I will elaborate and defend a set of metaphysical and epistemic claims that comprise what I call the acquaintance approach to introspective knowledge of the phenomenal qualities of experience. The hallmark of this approach is the thesis that, in some introspective judgments about experience, (phenomenal) reality intersects with the epistemic, that is, with the subject’s grasp of that reality. In Section 1 of the paper I outline the acquaintance approach by drawing on its Russellian lineage. A more detailed picture of (...) the approach emerges in succeeding sections, which respond to a range of objections. Some critics charge that approaches of this sort are overly idealized, in that they ignore the cognitive flaws and limitations of actual human beings. I begin to address these worries in Section 2, by arguing that the epistemic commitments of the acquaintance approach are in fact relatively modest. In Section 3, I sketch a picture of introspective reference that explains how phenomenal reality can intersect with the epistemic in a phenomenal judgment, as the acquaintance approach requires. Drawing on this picture of introspective reference, Section 4 sets out a practical strategy for achieving knowledge by acquaintance. Some contemporary acquaintance theorists (BonJour 2003, Fumerton 1996) employ demanding epistemic standards for knowledge by acquaintance, standards beyond those mandated by the acquaintance approach. In Section 5 I show that instances of introspective knowledge that meet less demanding standards can satisfy the acquaintance approach’s epistemic commitments. The final sections concern the most direct challenges to the acquaintance approach, which target the claim that phenomenal reality intersects with the epistemic. According to one such challenge, this claim is belied fact that possessing a phenomenal concept is a matter of having certain dispositions. Section 6 draws on a discussion by Sosa (2003) to articulate this challenge, and responds to it on behalf of the acquaintance approach. Section 7 addresses Stalnaker’s (2008) worry that, if phenomenal reality intersected with the epistemic, phenomenal information would be incommunicable. (shrink)
Conscious states as objects of awareness: on Uriah Kriegel, Subjective consciousness: a self - representational theory Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9763-9 Authors Brie Gertler, Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Externalism about mental content is now widely accepted. It is therefore surprising that there is no established definition of externalism. I believe that this is a symptom of an unrecognized fact: that the labels 'mental content externalism'-and its complement 'mental content internalism'-are profoundly ambiguous. Under each of these labels falls a hodgepodge of sometimes conflicting claims about the organism's contribution to thought contents, the nature of the self, relations between the individual and her community, and the epistemic availability of thoughts. (...) This situation stems from the fact that contributors to debates about externalism differ in how they understand 'internal property'; these differences reveal (or, perhaps, generate) disparate conceptions of what is at issue in these debates. I argue that this situation is irremediable. There is no way to understand 'internal property' that will conform with prevailing beliefs about the nature of internalism and externalism, and with the usual taxonomy of leading positions. This ambiguity carries a heavy price: participants in these debates often argue at cross-purposes, disagreeing even on the nature of the evidence that could settle the question of externalism. Progress on the broad range of issues associated with these debates requires that we abandon the categories 'internalism' and 'externalism'. I close by suggesting a promising avenue for future research related to these issues. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the method of transparency --determining whether I believe that p by considering whether p -- does not explain our privileged access to our own beliefs. Looking outward to determine whether one believes that p leads to the formation of a judgment about whether p, which one can then self-attribute. But use of this process does not constitute genuine privileged access to whether one judges that p. And looking outward will not provide for access to (...) dispositional beliefs, which are arguably more central examples of belief than occurrent judgments. First, one’s dispositional beliefs as to whether p may diverge from the occurrent judgments generated by the method of transparency. Second, even in cases where these are reliably linked — e.g., in which one’s judgment that p derives from one’s dispositional belief that p — using the judgment to self-attribute the dispositional belief requires an ‘inward’ gaze. (shrink)
