of texture I adopt new ways of expression and enrich my compositional language.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Imagination As A Lens (IAL). 01/09/2018 - 31/08/2020

Abstract

Invocations of the imagination to describe and explain aspects of our thought and action are commonplace all across philosophy: in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, of science, and so on. Beyond philosophy, imagination is also invoked in psychology, religious studies, English literature, anthropology, and other disciplines. The diversity of these invocations raises the worry that there is no unanimous conception of imagination lying behind them; if this is so, the explanatory concept being invoked is ambiguous and perhaps vacuous. The aim of this project is to argue for a unified conception of imagination, the lens approach, via three research objectives: (1) to motivate a unified conception by arguing that it's possible and desirable; (2) to articulate and argue for the lens approach as the best such conception; (3) to apply the approach to two problems of imagination, thus demonstrating its utility. Each objective will result in two papers. The project also incorporates a fourth outreach objective involving training and participation in public engagement. The project matches the theoretical expertise, in-depth topic knowledge, and international training of the Experienced Researcher (ER) with the empirical experience, wide subject background, and advantageous collaboration networks of the supervisor, Bence Nanay, and the host organisation, the University of Antwerp's Centre for Philosophical Psychology. The project will substantially improve the ER's career prospects, especially given the supervisor's excellent track record of training post- doctoral researchers; meanwhile, the host will benefit from the ER's contribution to its research activities, and acquire greater networking and collaboration opportunities both during and after the project.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The puzzle of imagistic cognition 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

We often use mental imagery to solve practical problems. If I am an experienced builder of wooden bird houses, I can build a bird house without a plan on paper. I can imagine what the finished bird house should look like. I can imagine what the dimensions of the various pieces should be. I can cut the pieces of wood to the dimensions I have imagined. I can then put the pieces together to form a bird house that looks just like what I had imagined. In using mental imagery in such ways, we exercise a distinctive kind of knowledge – call it imagistic knowledge. The aim of this project will be to conduct and stimulate research into the nature of imagistic cognition, with the aim of characterizing the kind of knowledge it employs.

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Research team(s)

Understanding the conscious brain: connecting features of consciousness to features of neural processes 01/10/2017 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

Our understanding of how the brain produces consciousness is very limited, and it is claimed that this will not change because consciousness simply falls outside the scope of scientific explanations. During the first three years of my FWO postdoctoral fellowship, by emphasising how scientific explanation in certain cases proceeds, I argued that this is not necessarily so. My goal now is to demonstrate that this explanatory schema can be applyied to anchor consciousness to brain processes by identifying structural or functional similarities and establishing explanatory links between features of consciousness and features of neural mechanisms. In my proposed research, I will concentrate on three different sets of features of conscious experience, each being in the centre of fundamental contemporary psychological and philosophical debates. The focus areas of my proposed research will be: (1) degraded conscious experiences as in the case of inattention, brief presentation time, and brain damage, (2) the richness (detailedness) of conscious experiences even when one cannot report all the details, (3) the fact that certain conscious experiences, like seeing the colour red, are simple (unstructured). My proposed research will address these topics by linking these central features of consciousness to features of underlying neural representations and the mechanisms modulating them.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Thinking in practice: a unified ecological-enactive account 01/10/2017 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

Contemporary approaches to cognitive science consider perceiving as something we do, rather than as something that happens to us. Perception in these views does not instill a representation in our mind. But can we extend this non-representational approach to thinking as well? The aim of this project is to show what a non-representational account of thinking looks like from the combined perspective of ecological psychology and enactivism. To do this, first the ecological notion of "affordances" will be refined along enactivist lines, and second this notion will be applied to an analysis of thinking in scientific practices. This provides a proof in practice of the potential of an ecological-enactive approach to elucidate thinking. From this analysis of scientific practices moreover, it can be seen how an ecological-enactive approach implies a new sense of continuity between psychology and the practice of science.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Predictive Sensorimotor Theory: An Investigation Into Non-representationalist Solutions 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

