According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self- representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self- representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self- representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most promising self-representational approach to the (...) class='Hi'>explanatory gap (§2). That approach is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine, which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4). (shrink)
This paper examines a paradigm case of allegedly successful reductive explanation, viz. the explanation of the fact that water boils at 100°C based on facts about H2O. The case figures prominently in Joseph Levine’s explanatory gap argument against physicalism. The paper studies the way the argument evolved in the writings of Levine, focusing especially on the question how the reductive explanation of boiling water figures in the argument. It will turn out that there are two versions of the (...) class='Hi'>explanatory gap argument to be found in Levine’s writings. The earlier version relies heavily on conceptual analysis and construes reductive explanation as a process of deduction. The later version makes do without conceptual analysis and understands reductive explanations as based on theoretic reductions that are justified by explanatory power. Along the way will be shown that the bridge principles — which are being neglected in the explanatory gap literature — play a crucial role in the explanatory gap argument. (shrink)
It is argued that the explanatory gap argument, according to which it is fundamentally impossible to explain qualitative mental states in a physicalist theory of mind, is unsound. The main argument in favour of the explanatory gap is presented, which argues that an identity statement of mind and brain has no explanatory force, in contrast to "normal" scientific identity statements. Then it is shown that "normal" scientific identity statements also do not conform to the demands set by (...) the proponent of the explanatory gap. Rather than accept all such gaps, it is argued that we should deny the explanatory gap in a physicalist theory of mind. (shrink)
In what follows, I argue that the disturbing effect of the explanatory gap arises from an illusion, an implicit expectation that all “direct grasps of the essence” of a property are achieved by a homogeneous concept-forming faculty. But there is no such faculty. The truth is that our concepts form a mixed bag, drawing on experiential states, verbal conceptions, theoretical conceptual roles, and other concept-making factors. It should not be too surprising then if some pairs of concepts, even when (...) they directly capture the same essence, are not conceptually convertible. That would place conceptual—psychological—limits on explanation. (shrink)
Confronted with the apparent explanatory gap between physical processes and consciousness, there are many possible reactions. Some deny that any explanatory gap exists at all. Some hold that there is an explanatory gap for now, but that it will eventually be closed. Some hold that the explanatory gap corresponds to an ontological gap in nature.
The explanatory gap . Consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account, even a highly speculative, hypothetical, and incomplete account of how a physical thing could have phenomenal states. (Nagel, 1974, Levine, 1983) Suppose that consciousness is identical to a property of the brain, say activity in the pyramidal cells of layer 5 of the cortex involving reverberatory circuits from cortical layer 6 to the thalamus and back to layers 4 and 6,as Crick and Koch have (...) suggested for visual consciousness. (See Crick (1994).) Still, that identity itself calls out for explanation! Proponents of an explanatory gap disagree about whether the gap is permanent. Some (e.g. Nagel, 1974) say that we are like the scientifically naive person who is told that matter = energy, but does not have the concepts required to make sense of the idea. If we can acquire these concepts, the gap is closable. Others say the gap is uncloseable because of our cognitive limitations. (McGinn, 1991) Still others say that the gap is a consequence of the fundamental nature of consciousness. (shrink)
This paper is a defence of Terence Horgan’s claim that any genuinely physicalist position must distinguish itself from (what has been traditionally known as) emergentism. I argue that physicalism is necessarily reductive in character -- it must either give a reductive account of apparently non-physical entities, or a reductive explanation of why there are non-physical entities. I argue that many recent ‘nonreductive’ physicalists do not do this, and that because of this they cannot adequately distinguish their view from emergentism. The (...) conclusion is that this is the real challenge posed by Joseph Levine’s ‘explanatory gap’ argument: if physicalists cannot close the explanatory gap in Levine’s preferred way, they must find some other way to do it. Otherwise their view is indistinguishable from emergentism. (shrink)
It is widely agreed among contemporary philosophers of mind that science leaves us with an ‘explanatory gap’—that even after we know everything that science can tell us about the conscious mind and the brain, their relationship still remains mysterious. I argue that this agreed view is quite mistaken. The feeling of a ‘explanatory gap’ arises only because we cannot stop ourselves thinking about the mind–brain relation in a dualist way.
Consciousness often presents itself as a problem for materialists because no matter which physical explanation we consider, there seems to remain something about conscious experience that hasn't been fully explained. This gives rise to an apparent explanatory gap. The explanatory gulf between the physical and the conscious is reflected in the broader population, in which dualistic intuitions abound. Drawing on recent empirical evidence, this essay presents a dual-process cognitive model of consciousness attribution. This dual-process model, we suggest, provides (...) an important part of the explanation for why dualism is so attractive and the explanatory gap so vexing. (shrink)
Proponents of the explanatory gap claim that consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account of how a physical thing could be identical to a phenomenal one. We fully understand the identity between water and H2O but the identity between pain and the firing of C-fibers is inconceivable. Mark Johnston [Journal of philosophy (1997), 564–583] suggests that if water is constituted by H2O, not identical to it, then the explanatory gap becomes a pseudo-problem. This is (...) because all “manifest kinds”—those identified in experience—are on a par in not being identical to their physical bases, so that the special problem of the inconceivability of ‘pain = the firing of C-fibers’ vanishes. Moreover, the substitute relation, constitution, raises no explanatory difficulties: pain can be constituted by its physical base, as can water. The thesis of this paper is that the EG does not disappear when we substitute constitution for identity. I examine four arguments for the EG, and show that none of them is undermined by the move from constitution to identity. (shrink)
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)
The thesis that there is a troublesome explanatory gap between the phenomenal aspects of experiences and the underlying physical and functional states is given a number of different interpretations. It is shown that, on each of these interpretations, the thesis is false. In supposing otherwise, philosophers have fallen prey to a cognitive illusion, induced largely by a failure to recognize the special character of phenomenal concepts.