The problem of self-knowledge is one of the most fascinating in all of philosophy and has crucial significance for the philosophy of mind and epistemology. Gertler assesses the leading theoretical approaches to self-knowledge, explaining the work of many of the key figures in the field: from Descartes and Kant, through to Bertrand Russell and Gareth Evans, as well as recent work by Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, William Lycan and Sydney Shoemaker. -/- Beginning with an outline of the distinction between self-knowledge (...) and self-awareness and providing essential historical background to the problem, Gertler addresses specific theories of self-knowledge such as the acquaintance theory, the inner sense theory, and the rationalist theory, as well as leading accounts of self-awareness. The book concludes with a critical explication of the dispute between empiricist and rationalist approaches. (shrink)
Alas, things are not quite so simple. As James implies, the term ‘introspection’ literally means ‘looking within’, but of course we do not visually inspect the interiors of our crania. What unites proponents of introspection is the claim that we can recognize our own mental states through some sort of attention—a non-visual ‘looking’—whose immediate objects are thoughts or sensations within oneself, in a non-spatial sense of ‘within’. (The term ‘introspection’ is occasionally given an ecumenical gloss, to refer to any method (...) of knowing one’s own mental states, and not just self-directed attention. But the more restrictive use is standard, and provides the topic of the current entry.) As we will see, some contemporary philosophers and psychologists doubt that any such introspective process underlies self-knowledge. (shrink)
The plain man thinks that material objects must certainly exist, since they are evident to the senses. Whatever else may be doubted, it is certain that anything you can bump into must be real; this is the plain man’s metaphysic. This is all very well, but the physicist comes along and shows that you never bump into anything: even when you run your hand along a stone wall, you do not really touch it. When you think you touch a thing, (...) there are certain electrons and protons, forming part of your body, which are attracted and repelled by certain electrons and protons in the thing you think you are touching, but there is no actual contact. … The electrons and protons themselves, however, are only crude first approximations, a way of collecting into a bundle either trains of waves or the statistical probabilities of various different kinds of events. Thus matter has become altogether too ghostly to be used as an adequate stick with which to beat the mind. —Bertrand Russell, “What is the Soul?” 193.. (shrink)
"Self-knowledge" is commonly used in philosophy to refer to knowledge of one's particular mental states, including one's beliefs, desires, and sensations. It is also sometimes used to refer to knowledge about a persisting self -- its ontological nature, identity conditions, or character traits. At least since Descartes, most philosophers have believed that self-knowledge is importantly different from knowledge of the world external to oneself, including others' thoughts. But there is little agreement about what precisely distinguishes self-knowledge from knowledge in other (...) realms. Partially because of this disagreement, philosophers have endorsed competing accounts of how we acquire self-knowledge. These accounts have important consequences for the scope of mental content, for mental ontology, and for personal identity. (shrink)
Our fundamental conception of the self seems to be, broadly speaking, epistemic: selves are things that have thoughts, undergo experiences, and possess reasons for action and belief. In this paper, I evaluate the consequences of this epistemic conception for the widespread view that properties like thinking that arthritis is painful are relational features of the self.
Clark and Chalmers argue that the mind is extended – that is, its boundary lies beyond the skin. In this essay, I will criticize this conclusion. However, I will also defend some of the more controversial elements of Clark and Chalmers's argument. I reject their conclusion because I think that their argument shows that a seemingly innocuous assumption, about internal states and processes, is flawed. My goal is not to conclusively refute Clark and Chalmers's conclusion. My aim is only to (...) reveal the best alternative for those who remain skeptical about the existence – or, perhaps, even the possibility – of extended minds. (shrink)
In this commentary, I examine John Tienson’s argument that reflection on the epistemic situation of the Cartesian meditator suggests that intentional content is narrow. My aim is to show how his argument is closely connected to another prominent objection to externalism—the McKinsey argument.
Introduction -- Consciousness : what is the problem? -- Consciousness : how should it be studied? -- Is the mind physical? -- How is your mind related to your body? : how is it related to the world? -- What is the self? -- What can pathological cases teach us about the mind? -- How can we know whether-and what-non-human animals think? -- Can machines think? -- Is there intelligent life on other planets?
