Journal Article

The Somatic Marker Hypotheses, and What the Iowa Gambling Task Does and Does not Show

Giovanna Colombetti

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 1, pages 51-71
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axm045
The Somatic Marker Hypotheses, and What the Iowa Gambling Task Does and Does not Show

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Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis (SMH) is a prominent neuroscientific hypothesis about the mechanisms implementing decision-making. This paper argues that, since its inception, the SMH has not been clearly formulated. It is possible to identify at least two different hypotheses, which make different predictions: SMH-G, which claims that somatic states generally implement preferences and are needed to make a decision; and SMH-S, which specifically claims that somatic states assist decision-making by anticipating the long-term outcomes of available options. This paper also argues that neither hypothesis is adequately supported empirically; the task originally proposed to test SMH is not a good test for SMH-S, and its results do not support SMH-G either. In addition, it is not clear how SMH-G could be empirically invalidated, given its general formulation. Suggestions are made that could help provide evidence for SMH-S, and make SMH-G more specific. 1

Introduction

2

Two Hypotheses: Somatic Markers as Embodied Preferences, and as a Source of Farsightedness

3

Lack of Evidence for Somatic Farsightedness

4

Does Making Decisions Require Somatic Markers, and can it be Shown in the Laboratory?

5

Conclusion

Journal Article.  8249 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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