I argue that the explanatory gap is generated by factors consistent with the view that qualia are physical properties. I begin by considering the most plausible current approach to this issue based on recent work by Valerie Hardcastle and Clyde Hardin. Although their account of the source of the explanatory gap and our potential to close it is attractive, I argue that it is too speculative and philosophically problematic. I then argue that the explanatory gap should not (...) concern physicalists because it makes excessive demands on physical theory. (shrink)
This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “qualia” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: (1) looking at the history of the conception of pain; (2) raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology (...) of pain; (3) considering evidence from the neurophysiological systems of pain; (4) investigating the possible biological role or roles of pain; and (5) considering methodological questions of the comparable status of the results of the sciences of pain in contrast to certain intuitions underpinning “the explanatory gap” in the case of pain. Skepticism concerning the crucial underlying intuitions seems justified by these considerations. (shrink)
Wittgenstein demystified the notion of 'observational self-knowledge'. He dislodged the long-standing conception that we have privileged access to our impressions, sensations and feelings through introspection, and more precisely eliminated knowing as the kind of awareness that normally characterizes our first-person present-tense psychological statements. He was not thereby questioning our awareness of our emotions or sensations, but debunking the notion that we come to that awareness via any epistemic route. This makes the spontaneous linguistic articulation of our sensations and impressions nondescriptive. (...) Not descriptions, but expressions that seem more akin to behaviour than to language. I suggest that Wittgenstein uncovered a new species of speech acts. Far from the prearranged consecration of words into performatives, utterances are deeds through their very spontaneity. This gives language a new aura: the aura of the reflex action. I argue, against Peter Hacker, that spontaneous utterances have the categorial status of deeds. This has no reductive consequences in that I do not suggest that one category is reduced to another, but that the boundary between them is porous. This explodes the myth of an explanatory gap between the traditionally distinct categories of saying (or thinking) and doing, or of mind and body. (shrink)
The explanatory gap and theknowledge argument are rooted in the conflationof propositional and phenomenal knowledge. Thebasic knowledge argument is based on theconsideration that ``physical information'' aboutthe nervous system is unable to provide theknowledge of a ``color experience'' (Jackson,1982). The implication is that physicalism isincomplete or false because it leaves somethingunexplained. The problem with Jackson'sargument is that physical information has theform of highly symbolic propositional knowledgewhereas phenomenal knowledge consists in innateneurophysiological processes. In addition totheir fundamental epistemological differences,clinical, anatomical, pathological and (...) brainimaging studies demonstrate that phenomenal andpropositional knowledge are fundamentallydifferent neurobiological processes. Propositional knowledge is phylogeneticallynew, highly symbolic, culturally acquired,exclusively human and expressible in differentnatural and artificial languages. By contrast,phenomenal knowledge (i.e.: knowingwhat-it-is-like to see a color) consists inqualitative experiences and phenomenal conceptsthat provide an internal, language-independentreference to the properties of objects and theneeds of the organism. Language andpropositional knowledge are exclusively humanattributes implemented in specific regions ofthe dominant hemisphere. This contrastssharply with the phylogenicallysensory areas that are common to animals andhumans, which implement qualitativeexperiences. Experiences are hard-wiredneurobiological processes that can neither betransmitted nor re-created through thesymbolism of propositions. Thus, I concludethat the fallacy in the explanatory gap and inthe knowledge argument is a fallacy ofequivocation that results from ignoringfundamental neurobiological differences betweenphenomenal and propositional knowledge. (shrink)
One of the driving questions in philosophy of mind is whether a person can be understood in purely physical terms. In this presentation, I wish to continue the project initiated by Donald Davidson, whose subtle position on this question has left many more perplexed than enlightened. The main reason for this perplexity is Davidson’s rather obscure pronouncements about the normativity of intentionality and its role in supporting psychophysical anomalism – the claim that there are no laws bridging our intentional states (...) with states of our brain. Insofar as Davidson’s thesis is an ontological one – about the existence of laws or otherwise modally significant connections between the mental and the physical – I think his critics are correct: Davidson has not provided us with a successful argument for psychophysical anomalism. There is, however, a different argument, also based upon considerations about the normativity of intentionality that lead to an equally important conclusion. The conclusion is not ontological but rather epistemic: if thoughts do indeed display normativity, it is hard to understand how they would arise out of mere mechanical occurrences in the brain. To borrow a well-worn phrase, there is an “explanatory gap” between the mental and the physical. Originally coined to capture the epistemic darkness we confront in our attempt to understand phenomenal experiences in purely physical terms, the idea has yet to be explored in the area of contentful mental states or intentionality in general. My argument shall be this: considerations about the normativity of intentionality demonstrate that there is an explanatory gap between the intentional and the physical. In fact, if there were laws of the kind Davidson denies, then the world be more mysterious than if no such laws existed. The presence of an explanatory gap explains why this is so. (shrink)
Consciousness, Reductionism and the Explanatory Gap: Investigations in Honor of Rudolf Carnap Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11406-010-9272-7 Authors Leon de Bruin, Institut für Philosophie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany Albert Newen, Institut für Philosophie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany Journal Philosophia Online ISSN 1574-9274 Print ISSN 0048-3893 Journal Volume Volume 39 Journal Issue Volume 39, Number 1.