The theoretical environment in the philosophy of the cognitive sciences is diffuse. In explaining conscious perceptual experience we uphold a wide variety of different theories. Two popular promising theories about experience are predictive processing (PP) and sensorimotor theory (SMT). It seems that the respective theories have what the other lacks. Where PP's cerebral focus feels too narrow, SMT's bodily focus can seem to play down the importance of the neural underpinnings of experience. Despite this promising fit, SMT rejects the representations at work in PP, making them incompatible. In this research I intend to fuse PP and SMT, forming a hybrid theory. The challenge is to make the theory internally coherent. The field however is shrouded in vague terminology, and the aforementioned incompatibility may be as well. The concept 'representation' is famous for being indeterminate, and the first stage will involve clarification of terminology, as to sharpen the exact points of conflict. In stage 2, I intend to resolve this conflict, and open up the path for hybridity. This will be done by explaining PP's representational functions in terms of non-representational sensorimotor activity. In stage 3, I will assess the extent to which this hybrid theory is internally coherent without loss of explanatory reach or power. Or, if this project fails, I will analyze where the conflict is insurmountable, as to give a clear idea of how to proceed in explaining consciousness.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Disputes about Reality: A Practice-Based Approach to Naturalistic Metaphysics and Interpretation in Science 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

A lot of contemporary metaphysicians (James Ladyman & Don Ross, Penelope Maddy, Tim Maudlin, ...) describe their philosophical inquiry as naturalistic, i.e. grounded in scientific practice: both their domain of study - the nature of reality - and their methodology are inspired by the functioning of science. These naturalistic approaches, however, all seem to suffer from the same problem: it is not completely clear what it is about scientific practice that makes it valuable to their metaphysical inquiry. This vagueness in what they take to be science leads to a specific problem, the problem of interpretation. Scientific results have often received different interpretations in the past, i.e. different (mutually incompatible) accounts of what these results tell us about reality. Because of the vague conception of science employed, it unclear how these naturalistic approaches can handle this ontological ambiguity of scientific results in a way that is actually naturalistic. My goal is to improve these naturalistic approaches by investigating what can be metaphysically useful in the practice of working scientists. To this end I will study, via historical cases, the way in which interpretations of scientific results are handled in scientific practice: how do scientists arrive at a particular interpretation, and what do they do when there are different interpretations of the same result? Such an analysis can then inform naturalistic metaphysical inquiry, since it can provide us with a model of how reality is investigated in science.

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Research team(s)

Imagination as a Lens (IAL). 01/05/2017 - 30/04/2018

Abstract

This one-year project has three aims. The first is to allow the main researcher (Wiltsher) to further develop a novel approach to imagination, the lens approach, that he has been pursuing in recent work. This will be achieved by way of three papers to be written over the year. The second is to establish collaborative links between the main researcher and members of the Centre for Philosophical Psychology, through participation in seminars, workshops, and more informal joint enterprises. The third is to facilitate the writing of grant applications to extend Wiltsher's stay with the Centre, and further cement those collaborative links.

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Research team(s)

Disentangling consciousness and attention: a neurophilosophical outlook. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project investigates the relation between consciousness and attention, a relation which needs to be specified in order to make progress on the problem of consciousness. The central questions are whether there can be consciousness without attention and whether there can be attention without consciousness. Progress on both questions is stagnating, because they are currently posed as if attention were a single phenomenon. This is not the case, as research on attention shows. The problem is that there's currently no satisfying taxonomy of the different attention types, which makes it very difficult for consciousness researchers to translate and integrate findings from the attention literature into their theorising. I will fill this lacuna, by developing such a taxonomy. This will lead to a reformulation of both questions according to the identified attention types. These new questions will then be reassessed on the basis of relevant empirical findings. The result will be a more fine-grained account of the relation between both concepts, which will undoubtedly fuel subsequent theorising and experimentation in the field of consciousness. My results will impact two related philosophical problems, which will also be addressed: the first concerns the 'metaphysics' of attention, or finding its essential features. The other is to assess whether attention can provide counterexamples to representationalism, which states that the character of experience is determined by its content.

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Research team(s)

When Self-Control Breaks Down: Motor Imagery and Action Initiation. 01/07/2016 - 30/06/2017

Abstract

What happens when self-control breaks down? How are actions that go against our self-control triggered? Suppose that you are grading student papers and the idea of watching TV occurs to you. You exercise self-control for a while and stick with the grading, but eventually, the self-control breaks down and you reach for the remote. How is this action (which I will call ASC action (short for action against self-control) initiated? The main aim of the research project is to use some recent neuroscientific findings to explore the role of motor imagery in the initiation of such actions and, more generally, in how self-control breaks down.

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Aspects of Religious Experiences: Investigations from science, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. 01/06/2016 - 31/05/2017

Abstract

Some decisions put us in an epistemically opaque situation. If I need to decide between two options, at least one of which is such that taking that option changes me fundamentally, then the only way I will know what it is like to go with that option is by doing so. L. A. Paul calls decisions of this kind 'transformative decisions'. Deciding to have a child or to become a vampire would be some widely discussed examples of transformative decisions. The aim of this project is to examine the complex role imagination plays in transformative decisions.

