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Explaining Consciousness?

Edited by David Chalmers (Australian National University, New York University)
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  1. Adrian Alsmith (2014). Eric Schwitzgebel: Perplexities of Consciousness. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (3):497-501.
    A glance at the contents of this book might be enough to persuade that it is absolutely required reading for anyone interested in the study of consciousness. The discussion is replete with insight into a number of neglected topics: colour in dream experience (chapter 1), echolocation in auditory experience (chapter 4) and closed-eye visualisations (chapter 8). More familiar themes such as the spatial qualities presented in visual experience (chapter 2), visual imagery (chapter 3), the introspectionist movement (chapter 5), conscious attention (...)
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  2. Torin Alter, Review of Mark Rowlands' the Nature of Consciousness. [REVIEW]
    In The Nature of Consciousness, Mark Rowlands argues that phenomenal properties, which constitute what it is like to have a conscious experience, are “transcendental”: that they are properties by which we are conscious of the nonphenomenal world, but they are not objects of conscious awareness or even linguistic reference. He uses that conclusion to support a mysterian position on the explanatory-gap problem: that it is impossible to understand how phenomenal consciousness arises from physical systems such as the brain.
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  3. John Barresi (2004). Intentionality, Consciousness and Intentional Relations: From Constitutive Phenomenology to Cognitive Science. In L. Embree (ed.), Gurwitsch's Relevance for Cognitive Science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 79--93.
    In this chapter I look closely at the intentionality of consciousness from a naturalistic perspective. I begin with a consideration of Gurwitsch's suggestive ideas about the role of acts of consciousness in constituting both the objects and the subjects of consciousness. I turn next to a discussion of how these ideas relate to my own empirical approach to intentional relations seen from a developmental perspective. This is followed by a discussion of some recent ideas in philosophical cognitive science on the (...)
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  4. Reinaldo Bernal Velásquez (2011). Materialism and the Subjectivity of Experience. Philosophia 39 (1):39-49.
    The phenomenal properties of conscious mental states happen to be exclusively accessible from the first-person perspective. Consequently, some philosophers consider their existence to be incompatible with materialist metaphysics. In this paper I criticise one particular argument that is based on the idea that for something to be real it must (at least in principle) be accessible from an intersubjective perspective. I argue that the exclusively subjective access to phenomenal contents can be explained by the very particular nature of the epistemological (...)
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  5. Piotr Boltuc (2012). The Engineering Thesis in Machine Consciousness. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 16 (2):187-207.
    I argue here that consciousness can be engineered. The claim that functional consciousness can be engineered has been persuasively put forth in regards to first-person functional consciousness; robots, for instance, can recognize colors, though there is still much debate about details of this sort of consciousness. Such consciousness has now become one of the meanings of the term phenomenal consciousness (e.g., as used by Franklin and Baars). Yet, we extend the argument beyond the tradition of behaviorist or functional reductive views (...)
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  6. Trigant Burrow (1927). The Social Basis of Consciousness. New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., Inc..
    Acknowledg ment is made to the Editors for permission to include these papers in the present volume. FRINTFD IN l.
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  7. Monima Chadha (forthcoming). Meditation and Unity of Consciousness: A Perspective From Buddhist Epistemology. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17.
    The paper argues that empirical work on Buddhist meditation has an impact on Buddhist epistemology, in particular their account of unity of consciousness. I explain the Buddhist account of unity of consciousness and show how it relates to contemporary philosophical accounts of unity of consciousness. The contemporary accounts of unity of consciousness are closely integrated with the discussion of neural correlates of consciousness. The conclusion of the paper suggests a new direction in the search for neural correlates of state consciousness (...)
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  8. Axel Cleeremans, A a A.
    While the study of implicit learning is nothing new, the field as a whole has come to embody — over the last decade or so — ongoing questioning about three of the most fundamental debates in the cognitive sciences: The nature of consciousness, the nature of mental representation (in particular the difficult issue of abstraction), and the role of experience in shaping the cognitive system. Our main goal in this chapter is to offer a framework that attempts to integrate current (...)
