This paper overviews the current status of debates on tracking representationalism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking features of one's environment in a certain way. We overview the main arguments for the view and the main objections and challenges it faces. We close with a discussion of alternative versions of representationalism that might overcome the shortcomings of tracking representationalism.
This paper offers a general reply to arguments from perceptual distortion (e.g. blur, perspective, double vision) against the representationalist thesis that the phenomenal characters of experiences supervene on their intentional contents. It has been argued that distorted and undistorted experiences are counterexamples to this thesis because they can share contents without sharing phenomenal characters. In reply, I suggest that cases of perceptual distortion do not constitute counterexamples to the representationalist thesis because the contents of distorted experiences are always impoverished in (...) some way compared to those of normal experiences. This is can be shown by considering limit cases of perceptual distortion, for example, maximally blurry experiences, which manifestly lack detailed content. I argue that since there is no reasonable way to draw the line between distorted experiences that have degraded content and distorted experiences that don't, we should allow that an increase in distortion is always accompanied by a degradation in content. I also discuss the prospects for a positive account of the contents specific to distorted experiences, which I argue are dim, but for reasons that should not throw doubt on the representationalist thesis. (shrink)
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 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 develops a novel problem for representationalism (also known as "intentionalism"), a popular contemporary account of perception. We argue that representationalism is incompatible with supervaluationism, the leading contemporary account of vagueness. The problem generalizes to naive realism and related views, which are also incompatible with supervaluationism.
The representational theory of phenomenal experience is often stated in terms of a supervenience thesis: Byrne recently characterises it as the thesis that “there can be no difference in phenomenal character without a difference in content”, while according to Tye, “[a]t a minimum, the thesis is one of supervenience: necessarily, experiences that are alike in their representational contents are alike in their phenomenal character.” Consequently, much of the debate over whether representationalism is true centres on purported counter-examples – that (...) is to say, purported failures of supervenience. The refutation of putative counter-examples has been, it seems to me, by and large successful. But there is a certain class of these for which the representationalist response has been something less than completely convincing. These are the cross-modality cases. I will explain what I mean, and then argue that the response in question is not only unconvincing but actually undermines the representationalist position. (shrink)
In defense of self-representationalism: reply to critics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9764-8 Authors Uriah Kriegel, Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more (...) damaging to externalist representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam. (shrink)
A common objection to representationalism is that a representationalist view of phenomenal character cannot accommodate the effects that shifts in covert attention have on visual phenomenology: covert attention can make items more visually prominent than they would otherwise be without altering the content of visual experience. Recent empirical work on attention casts doubt on previous attempts to advance this type of objection to representationalism and it also points the way to an alternative development of the objection.
Both visual experience and conscious thought represent external objects, but in visual experience these objects seem present before the mind and available for direct access in a way that they don?t in conscious thought. In this paper, I introduce a couple of challenges that this ?Scene-Immediacy? of visual experience raises for traditional versions of Representationalism. I then identify a resource to which Representationalists can appeal in addressing these challenges: the low-detail fringe of visual experience. I argue that low-detail contents (...) within visual experience provide the mind with a rich access to additional high-detail information, an access that is not found in conscious thought. This access, in turn, speaks to the challenges raised by the Scene-Immediacy of visual experience. Robert Schroer is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. (shrink)
Arguments in favor of anti-representationalism in cognitive science often suffer from a lack of attention to detail. The purpose of this paper is to fill in the gaps in these arguments, and in so doing show that at least one form of anti- representationalism is potentially viable. After giving a teleological definition of representation and applying it to a few models that have inspired anti- representationalist claims, I argue that anti-representationalism must be divided into two distinct theses, (...) one ontological, one epistemological. Given the assumptions that define the debate, I give reason to think that the ontological thesis is false. I then argue that the epistemological thesis might, in the end, turn out to be true, despite a potentially serious difficulty. Along the way, there will be a brief detour to discuss a controversy from early twentieth century physics. (shrink)