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Research team(s)

Logical and methodological analysis of scientific reasoning processes. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

The aim of the scientific research community Logical & Methodological Analysis of Scientific Reasoning Processes is to coordinate and stimulate research on two themes: - Logical analysis of scientific reasoning processes. - Methodological and epistemological analysis of scientific reasoning processes. Examples of specific topics that fit into the first theme are: logical analyses of paraconsistent reasoning, reasoning under uncertainty, defeasible reasoning, abduction, causal reasoning, induction, analogical reasoning, belief revision, reasoning about action and norms, erotetic reasoning (i.e. reasoning about questions), argumentation. Examples of specific topics that fit into the second theme are: methodological and epistemological analyses of causation and mechanisms, scientific explanation, scientific discovery, the structure of scientific theories and models, experiments and thought experiments, theory choice, theory dynamics, conceptual change, scientific expertise.

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Research team(s)

The diversity of unconscious mental processes. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

The last two decades of philosophy of mind has been to a significant extent about consciousness. The main questions philosophers tried to answer about the mind was how to understand (and how not to understand) consciousness. But recent findings from a number of empirical fields of study (unconscious perception, unconscious attention, unconscious action, unconscious emotion, unconscious biases on decision making, unconscious learning) point to a very different direction – consciousness may be an interesting feature of the human mind, but it is not the holy grail of thinking about the mind. It seems that the vast majority of what goes on in our mind is unconscious. The aim of this research project is to examine how philosophy of mind should be transformed in the light of these findings.

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Research team(s)

Interlevel causation from an interventionist point of view. Solving problems in the philosophy of mind and in the philosophy of the psychological sciences. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

Woodward's interventionist theory of causation, which starts from the intuition that causal relations are relations which are potentially exploitable for manipulation and control, has become increasingly popular in philosophy of science in the past years. One of its unique selling propositions is that it dovetails nicely with scientific practice, including the psychological sciences, and with people's everyday causal reasoning. Interventionism has recently been invoked in two distinct yet related philosophical discussions. First, several authors have used it to guard mental causation against the epiphenomenalist's causal exclusion argument. Yet these promising endeavours have strongly been criticized by Baumgartner in a series of papers. The second discussion concerns Craver's account of constitutive relevance in mechanisms. Even though his account is inspired by Woodward's interventionist theory of causation, he insists that constitutive relevance relations cannot be causal. This gives rise to a number of problems. The central goal of this project is to find a unifying solution to these related - yet distinct – problems. The central research hypothesis is that this can be done by giving up the twin assumptions that supervenience and constitutive relevance cannot be causal. This is a plausible solution, since we have good independent reasons for interpreting these relations as bidirectional – bottom-up and top-down – causal relations.

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Research team(s)

Peripheral Points of View. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

In this project, we will continue and broaden our artistic, scientific, and philosophical approach to investigating peripheral vision, i.e., visual perception outside the centre of gaze. We will create an entirely new image type - images that can be recognized in the periphery but not in central vision, and explore the results, as well as our previous findings from the point of view of each discipline. We will increase our public outreach, present at universities and exhibit in galleries and museums.

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Research team(s)

Flat photography and two-dimensional pictorial organization. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

The aim of this project is to connect up philosophical work on the appreciation of photographs and works of photography that raise philosophical problems themselves. The focus of the research is the ways in which the pictorial organization (or composition) of photographs contributes our general appreciation of what the photograph is about (and of). Bert Danckaert's photographs are very unusual and provocative in formal terms inasmuch as they are 'flat' photographs – their pictorial organization is based on very different principles from a random family snapshot. And Bence Nanay did a lot of research on two-dimensional versus three-dimensional pictorial organization, which is directly applicable to Danckaert's photographs, leading to a truly collaborative approach. The deliverables of the project are three public events and three publication projects.

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Research team(s)

How to amalgamate scientific evidence for causal claims? A comparison of different approaches to evidence amalgamation and a philosophical analysis of their epistemic status. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