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  9. Richard P. Cooper, Nicolas Ruh & Denis Mareschal (2014). The Goal Circuit Model: A Hierarchical Multi‐Route Model of the Acquisition and Control of Routine Sequential Action in Humans. Cognitive Science 38 (2):244-274.
    Human control of action in routine situations involves a flexible interplay between (a) task-dependent serial ordering constraints; (b) top-down, or intentional, control processes; and (c) bottom-up, or environmentally triggered, affordances. In addition, the interaction between these influences is modulated by learning mechanisms that, over time, appear to reduce the need for top-down control processes while still allowing those processes to intervene at any point if necessary or if desired. We present a model of the acquisition and control of goal-directed action (...)
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  10. Tim Crane (2012). Tye on Acquaintance and the Problem of Consciousness. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):190-198.
  11. Lyle Crawford (2013). Freak Observers and the Simulation Argument. Ratio 26 (3):250-264.
    The simulation hypothesis claims that the whole observable universe, including us, is a computer simulation implemented by technologically advanced beings for an unknown purpose. The simulation argument (as I reconstruct it) is an argument for this hypothesis with moderately plausible premises. I develop two lines of objection to the simulation argument. The first takes the form of a structurally similar argument for a conflicting conclusion, the claim that I am a so-called freak observer, formed spontaneously in a quantum or thermodynamic (...)
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  12. Tanya de Villiers-Botha (2011). Peculiarities in Mind ; or, on the Absence of Darwin. South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):282-302.
    A key failing in contemporary philosophy of mind is the lack of attention paid to evolutionary theory in its research projects. Notably, where evolution is incorporated into the study of mind, the work being done is often described as philosophy of cognitive science rather than philosophy of mind. Even then, whereas possible implications of the evolution of human cognition are taken more seriously within the cognitive sciences and the philosophy of cognitive science, its relevance for cognitive science has only been (...)
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  13. Lorna Green, Introduction to All My Works 2012.
    I am proposing a new Copernican revolution, that Consciousness and not matter is the true basis of the universe. Here is an account of my graduate student days at the Rockefeller University as a woman pioneer in science, and a sense of what I am really about in all of my works. I am giving a woman's take on the universe.
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  14. Lorna Green (2003). Beyond Chance and Necessity. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 17 (4):270-286.
    These essays propose a new "Copernican Revolution": Consciousness, not matter, is basic in the universe. They are non-technical, simply and clearly written.
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  15. Jennifer Greenwood (2013). Is Mind Extended or Scaffolded? Ruminations on Sterelney's (2010) Extended Stomach. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-22.
    In his paper, in this journal, Sterelney (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9:465–481, 2010) claims that cases of extended mind are limiting cases of environmental scaffolding and that a niche construction model is a more helpful, general framework for understanding human action. He further claims that extended mind cases fit into a corner of a 3D space of environmental scaffolds of cognitive competence. He identifies three dimensions which determine where a resource fits into this space and suggests that extended mind (...)
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  16. Marta Jorba (2013). Book Review: Bayne, T. And Montague, M. (Eds.) (2011). Cognitive Phenomenology. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (4):883-890.
  17. Michael D. Kirchhoff (2013). Cognitive Assembly: Towards a Diachronic Conception of Composition. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-21.
    In this paper, I focus on a recent debate in extended cognition known as “cognitive assembly” and how cognitive assembly shares a certain kinship with the special composition question advanced in analytical metaphysics. Both the debate about cognitive assembly and the special composition question ask about the circumstances under which entities (broadly construed) compose or assemble another entity. The paper argues for two points. The first point is that insofar as the metaphysics of composition presupposes that composition is a synchronic (...)
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  18. Gary Lachman (2003). A Secret History of Consciousness. Lindisfarne Books.
    Part one: the search for cosmic consciousness -- R.M. Bucke and the future of humanity -- William James and the anesthetic revelation -- Henri Bergson and the Elan Vital -- The superman -- A.R. Orage and the new age -- Ouspensky's fourth dimension -- Part two: esoteric evolution -- The bishop and the bulldog -- Enter the madame -- Dr. Steiner, I presume? -- From Goethean science to the wisdom of the human being -- Cosmic evolution -- Hypnagogia -- Part (...)