It is widely thought that functionalism and the qualia theory are better positioned to accommodate the ‘affective’ aspect (i.e., the hurtfulness) of pain phenomenology than representationalism. In this paper, we attempt to overturn this opinion by raising problems for both functionalism and the qualia theory on this score. With regard to functionalism, we argue that it gets the order of explanation wrong: pain experience gives rise to the effects it does because it hurts, and not the other way around. (...) With regard to the qualia theory, we argue that it fails to capture the sense in which pain's affective phenomenology rationalises various bodily-directed beliefs, desires, and behaviours. Representationalism, in contrast, escapes both of these problems: it gets the order of explanation right and it explains how pain's affective phenomenology can rationalise bodily-directed beliefs, desires, and behaviours. For this reason, we argue that representationalism has a significant advantage in the debates about pain's affective phenomenology. We end the paper by examining objections, including the question of what representationalists should say about so-called ‘disassociation cases’, such as pain asymbolia. (shrink)
Representationalism, the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content, has attracted a wide following in recent years. Most representationalists have also endorsed what I call 'standard Russellianism'. According to standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. I argue that standard Russellianism conflicts with the everyday experience of colour constancy. Due to colour constancy, standard Russellianism is unable to simultaneously give a proper account of the phenomenal content (...) of colour experience and do justice to its phenomenology. (shrink)
In his 2009 article “Self-Representationalism and Phenomenology,” Uriah Kriegel argues for self-representationalism about phenomenal consciousness primarily on phenomenological grounds. Kriegel’s argument can naturally be cast more broadly as an argument for higher-order representationalism. I examine this broadened version of Kriegel’s argument in detail and show that it is unsuccessful for two reasons. First, Kriegel’s argument (in its strongest form) relies on an inference to the best explanation from the claim that all experiences of normal adult human beings (...) are accompanied by peripheral awareness of those very experiences to the claim that all experiences are accompanied by peripheral awareness of those very experiences. This inference is inadequately defended, for the explanandum may also be given a straightforward evolutionary explanation. Second, contra Kriegel, I argue that phenomenological investigation does not support the thesis that we are always peripherally aware of our experiences. Instead, it delivers no verdict on this thesis. Kriegel’s phenomenological mistake may be explained via a highly diluted version of the famous transparency thesis about experience. (shrink)
This paper proposes a subjectivist approach to color within the framework of an externalist form of representationalism about phenomenal consciousness. Motivations are presented for accepting both representationalism and color subjectivism, and an argument is offered against the case made by Michael Tye on behalf of the claim that colors are objective, physical properties of objects. In the face of the considerable difficulties associated with finding a workable realist theory of color, the alternative account of color experience set out, (...) projectivist representationalism, claims that the color properties we encounter in experience exist only in the representational contents of our experiences. Color experiences are caused by the physical structure of objects, but objects are never actually colored and color experiences systematically misrepresent objects as colored. However, despite being an error theory of color, projectivist representationalism does not do violence to our everyday use and understanding of color concepts and terms, nor does it undermine the role of color experience in aiding the perceiving subject in navigating through the world. (shrink)
All representationalists maintain that there is a necessary connection between an experience’s phenomenal character and intentional content; but there is a disagreement amongst representationalists regarding the nature of those intentional contents that are necessarily connected to phenomenal character. Russellian representationalists maintain that the relevant contents are composed of objects and/or properties, while Fregean representationalists maintain that the relevant contents are composed of modes of presentation of objects and properties. According to Fregean representationalists such as David Chalmers and Brad Thompson, the (...) Fregean variety of the view is preferable to the Russellian variety because the former can accommodate purported counterexamples involving spectrum inversion without illusion and colour constancy while the latter cannot. I maintain that colour constancy poses a special problem for the Fregean theory in that the features of the theory that enable it handle spectrum inversion without illusion cannot be extended to handle colour constancy. I consider the two most plausible proposals regarding how the Fregean view might be developed in order to handle colour constancy—one of which has recently been defended by Thompson (Australas J Philos 87:99–117, 2009)—and argue that neither is adequate. I conclude that Fregean representationalism is no more able to accommodate colour constancy than is Russellian representationalism and, as such, ought to be rejected. (shrink)
