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Profile: Alex Byrne (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Profile: Alex Byrne
  1. Susanna Siegel & Alex Byrne (forthcoming). Rich or Thin? In Bence Nanay (ed.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Perception. Routledge
    Siegel and Byrne debate whether perceptual experiences present rich properties or exclusively thin properties.
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  2. Alex Byrne (2001). Intentionalism Defended. Philosophical Review 110 (2):199-240.
  3. Alex Byrne (2009). Experience and Content. Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):429-451.
    The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the content view are (...)
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  4. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2003). Color Realism and Color Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):3-21.
    The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or "in (...)
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  5. Alex Byrne (2011). Transparency, Belief, Intention. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):201-221.
    This paper elaborates and defends a familiar ‘transparent’ account of knowledge of one's own beliefs, inspired by some remarks of Gareth Evans, and makes a case that the account can be extended to mental states in general, in particular to knowledge of one's intentions.
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  6. Alex Byrne (2005). Introspection. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):79-104.
    I know various contingent truths about my environment by perception. For example, by looking, I know that there is a computer before me; by hearing, I know that someone is talking in the corridor; by tasting, I know that the coffee has no sugar. I know these things because I have some built-in mechanisms specialized for detecting the state of my environment. One of these mechanisms, for instance, is presently transducing electromagnetic radiation (in a narrow band of wavelengths) coming from (...)
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  7.  95
    Alex Byrne (2016). The Epistemic Significance of Experience. Philosophical Studies 173 (4):947-967.
    According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended.
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  8.  51
    Alex Byrne (2001). Intentionalism Defended. Philosophical Review 110 (2):199 - 240.
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  9. Alex Byrne (1997). Some Like It HOT: Consciousness and Higher-Order Thoughts. Philosophical Studies 2 (2):103-29.
    Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt.
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  10. Alex Byrne (2005). Perception and Conceptual Content. In Ernest Sosa & Matthias Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell 231--250.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences have (...)
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  11.  60
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (1997). Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press.
  12. Alex Byrne & Michael Tye (2006). Qualia Ain't in the Head. Noûs 40 (2):241-255.
    Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
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  13. Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (2008). Either/Or. In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press 314-19.
    This essay surveys the varieties of disjunctivism about perceptual experience. Disjunctivism comes in two main flavours, metaphysical and epistemological.
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  14. Alex Byrne (2010). Recollection, Perception, Imagination. Philosophical Studies 148 (1):15 - 26.
    Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. Our first question is.
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  15.  87
    Alex Byrne (2012). Knowing What I See. In Declan Smithies & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford University Press 183.
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  16. Alex Byrne (2007). Possibility and Imagination. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):125–144.
  17. Alex Byrne (2002). Something About Mary. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):27-52.
    Jackson's black-and-white Mary teaches us that the propositional content of perception cannot be fully expressed in language.
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  18. Alex Byrne & James Pryor (2006). Bad Intensions. In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Maci (eds.), Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications. Oxford University Press 38--54.
    _the a priori role_ (for word T). For instance, perhaps anyone who understands the word _water_ is able to know, without appeal to any further a posteriori information, that _water_ refers to the clear, drinkable natural kind whose instances are predominant in our oceans and lakes (if _water_ refers at all.
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  19.  99
    Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.) (2009). Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings. MIT Press.
    Classic texts that define the disjunctivist theory of perception.
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  20.  69
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (forthcoming). Color Relationalism and Relativism. Topics in Cognitive Science.
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  21.  60
    Alex Byrne (2014). Perception and Evidence. Philosophical Studies 170 (1):101-113.
    Perception is a source of knowledge: by looking at a white cup on a desk, one can come to know that there is a white cup on a desk. Schellenberg’s character Percy is in such an agreeable situation, the “good case”. Her hapless Hallie, on the other hand, is in the “bad case”: she is hallucinating a white cup on a desk. We may suppose that Percy and Hallie share a very specific visual state that completely characterizes the character of (...)
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  22.  51
    Alex Byrne (2015). Skepticism About the Internal World. In Gideon Rosen, Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen & Seana Valentine Shiffrin (eds.), The Norton Introduction to Philosophy. W. W. Norton
  23.  47
    Alex Byrne (2007). Truest Blue. Analysis 67 (293):87-92.
