- Philosophy of Medical Science
- Neuroscience of combat stress in military veterans
Andrew describes himself as, “a philosopher interested in the brain.” He received his MA in philosophy from San Francisco State University, under the direction of Isabelle Peschard, Anita Silvers, and Bas van Fraassen. Here, Andrew received practical training in clinical bioethics, through a collaboration with San Francisco General Hospital, and formal training in philosophy of science, which focused on conceptual problems related to experimental practice. His MA thesis, entitled Experiment as a Machine for Making The Future, was co-supervised by Isabelle Peschard and Bas van Fraassen. This project examined the nature and possibility of scientific breakthroughs in the context of theory laden experimental practice. While completing his thesis, Andrew was also involved in an interdisciplinary collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry. Here, Andrew worked with a team of psychiatrists and neuroscientists to develop reintegration strategies for U.S. military veterans diagnosed with Operational Stress Injury.
Andrew is presently beginning his third year of doctoral studies at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, under the supervision of Charles Weijer and Adrian M. Owen. His current research project is entitled Philosophical Implications of the New Science of Consciousness. He is also concurrently working with Western’s PTSD Research Unit to investigate the neurophysiological changes resulting from combat exposure in U.S. and Canadian military personnel. This work is supervised by Ruth A. Lanius.
My central research project involves analyzing conceptual problems related to the clinical application of brain computer interfaces in patients with acquired brain injuries–namely patients diagnosed as being in the vegetative or minimally conscious states. This work utilizes research from the philosophy of science and medical ethics to elucidate the related ethical and epistemic problems inherent to the neuroscience of consciousness. Recently, I have been developing a principled argument for assessing decision making capacity with the aid of brain computer interfaces in this patient group. If a procedure like this is borne out empirically, it may improve the quality of life for these patients and their families.
I am also interested in addressing the reintegration challenges faced by post-combat-deployment military personnel. My father is a retired U.S. Marine, and the entirety of my adolescent life was spent in Marine Corps. family. Thus, the importance of addressing these issues, particularly the prevalence of psychiatric injuries incurred by military personnel as a result of war, hits close to home. While living in San Francisco, I worked with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco to develop strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
Additionally, since moving to Canada, I have taken up similar work in Western’s PTSD Research Unit. Currently, I am exploring the emerging phenomenon of Moral Injury, and asking whether philosophers and moral psychologists have a unique role to play in attenuating this psychiatric ailment.
Peterson A, Naci L, Weijer C, Cruse D, Fernández-Espejo D, Graham M, Owen AM. Assessing decision making capacity in the behaviorally non-responsive patient with residual covert awareness. AJOB-Neuroscience. In press.
Graham M, Weijer C, Peterson A, Naci L, Cruse D, Fernández-Espejo D, Owen AM. The right to know: informing families of individual research results for patients in vegetative states. Submitted.
Peterson A, Thome J, Frewen P, Lanius R. Resting state neuroimaging studies: a new way of differentiating the neurocircuitry among anxiety disorders? Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. In press.
Peterson A, Naci L, Weijer C, Owen AM (2013) A principled argument, but not a practical one.AJOB Neuroscience;4(1): 52-53.
Peterson A (2011) The relevance of scientific practice to the problem of coordination.Spontaneous Generations; 5(1): 44-57.
General Media Articles:
Peterson A, Naci L (2012) Confronting ethical implications of detecting awareness in the vegetative state. Western News.
Peterson A, Lanius R (2012) The future of veterans. Western News.
Peterson A (2012) What do we owe military veterans? Western News
Peterson A, Naci L, Bor D, Young B, Weijer C, Owen AM. Symposium on, “Ethical implications of detecting covert awareness in the vegetative state.” Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness 17th Annual Meeting. San Diego, CA, July 2013.
Peterson A. “The brain at war: ethical and epistemic implications of beta-blocker therapy for combat induced psychiatric injury.” Poster presented at Society for Philosophy and Psychology. Providence, RI, June 2013.
Peterson A, Weijer C, Naci L, Cruse D, Fernández-Espejo D, Shriver A, Graham M, Owen AM. “Are you in pain? Attending to the sentience of the disorder of consciousness patient.” Poster presented at The Canadian Association of Neuroscience Annual Meeting. Toronto, ON, May 2013.
Peterson A. “Moral dimensions of operational stress injury.” Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Workshop. London, ON, Nov. 2012.