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  19. JeeLoo Liu, Philosophy Seminar: The Nature of Consciousness Fall 1998.
    Course Description: This course is designed as an upper-level seminar, with heavy emphasis on reading and writing. The reading materials are all from contemporary sources. We will cover topics such as the definitions of 'consciousness,' the neurophysiological basis of consciousness, the explanation of consciousness, and the possibility of forming a unified theory of consciousness. Student participation in class discussion is greatly encouraged.
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  20. Michele Merritt (2013). Thinking-is-Moving: Dance, Agency, and a Radically Enactive Mind. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-16.
    Recently, in cognitive science, the enactivist account of cognition has been gaining ground, due in part to studies of movement in conjunction with thought. The idea, as Noë (2009), has put it, that “cognition is not something happening inside us or to us, but it’s something we do, something we achieve,” is increasingly supported by research on joint attention, movement coordination, and gesture. Not surprisingly, therefore, enactivists have also begun to look at “movement specialists”—dancers—for both scientific and phenomenological accounts of (...)
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  21. Daniel E. Moerman (2012). Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Distinguished Lecture: Consciousness, “Symbolic Healing,” and the Meaning Response. Anthropology of Consciousness 23 (2):192-210.
    Symbolic healing, that is, responding to meaningful experiences in positive ways, can facilitate human healing. This process partly engages consciousness and partly evades consciousness completely (sometimes it partakes of both simultaneously). This paper, presented as the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness Distinguished Lecture at the 2011 AAA meeting in Montreal, reviews recent research on what is ordinarily (and unfortunately) called the “placebo effect.” The author makes the argument that language use should change, and the relevant portions of what is (...)
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  22. Will Newsome (2013). How to Start a Wet Forest Ablaze: Perspectives on the Question of the Origins of Human Mindedness. [REVIEW] Biosemiotics 6 (3):311-322.
    This paper is a methodological and theoretical meditation on how some research has approached the question of the evolution of human cognitive traits. I discuss views that explicitly or implicitly endorse a view of human cognition as originating from a cause that can be singled out. Following Ross and Ladyman (2010), I suggest that this “singling-out” strategy correlates with a “container” metaphor that doesn’t fit with the interactive process-ontology of modern physics (Campbell 2009). Instead, Ross and Ladyman as well as (...)
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  23. Fiona O'Doherty (2013). A Contribution to Understanding Consciousness: Qualia as Phenotype. [REVIEW] Biosemiotics 6 (2):191-203.
    In this model consciousness is a form of memory. We are essentially “living in the past” as our experience, the qualia, is always of past events. Consciousness represents the storage of past events for use in future situations and it is altered by external experience of the organism. Psychological frameworks of conditioning and learning theory are used to explain this model along with recent neuropsychological research on synaesthesia and phantom limb pain. Consciousness results from the gradual evolutionary development of the (...)
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  24. David Rosenthal (2012). Higher-Order Awareness, Misrepresentation, and Function. Higher-Order Awareness, Misrepresentation and Function 367 (1594):1424-1438.
    Conscious mental states are states we are in some way aware of. I compare higher-order theories of consciousness, which explain consciousness by appeal to such higher-order awareness (HOA), and first-order theories, which do not, and I argue that higher-order theories have substantial explanatory advantages. The higher-order nature of our awareness of our conscious states suggests an analogy with the metacognition that figures in the regulation of psychological processes and behaviour. I argue that, although both consciousness and metacognition involve higher-order psychological (...)
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  25. Mark F. Sharlow, Conscious Subjects in Detail: Readings in From Brain to Cosmos.
    This document consists primarily of excerpts (chapters 5 and 10-12) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. These excerpts address several traditional problems about the histories of conscious subjects, using the concept of subjective fact that the author developed earlier in the book. Topics include the persistence of conscious subjects through time, the unity or disunity of the self, and the possibility of splitting conscious subjects. (These excerpts depend heavily upon the author’s concept of subjective fact as developed in (...)