Contrary to certain rumours, the mind-body problem is alive and well. So argues Joseph Levine in Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness . The main argument is simple enough. Considerations of causal efficacy require us to accept that subjective experiential, or 'phenomenal', properties are realized in basic non-mental, probably physical properties. But no amount of knowledge of those physical properties will allow us conclusively to deduce facts about the existence and nature of phenomenal properties. This failure of deducibility constitutes an (...)explanatory problem - an explanatory gap - but does not imply the existence of immaterial mental properties. Levine introduced this notion of the explanatory gap almost two decades ago. Purple Haze allows Levine to situate the explanatory gap in a broader philosophical context. He engages with those who hold that the explanatory gap is best understood as implying anti-materialist metaphysical conclusions. But he also seeks to distance himself from contemporary naturalistic philosophical theorizing about consciousness by arguing that reductive and eliminative theories of consciousness all fail. Levine's work is best seen as an attempt to firmly establish a definite status for the mind-body problem, i.e. that the mind-body problem is a real, substantive epistemological problem but emphatically not a metaphysical one. Because Levine's work is tightly focused upon contemporary Anglophone analytic philosophy of mind, there is little discussion of the broader conceptual background to the mind-body problem. My aim here is to place Levine's work in a broader conceptual context. In particular, I focus on the relationship between consciousness and intentionality in the belief that doing so will allow us better to understand and evaluate Levine's arguments and their place in contemporary theorizing about mentality and consciousness. (shrink)
Consciousness often presents itself as a problem for materialists because no matter which physical explanation we consider, there seems to remain something about conscious experience that hasn't been fully explained. This gives rise to an apparent explanatory gap. The explanatory gulf between the physical and the conscious is reflected in the broader population, in which dualistic intuitions abound. Drawing on recent empirical evidence, this essay presents a dual-process cognitive model of consciousness attribution. This dual-process model, we suggest, provides (...) an important part of the explanation for why dualism is so attractive and the explanatory gap so vexing. (shrink)
Based on the technique of pressure blinding of the eye, two types of after-image (AI) were identified. A physicalist or mind/brain identity explanation was established for a negative a AI produced by moderately intense stimuli. These AI's were shown to be located in the neurons of the retina. An illusory AI of double a grating's spatial frequency was also produced in the same structure and was both prevented from being established and abolished after establishment by pressure blinding, thus showing that (...) the location was not more central. The illusory AI was predicted from the known non-linearity in the retina and this is the first case of a clear cut type-type identity of a sensation and a neural process. Some implications for the concepts of the explanatory gap between neurology and consciousness and multiple neural realizations of conscious states and topic neutrality are discussed. (shrink)
An exploration is given of neural network features now being uncovered in cortical processing which begins to go a little way to help bridge the ''Explanatory Gap'' between phenomenal consciousness and correlated brain activity. A survey of properties suggested as being possessed by phenomenal consciousness leads to a set of criteria to be required of the correlated neural activity. Various neural styles of processing are reviewed and those fitting the criteria are selected for further analysis. One particular processing style, (...) in which semiautonomous and long-lasting cortical activity ''bubbles'' are created by input, is selected as being the most appropriate. Further experimental criteria are used to help narrow the possible neural styles involved. This leads to a class of neural models underpinning phenomenal consciousness and to a related set of testable predictions. (shrink)
Russell (1912) and others have argued that the real nature of colour is transparentto us in colour vision. It's nature is fully revealed to us and no further knowledgeis theoretically possible. This is the doctrine of revelation. Two-dimensionalFourier analyses of coloured checkerboards have shown that apparently simple,monadic, colours can be based on quite different physical mechanisms. Experimentswith the McCollough effect on different types of checkerboards have shown thatidentical colours can have energy at the quite different orientations of Fourierharmonic components but (...) no energy at the edges of the checkerboards, thusrefuting revelation. It is concluded that this effect is not explained by a superveniencedispositional account of colour as proposed by McGinn (1996). It was argued that theMcCollough effect in checkerboards was an example of a local mind/body reduction(Kim 1993), by which the different characteristics of identical colours falsifies revelation. This reduction being based on both physical and neurological mechanisms led to a clear explanation of the perceive phenomenal effects and thus laid a small bridge over the explanatory gap. (shrink)
I argue that O'Regan & Noë's (O&N's) theory is in a no better position than any other theory to solve the “hard problem” of consciousness. Getting rid of the explanatory gap by exchanging sensorimotor contingencies for neural representations is an illusion.
The explanatory gap refers to the lack of concepts for understanding “how it is that . . . a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue.” By assuming that there are colours in the outside world, Block needlessly widens this gap and Lycan and Kitcher simply fail to see the gap. When such assumptions are abandoned, an unnecessary and incomprehensible constraint disappears. It then becomes clear that the brain can use its own neural language (...) for representing aspects of the outside world. While this may not close the gap, it becomes clearer where we need new concepts. (shrink)
I argue that the contextualist account of the referential/attributive interpretation of definite descriptions, presented by Recanati and Bezuidehnout and based on the idea that definite descriptions are semantically underdetermined and in need of completion through optional top-down pragmatic processes, suffers from an explanatory gap. I defend the contextualist view but hold that the determination of the content of definite descriptions is a mandatory, linguistically driven process based on saturation rather than on optional pragmatic processes.
The contemporary epistemic status of mental health disciplines does not allow the cross validation of mental disorders among various genetic markers, biochemical pathway or mechanisms, and clinical assessments in neuroscience explanations. We attempt to provide a meta-empirical analysis of the contemporary status of the cross-disciplinary issues existing between neuro-biology and psychopathology. Our case studies take as an established medical mode an example cross validation between biological sciences and clinical cardiology in the case of myocardial infarction. This is then contrasted with (...) the incoherence between neuroscience and psychiatry in the case of bipolar disorders. We examine some methodological problems arising from the neuro-imaging studies, specifically the experimental paradigm introduced by the team of Wayne Drevets. Several theoretical objections are raised: temporal discordance, state independence, and queries about the reliability and specificity, and failure of convergent validity of the inter-disciplinary attempt. Both modern neuroscience and clinical psychology taken as separate fields have failed to reveal the explanatory mechanisms underlying mental disorders. The data acquired inside the mono-disciplinary matrices of neurobiology and psychopathology are deeply insufficient concerning their validity, reliability, and utility. Further, there haven’t been developed any effective trans-disciplinary connections between them. It raises the requirement for development of explanatory significant multi-disciplinary “meta-language” in psychiatry (Berrios, 2006, 2008). We attempt to provide a novel conceptual model for an integrative dialogue between psychiatry and neuroscience that actually includes criteria for cross-validation of the common used psychiatric categories and the different assessment methods. The major goal of our proactive program is the foundation of complementary “bridging” connections of neuroscience and psychopathology which may stabilize the cognitive meta-structure of the mental health knowledge. This entails bringing into synergy the disparate discourses of clinical psychology and neuroscience. One possible model accomplishment of this goal would be the synergistic (or at least compatible) integration of the knowledge under trans-disciplinary convergent cross-validation of the commonly used methods and notions. (shrink)