In recent years the cognitive science community has witnessed the rise of a new, dynamical approach to cognition. This approach entails a framework in which cognition and behavior are taken to result from complex dynamical interactions between brain, body, and environment. The advent of the dynamical approach is grounded in a dissatisfaction with the classical computational view of cognition. A particularly strong claim has been that cognitive systems do not rely on internal representations and computations. Focusing on this claim, we (...) take as a starting point a question recently raised by Cliff and Noble: " if evolution did produce a design that used internal representations, how would we recognize it?" (Knowledge-based vision and simple visual machines, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 352 , 1165-1175, 1997). We will argue that cognitive science lacks a proper operationalization of the notion of representation, and therefore is unable to fruitfully discuss whether a particular system has representations or not. A basic method to detect representations in a physical system, grounded in isomorphism, turns out to be quite unconstrained. We will look at a practical example of this problem by examining the debate on whether or not van Gelder's (What might cognition be, if not computation? Journal of Philosophy, 92 , 345-381, 1995) controversial example of the Watt Governor is representational. We will conclude that cognitive science, as of yet, has no empirically applicable means to answer Cliff and Noble's question unequivocally. This makes the recent representationalism vs. anti-representationalism debate a debate for the sake of appearance. (shrink)
According to Tyes PANIC theory of consciousness, perceptualstates of creatures which are related to a disjunction ofexternal contents will fail to represent sensorily, andthereby fail to be conscious states. In this paper I arguethat heat perception, a form of perception neglected in therecent literature, serves as a counterexample to Tyesradical externalist claim. Having laid out Tyes `absentqualia scenario, the PANIC theory from which it derivesand the case of heat perception as a counterexample, Idefend the putative counterexample against three possibleresponses: (1) (...) that heat perception represents general(i.e. non-disjunctive) intrinsic properties of objects,(2) that heat perception represents the non-specific heatenergy that is transferred between a subjects body andanother body and (3) that heat perception exclusivelyrepresents heat properties of the subjects own body. (shrink)
Consider (i) the humility thesis that we only know the causal natures of the external world and (ii) the thesis we are directly acquainted with the intrinsic natures of our phenomenal experiences. The conjunction of these two theses has motivated a version of panpsychism, which states that the intrinsic nature of all matter is phenomenal. Contemporary panpsychists, such as Lockwood (1991, 1993), Rosenberg (1999, 2004) and Maxwell (2002), have taken it upon themselves to flesh out a plausible story of how (...) this is so. Moreover, the story they tell involves the physical depending on the phenomenal. Now, most of us these days, including such contemporary panpsychists, acknowledge that our phenomenal experiences are, in some sense, representational. That is, when we introspect our phenomenal experiences, it seems like there are certain properties represented in these experiences. The aim of this paper is to use this well-conceded point that our phenomenal experiences are representational to cast doubt on contemporary panpsychism. (shrink)
Representationalism is a thesis about the phenomenal character of experiences, about their immediate subjective ‘feel’.1 At a minimum, the thesis is one of supervenience: necessarily, experiences that are alike in their representational contents are alike in their phenomenal character. So understood, the thesis is silent on the nature of phenomenal character. Strong or pure representationalism goes further. It aims to tell us what phenomenal character is. According to the theory developed in Tye 1995, phenomenal character is one and (...) the same as representational content that meets certain further conditions. One very important motivation for this theory is the so-called ? transparency of experience.? The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the appeal to transparency more carefully than has been done hithertofore, to make some remarks about the introspective awareness of experience in light of this appeal, and to consider one problem case for transparency at some length, that of blurry vision. Along the way, I shall also address some of the remarks Stephen Leeds makes in his essay on transparency. (shrink)
