Matching Items (7)

How Concepts of Electrical Signaling, Neurodegeneration, and Neurogenesis Help Explain the Formation of Higher Cognitive Function from a Geometrical System of Neuronal Microtubules and their Associated Proteins

Description

One very critical aspect of cell biology is the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton not only provides a strong foundation for the cell (Pegoraro et al., 2017), but it also allows for

One very critical aspect of cell biology is the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton not only provides a strong foundation for the cell (Pegoraro et al., 2017), but it also allows for protein transport on its tracks that span long distances in cells (Löwe & Amos, 2009), specifically in neurons (Dent, 2017). Microtubules have a particular structure as polymers that are part of the cytoskeleton (Dent, 2017). Their components include alpha- and beta-tubulin dimers, and they have dynamic properties, such as polymerization and depolymerization (Dent, 2017). Concerning these dynamic properties and as will be discussed here, specific associated proteins can be useful in electrical signaling, neurodegeneration, and neurogenesis. In this review, I will review relevant findings on microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), compare these to a prominent drug called taxol, and describe the significance of having a combination of MAPs in the brain. I will suggest that microtubules and their proteins form a critical geometric infrastructure that provides the framework for neuronal structure and function that contributes to more advanced cognitive processes, including consciousness.

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  • 2020-12

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Causation as Causal Influence

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This thesis proposes an extension of David Lewis's causal influence account of causation, providing a method to calculate the `degrees of causal influence.' By providing a quantitative approach to causal

This thesis proposes an extension of David Lewis's causal influence account of causation, providing a method to calculate the `degrees of causal influence.' By providing a quantitative approach to causal influence, I find that that the influence approach can assess statements that involve causal redundancies, allowing the assessor to attribute primary causal responsibility to the contending cause with a higher net influence value. The causal influence calculation also addresses criticisms towards Lewis's influence account, namely those involving `inert zones' of influence, the use of the term `might,' trumping versus symmetric overdetermination, and Lewis's clause requiring stepwise influence. This thesis also compares the results of causal influence in multiple toy cases including Two Rocks, both the asymmetric and symmetric variants, demonstrating that causal influence overcomes many of the core issues in Lewis's initial counterfactual account of causation. Using the asymmetric Two Rocks variant, this thesis also provides a detailed example of how to use the calculation and a discussion of the calculation's limitations. The main drawbacks of the quantitative method for causal influence seems to be the effort that it requires and issues in finding measurable qualities to compare the similarity/difference between possible worlds. Using the Two Rocks case, however, the causal influence calculation reaches the same conclusions as what Lewis suggests. A primary remaining issue is applying the calculation to instances of causation by omission, however this seems to only be a problem in using the equations rather than a problem within the idea of causal influence itself. Also, there may still be issues in justifying comparative overall similarity. However, this is an issue that both the counterfactual and influence accounts face.

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  • 2021-05

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Intuitions in metaphysics: methodological critique

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This thesis is concerned with the methodological role of intuitions in metaphysics. It is divided into two main parts. Part I argues that an academic field can only employ a

This thesis is concerned with the methodological role of intuitions in metaphysics. It is divided into two main parts. Part I argues that an academic field can only employ a method of gathering evidence if it has established some agreed-upon standards regarding how to evaluate uses of this method. Existing meta-philosophical disputes take the nature of intuitions to be their starting point. This is a mistake. My concern is not the epistemic status of intuitions, but rather how metaphysicians appeal to intuitions as a form of evidence. In order for intuitions to play a viable role in research they must be subject to certain constraints, regardless of whether they allow individual researchers to know that their theories are true. Metaphysicians are not permitted to use intuitions as arbitrarily having different evidential status in different circumstances, nor should they continue to use intuitions as evidence in certain disputes when there is disagreement amongst disputants about whether intuitions should have this evidential status.

Part II is dedicated to showing that metaphysicians currently use intuitions in precisely the sort of inconsistent manner that was shown to be impermissible in Part I. I first consider several competing theories of how intuitions function as evidence and argue that they all fail. As they are currently used in metaphysics, intuitions are analogous to instruments in the sciences in that they are taken to be a substantial non-inferential source of evidence for theories. I then analyze several major metaphysical disputes and show that the source of controversy in these disputes boils down to inconsistencies in how the different parties treat intuitions as evidence. I conclude that metaphysicians must abandon appeals to intuition as evidence--at least until the field can agree upon some general standards that can resolve these inconsistencies.