    1. The “puzzle” Physical objects are coloured: roses are red, violets are blue, and so forth. In particular, physical objects have fine-grained shades of colour: a certain chip, we can suppose, is true blue (unique, or pure blue). The following sort of scenario is commonplace. The chip looks true blue to John; in the same (ordinary) viewing conditions it looks (slightly) greenish-blue to Jane. Both John and Jane are “normal” perceivers. Now, nothing can be both true blue and greenish-blue; since (...)
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  24. Alex Byrne, David Hilbert & Susanna Siegel (2007). Do We See More Than We Can Access? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5 (5-6):501-502.
    Short commentary on a paper by Ned Block.
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  25.  23
    Alex Byrne & David Hilbert (eds.) (1997). Readings on Color I: The Philosophy of Color. The MIT Press.
    Edward Wilson Averill By the phrase 'anthropocentric account of color' I mean an account of color that makes an assumption of the following form: two ...
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  26.  75
    David R. Hilbert & Alex Byrne (2007). Color Primitivism. Erkenntnis 66 (1/2):73 - 105.
    The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available — if the colors are primitive sui generis properties — this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light (...)
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  27.  23
    Alex Byrne (2016). Hill on Mind. Philosophical Studies 173 (3):831-839.
    Hill's views on visual experience are critically examined.
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  28.  95
    Alex Byrne (2003). Color and Similarity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):641-65.
    Anything is similar to anything, provided the respects of similarity are allowed to be gerrymandered or gruesome, as Goodman observed.2 But similarity in non-gruesome or—as I shall say—genuine respects is much less ecumenical. Colors, it seems, provide a compelling illustration of the distinction as applied to similarities among properties.3 For instance, in innumerable gruesome respects, blue is more similar to yellow than to purple. But in a genuine respect, blue is more similar to purple than to yellow (genuinely more similar, (...)
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  29.  61
    Alex Byrne (2004). How Hard Are the Sceptical Paradoxes? Noûs 38 (2):299–325.
    The sceptic about the external world presents us with a paradox: an apparently acceptable argument for an apparently unacceptable conclusion—that we do not know anything about the external world. Some paradoxes, for instance the liar and the sorites, are very hard. The defense of a purported solution to either of these two inevitably deploys the latest in high-tech philosophical weaponry. On the other hand, some paradoxes are not at all hard, and may be resolved without much fuss. They do not (...)
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  30. Alex Byrne & Alan Hájek (1997). David Hume, David Lewis, and Decision Theory. Mind 106 (423):411-728.
    David Lewis claims that a simple sort of anti-Humeanism-that the rational agent desires something to the extent he believes it to be good-can be given a decision-theoretic formulation, which Lewis calls 'Desire as Belief' (DAB). Given the (widely held) assumption that Jeffrey conditionalising is a rationally permissible way to change one's mind in the face of new evidence, Lewis proves that DAB leads to absurdity. Thus, according to Lewis, the simple form of anti-Humeanism stands refuted. In this paper we investigate (...)
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  31. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2007). Truest Blue. Analysis 67 (1):87-92.
    Physical objects are coloured: roses are red, violets are blue, and so forth. In particular, physical objects have fine-grained shades of colour: a certain chip, we can suppose, is true blue (unique, or pure blue). The following sort of scenario is commonplace. The chip looks true blue to John; in the same (ordinary) viewing conditions it looks (slightly) greenish-blue to Jane. Both John and Jane are “normal” perceivers. Now, nothing can be both true blue and greenish-blue; since the chip is (...)
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  32. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2006). Color Primitivism. In Ralph Schumacher (ed.), Erkenntnis. Kluwer 73 - 105.
    The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind-body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-.
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  33.  7
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.) (1997). Readings on Color: The Science of Color. A Bradford Book.
    These volumes will serve as useful resources for anyone interested in philosophy of color perception or color science.
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  34. Alex Byrne (2003). Consciousness and Nonconceptual Content. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):261-274.
    Consciousness, Color, and Content is a significant contribution to our understanding of consciousness, among other things. I have learned a lot from it, as well as Tye’s other writings. What’s more, I actually agree with much of it – fortunately for this symposium, not all of it. The book continues the defense of the “PANIC” theory of phenomenal consciousness that Tye began in Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995). A fair chunk of it, though, is largely independent of this theory: the (...)
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  35. Alex Byrne (1996). Spin Control: Comment on McDowell's Mind and World. Philosophical Issues 7:261-73.
    We have justified beliefs about the external world, and some of these are formed directly on the basis of perception. I may justifiably believe that a certain dog is in certain manger, and I may have this belief because I can see that the dog is in the manger. So far, so good.