_tableau_ can be given a full and satisfying explanation, while others cannot. We can explain in a full and satisfying way why the water in the mug is identical with H2O, why its liquidity is identical with a state of its molecular bonds, and why its heat is identical with its molecules being in motion. But we cannot explain in the same way why the neural processes which Joe undergoes when he looks at the mug are such as to make (...) the mug look green, and not red. The latter explanations have gaps. (shrink)
At the start of the 20th century the question of whether life could be explained in purely me- chanical terms was as hotly debated as the mind-body problem is today. Two factions opposed each other: Biological mechanists claimed that the properties characteristic of living organisms (metabolism, perception, goal-directed behavior, procreation, morphogenesis) could be ex- plained mechanistically, in the way the behavior of a clock can be explained by the properties and the arrangement of its cogs, springs, and weights. Substantial vitalists, (...) on the other hand, maintained that the explanation envisaged by the mechanists was impossible and that one had to postulate a special nonphysical substance in order to explain life. (shrink)
This paper is an overview of recent discussions concerning the mind–body problem that have been taking place at the interface between philosophy and neuroscience. In it I focus on phenomenal consciousness or “qualia”, which I distinguish from various related issues (sections 1-2). I then discuss various influential skeptical arguments that question the possibility of reductive explanations of qualia in physicalist terms: knowledge arguments, conceivability arguments, the argument from multiple realizability and the explanatory gap argument. None of the arguments is (...) found entirely convincing (section 3). It does not necessarily follow that reductive physicalism is the only option, but it is defensible. However, constant conceptual and methodological reflection is required alongside ongoing research, to keep such a view free from dogmatism and naivety (section 4). (shrink)
Recent research in the cognitive science of religion suggests that humans intuitively believe that others survive death. In response to this finding, three cognitive theories have been offered to explain this: the simulation constraint theory (Bering, 2002); the imaginative obstacle theory (Nichols, 2007); and terror management theory (Pyszczynski, Rothschild, & Abdollahi, 2008). First, I provide a critical analysis of each of these theories. Second, I argue that these theories, while perhaps explaining why one would believe in his own personal immortality, (...) leave an explanatory gap in that they do not explain why one would intuitively attribute survival of death to others. To fill in the gap, I offer a cognitive theory based on offline social reasoning and social embodiment which provides for the belief in an eternal social realm in which the deceased survive—the afterlife. (shrink)
J. G. Taylor advances an empirically testable local neural network model to understand the neural correlates of phenomenal experience. Taylor's model is better able to explain the presence (i.e., persistence, latency, and seamlessness) and unity of phenomenal consciousness which support the idea that consciousness is coherent, undivided, and centered. However, Taylor fails to offer a satisfactory explanation of the nonlinear relationship between local and global neural systems. In addition, the ontological assumptions that PE is immediate, intrinsic, and incorrigible limit an (...) understanding of the different experiential forms consciousness takes during neurobehavioral development. Recent studies suggest that neurobehavioral development is discontinuous and that judgment emerges under conditions of uncertainty to render feeling and perception in equivalent terms of energy and behavior. Approaching the problem of phenomenal experience from a developmental perspective may help resolve the paradox of feeling infinitely close as well as distant from one's self. (shrink)
The most central metaphysical question about phenomenal consciousness is that of what constitutes phenomenal consciousness, whereas the most central epistemic question about consciousness is that of whether science can eventually provide an explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Many philosophers have argued that science doesn't have the means to answer the question of what consciousness is (the explanatory gap) but that consciousness nonetheless is fully determined by the physical facts underlying it (no metaphysical gap). Others have argued that the explanatory (...) gap in the sciences entails a metaphysical gap. The explanatory gap exists, they say, because there are two fundamental properties in the world that do not reduce to one another: Phenomenal and physical. This position is also known as 'property dualism'. A famous argument, formulated and defended at great length by David Chalmers, uses conceptual tools to argue for a metaphysical gap. When we just look at what the notion of phenomenal consciousness implies, we will find that it doesn't rule out that there could be entities functionally and physically identical to us but without phenomenal consciousness. A couple of further argumentative steps can get us from here to the conclusion that laying down the physical facts of our world does not necessitate phenomenal consciousness. I argue that this argument is compelling but that accepting the conclusion doesn't have the implication that science cannot discover what consciousness is. I begin by outlining and assessing a number of different positions philosophers and scientists have recently defended regarding the link between neurological systems and consciousness, I then argue that even if property dualism is true, that doesn't necessarily prevent the sciences from discovering what constitutes consciousness. That is, there may be no explanatory gap even if there is a metaphysical gap. (shrink)
According to many philosophers, there is an explanatory gap between physical truths and phenomenal truths. Someone could know all the physical truths about the world, and in particular, all the physical information about the brain and the neurophysiology of vision, and still not know what it is like to see red (Jackson 1982, 1986). According to a similar example, someone could know all the physical truths about bats and still not know what it is like to be a bat (...) (Nagel 1974). We can conceive of an individual that is physically identical to me, molecule per molecule, but does not have any phenomenally conscious state whatsoever (Chalmers 1996). Some philosophers have argued that the explanatory gap shows that we cannot explain consciousness in physical terms (Levine 2001), or even that phenomenal consciousness is not physical and therefore physicalism is false (Chalmers 1996, 2002). (shrink)
