Skip navigation

David Spurrett

David Spurrett is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Cognitive Science Program at the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Titles by This Author

The Picoeconomics and Neuroeconomics of Disordered Gambling: Economic Theory and Cognitive Science

The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain.

The book describes addiction in neuroeconomic terms as chronic disruption of the balance between the midbrain dopamine system and the prefrontal and frontal serotonergic system, and reviews recent evidence from trials testing the effectiveness of antiaddiction drugs. The authors argue that the best way to understand disordered and addictive gambling is with a hybrid picoeconomic-neuroeconomic model.

Titles by This Editor

The image of the addict in popular culture combines victimhood and moral failure; we sympathize with addicts in films and novels because of their suffering and their hard-won knowledge. And yet actual scientific knowledge about addiction tends to undermine this cultural construct. In What Is Addiction?, leading addiction researchers from neuroscience, psychology, genetics, philosophy, economics, and other fields survey the latest findings in addiction science. They discuss such questions as whether addiction is one kind of condition, or several; if addiction is neurophysiological, psychological, or social, or incorporates aspects of all of these; to what extent addicts are responsible for their problems, and how this affects health and regulatory policies; and whether addiction is determined by inheritance or environment or both. The chapter authors discuss the possibility of a unifying basis for different addictions (considering both substance addiction and pathological gambling), offering both neurally and neuroscientifically grounded accounts as well as discussions of the social context of addiction. There can be no definitive answer yet to the question posed by the title of this book; but these essays demonstrate a sweeping advance over the simplistic conception embedded in popular culture.

Contributors: George Ainslie, Jennifer D. Bellegarde, Warren K. Bickel, Jennifer Bramen, Karen O. Brandon, Arthur Brody, Peter Collins, Jack Darkes, Mark S. Goldman, Gene M. Heyman, Harold Kincaid, Edythe D. London, James MacKillop, Traci Man, Neil Manson, John E. McGeary, John R. Monterosso, Ben Murrell, Nancy M. Petry, Marc N. Potenza, Howard Rachlin, Lara A. Ray, A. David Redish, Richard R. Reich, Don Ross, Timothy Schroeder, David Spurrett, Jackie Sullivan, Golnaz Tabibni, Andrew Ward, Richard Yi

Individual Volition and Social Context

Recent scientific findings about human decision making would seem to threaten the traditional concept of the individual conscious will. The will is threatened from “below” by the discovery that our apparently spontaneous actions are actually controlled and initiated from below the level of our conscious awareness, and from “above” by the recognition that we adapt our actions according to social dynamics of which we are seldom aware. In Distributed Cognition and the Will, leading philosophers and behavioral scientists consider how much, if anything, of the traditional concept of the individual conscious will survives these discoveries, and they assess the implications for our sense of freedom and responsibility. The contributors all take science seriously, and they are inspired by the idea that apparent threats to the cogency of the idea of will might instead become the basis of its reemergence as a scientific subject. They consider macro-scale issues of society and culture, the micro-scale dynamics of the mind/brain, and connections between macro-scale and micro-scale phenomena in the self-guidance and self-regulation of personal behavior.

Contributors: George Ainslie, Wayne Christensen, Andy Clark, Paul Sheldon Davies, Daniel C. Dennett, Lawrence A. Lengbeyer, Dan Lloyd, Philip Pettit, Don Ross, Tamler Sommers, Betsy Sparrow, Mariam Thalos, Jeffrey B. Vancouver, Daniel M. Wegner, Tadeusz W. ZawidzkiDon Ross is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Finance, Economics, and Quantitative Methods at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. David Spurrett is Professor of Philosophy at the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Harold Kincaid is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Values in the Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. G. Lynn Stephens is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.