For many causal claims there exist overwhelming amounts of – often discordant – evidence. As a remedy, different approaches for amalgamating such evidence have emerged . Examples are meta-analysis and qualitative reviews. Evidence amalgamation is omnipresent in the empirical sciences, especially in the psychological sciences, the social sciences and the biomedical sciences. It is often deemed the height of objectivity and it has an important impact on e.g. policy and medical practice. Still, apart from a few critical voices it has received little attention in philosophy of science so far. The aim of this project is to analyse the epistemic status of different approaches to evidence amalgamation to see whether and when their outcomes are reliable.The following cases will serve as the starting point: the Cochrane Collaboration in evidence-based medicine (EBM), IARC in epidemiology and cancer research, the Campbell Collaboration in the social sciences, and reviews in the psychological sciences (e.g. in the Psychological Bulletin). These cases will be analysed and compared from the point of view of three philosophical topics and related research questions. For each of these topics there exists a fascinating, topical philosophical literature which explicitly seeks contact with scientific practice in the aforementioned scientific disciplines. (a) What is the role of mechanistic evidence in these approaches, and what should it be? (b) Should we give priority to evidence from randomized controlled trials? What do we risk or gain by also including non-randomized studies? (c) Sometimes the 'Principle of Total Evidence' is used to criticize the practice of evidence amalgamation. But what does it mean and what version applies best here? The answers to these questions will help to see how the diverse approaches to evidence amalgamation work, what they can learn from each other and how they can be improved. Evidence amalgamation is very important, but its philosophical analysis is mostly virgin territory. The aim of this project is to contribute to its exploration.

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Research team(s)

Removing the Mind from the Head: A Wittgensteinian perspective. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

What is the mind? Notice that we talk about minds all the time. "Mind your head." "What did you have in mind?" "It slipped my mind." What do we mean? Many philosophers have thought that if the mind is anything, then it must be the brain. Others have argued that the mind is an external phenomenon. You desire that piece of cake, not just because some neurons are firing inside your brain, but because the cake is in front of you, it looks delicious, you can smell the frosting etc. Mental events then are not simply brain states. Rather, they consist in processes involving your body. But who is right? Internalists, who claim that the mind is an internal, brain-bound phenomenon? Or externalists, who insist that the mind is an external, interactive affair? In my project, I claim that both internalists and externalists are wrong. The mind is neither a state in your brain nor a process involving your body. I base this claim on the work of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein was neither an internalist nor an externalist. He focused instead on behaviour, not in order to reduce the mind to behaviour, but rather because some of our psychological concepts, such as "thinking", are distinctive ways of characterizing our behaviours. I argue that this Wittgensteinian perspective offers a fresh take on how to understand the mind. For if Wittgenstein is right, then your mind is not locked away inside your head. Instead, your mind is revealed in the things you say and do.

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Project website

Causality in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Many philosophers of mind profess to being naturalists: if science and philosophy clash, it is the latter, not the former that should give way. Yet this presupposes that one can compare scientific and philosophical claims. In the philosophy of mind, there is one bad habit that hampers our ability to make such a comparison: the tendency to leave the notion of causality, which is central to a number of key debates, unspecified. Talk about the causal closure of the physical domain, causal overdetermination, and the causal efficacy of mental states abounds, yet the concept of causality in these debates is rarely explicated beyond such vague notions as 'causal powers', or 'making a difference'. This means that it is unclear how causal claims about mind and cognition in philosophy, relate to causal claims made about these topics in the scientific disciplines that study them: the cognitive sciences. This project aims to remedy this situation. In philosophy of science, numerous, often highly sophisticated theories about causality have been developed. By drawing on these theories, I will explicate what notions of causality are actually used in cognitive science. These insights will then be used to bring the philosophical debates about mental causation, causal overdetermination, and mental content, in line with scientific practice, thus helping philosophers to live up to their own naturalistic standards.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Disputes about Reality: A Practice-Based Approach to Naturalistic Metaphysics and Interpretation in Science. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

A lot of contemporary metaphysicians (James Ladyman & Don Ross, Penelope Maddy, Tim Maudlin, ...) describe their philosophical inquiry as naturalistic, i.e. grounded in scientific practice: both their domain of study - the nature of reality - and their methodology are inspired by the functioning of science. These naturalistic approaches, however, all seem to suffer from the same problem: it is not completely clear what it is about scientific practice that makes it valuable to their metaphysical inquiry. This vagueness in what they take to be science leads to a specific problem, the problem of interpretation. Scientific results have often received different interpretations in the past, i.e. different (mutually incompatible) accounts of what these results tell us about reality. Because of the vague conception of science employed, it unclear how these naturalistic approaches can handle this ontological ambiguity of scientific results in a way that is actually naturalistic. My goal is to improve these naturalistic approaches by investigating what can be metaphysically useful in the practice of working scientists. To this end I will study, via historical cases, the way in which interpretations of scientific results are handled in scientific practice: how do scientists arrive at a particular interpretation, and what do they do when there are different interpretations of the same result? Such an analysis can then inform naturalistic metaphysical inquiry, since it can provide us with a model of how reality is investigated in science.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Imagination and Religious Credence (IRC). 01/06/2015 - 31/07/2016

Abstract

The research aim of the project is to elaborate on my theoretical apparatus to produce a book-length monograph that will serve philosophers and cognitive scientists interested in religious "belief," and the corresponding aim for public dissemination is to make this research popularly available through essays, blogs, radio, and public debate.