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  36. Alex Byrne (2011). Sensory Qualities, Sensible Qualities, Sensational Qualities. In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. OUP Oxford
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  37. Alex Byrne (2004). What Phenomenal Consciousness is Like. In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. John Benjamins
    The terminology surrounding the dispute between higher-order and first-order theories of consciousness is piled so high that it sometimes obscures the view. When the debris is cleared away, there is a real prospect.
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  38. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2011). Are Colors Secondary Qualities? In Lawrence Nolan (ed.), Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate. Oxford University Press
  39.  7
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2004). Comments and Criticism. Journal of Philosophy 101 (1):37-43.
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  40. Alex Byrne (2006). Color and the Mind-Body Problem. Dialectica 60 (2):223-44.
    b>: there is no “mind-body problem”, or “hard problem of consciousness”; if there is a hard problem of something, it is the problem of reconciling the manifest and scientific images.
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  41.  69
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2003). Color Realism Redux. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):52-59.
    Our reply is in three parts. The first part concerns some foundational issues in the debate about color realism. The second part addresses the many objections to the version of physicalism about color ("productance physicalism") defended in the target article. The third part discusses the leading alternative approaches and theories endorsed by the commentators.
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  42.  63
    David R. Hilbert & Alex Byrne (2008). Basic Sensible Qualities and the Structure of Appearance. Philosophical Issues 18 (1):385-405.
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  43. Alex Byrne (1996). Behaviourism. In S. D. Guttenplan (ed.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell
    Introductory texts in the philosophy of mind often begin with a discussion of behaviourism, presented as one of the few theories of mind that have been conclusively refuted. But matters are not that simple: behaviourism, in one form or another, is still alive and kicking.
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  44.  86
    Alex Byrne (2008). Knowing That I Am Thinking. In Anthony E. Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press
    Soc. …I speak of what I scarcely understand; but the soul when thinking appears to me to be just talking—asking questions of herself and answering them, affirming and denying. And when she has arrived at a decision, either gradually or by a sudden impulse, and has at last agreed, and does not doubt, this is called her opinion. I say, then, that to form an opinion is to speak, and opinion is a word spoken,—I mean, to oneself and in silence, (...)
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  45. Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (1997). Colors and Reflectances. In Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.), Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press
    When we open our eyes, the world seems full of colored opaque objects, light sources, and transparent volumes. One historically popular view, _eliminativism_, is that the world is not in this respect as it appears to be: nothing has any color. Color _realism_, the denial of eliminativism, comes in three mutually exclusive varieties, which may be taken to exhaust the space of plausible realist theories. Acccording to _dispositionalism_, colors are _psychological_ dispositions: dispositions to produce certain kinds of visual experiences. According (...)
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  46.  73
    Alex Byrne (1999). Cosmic Hermeneutics. Philosophical Perspectives 13 (s13):347--84.
  47.  71
    Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (2004). Hardin, Tye, and Color Physicalism. Journal of Philosophy 101 (1):37-43.
    Larry Hardin has been the most steadfast and influential critic of physicalist theories of color over the last 20 years. In their modern form these theories originated with the work of Smart and Armstrong in the 1960s and 1970s1 and Hardin appropriately concentrated on their views in his initial critique of physicalism.2 In his most recent contribution to this project3 he attacks Michael Tye’s recent attempts to defend and extend color physicalism.4 Like Byrne and Hilbert5, Tye identifies color with the (...)
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  48.  80
    Alex Byrne (2001). Do Colors Look Like Dispositions? Reply to Langsam and Others. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):238-245.
    Dispositional theories of colour have been attacked by McGinn and others on the ground that ‘Colours do not look like dispositions’. Langsam has argued that on the contrary they do, in ‘Why Colours Do Look Like Dispositions’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 50 , pp. 68–75. I make three claims. First, neither side has made its case. Secondly, it is true, at least on one interpretation, that colours do not look like dispositions. Thirdly, this does not show that dispositionalism about colours is (...)
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  49. Alex Byrne, Don't PANIC: Tye's Intentionalist Theory of Consciousness. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.
    _Consciousness, Color, and Content_ is a significant contribution to our understanding of consciousness, among other things. I have learned a lot from it, as well as Tye.
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  50.  20
    Alex Byrne (2006). Comments on Cohen, Mizrahi, Maund, and Levine. Dialectica 60:223-44.
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