I agree with nearly everything Martin Davies says. He has written an elegant and highly informative analysis of recent philosophical debates about the mind–brain relation. I particularly enjoyed Davies’ discussion of B.A. Farrell, his precursor in the Oxford Wilde Readership (now Professorship) in Mental Philosophy. It is intriguing to see how closely Farrell anticipated many of the moves made by more recent ‘type-A’ physicalists who seek to show that, upon analysis, claims about conscious states turn out to be nothing more (...) than complex third-personal claims about internal and external behaviour. Davies is also exemplary in his even-handed treatment of those contemporary ‘type-B’ physicalists who have turned away from the neo-logical-behaviourism of Farrell and his ilk. Davies explains how type-B physicalists recognize distinctive subjective ‘phenomenal concepts’ for thinking about conscious states and so deny that phenomenal claims can be deduced a priori from behavioural or other third-personal claims. However, type-B physicalists do not accept that these subjective phenomenal concepts refer to any distinct non-material reality. In their view, phenomenal concepts and third-personal scientific concepts are simply another example of the familiar circumstance where we have two different ways of referring to a single reality. Since I am persuaded by pretty much all Davies says about these matters, I shall not comment substantially on the dialectical points he covers. Instead I want to raise two rather wider issues. The first is the set of ideas associated with the phrase ‘the explanatory gap’. Davies specifies that he is using this phrase in a specific technical sense. But the phrase has further connotations, and this can lead to a distorted appreciation of the philosophical issues. The second issue is the methodological implications of the philosophical debate. I shall argue that the philosophical issues addressed by Davies suggest that there are unexpected limitations on what empirical brain research can achieve.. (shrink)
This paper considers the so?called explanatory gap between brain activity and conscious experience. A number of different, though closely related, explanatory gaps are distinguished and a monistic account of conscious experience, a version of Herbert Feigl's ?dual?access theory,? is advocated as a solution to the problems they are taken to pose for physicalist accounts of mind. Although dual?access theory is a version of the mind?body identity thesis, it in no way ?eliminates? conscious experience; rather, it provides a parsimonious (...) and explanatorily fruitful theory of the consciousness?body relation which faithfully preserves the nature of conscious experience while going quite far in ?bridging? the various explanatory gaps distinguished below. (shrink)
We present a cognitive-physicalist account of phenomenal consciousness. We argue that phe- nomenal concepts do not differ from other types of concepts. When explaining the peculiari- ties of conscious experience, the right place to look at is sensory/ perceptual representations and their interaction with general conceptual structures. We utilize Jerry Fodor’s psycho- semantic theory to formulate our view. We compare and contrast our view with that of Murat Aydede and Güven Güzeldere, who, using Dretskean psychosemantic theory, arrived at a so- (...) lution different from ours in some ways. We have suggested that the representational atomism of certain sensory experiences plays a central role in reconstructing the epistemic gap associ- ated with conscious experience, still, atomism is not the whole story. It needs to be supple- mented by some additional principles. We also add an account of introspection, and suggest some cognitive features that might distinguish representational atoms with phenomenal char- acter from those without it. (shrink)
We have reason to believe that phenomenal properties are nothing over and above certain physical properties. However, doubt is cast on this by the apparent epistemic gap that arises for attempts to account for phenomenal properties in physical terms. I argue that the epistemic gap should be divided into two more fundamental conceptual gaps. The first of these pertains to the distinctive subjectivity of phenomenal states, and the second pertains to the intrinsicality of phenomenal qualities. Stoljars ignorance hypothesis (IH) attempts (...) to undermine the epistemic gap by arguing that the apparent inexplicability of the phenomenal is merely a symptom of our limited conception of the non-experiential world. I establish some obstacles to IH, and argue that the correct analysis of the epistemic gap means these obstacles can only partially be overcome. I propose, nonetheless, that IH can still be put to good use as half of a hybrid account of phenomenal consciousness. The proposal combines a self-representationalist account of the subjectivity of phenomenal states with a Russellian version of IH that accommodates the qualitative character of those states. This neo-Russellian ignorance hypothesis (NRIH) credibly undermines the appearance of an epistemic gap between the physical and the phenomenal. (shrink)
The mind-body problem arises because all theories about mind-brain connections are too deeply obscure to gain general acceptance. This essay suggests a clear, simple, mind-brain solution that avoids all these perennial obscurities. (1) It does so, first of all, by reworking Strawson and Stoljar’s views. They argue that while minds differ from observable brains, minds can still be what brains are physically like behind the appearances created by our outer senses. This could avoid many obscurities. But to clearly do so, (...) it must first clear up its own deep obscurity about what brains are like behind appearances, and how they create the mind’s privacy, unity and qualia – all of which observable brains lack. (2) This can ultimately be done with a clear, simple assumption: our consciousness is the physical substance that certain brain events consist of beyond appearances. For example, the distinctive electrochemistry in nociceptor ion channels wholly consists of pain. This rejects that pain is a brain property: instead it’s a brain substance that occupies space in brains, and exerts forces by which it’s indirectly detectable via EEGs. (3) This assumption is justified because treating pains as physical substances avoids the perennial obscurities in mind-body theories. For example, this ‘clear physicalism’ avoids the obscure nonphysical pain of dualism and its spinoffs. Pain is instead an electrochemical substance. It isn’t private because it’s hidden in nonphysical minds, but instead because it’s just indirectly detected in the physical world in ways that leave its real nature hidden. (4) Clear physicalism also avoids puzzling reductions of private pains into more fundamental terms of observable brain activity. Instead pain is a hidden, private substance underlying this observable activity. Also, pain is fundamental in itself, for it’s what some brain activity fundamentally consists of. This also avoids reductive idealist claims that the world just exists in the mind. They yield obscure views on why we see a world that isn’t really out there. (5) Clear physicalism also avoids obscure claims that pain is information processing which is realizable in multiple hardwares (not just in electrochemistry). Molecular neuroscience now casts doubt on multiple realization. Also, it’s puzzling how abstract information gets ‘realized’ in brains and affects brains (compare ancient quandries on how universals get embodied in matter). A related idea is that of supervenient properties in nonreductive physicalism. They involve obscure overdetermination and emergent consciousness. Clear physicalism avoids all this. Pain isn’t an abstract property obscurely related to brains – it’s simply a substance in brains. (6) Clear physicalism also avoids problems in neuroscience. Neuroscience explains the mind’s unity in problematic ways using synchrony, attention, etc.. Clear physicalism explains unity in terms of intense neuroelectrical activity reaching continually along brain circuits as a conscious whole. This fits evidence that just highly active, highly connected circuits are fully conscious. Neuroscience also has problems explaining how qualia are actually encoded by brains, and how to get from these abstract codes to actual pain, fear, etc.. Clear physicalism explains qualia electrochemically, using growing evidence that both sensory and emotional qualia correlate with very specific electrical channels in neural receptors. Multiple-realization advocates overlook this important evidence. (7) Clear physicalism thus bridges the mind-brain gulf by showing how brains can possess the mind’s qualia, unity and privacy – and how minds can possess features of brain activity like occupying space and exerting forces. This unorthodox nonreductive physicalism may be where physicalism leads to when stripped of all its reductive and nonreductive obscurities. It offers a clear, simple mind-body solution by just filling in what neuroscience is silent about, namely, what brain matter is like behind perceptions of it. (shrink)