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Research team(s)

Is the mental causally effective? Towards an interventionist defense of mental causation. 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

In our everyday reasoning and in the psychological sciences we like to think that our thoughts may causally influence other thoughts as well as our behaviour. Yet since decades this supposed mental causation is under philosophical pressure. Attempts to safeguard it on the basis of the recent interventionist theory of causation are promising, but were also criticized. I want to help to undermine this criticism.

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Research team(s)

Getting real about words and numbers. An enactive approach to language and mathematics. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to extend the Enactivist approach by showing how symbolic activities, in particular language and mathematics, can arise from embodied active engagement with the social environment, which currently presents the greatest challenge to EEC.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Amalgamating scientific evidence for causal claims: a comparison of different approaches to evidence amalgamation and a philosophical analysis of their epistemic status. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

For many causal claims there exist overwhelming amounts of – often discordant – evidence. As a remedy, different approaches to amalgamating such evidence have emerged. Examples are metaanalysis and qualitative reviews. Evidence amalgamation is omnipresent in the empirical sciences, is often deemed the height of objectivity, and has an important impact on e.g. policy and medical practice. Still, apart from a few critical voices it has received little attention in philosophy of science. I analyse the epistemic status of different approaches to evidence amalgamation to see whether and when their outcomes are reliable. I focus on the following cases: the Cochrane Collaboration in evidence-based medicine, the IARC in epidemiology and cancer research, and different approaches in psychology and the social sciences.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Perceiving affordances in natural, social and moral environments. A study of the concept of affordance, and its explanatory value. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

When a person stretches out her hand to me, I see it as an invitation to shake her hand. In other words, I see her hand as 'shake-able'. J.J. Gibson invented a word for this phenomenon. He called it an 'affordance'. The out-stretched hand 'affords' me to shake it. Likewise, a ball flying towards me 'affords' me to catch it, if I have the right kind of skills. It has the affordance 'catch-ability'. What, now, makes it the case that I see features of situations as 'Q-able'. Clearly, not only the physical properties of the situation or object matter. Characteristics of the perceiver are involved as well, cf. my ball catching skills. A person who's never played a ball game may not see a fast flying ball as catchable. How should this mode of perception be construed? Does the perceiver 'infer' the affordance from assembled information about himself and the situation? Or is the affordance perceived 'directly', without an inferential process? Gibson endorsed the latter, but his theory doesn't provide a clear story of how direct perception of affordances should be understood. The concept of affordance is attractive for applications in many domains such as social and moral perception, but has also received a lot of criticism for its vagueness and the uncertainty of its explanatory role. This project aims at elucidating what it means to perceive affordances in their wide – physical, social and moral – application, and at providing a solid basis for their explanatory role.

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Research team(s)

Offline cognition. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

According to standard wisdom in both philosophy and the sciences of cognition, capacities such as imagination, memory and thinking always and invariably require representations. To imagine, remember or think is to relate to what is not present or online, and therefore needs to be represented. The object of this project is to inquire whether and how this accepted view on offline capacities can be rethought from the perspective called "radical enactive cognition".

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Research team(s)

International Network for Sensory Research. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

Psychologists, philosophers and cognitive scientists have assumed until very recently that we can study the senses – vision, audition, olfaction – independently from one another. The assumption was that we can study various aspects of, say, vision, without paying much attention to the other sense modalities. But recent empirical evidence shows that this has been a mistake: our perceptual processes are normally multimodal – different sense modalities influence each other in various ways. The aim of the International Network for Sensory Research is to trace the theoretical, empirical and methodological consequences of these findings. The new evidence about the multimodality of perception radically changes the lay of the land in a number of classic and contemporary debates about perception and about the mind in general. And sometimes it even changes the way we should ask questions about perception.

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Research team(s)

Towards a scientific understanding of consciousness. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

Although the fact that we have conscious experiences is a fundamental feature of our everyday life, our scientific understanding of consciousness is very limited for a principled reason: according to the received view, consciousness falls outside the scope of scientific explanations. The main aspiration of my proposed research is to change this received view, and turn scientific approaches to consciousness into theories with real explanatory power that, over and above pinpointing which neural mechanisms are crucial for the occurrence of conscious experiences, are also able to tell why that is so by accounting for features of consciousness in terms of the characteristics of corresponding brain processes.