Peterson A, Naci L, Weijer C, Cruse D, Fernández-Espejo D, Graham M, Owen AM. “Ethical implications of detecting awareness in VS: Question asking through a binary interface.” Brain Matters 3, Cleveland, OH, Oct. 2012.
Graham M, Peterson A, Naci L, Weijer C, Cruse D, Fernández-Espejo D, Owen AM. “Ethical implications of disclosing research results to patients’ families in disorder of consciousness research.” Brain Matters 3. Cleveland, OH, Oct. 2012.
Peterson A. “Ethical implications of detecting covert awareness in disorders of consciousness.” The Hastings Center. Garrison, NY, June 2012.
Peterson A. “Psychophysiology and the warrior ethos.” Western University Research Day.London, ON, March 2012.
Peterson A. Comments on, “Compounded vulnerabilities in social institutions: vulnerabilities as kinds.” Diotima Conference. London, ON. Sept. 2011.
Peterson A. “Philosophical theories about the organization of self-hood.” UCSF Psychiatry Seminar. San Francisco, CA, Aug. 2011.
Peterson A. “Virtue ethics, stoicism, and the warrior ethos.” UCSF Veterans Health Program. San Francisco, CA, Mar. 2011.
Peterson A. “Could theory free scientific inquiry lead to the biomedical breakthrough of prion disease propagation? I think not.” SFSU Graduate Student Lecture Series. San Francisco, CA, May 2011.
Peterson A. “From puerperal fever to kuru: deciphering the conditions for the possibility of scientific breakthrough.” SFSU Graduate Student Research Competition. San Francisco, CA, Feb. 2010.
Peterson A. Comments on, “The world thinking itself: Heideggerian themes from categorical intuition to theOrigin of the Work of Art.”APA Western Division Annual Meeting. Vancouver, BC, Apr. 2009.
Peterson A. “Philosophy and the brain.” International Philosophy Day Presentation. London, ON, Nov. 2012.
Peterson A. “The ethics of bringing neuroscience into the medical clinic.” London Library Lecture Series. London, ON, Oct. 2012.
Peterson A. “The fine line between mental resilience and pathology: military stoicism or dissociation?” Lecture to Western’s PTSD Research Unit. London, ON, Jan. 2012.
Toward an Ethical Framework for The Use of Brain Computer Interfaces in The Clinical Setting
Chaired by Profs. Adrian M. Owen and Charles Weijer, Winter 2011 to Present
Role: Research program manager for joint research project with the Rotman Institute and the Owen Lab at Western’s Brain and Mind Institute.
PTSD Research Unit, Western University
Chaired by Dr. Ruth Lanius, Fall 2011 to Present
Current study: Correlations between hippocampal activity and autobiographical recall of traumatic or negative memories in Canadian Defense Forces
The Next Mission, University of California, San Francisco
Chaired by Dr. Kim Norman, Spring 2011 to Summer 2011
Role: Curriculum developer and guest instructor for university level class exploring reintegration challenges for military veterans.
Medical Ethics Committee, San Francisco General Hospital
Supervised by Prof. Anita Silvers, Summer 2010 to Summer 2011
Role: Attendance and case review in scheduled ethics committee meetings at San Francisco General Hospital.
Hands On Philosophy Education Program, Exploratorium, San Francisco
Supervised by Prof. Ásta Sveinsdóttir, Summer 2008
Role: Development of philosophical literature on thought experiments for the Exploratorium Museum of San Francisco.
Introduction to Philosophy, Phil 1020 – Head Teaching Assistant, Dr. John Thorp
Fall 2012, The University of Western Ontario
Spring 2013, The University of Western Ontario
Introduction to Philosophy, Phil 1020 – Tutorial leader, Dr. John Thorp
Fall 2011, The University of Western Ontario
Spring 2012, The University of Western Ontario
Critical Thinking, Phil. 110 – Instructor
Spring 2011, San Francisco State University
Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy 101 – Instructor
Fall 2010 San Francisco State University
Ethics in Medicine, Phil. 383 – Teaching Assistant, Dr. Anita Silvers
Spring 2011, San Francisco State University
Fall 2010, San Francisco State University
Spring 2010, San Francisco State University
Critical Thinking, Phil 110 – Teaching Assistant, Dr. Joel Rudinow
Spring 2004 – Santa Rosa Junior College
Introduction to Philosophy, Phil 101 – Teaching Assistant, Dr. Gillian Parker
Fall 2003, Sonoma State University
Spring 2003, Sonoma State University