Katerina Deligiorgi – Happy Pills and Magic Potions: Cosmetic Neuroscience and the Explanation of Actions

Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC)

 

Event Date: Wednesday, 17 March, 17:00 – 18:30
11 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3RA

Katerina Deligiorgi (Sussex): Happy pills and magic potions: cosmetic neuroscience and the explanation of actions

Contemporary neuroscience holds the promise of providing us with the tools to enhance aspects of our personality, including our feelings and emotions through various chemical and non-chemical interventions, some already in use, others only prospectively available. This development, sometimes called in the literature ‘cosmetic neuroscience’, poses important philosophical questions about action. If we consider action something done for a reason, then it would appear that actions that are either directly the effect of a chemical or indirectly through the production of the appropriate emotions (e.g. assertiveness, trust etc) undermine this picture. In this paper I want to examine the notion of causation and its application to the explanation of action. The paper is part of a broader project in which I seek to test the hypothesis that plausible explanations (even true explanations) for actions are not homogeneous, that they do not belong to the same family. If this is correct, then the interesting question becomes what is the relation between the different families of explanations and how/whether they relate to each other, and how/whether they fit together.

Part of our Philosophy and the Humanities strand.

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