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June 11, 2009

On Neuroreductionism

It has been some time since I have read a paper in which I can endorse virtually every word.  Of course, it helps when the author is making claims closely related to those which I have developed in several places, and at most length in my dissertation.  The author I speak of is Walter Glannon, and the article is just out in the latest Bioethics, which is a theme issue on neuroethics.  The title of the article says it all: Our Brains Are Not Us.

Here is the Abstract:

Many neuroscientists have claimed that our minds are just a function of and thus reducible to our brains. I challenge neuroreductionism by arguing that the mind emerges from and is shaped by interaction among the brain, body, and environment. The mind is not located in the brain but is distributed among these three entities. I then explore the implications of the distributed mind for neuroethics.

Glannon makes qualitatively similar claims as Bennett and Hacker, and interestingly, even cites Wittgenstein, but does not expressly discuss the mereological fallacy (though I think a fair reading suggests that is exactly his concern).  He does adopt a phenomenological approach, which I do as well in my dissertation, and endorses a nonlinear, systems model of the relationship between brains, minds, bodies, and lifeworld, one which features circular causation.   

Excerpting is useless, as the entire article should be read post-haste by anyone even remotely interested in the subject.  My highest recommendation. 


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