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Research team(s)

Towards an Emotive Theory of Action. 01/10/2013 - 07/10/2014

Abstract

My project aims to use new insights on the nature of emotion to formulate a theory of action. A theory of action with an important role for emotion is not the same as a theory of 'emotional actions'. An example of an emotional action is running away because of fear. It isuncontroversial that emotions play a key role in bringing about some of our actions. The question that I want to ask is: Could it be that the role of emotions extends to action that we do not normally consider to be emotional? I will describe a theory of action with an important role for emotions as an 'emotive theory of action'.

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Research team(s)

Radicalizing embodied moral emotions. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

I will propose an 'existence proof' of a theory of radical embodied moral emotions, keeping the virtues of Prinz' account of the role of emotions in morality, but without relying on 'mentalistic' concepts.

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Research team(s)

The Emotions of Rational Agents. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The project will describe the relation of affective and rational capacities in terms of asymmetrical explanatory relations. This can be done by thinking of agents as embodied subjects, who through complex selfrepresentational and self-regulative abilities structure their actions in the light of rational considerations. This approach to the unity of the subject has historical antecedents in Fichte (1794) and Hegel (1830).

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Computation Reconsidered. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

The goal of this project is to reconsider the notion of computation, especially in its received interpretation as fundamentally inner. It will be proposed that computation should be construed primarily as referring to external, or world-involving, person-bound activity. This notion of overt computation will be developed, and its explanatory potential will be investigated. The notion of inner computation, as allegedly carried out inside the brain, will be questioned.

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Research team(s)

From theory of mind to vicarious perception (TMVP). 01/11/2011 - 31/10/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand EU. UA provides EU research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Perception, Action and What's in between? 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to argue that the vast majority of what goes on in our mind is very similar to the simple mental processes of animals. Our complex, sophisticated, rational and linguistic abilities could be described as the icing on the cake. The right methodology for philosophy of mind is to understand those simple mental capacities that we share with animals fust and then explain those uniquely human, highly intellectual mental capacities that make the human mind so remarkable.

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Research team(s)

From Theory of Mind to Vicarious Perception 01/07/2011 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

I urge a shift of emphasis in the study of social cognition from 'theory of mind' to a simple perceptual process: the perception of objects as affording a certain action to another agent. This perceptual process, which I call 'vicarious perception', is different from, and much simpler than, theory of mind as it does not imply the understanding (or representation) of the mental (or even perceptual) states of another agent. I argue that the most convincing experiments that are supposed to show that non-human primates have theory of mind in fact demonstrate that they are capable of vicarious perception. The same is true for the experiments about the theory of mind of less than 12 month old infants.

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Research team(s)

Perception and Action 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to argue that the vast majority of what goes on in our mind is very similar to the simple mental processes of animals. Our complex, sophisticated, rational and linguistic abilities could be described as the icing on the cake. The right methodology for philosophy of mind is to understand those simple mental capacities that we share with animals first and then explain those uniquely human, highly intellectual mental capacities that make the human mind so remarkable. My claim is that the human mind can be better understood if we consider what I call 'action-guiding perceptual representations' to be the basic units of our mental capacities. The human mind, like the mind of non-human animals, has been selected for allowing us to perform actions successfully. And the vast majority of our actions, like the actions of non-human animals, could not be performed without perceptual guidance. The mental state that mediates between perception and action is the basic building block of the human mind. I call mental states of this kind action-guiding perceptual representations. Action-guiding perceptual representations are the immediate mental antecedents of action. And they are also genuine perceptual states. They guide, and often monitor, our ongoing bodily activities and they are also bona fide perceptual states: they provide a direct mediation between perception and action. If we accept that the basic building blocks of the mind are action-guiding perceptual representations, then most classic questions in philosophy of perception and of action will look very different. The goal of this research project is to trace the various consequences of this way of thinking about the mind in a number of branches of philosophy as well as in other disciplines.

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Research team(s)

Enactivism and extended consciousness. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

My project will examine the link between Enactivism and the idea that consciousness is an extended environmental process. Enactivism is a distinctive contemporary philosophical approach in which it is held that what we experience when perceiving and how we experience when perceiving is determined by what we do. By forging determinative links between action and the quality of experience Enactivism opposes itself to the widely accepted position according to which phenomenal character is ascribed to perceptual states, independent of how those states are embedded in action. Moreover, as action takes place in an environment, Enactivism leads to extended conscious mind (ECM). ECM is the thesis that consciousness extends into the environment. Consciousness then is not a property of brain states or processes, independent of their relation to bodies and environments. Consciousness is an activity of the situated organism. Such a view of consciousness suggests fresh approaches to traditional problems in philosophy of mind. My project will attempt to assess how well Enactivism supports extended conscious mind (ECM).

