A popular defense of physicalist theories of consciousness against anti-physicalist arguments invokes the existence of ‘phenomenal concepts’. These are concepts that designate conscious experiences from a first person perspective, and hence differ from physicalistic concepts; but not in a way that precludes co-referentiality with them. On one version of this strategy phenomenal concepts are seen as (1) type demonstratives that have (2) no mode of presentation. However, 2 is possible without 1-call this the ‘bare recognitional concept’ view-and I will argue (...) that this avoids certain recent criticisms while retaining the virtue of finessing the ‘mode of presentation’ problem for phenomenal concepts. But construing phenomenal concepts this way seems to not do justice to the phenomenology of conscious experience. In this paper I examine whether or not this impression can be borne out by a good argument. As it turns out, it is harder to do so than one might think. It can be done, but it involves somewhat more convoluted reasoning than one might have supposed necessary. Having shown that, I will end with a few brief remarks on what my argument means for attempts to preserve a physicalist account of consciousness. (shrink)
As some see it, an impasse has been reached on the mind- body problem between mainstream physicalism and mainstream dualism. So lately another view has been gaining popularity, a view that might be called the 'Russellian theory of mind' (RTM) since it is inspired by some ideas once put forth by Bertrand Russell. Most versions of RTM are panpsychist, but there is at least one version that rejects panpsychism and styles itself as physicalism, and neutral monism is also a possibility. (...) In this paper I will attempt to sort out these different versions with a view to determining which, if any, have a chance of breaking the perceived impasse. The unsurprising conclusion will be that there are a lot of challenges ahead for the RTM theorist. The surprising conclusion will be that it's not clear that pan- psychist RTM holds an advantage over the other versions in this regard. (shrink)
Frank Jackson formulated his knowledge argument as an argument for dualism. In this paper I show how the argument can be modified to also establish the irreducibility of the secondary qualities to the properties of physical theory, and ultimately "secondary quality eliminativism"- the view that the secondary qualities are physically uninstantiated.
Frank Jackson formulated his knowledge argument as an argument for dualism. In this paper I show how the argument can be modified to also establish the irreducibility of the secondary qualities to the properties of physical theory, and ultimately.
The subjectivity of consciousness is widely regarded as a major stumbling block for materialist theories of mind. In this paper I show how Kripkean arguments against identity theories (Kripke, 1972), and in particular a Kripkean argument against qualia-material property identity developed by Frank Jackson (1980) are a way of highlighting this problem. (And such arguments are not the quasi-historical curiosities they are sometimes pictured as being, because problems confronting functionalism have led to a modest revival of identity theory.) As such, (...) Kripkean arguments are akin to recent discussions of subjectivity by Thomas Nagel (1965, 1974, 1979) and Frank Jackson (1982). I then consider some recent attempts to refute Kripkean arguments or otherwise show that subjectivity is not an insurmountable problem for identity theory. The most promising attempt is one that I myself develop, based on some ideas by Keith Gunderson (1970). But I contend that even it, let alone any of the others, is not without problems. Thus, tentatively, Kripkean arguments against property identity succeed. (shrink)
In a recent article, Grover Maxwell presents a case for a kind of mind-brain identity theory which he claims precludes materialism. His case is based on some views about meaning which I find plausible. However, I will argue that, by adopting certain assumptions about the nature of sensory experience, and extending some of Maxwell's views about meaning in a plausible way, the issue of a materialistic identity theory is reopened. Ultimately, I will agree that such a theory is not true, (...) but more is needed to show this than Maxwell gives us. But the question of materialism is not thereby closed, because it has become axiomatic these days that materialism does not require an identity theory. So I will go on to consider if all forms of materialism have been ruled out by Maxwell's theory, as extended by me. I will end with a tentative affirmative answer but also with a proposal which, if it can be worked out, would reverse the decision. (shrink)