This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenal consciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a special informational character and semantic struc-ture that closely (...) tie them to the brain states realizing conscious qualitative experiences. We then develop an account of introspection which exploits this special nature of sensory concepts. The result is a new class of concepts, which, following recent terminology, we call phenomenal con-cepts: these concepts refer to phenomenal experience itself and are the vehicles used in introspec-tion. On our account, the connection between sensory and phenomenal concepts is very tight: it consists in different semantic uses of the same cognitive structures underlying the sensory con-cepts, such as the concept of red. Contrary to widespread opinion, we show that information the-ory contains all the resources to satisfy internalist intuitions about phenomenal consciousness, while not offending externalist ones. A consequence of this account is that it explains and pre-dicts the so-called conceivability arguments against physicalism on the basis of the special nature of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Thus we not only show why physicalism is not threatened by such arguments, but also demonstrate its strength in virtue of its ability to predict and explain away such arguments in a principled way. However, we take the main contribution of this work to be what it provides in addition to a response to those conceivability arguments, namely, a sub-stantive account of the interface between sensory and conceptual systems and the mechanisms of introspection as based on the special nature of the information flow between them. (shrink)
In the standard thought experiments, dualism strikes many philosophers as true, including many non-dualists. This ‘striking’ generates prima facie justification: in the absence of defeaters, we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be, i.e. we ought to be dualists. In this paper, I examine several proposed undercutting defeaters for our dualist intuitions. I argue that each proposal fails, since each rests on a false assumption, or requires empirical evidence that it lacks, or overgenerates defeaters. By the (...) end, our prima facie justification for dualism remains undefeated. I close with one objection concerning the dialectical role of rebutting defeaters, and I argue that the prospects for a successful rebutting defeater for our dualist intuitions are dim. Since dualism emerges undefeated, we ought to believe it. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to qualia of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate between, for example, Hardin, Levine, Jackson, Clark and Chalmers as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. This paper examines carefully the type of explanation (...) that is needed here, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is only of marginal relevance here. (shrink)
Since educators are always looking for ways to improve their practice, and since empirical science is now accepted in our worldview as the final arbiter of truth, it is no surprise they have been lured toward cognitive neuroscience in hopes that discovering how the brain learns will provide a nutshell explanation for student learning in general. I argue that identifying the person with the brain is scientism (not science), that the brain is not the person, and that it is the (...) person who learns. In fact the brain only responds to the learning of embodied experience within the extra-neural network of intersubjective communications. Learning is a dynamic, cultural activity, not a neural program. Brain-based learning is unnecessary for educators and may be dangerous in that a culturally narrow ontology is taken for granted, thus restricting our creativity and imagination, and narrowing the human community. (shrink)
Three big philosophical problems about consciousness are: Why does it exist? How do we explain and understand it? How can we explain brain-consciousness correlations? If functionalism were true, all three problems would be solved. But it is false, which means all three problems remain unsolved. Here, it is argued that the first problem cannot have a solution; this is inherent in the nature of explanation. The second problem is solved by recognizing that (a) there is an explanation as to why (...) science cannot explain consciousness, and (b) consciousness can be explained by a different kind of explanation, empathic or "personalistic" explanation, compatible with, but not reducible to, scientific explanation. The third problem is solved by exploiting David Chalmers' "principle of structural coherence", and involves postulating that sensations experienced by us visual, auditory, tactile, and so on amount to minute scattered regions in a vast, multi dimensional "space" of all possible sensations, which vary smoothly, and in a linear way, throughout the space. There is also the space of all possible sentient brain processes. There is just one, unique one-one mapping between these two spaces that preserves continuity and linearity. It is this which provides the explanation as to why brain processes and sensations are correlated as they are. I consider objections to this unique-matching theory, and consider how the theory might be empirically confirmed. (shrink)
In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal (...) efficacy, are ignored by physics and cannot be predicted by physical theory. Even though physics is silent about sensory qualities, they nevertheless exist objectively in the world – in one sense of “objective” at least. (shrink)
Defining consciousness along the lines of Nagel, an organism has consciousness iff there is something it is like to be that organism, I relate three types of consciousness (phenomenal, access and reflexive) to the three types of short-term memory (sensory memories, short-term working memory and the central executive). The suggestion is that these short-term memory stores may be a key feature of consciousness.
This paper is concerned with a quality space model as an account of the intelligibility of explanation. I argue that descriptions of causal or functional roles (Chalmers Levine, 2001) are not the only basis for intelligible explanations. If we accept that phenomenal concepts refer directly, not via descriptions of causal or functional roles, then it is difficult to find role fillers for the described causal roles. This constitutes a vagueness constraint on the intelligibility of explanation. Thus, I propose to use (...) quality space models to develop a systematic way of studying different modalities of perception and feelings, e.g., visual and auditory perception, pain, and emotion, that can reveal some structural relations among these modalities. It might turn out that topological explanation can be more intelligible than causal explanation in this case. I discuss two accounts of a quality space for color vision (Clark, 2000; Rosenthal, 2010) and propose how to construct a quality space for pain. Daniel Kostic is Associated Researcher at Berlin School of Mind and Brain. (shrink)
On the first page of The Problem of Consciousness (1991), Colin McGinn asks "How is it possible for conscious states to depend on brain states? How can technicolour phenomenology arise from soggy grey matter?" Many philosophers feel that questions like these pose an unanswerable challenge to physicalism. They argue that there is no way of bridging the "explanatory gap" between the material brain and the lived world of conscious experience (Levine, 1983), and that physicalism about the mind can therefore (...) provide no answer to the "hard problem" of why brains give rise to consciousness (Chalmers, 1996). (shrink)
Is there an explanatory gap between raw feels and raw material? Some philosophers argue, and many other people believe, that scientific explanations of conscious experience cannot be as satisfying as typical scientific explanations elsewhere, even in our wildest dreams. The underlying philosophical claims are.