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Emphasis on the similarities between our mind and animal minds. Against over-intellectualizing the mind. 01/09/2010 - 31/08/2015

Abstract

The project in philosophy of mind, psychology and cognitive science focuses on mental states that represent objects as edible, climbable, reachable. In other words, mental states that represent objects as affording actions for us. I make four claims about these mental states First, they play a very important role in our mental life, because each time we are performing an intentional action, we must be in a mental state of this kind. Second, these mental states are in fact perceptual states. It is an important question in the philosophy of perception what properties we perceive objects as having. Shape, size and color are obvious candidates. I argue that we perceive objects as having a property that is less obviously perceptual: the property of affording an action. Hence, I call these mental states action-oriented perceptual states. Third, I argue that animals and small children can be in action-oriented perceptual states. Even if they cannot have some more complex mental states, such as beliefs or thoughts, they must have action-oriented perceptual states. Thus, these mental states are evolutionarily and developmentally basic. Finally, I also claim that these mental states are explanatorily basic, in the sense that the way they represent the world can be explained in a relatively simple manner, one that does not apply in the case of more complex mental states. There is no monolithic explanation for how the mind works: different explanatory schemes apply in the case of different mental states. The underlying motivation for focusing on these action-oriented perceptual states is to emphasize the similarities between our mind and animal minds. A big chunk of what goes on in our mind is very similar to the simple mental processes of animals. Our complex linguistic and reasoning abilities could be described as the icing on the cake.

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Research team(s)

Visual imagery as perceptual activity. 01/07/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

In this project, a theory of imagery will be defended which conceives it as a form of perceptual activity. Grounded on the so-called 'enactive' approach to perception, which conceives of perception as an active exploration of the environment, the idea will be developed that imagery is a process of 're-enactment', with which no internal images or representations are being generated in the head.

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The Philosophy of Gesture: an investigation of bodily expression inspired by Mead, Vygotsky and Merleau-Ponty. 01/02/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The project will result in a publication co-authored by David McNeill (University of Chicago) and Liesbet Quaeghebeur about some theoretical aspects of multimodal language use, i.e. the human capacity for expression viewed as an embodied process rather than as a purely linguistic one.

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Research team(s)

Senses as tools. A philosophy of the sensory modalities. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

Perception has an objective and a subjective aspect. We perceive events and objects, but at the same time these appear to us in a certain manner. An important role in the determination of 'how objects appear to us' is played by the sensory modalities. Philosophers from Aristotle to Paul Grice have considered the question what precisely distinguishes the senses: What makes hearing into hearing, and seeing into seeing? But also the question of what connects the sensory modalities has strongly attracted the philosophical attention. This is what is at issue in the famous Molyneux Question: What would happen if a blind person, capable of tactile recognition of a sphere or a cube, suddenly gained the capacity of sight? Would he be able to distinguish by looking the sphere from the cube? In the proposed project the two questions regarding what distinguishes and connects the senses will be reconsidered from the combined perspective of the sensorimotor contingency theory for perception and perceptual awareness and of the ideas of Andy Clark about the 'Extended Mind' and his hypothesis that humans are Natural-Born Cyborgs: Creatures which integrate external tools into their behaviour in such a way that these become literally part of themselves. On the basis of the conception of the senses constructed from this perspective, an account will be given of what distinguishes and connects the senses, and it will be investigated how this conception allows for relieving the tension between how objects appear to us, and how they are. The proposed theory of the senses has important implications regarding the debate between internalists and externalists about whether the mind is 'in the head', or extends into the environment.

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Research team(s)

Radical enactivism. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

The goal of this project is to finish the manuscript for a book, under contract with MIT Press, Titled ''Enactivism Explicated. Consciousness Clarified', written by Dan Hutto (University of Hertfordshire) and Erik Myin. In the book a particular, radically noncognitivist, enactive approach to awareness will be elaborated and defended.

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Consciousness clarified: book project of Erik Myin and Dan Hutto. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

The project is submitted in order to obtain support for the joint writing of a book titled 'Consciousness Clarified', by the promotor and Dan Hutto. In the book a novel position with respect to the relation between the mental and the physical will be elaborated. It will be shown that the position can be fruitfully applied to both philosophy and the sciences, as they wrestle to get a grip on the relation between experience and objective scientific data.

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The body-subject as transcendental condition for language use. Merleau-Ponty and the embodiment debate in linguistic pragmatics. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

Because of the recent introduction of 'embodiment' in linguistic pragmatics, the obvious comparison with Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of embodied language should be made. This way, two scientific domains which both deal with language use, but which in practice know little about each other's work, can come to a fertile mutual influence.