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  26. Aaron Sloman, How an Animal or Robot with 3-D Manipulation Skills Experiences the World.
    We look at how the ability to experience grows as an architecture grows itself along with growing the ontology used to experience, understand and act in the environment.
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  27. Gerd Sommerhoff (2000). Understanding Consciousness: Its Function and Brain Processes. Sage Publications.
    “This is surely the ultimate expression of the top-down approach to consciousness, written with Sommerhoff's characteristic clarity and precision. It says far more than other books four times the size of this admirably concise volume. This book is destined to become a pillar of the subject.” —Rodney Cotterill, Technical University of Denmark The problem of consciousness has been described as a mystery about which we are still in a terrible muddle and in Understanding Consciousness: Its Function and Brain Processes, the (...)
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  28. Galen Strawson (2013). Self-Intimation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-31.
    (1) Aristotle, Dignāga, Descartes, Arnauld, Locke, Brentano, Sartre and many others are right about the nature of conscious awareness: all such awareness comports—somehow carries within itself—awareness of itself . (2) This is a necessary condition of awareness being awareness at all: no ‘higher-order’ account of what makes conscious states conscious can be correct. (3) But (2) is very paradoxical: it seems to require that awareness be somehow already present, in such a way as to be available to itself as object (...)
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  29. Nigel J. T. Thomas (2009). Visual Imagery and Consciousness. In William P. Banks (ed.), Encyclopedia of Consciousness.
    Defining Imagery: Experience or Representation?
    Historical Development of Ideas about Imagery
    Subjective Individual Differences in Imagery Experience
    Theories of Imagery, and their Implications for Consciousness
    Picture theory
    Description theory
    Enactive theory.
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  30. Max Velmans (2009). Understanding Consciousness, Edition 2. Routledge/Psychology Press.
    A current, comprehensive summary of Velmans' theoretical work that updates and deepens the analysis given in Edition 1. Part 1 reviews the strengths and weaknesses of all currently dominant theories of consciousness in a form suitable for undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers focusing mainly on dualism, physicalism, functionalism and consciousness in machines. Part 2 gives a new analysis of consciousness, grounded in its everyday phenomenology, which undermines the basis of the dualism versus reductionist debate. It also examines the consequences for realism (...)
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  31. Gary Williams (2011). What is It Like to Be Nonconscious? A Defense of Julian Jaynes. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (2):217-239.
    I respond to Ned Block’s claim that it is ridiculous to suppose that consciousness is a cultural construction based on language and learned in childhood. Block is wrong to dismiss social constructivist theories of consciousness on account of it being ludicrous that conscious experience is anything but a biological feature of our animal heritage, characterized by sensory experience, evolved over millions of years. By defending social constructivism in terms of both Julian Jaynes’ behaviorism and J.J. Gibson’s ecological psychology, I draw (...)
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  32. Benjamin D. Young (2014). Smelling Phenomenal. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (713):doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00713.
    Qualitative-consciousness arises at the sensory level of olfactory processing and pervades our experience of smells to the extent that qualitative character is maintained whenever we are aware of undergoing an olfactory experience. Building upon the distinction between Access and Phenomenal Consciousness the paper offers a nuanced distinction between Awareness and Qualitative-consciousness that is applicable to olfaction in a manner that is conceptual precise and empirically viable. Mounting empirical research is offered substantiating the applicability of the distinction to olfaction and showing (...)
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What is it Like?
  1. Kathleen Akins (1993). A Bat Without Qualities? In Martin Davies & Glyn W. Humphreys (eds.), Consciousness: Psychological and Philosophical Essays. Blackwell. 345--358.
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  2. Kathleen Akins (1993). What is It Like to Be Boring and Myopic? In B. Dahlbom (ed.), Dennett and His Critics. Blackwell.
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  3. Torin Alter (2002). Nagel on Imagination and Physicalism. Journal of Philosophical Research 27:143-58.
    In "What is it Like to be a Bat?" Thomas Nagel argues that we cannot imagine what it is like to be a bat or presently understand how physicalism might be true. Both arguments have been seriously misunderstood. I defend them against various objections, point out a problem with the argument against physicalism, and show how the problem can be solved.
