Eden Smith

‘The Structured Uses of Concepts as Tools: Comparing fMRI Experiments that Investigate either Mental Imagery or Hallucinations’ (PhD in History & Philosophy of Science, 2019).

Sensations can occur in the absence of perception and yet be experienced ‘as if’ seen, heard, tasted, or otherwise perceived. Two concepts used to investigate types of these sensory-like mental phenomena (SLMP) are mental imagery and hallucinations. Despite attempts to reliably differentiate between instances of mental imagery and hallucinations, each concept is routinely used, independently of the other, in experiments; experiments that generate equivalent findings yet are reported as supporting diverging knowledge-claims. To examine this puzzle, I compare the uses of these two concepts in three ways: examining their roles in differentiating between types of SLMP; exploring how their respective historical developments intersect; and analysing their contributions in neuroimaging experiments. Then, building on multiple themes from historical, philosophical, and social studies of scientific practices, I argue that the concepts of mental imagery and hallucinations function as structured tools that can actively contribute to the knowledge generated by neuroimaging experiments.

Supervisors: Professor Michael Arnold, Dr James Bradley