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Philosophical implications of the sensorimotor approach to perception: color, space and sensory substitution. 01/10/2006 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

This project is aimed at the exploration of the philosophical implications of the sensorimotor contingency theory about percetion and perceptual awareness. Three domains that will be focused on are: colour, space and sensory substitution.

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Research team(s)

Reconsidering Visual Experience and Pictorial Representation: An Enactive Approach. 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

The proposed project will study the topic of pictorial representation as a part of the larger inquiry into the nature of visual consciousness. The main aim is to reconsider pictorial representation in the light of recent advances in our understanding of visual perception. Drawing upon the available theories, it will be examined what an adequate theory of depiction should look like. It will be argued that none of the current proposals succeed in adequately explaining depiction, and that this is mainly due to some major misunderstandings about the nature and phenomenology of visual perception quite generally. Some deeply entrenched but erroneous conceptions of both pictures and visual perception are intimately related, so it will be argued. Unravelling this relationship might be illuminating for a better understanding of the nature of pictorial representation as well as the phenomenology of perception. An alternative model of pictorial representation will be proposed, inspired by an enactive approach to visual experience.

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Philosophical implications of sensory substitution. 01/01/2006 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The goal is to further develop, in breath and depth, the sensorimotor approach to perception and consciousness. Specifically the phenomenon of sensory substitution will be investigated. Sensory substitution refers to the substitution of one sensory modality for another, for example hearing for seeing. Results obtained from studying sensory substitution have important philosophical implications, among others concerning the role of the 'body-scheme'.

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The hard problem of consciousness: an epistemologic approach. An interdisciplinary inquiry into the conceptual limitations of reasoning about consciousness. 01/10/2005 - 30/09/2007

Abstract

The core of the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers) is the question how the essentially physical processes in our nervous system can give rise to the essentially non-physical, qualitative experiences (qualia) that constitute our phenomenal consciousness. Both philosophers and scientists have tried to answer this question.

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An interactive approach to color and space: a further exploration of the philosophical potential of the sensorimotor contingency theory. 01/05/2005 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

The aim is to further explore the philosophical consequences of the so called 'sensorimotor contingency theory' of perception and perceptual experience. Besides further elaborating it as a theory of consciousness, the goal is to draw further philosophical conclusions from recent developments within the theory on color and space. This should lead to an externalist account of color and space, which goes substantially beyond existing philosophical theories which share the recognition of the active and external nature of perception and cognition.

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Congres : "8th Annual Congress of the Association for the Scientific Study fo Consciousness" 01/04/2004 - 31/12/2004

Abstract

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Research team(s)

The hard problem of consciousness: an epistemologic approach - An inquiry into the conceptual limitations of interdisciplinary reasoning about consciousness. 01/10/2003 - 30/09/2005

Abstract

The core of the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers) is the question how the essentially physical processes in our nervous system can give rise to the essentially non-physical, qualitative experiences (qualia) that constitute our phenomenal consciousness. Both philosophers and scientists have tried to answer this question.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Theories of phenomenal consciousness:a search for an adequate non-reductionistic framework. 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2005

Abstract

The main objective of the project is to give a systematic overview of contemporary naturalistic theories of phenomenal consciousness (qualia). The focus is on the following problem: all contemporary reductionist theories of phenomenal consciousness are based on the assumption that cognition can be studied without the mention of consciousness. Consciousness is then characterized in causal-functional terms, independent of a phenomenal characterization. Our diagnosis is that reductionism is an untenable position, because it renders phenomenal consciousness into an epiphenomenon: there emerges an unsolvable mind-bodyproblem then, because of the unbridgeable explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and the causal/functional notions that are associated with consciousness. The bridging of the gap requires a reframing of the problem.

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Attention is amplification, not selection

Source
The British journal for the philosophy of science - ISSN 0007-0882-72:1 (2021) p. 299-324
Author(s)

Perception is not all-purpose

Source
Synthese : an international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science - ISSN 0039-7857-198:S17 (2021) p. 4069-4080
Author(s)

Zoomorphism

Source
Erkenntnis: an international journal of analytical philosophy - ISSN 0165-0106-86 (2021) p. 171-186
Author(s)

The field and landscape of affordances : Koffka's two environments revisited

Source
Synthese : an international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science - ISSN 0039-7857-198 (2021) p. 2279-2296
Author(s)

Situated anticipation

Source
Synthese : an international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science - ISSN 0039-7857-198 (2021) p. 349-371
Author(s)