The definitive statement of the Knowledge Argument was formulated by Frank Jackson, in a paper entitled “Epiphenomenal Qualia” that appeared in The Philosophical Quarterly in 1982. Arguments in the same spirit had appeared earlier (Broad 1925, Robinson 1982), but Jackson’s argument is most often compared with Thomas Nagel’s argument in “What is it Like to be a Bat?” (1974). Jackson, however, takes pains to distinguish his argument from Nagel’s. This entry will follow standard practice in focusing on Jackson’s argument, though (...) I will also describe the main points of alleged similarity and dissimilarity between these two arguments. (shrink)
I will present a conceptual argument for a simulationist answer to (2). Given that our conception of mental states is employed in attributing mental states to others, a simulationist answer to (2) supports a simulationist answer to (1). I will not address question (3). Answers to (1) and (2) do not yield an answer to (3), since (1) and (2) concern only our actual practices and concepts. For instance, an error theory about (1) and (2) would say that our practices (...) and concepts manifest a mistaken view about the real nature of the mental. Finally, I will not address question (2a), which is an empirical question and so is not immediately relevant to the conceptual argument that is of concern here. (shrink)
When read as demands for justification, these questions seem absurd. We don’t normally ask people to substantiate assertions like “I think it will rain tomorrow” or “I have a headache”. There is, at the very least, a strong presumption that sincere self-attributions about one’s thoughts and feelings are true. In fact, some philosophers believe that such self-attributions are less susceptible to doubt than any other claims. Even those who reject that extreme view generally acknowledge that there is some salient epistemic (...) difference between (a) one’s belief that she thinks it will rain tomorrow, or that she has a headache, and (b) her belief that it is raining, or that another person has a headache. (shrink)
I defend one leading strand of Descartes's thought against feminist criticism. I will show that Descartes's “first-person” approach to our knowledge of minds, which has been criticized on feminist grounds, is at least compatible with key feminist views. My argument suggests that this strand of Cartesianism may even bolster some central feminist positions.
My aim here is threefold: (a) to show that conceptual facts play a more significant role in justifying explanatory reductions than most of the contributors to the current debate realize; (b) to furnish an account of that role, and (c) to trace the consequences of this account for conceivability arguments about the mind.
The claim that there is an explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal properties is perhaps the leading current challenge to materialist views about the mind. Tye tries to block this challenge, not by providing an explanation to bridge the gap but by denying that phenomenalphysical identities introduce an explanatory gap. Since an explanatory gap exists only if there is something unexplained that needs explaining, and something needs explaining only if it can be explained (whether or not it lies within the (...) power of human-beings to explain it), there is no gap. (Tye ????, p. ???) Tyes strategy differs crucially from the claim that identities never stand in need of explanation because they constitute ultimate explanations; for he allows that identities such as water = H?O are explainable. Unlike WATER and H?O, which are descriptive concepts, phenomenal concepts are perspectival and hence irreducible to descriptive concepts, according to Tye. The fact that something picked out by a perspectival concept is identical to something picked out by a non-perspectival concept cannot be explained.1 So, he concludes, phenomenalphysical identities need not be explained. (shrink)
Charles Siewert offers a persuasive argument to show that the presence of certain phenomenal features logically suffices for the presence of certain intentional ones. He claims that this shows that (some) phenomenal features are inherently intentional. I argue that he has not established the latter thesis, even if we grant the logical sufficiency claim. For he has not ruled out a rival alternative interpretation of the relevant data, namely, that (some) intentional features are inherently phenomenal.
It is often said that we can know our own thoughts more directly or with more certainty than anyone else can know them. And this disparity is usually taken to be principled, in that we would not be the rational, reflective beings that we are without it. My aim is to trace the consequences of a principled disparity between self-knowledge and other-knowledge for what may be termed the “mechanics ” of self-knowledge . I use a new thought experiment to show (...) that if introspective states are merely causally related to introspected thoughts, the disparity between self-knowledge and other-knowledge is not truly principled. An account of self-knowledge adequate to a truly principled disparity will allow that thought tokens can be. (shrink)
This paper calls into question the viability of materialist reduction of the phenomenal. I revisit the 'Knowledge Argument', which claims that there is information about the phenomenal which is not reducible to, nor even inferable from, information about the physical. I demonstrate the failure of the two chief strategies for blocking the Knowledge Argument: (1) analyzing phenomenal knowledge as an ability, and (2) construing it as knowledge of facts which are ontologically reducible to (though conceptually distinct from) physical facts. Materialist (...) reduction of the phenomenal is, thus, untenable; materialists must adopt a more extreme, eliminativist view about the phenomenal. (shrink)