The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the view that the world is entirely physical. The argument first establishes the existence of facts (or truths or information) about consciousness that are not a priori deducible from the complete physical truth, and then infers the falsity of physicalism from this lack of deducibility. Frank Jackson (1982, 1986) gave the argument its classic formulation. But now he rejects the argument (Jackson 1998b, 2003, chapter 3 of this volume). On his view, it relies (...) on a false conception of sensory experience, which should be replaced with representationalism (also known as intentionalism), the view that phenomenal states are just representational states. And he argues that mental representation is physically explicable. (shrink)
Before one can even begin to model consciousness and what exactly it means that it is a subjective phenomenon one needs a theory about what a first-person perspective really is. This theory has to be conceptually convincing, empirically plausible and, most of all, open to new developments. The chosen conceptual framework must be able to accommodate scientific progress. Its ba- sic assumptions have to be plastic as it were, so that new details and empirical data can continuously be fed into (...) the theoretical model as it grows and becomes more refined. This paper makes an attempt at sketching the outlines of such a theory, offering a representationalist analysis of the phenomenal first-person perspective. Three phenomenal target properties are centrally relevant:. (shrink)
From now on I will assume that it is possible in principle for there to be cases of spectrum inversion in which the invertees are equally good perceivers of the colors. What I want to show next is that while allowing this possibility is incompatible with standard representationalism, it requires acceptance of a different version of representationalism. Consider the standard way of describing a case of spectrum inversion. Returning to Jack and Jill, we say that red things look (...) to Jack the way green things look to Jill, blue things look to Jack the way yellow things look to Jill, and so on. Of course, we might also express this by saying that the phenomenal character of Jack’s experience of red things is like the phenomenal character of Jill’s experience of green things, and so on. Or by saying that “what it is like” for Jack to see red things is “what it is like” for Jill to see green things, and so on. But “phenomenal character” is philosophical jargon, and “what it is like” is on its way to being that. We need to be able cash these locutions in terms that we are sure we understand. And I think that the best way of doing that is in terms of how things look. Now the sense in which red things look different to Jack and Jill cannot be that they look to have different colors in the epistemic sense. We can suppose that both perceive red things as being red, and therefore that to both red things look red in the epistemic sense. Nor can it be the comparative sense – to each, we can suppose, red things look like standard red things under standard conditions. The remaining sense of “looks” is supposed to be the phenomenal sense. Now those who employ this notion typically speak of things as looking red, blue, yellow, etc., in the phenomenal sense. But if Jack and Jill are both accurate perceivers of the colors of things, it can’t be that the difference in how things look to them is a difference in what colors things look to them, even if “looks” is used in the phenomenal sense.. (shrink)
Does synesthesia undermine representationalism? Gregg Rosenberg (2004) argues that it does. On his view, synesthesia illustrates how phenomenal properties can vary independently of representational properties. So, for example, he argues that sound/color synesthetic experiences show that visual experiences do not always represent spatial properties. I will argue that the representationalist can plausibly answer Rosenberg.
To a first approximation, self-representationalism is the view that a mental state M is phenomenally conscious just in case M represents itself in the appropriate way. Proponents of self-representationalism seem to think that the phenomenology of ordinary conscious experience is on their side, but opponents seem to think the opposite. In this paper, I consider the phenomenological merits and demerits of self-representationalism. I argue that there is phenomenological evidence in favor of self-representationalism, and rather more confidently, (...) that there is no phenomenological evidence against self-representationalism. (shrink)
Reductive externalist versions of representationalism hold that there is an externalist theory of content which is adequate for underwriting their claim that the character of experience can be reductively explained by the external physical properties represented by experience. In this paper such theories of content are shown to be inadequate, thus undermining the reductive explanation of the character of experience by the content of experience. It is argued that the character of experience is better explained non-reductively by reference to (...) modes of presentation of the properties of things. (shrink)
Phenomenal character is determined by representational content, which both hallucinatory and veridical experiences can share. But in the case of veridical experience, unlike hallucination, the external objects of experience literally have the properties one is aware of in experience. The representationalist can accept the common factor assumption without having to introduce sensory intermediaries between the mind and the world, thus securing a form of direct realism.