University and William Bechtel Washington University Abstract Explanatory pluralism holds that the sorts of comprehensive theoretical and ontological economies, which microreductionists and New Wave reductionists envision and which antireductionists fear, offer misleading views of both scientific practice and scientific progress. Both advocates and foes of employing reductionist strategies at the interface of psychology and neuroscience have overplayed the alleged economies that interlevel connections (including identities) justify while overlooking their fundamental role in promoting scientific research. A brief review of research (...) on visual processing provides support for the explanatory pluralist=s general model of cross-scientific relations and discloses the valuable heuristic role hypothetical identities play in cross-scientific research. That model also supplies grounds for hesitation about the correlation objection to the psycho-physical identity theory and complaints about an explanatory gap in physicalist accounts of consciousness. These takes on psycho-neural connections miss both the sorts of considerations that motivate hypothetical identities in science and their fundamental contribution to progressive research. Thus, their focus on the contributions of research at multiple levels of analysis does not bar explanatory pluralists from considering heuristic identity theory (HIT). Arguably, it encourages it. (shrink)
For a theory of phenomenal consciousness, the real issue is not that between vehicle and process, but between naturalistic and deconstructive theories. Most current naturalistic theories combine a hypothesis about the neural correlate of consciousness with a subsequent naturalistic proposal about how to close the explanatory gap. Deconstructive theories use theses about the neural correlate of consciousness only to motivate and support their claim that the “hard problem” of consciousness is a pseudo-problem which is not to be solved, but (...) rather dissolved on non-naturalistic grounds. O'Brien & Opie present a hypothesis concerning the neural correlate of consciousness, but no genuine strategy to close the explanatory gap. Their theory can, however, contribute to the success of a deconstructive theory of PC. (shrink)
In this paper, I reflect on the assumptions implicit in the psychophysical explanatory gap metaphor. There are clearly gaps in our current understanding of the psycho-physical link, but how great are they? Are they different in kind from other gaps in our understanding of the world that cause us less metaphysical and epistemological distress? Further, why are we supposed to regard the gaps in our psychological understanding differently? Rather than assess such theories of why a special gap exists, I (...) want to take a somewhat skeptical look at the underlying assumption that the gap is all that special. (shrink)
When it comes to the meanings of normative expressions, descriptivist theories and expressivist theories have distinct explanatory virtues. Noting this, and with the hope of not compromising on explanatory resources, hybrid semantic theories refuse to choose. Here, I examine how well the strategy works for Moorean open questions and associated is-ought gaps. Though hybrid theorists typically rely on their expressivist resources for this explanandum, there is a type of open question that unadulterated expressivist theories can handle but hybrid (...) theories cannot – reverse open questions associated with an ought-is gap. Because of this, hybrid theories do not enjoy the best of both worlds, and Moorean considerations favour unadulterated expressivism over any partly descriptivist theory. (shrink)
One argument for reductive physicalism, the explanatory argument, rests on its ability to explain the vast and growing body of acknowledged psychophysical correlations. Jaegwon Kim has recently levelled four objections against the explanatory argument. I assess all of Kim's objections, showing that none is successful. The result is a defence of the explanatory argument for physicalism.
The explanatory role of natural selection is one of the long-term debates in evolutionary biology. Nevertheless, the consensus has been slippery because conceptual confusions and the absence of a unified, formal causal model that integrates different explanatory scopes of natural selection. In this study we attempt to examine two questions: (i) What can the theory of natural selection explain? and (ii) Is there a causal or explanatory model that integrates all natural selection explananda? For the first question, (...) we argue that five explananda have been assigned to the theory of natural selection and that four of them may be actually considered explananda of natural selection. For the second question, we claim that a probabilistic conception of causality and the statistical relevance concept of explanation are both good models for understanding the explanatory role of natural selection. We review the biological and philosophical disputes about the explanatory role of natural selection and formalize some explananda in probabilistic terms using classical results from population genetics. Most of these explananda have been discussed in philosophical terms but some of them have been mixed up and confused. We analyze and set the limits of these problems. (shrink)
This article generalizes the explanationist account of inference to the best explanation (IBE). It draws a clear distinction between IBE and abduction and presents abduction as the first step of IBE. The second step amounts to the evaluation of explanatory power, which consist in the degree of explanatory virtues that a hypothesis exhibits. Moreover, even though coherence is the most often cited explanatory virtue, on pain of circularity, it should not be treated as one of the (...) class='Hi'>explanatory virtues. Rather, coherence should be equated with explanatory power and considered to be derivable from the other explanatory virtues: unification, explanatory depth and simplicity. (shrink)
This paper considers the so-called explanatory gap between brain activity and conscious experience. A number of different, though closely related, explanatory gaps are distinguished and a monistic account of conscious experience, a version of Herbert Feigl's "dual-access theory," is advocated as a solution to the problems they are taken to pose for physicalist accounts of mind. Although dual-access theory is a version of the mind-body identity thesis, it in no way "eliminates" conscious experience; rather, it provides a parsimonious (...) and explanatorily fruitful theory of the consciousness-body relation which faithfully preserves the nature of conscious experience while going quite far in "bridging" the various explanatory gaps distinguished below. (shrink)
This paper represents a response to the criticisms made by Eric Barnes in “Explanatory Unification and the Problem of Asymmetry” and “Explanatory Unification and Scientific Understanding” against the thesis of Explanatory Unification. This paper responds to Barnes‟ two main criticisms, that of derivational skepticism and causal asymmetry, and successfully refutes his objections. This paper also defends the plausibility of the unificationist account of scientific explanation because of its ability to render coherent the notion of scientific understanding, focusing (...) in particular on the work by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher. (shrink)
Philosophers disagree about whether vagueness requires us to admit truth-value gaps, about whether there is a gap between the objects of which a given vague predicate is true and those of which it is false on an appropriately constructed sorites series for the predicate—a series involving small increments of change in a relevant respect between adjacent elements, but a large increment of change in that respect between the endpoints. There appears, however, to be widespread agreement that there is some sense (...) in which vague predicates are gappy which may be expressed neutrally by saying that on any appropriately constructed sorites series for a given vague predicate there will be a gap between the objects of which the predicate is deﬁnitely true and those of which it is deﬁnitely false. Taking as primitive the operator ‘it is deﬁnitely the case that’, abbreviated as ‘D’, we may stipulate that a predicate F is deﬁnitely true (or deﬁnitely false) of an object just in case ‘DF (a)’, where a is a name for the object, is true (or false) simpliciter.1 This yields the following conditional formulation of a ‘gap principle’: (DΦ(x) ∧ D¬Φ(y)) → ¬R(x, y). Here ‘Φ’ is to be replaced with a vague predicate, while ‘R’ is to stand for a sorites relation for that predicate: a relation that can be used to construct a sorites series for the predicate—such as the relation of being just one millimetre shorter than for the predicate ‘is tall’. Disagreements about the sense in which it is correct to say that vague predicates are gappy can then be recast as disagreements about how to understand the deﬁnitely operator. One might give it, for example, a pragmatic construal such as ‘it would not be misleading to assert that’; or an epistemic construal such as ‘it is known that’ or ‘it is knowable that’; or a semantic construal such as ‘it is true that’. (shrink)
In this comment, I first point out some problems in McCauley's defense of the traditional conception of general analytical levels. Then I present certain reductionist arguments against explanatory pluralism that are not based on the New Wave model of intertheoretic reduction, against which McCauley is arguing. Reductionists that are not committed to this model might not have problems incorporating research on long-term diachronic processes in their analyses. In the last part of the paper, I briefly compare Robert N. McCauley's (...) conception of reduction to some other current accounts, highlighting the differences between them. (shrink)
In most metaphysical debates a lot depends on primitives – indeed, metaphysical theories heavily rely on the use of primitives that they typically appeal to. I will start by shortly examining and evaluating some traditional well-known theories and I will discuss the role of primitives in metaphysical theories in general. I will then turn to a discussion of claims of 'equivalence' between theories that, I think, depend on equivalences of primitives, and I will explore the nature of primitives in general. (...) By doing this, I would like to emphasize the utmost importance of primitives in the construction of metaphysical theories and in the subsequent evaluation of them. I will then claim that almost all explanatory power of metaphysical theories comes from their primitives, and so I will turn to scrutinize the notion of "power" and "explanatory". All together, these points will naturally lead me to defend a global view on the nature of the metaphysical enterprise : what is at stake in metaphysics is to find out not just what there is or what there is not, but what is more fundamental than what – to find out what are the best primitives. (shrink)
Many of the arguments for neuroeconomics rely on mistaken assumptions about criteria of explanatory relevance across disciplinary boundaries and fail to distinguish between evidential and explanatory relevance. Building on recent philosophical work on mechanistic research programmes and the contrastive counterfactual theory of explanation, we argue that explaining an explanatory presupposition or providing a lower-level explanation does not necessarily constitute explanatory improvement. Neuroscientific findings have explanatory relevance only when they inform a causal and explanatory account (...) of the psychology of human decision-making. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: It is not uncommon, in argumentation and in various professions, to diagnose a gap between theory and practice; and in the next step argue that they should be brought into line with each other. But what does this mean? I shall argue that some version of a gap is sound, as it leaves theory with a critical, independent role in relation to practice – something that an equilibrium view does not.
