After briefly summarizing Rosenthal’s higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness, I consider difficulties that arise for his account from the possibility of an ‘empty HOT’, a HOT that occurs in the absence of the mental state that it purports to represent. I criticize Rosenthal’s responses to this objection, and conclude that the difficulties that derive from the possibility of such misrepresentation are fatal to his HOT-theory.
In this paper, a criticism of representationalist views of consciousness is developed. These views are often supported by an appeal to a transparency thesis about conscious states, according to which an experience does not itself possess the qualities of which it makes one conscious. The experience makes one conscious of these qualities by representing them, not by instantiating them. Against this, it is argued that some of the properties of which one is conscious are had by the conscious state itself. (...) Only by adopting this view can we account for certain perceptual incompatibilities, such as the fact that one cannot see a stick as being both bent and not bent. This sort of experience is impossible because it would require that an experience have, and not just represent, incompatible features. [Presented at the APA Eastern Div mtg in NY in 2005]. (shrink)
Current views of consciousness can be divided by whether the theorist accepts or rejects cognitivism about consciousness. Cognitivism as we understand it is the view that consciousness is just a form of representation or an information-processing property of a system that has representations or perhaps both.<b> </b>Anti-cognitivists deny this, appealing to thought experiments about inverted spectra, zombies and the like to argue that consciousness could change while nothing cognitive or representational changes. Nearly everyone agrees, however, that consciousness has a _representational (...) base._ Whether consciousness _simply is_ representational or cognitive, it at least _requires _representation (and cognition). In an ecumenical spirit, we will focus on this point of agreement and sketch a theory of what this representational base might be. We hope that the result will be a framework useful for investigating consciousness empirically. (shrink)
An analysis and rebuttal of Jaegwon Kim's reasons for taking nonreductive physicalism to entail the causal irrelevance of mental features to physical phenomena, particularly the behaviour of human bodies.
Non-reductive physicalists are increasingly regarded as unwitting epiphenomenalists, since their refusal to reduce mental features to physical properties allegedly implies that while there are mental causes, none of these causes produces its effects in virtue of being the type of mental state that it is. I examine, and reject, the “trope” response to this charge. I take the failure of the trope model of causal relevance to be instructive, since it illustrates a confusion that lies at the heart of the (...) concept of causal relevance, a concept that is central to the criticism of non-reductive physicalism. By identifying this confusion, I hope to dispel the notion that non-reductive physicalism carries any commitment to epiphenomenalism. (shrink)
In this doctoral dissertation I consider, and reject, the claim that recent varieties of non-reductive physicalism, particularly Donald Davidson's anomalous monism, are committed to a new kind of epiphenomenalism. Non-reductive physicalists identify each mental event with a physical event, and are thus entitled to the belief that mental events are causes, since the physical events with which they are held to be identical are causes. However, Jaegwon Kim, Ernest Sosa and others have argued that if we follow the non-reductive physicalist (...) in denying that mental features can be reduced to physical properties, then we must regard mental properties as being causally irrelevant to their bearers' effects, In short, the non-reductive physicalist is said to be committed to the belief that while there are mental causes, they do not cause their effects in virtue of being the types of mental state that they are. It is in this sense that non-reductive physicalists are thought to represent a new form of epiphenomenalism. After a brief survey of the history of epiphenomenalism, and its mutation into the contemporary strain that is believed to afflict non-reductive physicalism, 1 argue against the counterfactual criterion of the sort of causal relevance that we take mental features to enjoy. I then criticize the 'trope' response to the epiphenomenalist threat, and conclude that much of the current debate on this topic is premised on the mistaken belief that there is some variety of causal relevance that is not simply a brand of explanatory relevance. Once this is seen, it will seem much less plausible that mental properties are excluded from relevance to the phenomena of which we typically take them to be explanatory. (shrink)
I defend Frank Jackson's knowledge argument against physicalism in the philosophy of mind from a criticism that has been advanced by Laurence Nemirow and David Lewis. According to their criticism, what Mary lacked when she was in her black and white room was a set of abilities; she did not know how to recognize or imagine certain types of experience from a first-person perspective. Her subsequent discovery of what it is like to experience redness amounts to no more than her (...) acquisition of these abilities. The physicalist can admit this, since it does not commit one to the view that there are any facts of which Mary was ignorant (in spite of her exhaustive knowledge of truths about the physical world). I argue against this view, on the grounds that the knowledge of what an experience is like cannot be equated with the possession of any set of abilities. (shrink)
A defense of Frank Jackson's knowledge argument from an objection raised by Michael Tye (1986, 1989), according to which Mary acquires no new factual knowledge when she first sees red but, instead, merely comes to know old facts (that she already knew) in a new way.