This paper sketches a phenomenological analysis of visual mental imagery and uses it to criticize representationalism and the internalist-versus-externalist framework for understanding consciousness. Contrary to internalist views of mental imagery imagery experience is not the experience of a phenomenal mental picture inspected by the mind’s eye, but rather the mental simulation of perceptual experience. Furthermore, there are experiential differences in perceiving and imagining that are not differences in the properties represented by these experiences. Therefore, externalist representationalism, which maintains (...) that the properties of experience are the external properties represented by experience, is an inadequate account of conscious experience. (shrink)
According to some representationalists (M. Tye, Ten problems of consciousness, MIT Press, Massachusetts, USA, 1995; W.G. Lycan, Consciousness and experience, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 1996; F. Dretske, Naturalising the mind, MIT Press, Massachusetts, USA 1995), qualia are identical to external environmental states or features. When one perceives a red rose for instance, one is visually representing the actual redness of the rose. The represented redness of the rose is the actual redness of the rose itself. Thus redness is not (...) a property of one’s experience but an externally constituted property of the perceived physical object. In this sense, qualia are out there, in the external world. Here, I argue that the main representationalist arguments to this effect, if successful, establish no more than a symmetrical supervenience relation between representational content and qualia, and that a supervenience relation alone (albeit symmetrical) doesn’t suffice for identity. This supervenience thesis between qualia and representational content leaves open the question as to the essential nature of qualia. (shrink)
Representationalists hold that the phenomenal character of a perceptual experience is identical with, or supervenes on, an aspect of its representational content. As such, representationalism could be disproved by a counter-example consisting of two experiences that have the same representational content but differ in phenomenal character. In this paper, I discuss two recently proposed counter-examples to representationalism that involve ambiguous or reversible figures. I pursue two goals. My first, and most important, goal is to show that the representationalist (...) can offer plausible responses to both counter-examples. My second goal is to show the implications of these responses for the nature of the spatial representational contents of perceptual experiences. (shrink)
According to representationalism, the qualitative character of our phenomenal mental states supervenes on the intentional content of such states. Strong representationalism makes a further claim: the qualitative character of our phenomenal mental states _consists in_ the intentional content of such states. Although strong representationalism has greatly increased in popularity over the last decade, I find the view deeply implausible. In what follows, I will attempt to argue against strong representationalism by a two-step argument. First, I suggest (...) that strong representationalism must be _unrestricted_ in order to serve as an adequate theory of qualia, i.e., it must apply to all qualitative mental states. Second, I present considerations to show that an unrestricted form of strong representationalism is problematic. (shrink)
I argue that strong representationalism, the view that for a perceptual experience to have a certain phenomenal character just is for it to have a certain representational content (perhaps represented in the right sort of way), encounters two problems: the dual looks problem and the duplication problem. The dual looks problem is this: strong representationalism predicts that how things phenomenally look to the subject reflects the content of the experience. But some objects phenomenally look to both have and (...) not have certain properties, for example, my bracelet may phenomenally look to be circular-shaped and oval-shaped (and hence non-circular-shaped). So, if strong representationalism is true, then the content of my experience ought to represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. Yet, intuitively, the content of my experience does not represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. The duplication problem is this. On a standard conception of content, spatio-temporally distinct experiences and experiences had by distinct subjects may differ in content despite the fact that they are phenomenally indistinguishable. But this undermines the thesis that phenomenal character determines content. I argue that the two problems can be solved by applying a version of an idea from David Chalmers, which is to recognize the existence of genuinely centered properties in the content of perceptual experience. (shrink)