A number of popular arguments for dualism start from a premise about an epistemic gap between physical truths about truths about consciousness, and infer an ontological gap between physical processes and consciousness. Arguments of this sort include the conceivability argument, the knowledge argument, the explanatory-gap argument, and the property dualism argument. Such arguments are often resisted on the grounds that epistemic premises do not entail ontological conclusion. My view is that one can legitimately infer ontological conclusions from epistemic premises, (...) if one is very careful about how one reasons. To do so, the best way is to reason first from epistemic premises to modal conclusions (about necessity and possibility), and from there to ontological conclusions. Here, the crucial issue is the link between the epistemic and modal domains. How can one reason from theses about what is knowable or conceivable to theses about what is necessary or possible? To bridge the epistemic and modal domains, the framework of two-dimensional semantics can play a central role. I have used this framework in earlier work (Chalmers 1996) to mount an argument against materialism. Here, I want to revisit the argument, laying it out in a more explicit and careful form, and responding to a number of objections. In what follows I will concentrate mostly on the conceivability argument. I think that very similar considerations apply to the other arguments mentioned above, however. In the final section of the paper, I show how this analysis might yield a unified treatment of a number of anti-materialist arguments. (shrink)
The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of (...) concept possession: this tie is a consequence of what, by definition, it is to possess (i.e., to understand) one’s concepts. A corollary of the overall account is that the a priori disciplines (logic, mathematics, philosophy) can be largely autonomous from the empirical sciences. (shrink)
This article compares the three frameworks for theories of consciousness that are taken most seriously by neuroscientists, the view that consciousness is a biological state of the brain, the global workspace perspective and an account in terms of higher order states. The comparison features the “explanatory gap” (Nagel, 1974; Levine, 1983) the fact that we have no idea why the neural basis of an experience is the neural basis of that experience rather than another experience or no experience at (...) all. It is argued that the biological framework handles the explanatory gap better than the global workspace of higher order views. The article does not discuss quantum theories or “panpsychist” accounts according to which consciousness is a feature of the smallest particles of inorganic matter (Chalmers, 1996; Rosenberg, 2004). Nor does it discuss the “representationist” proposals (Tye, 2000; Byrne, 2001a) that are popular among philosophers but not neuroscientists. (shrink)
Within recent discussions in the Philosophy of Mind, the nature of conscious phenomenal states or qualia (also called ‘raw feels’ or the feel of ‘what it is like to be’) has been an important focus of interest. Proponents of Mind-Body Type-Identity theories have claimed that mental states can be reduced to neurophysiological states of the brain. Others have denied that such a reduction is possible; for them, there remains an explanatory gap. In this paper, functionalist, physicalist, epiphenomenalist, and biological (...) models of the mind are discussed and compared. Donald Davidson’s Anomalous Monism is proposed as a unifying framework for a non-reductive theory of qualia and consciousness. Downward Causation, Emergence through Symmetry-breaking, and Dynamical Systems Theory are used to show how consciousness and qualia emerge from their neural substrate and can also be causally efficacious. (shrink)
Introduction -- Phenomenal consciousness -- Phenomenal consciousness and self-representation -- The connection between phenomenal consciousness and creature consciousness -- Consciousness of things -- Real world puzzle cases -- Why consciousness cannot be physical and why it must be -- What is the thesis of physicalism? -- Why consciousness cannot be physical -- Why consciousness must be physical -- Physicalism and the appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Some terminological points -- Why physicalists appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Various accounts of phenomenal (...) concepts -- My own earlier view on phenomenal concepts -- Are there any phenomenal concepts? -- Phenomenal concepts and burgean intuitions -- Consequences for a priori physicalism -- The admissible contents of visual experience : the existential thesis -- The singular (when filled) thesis -- Kaplanianism -- The multiple contents thesis -- The existential thesis revisited -- Still more on existential contents -- Consciousness, seeing and knowing -- Knowing things and knowing facts -- Nonconceptual content -- Why the phenomenal character of an experience is not one of its nonrepresentational properties -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part I -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part II -- Phenomenal character and our knowledge of it -- Solving the puzzles -- Mary, Mary, how does your knowledge grow? -- The explanatory gap -- The hard problem -- The possibility of zombies -- Change blindness and the refrigerator light illusion -- A closer look at the change blindness hypotheses -- The no-seeum view -- Sperling and the refrigerator light -- Phenomenology and cognitive accessibility -- A further change blindness experiment -- Another brick in the wall -- Privileged access, phenomenal character, and externalism -- The threat to privileged access -- A Burgean thought experiment -- Social externalism for phenomenal character? -- A closer look at privileged access and incorrigibility -- How do I know that I am not a zombie? -- Phenomenal externalism. (shrink)