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  4. David Beisecker (2005). Phenomenal Consciousness, Sense Impressions, and the Logic of 'What It's Like'. In Ralph D. (Ed) Ellis & Natika (Ed). Newton (eds.), Consciousness & Emotion: Agency, Conscious Choice, and Selective Perception. John Benjamins.
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  5. Susan J. Blackmore (2003). What is It Like to Be...? In , Consciousness: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.
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  6. Laurence BonJour (2013). What is It Like to Be Human (Instead of a Bat). American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):373-386.
    My purpose in this paper is to discuss and defend an objection to physicalist or materialist accounts of the mind.
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  7. Marc Champagne (2009). Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification. Dialogue 48 (01):145-183.
    This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the "explanatory gap" that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel's revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block's controversial claim that we should countenance a "phenomenal module" which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy (...)
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  8. Jason Costanzo (2014). Shadows of Consciousness: The Problem of Phenomenal Properties. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-15.
    The aim of this essay is to show that phenomenal properties are contentless modes of appearances of representational properties. The essay initiates with examination of the first-person perspective of the conscious observer according to which a “reference to I” with respect to the observation of experience is determined. A distinction is then drawn between the conscious observer and experience as observed, according to which, three distinct modifications of experience are delineated. These modifications are then analyzed with respect to the content (...)
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  9. Andreas Elpidorou (2013). Having It Both Ways: Consciousness, Unique Not Otherworldly. Philosophia 41 (4):1181-1203.
    I respond to Chalmers’ (2006, 2010) objection to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) by showing that his objection is faced with a dilemma that ultimately undercuts its force. Chalmers argues that no version of PCS can posit psychological features that are both physically explicable and capable of explaining our epistemic situation. In response, I show that what Chalmers calls ‘our epistemic situation’ admits either of a phenomenal or of a topic-neutral characterization, neither of which supports Chalmers’ objection. On the one (...)
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  10. Simon J. Evnine (2008). Kinds and Conscious Experience: Is There Anything That It is Like to Be Something? Metaphilosophy 39 (2):185–202.
    In this article I distinguish the notion of there being something it is like to be a certain kind of creature from that of there being something it is like to have a certain kind of experience. Work on consciousness has typically dealt with the latter while employing the language of the former. I propose several ways of analyzing what it is like to be a certain kind of creature and find problems with them all. The upshot is that even (...)
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  11. B. A. Farrell (1950). Experience. Mind 59 (April):170-98.
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  12. Owen J. Flanagan (1985). Consciousness, Naturalism and Nagel. Journal of Mind and Behavior 6 (3):373-90.
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  13. Jeffrey E. Foss (1989). On the Logic of What It is Like to Be a Conscious Subject. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (June):305-320.
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  14. P. M. S. Hacker (2002). Is There Anything It is Like to Be a Bat? Philosophy 77 (300):157-174.
    The concept of consciousness has been the source of much philosophical, cognitive scientific and neuroscientific discussion for the past two decades. Many scientists, as well as philosophers, argue that at the moment we are almost completely in the dark about the nature of consciousness. Stuart Sutherland, in a much quoted remark, wrote that.
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  15. Patricia Hanna (1992). If You Can't Talk About It, You Can't Talk About It: A Response to H.O. Mounce. Philosophical Investigations 15 (2):185-190.
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  16. Patricia Hanna (1990). Must Thinking Bats Be Conscious? Philosophical Investigations 13 (October):350-55.
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  17. Benj Hellie (2007). 'There's Something It's Like' and the Structure of Consciousness. Philosophical Review 116 (3):441--63.
    I discuss the meaning of 'There's something e is like', in the context of a reply to Eric Lormand's 'The explanatory stopgap'. I argue that Lormand is wrong to think it has a specially perceptual meaning. Rather, it has one of at least four candidate meanings: (a) e is some way as regards its subject; (b) e is some way and e's being that way is in the possession of its subject; (c) e is some way in the awareness of (...)
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  18. Christopher S. Hill (1977). Of Bats, Brains, and Minds. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (September):100-106.
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