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  • 2014

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Russellian Monism and Mental Causation

Description

Russellian monism is a promising theory of consciousness that attempts to capture the strengths of both physicalism and dualism while avoiding their weaknesses. I begin by showing that the Russellian

Russellian monism is a promising theory of consciousness that attempts to capture the strengths of both physicalism and dualism while avoiding their weaknesses. I begin by showing that the Russellian monist’s chief anti-physicalist rival, emergentism, is unable to give an adequate solution to the exclusion problem. Specifically, they fall prey to what I call “the opacity problem.” That is, because the emergentist is committed to there being both a sufficient physical cause and a sufficient mental cause for our actions, it is unclear what difference the mental cause is making in bringing about the effect. This is because, for the physical cause to truly be a sufficient cause, it must be sufficient to bring about the effect as it occurred. This distinguishes mental overdetermination from non-problematic kinds of overdetermination (like double rock throwing cases). I then show how the constitutive Russellian monist is able to avoid the exclusion problem, while the emergent Russellian monist faces similar opacity problems to emergentism. Finally, I give an account of how the constitutive Russellian monist can give a response to the strongest objection against—the subject-summing problem. I argue that we only have translucent access to our conscious states—that is, only part of the essential nature of the state is revealed to us through introspection. I then argue that we have reason to think that part of the essential nature of the conscious state not revealed to us is involved in subject-summing.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Necessary Evil or Unnecessary God?: Evaluating the Problem of Suffering

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In this thesis, I discuss the philosophical problem of evil and, as a response, John Hick's soul making theodicy. First, I discuss the transformation of the problem. I examine how

In this thesis, I discuss the philosophical problem of evil and, as a response, John Hick's soul making theodicy. First, I discuss the transformation of the problem. I examine how the problem has shifted from logical to evidential in recent history. Next, I offer a faithful rendition of Hick's position - one which states the existence of evil does not provide evidence against the existence of God. After reconstructing his argument, I go on to exposes its logical faults. I present four main contentions to Hick's theodicy. First, I analyze the psychology of dehumanization to question whether we have any evidence that soul making is happening in response to the suffering in the world. Second, I argue that Hick's theodicy is self-defeating if accepted because it undermines the central point on which his argument depends. Third, I claim that Hick's theodicy is self-defeating given his eschatological views. Finally, I discuss how Hick's theodicy does not account for the animal suffering that widely exists in the world now, and that exists in our evolutionary history. My hope is to show that Hick's theodicy fails to solve the problem of evil. I claim that the amount of gratuitous suffering in the world does provide evidence against the existence of God.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Nagel and Burge on intentionality and physicalism

Description

Given the success of science, weak forms of mind-brain dependence are commonly treated as uncontroversial within contemporary philosophies of mind. More controversial are the different metaphysical claims inferred from this

Given the success of science, weak forms of mind-brain dependence are commonly treated as uncontroversial within contemporary philosophies of mind. More controversial are the different metaphysical claims inferred from this dependence, many ascribing ontological priority to the brain. Consider the following three propositions: (i) neurological events are essentially identified by their role in material systems, laws, and causes that are constitutively non-rational; (ii) at least some mental events are essentially identified in virtue of their role in the use of reason; (iii) all mental events are realized by, identical to, or composed out of, neurological events. (i) is uncontroversial. However, (iii) is strictly materialistic. (i), (ii) and (iii) taken together appear incoherent. A fruitful task for philosophy is to resolve this apparent incoherence. In his 1997 book The Last Word Thomas Nagel offers an explication of reason that conceptually transcends the nature of material substrate. In his 2010 article "Modest Dualism" Tyler Burge offers reasons to think of propositional thought as irreducible to the concepts of the material sciences. Both focus on rationality as a unique form of intentionality. Both philosophers also reject materialism (iii). On their accounts it's reasonable to take 'rational intentionality' as exhibiting a logical priority of the mind with respect to the brain in inquiries into the nature of mind. Granting this, the diminished conception of mind presupposed by prevailing contemporary theories is seen to be the result of a more general failure to recognize the logical priority and intricate nature of rationality. The robust views of rationality expressed by Nagel and Burge constitute grounds for argument against even the weakest form of materialism. I develop such an argument in this thesis, showing that the propositional attitudes exhibited in thought and speech preclude all materialistic notions of mind. Furthermore, I take the nature of propositional attitudes to suggest a perspective for exploring the fundamental nature of mind, one that focuses not on composition but on rational powers.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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The conceptual span and plausibility of emergence applied to the problem of mental causation

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This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak

This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak and strong emergence as described by Jaegwon Kim. They also consider Kim's objections regarding the conceptual incoherence of strong emergence and the otiose nature of weak emergence. The paper then explores Mark Bedau's in-between conception of emergence and ultimately finds that middle conception to be both coherent and useful. With these three emergence distinctions in hand, the thesis goes on to explore Evan Thompson's recent work - Mind in Life (2010). In that work, Thompson advances a strong emergence approach to mind, whereby he concludes the incipient stages of cognition are found at the most basic levels of life, namely - biologic cells. Along the way, Thompson embraces holism and a nonfundamental
onhierarchical physics in order to counter Jaegwon Kim's objections to the notion of downward causation needed for strong emergence. The thesis presents arguments against Thompson's holism and nonfundamental physics, while supporting his assertion regarding the incipient stages of cognition. It then combines an important distinction between mental causation and the experience of mental causation with Thompson's notion of incipient cognition to arrive at a dual realms approach to understanding mental causation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013