This paper begins by tracing the Hobbesian roots of `representationalism:' the thesis that reality is accessible to mind only through representations, images, signs or appearances that indicate a reality lying `behind' them (e.g. as unperceived causes of perceptions). This is linked to two kinds of absolute realism: the `naive' scientific realism of British empiricism, which provoked Berkeley's idealist reaction, and the noumenal realism of Kant. I argue that Husserl defined his position against both Berkeleyian idealism and these forms of (...) absolute realism by way of two arguments: a pragmatic argument against skepticism about the external world (as described by Karl Ameriks) and a distinctively phenomenological argument against the representationalism implied by absolute realism. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a representationalist account of the phenomenal character of color experiences. Representationalism, the thesis that phenomenal character supervenes on a certain kind of representational content, so-called phenomenal content, has been developed primarily in two different ways, as Russellian and Fregean representationalism. While the proponents of Russellian and Fregean representationalism differ with respect to what they take the contents of color experiences to be, they typically agree that colors are exhaustively characterized by the three (...) dimensions of the color solid: hue, saturation, and lightness. I argue that a viable version of representationalism needs to renounce this restriction to three dimensions and consider illumination to be a genuine phenomenal dimension of color. My argument for this thesis falls into two parts. I first consider the phenomenon of color constancy in order to show that neither Russellian nor Fregean representationalism can do justice to the phenomenal significance of local illumination. I subsequently formulate a version of representationalism that accounts for illumination by taking it as a phenomenal dimension of color. (shrink)
According to contemporary representationalism, phenomenal qualia—of specifically sensory experiences—supervene on representational content. Most arguments for representationalism share a common, phenomenological premise: the so-called “transparency thesis.” According to the transparency thesis, it is difficult—if not impossible—to distinguish the quality or character of experiencing an object from the perceived properties of that object. In this paper, I show that Husserl would react negatively to the transparency thesis; and, consequently, that Husserl would be opposed to at least two versions of contemporary (...)representationalism. First, I show that Husserl would be opposed to strong representationalism, since he believes the cognitive content of a perceptual episode can vary despite constancy of sensory qualia. Second, I then show that Husserl would be opposed to weak representationalism, since he believes that sensory qualia—specifically, the sort that he calls “kinesthetic sensations”—can vary despite constancy in representational content. (shrink)
The representationalist theory of consciousness is the view that consciousness reduces to mental representation. This view comes in several variants which must explain introspective awareness of conscious mental states.
Abstract Theories of descriptions tend to involve commitments about the ambiguity of descriptions. For example, sentences containing descriptions are widely taken to be ambiguous between de re , de dicto , and intermediate interpretations and are sometimes thought to be ambiguous between the former and directly referential interpretations. I provide arguments to suggest that none of these interpretations are due to ambiguities (or indexicality). On the other hand, I argue that descriptions are ambiguous between the above family of interpretations and (...) what may be called ‘institutional’ as well as generic interpretations. My arguments suggest that an adequate theory of descriptions may require considerable rethinking. Most contemporary theories of descriptions appear to be committed to one or more claims about the ambiguity of descriptions that I reject in this paper. I suggest that my observations provide a reason to renew efforts to develop a theory of descriptions within a representationalist theory of interpretation. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9759-5 Authors Philipp Koralus, Philosophy Department, Princeton University, 212 1879 Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Macpherson (Nous 40(1):82–117, 2006) argues that the square/regular diamond figure threatens representationalism, construed as the theory which holds that the phenomenal character is explained by the nonconceptual content of experience. Her argument is the claim that representationalism is committed to the thesis that differences in the experience of ambiguous figures, the gestalt switch, should be explained by differences in the NCC of perception of these figures. However, with respect to the square/regular diamond and some other ambiguous figure (...) class='Hi'>representationalism fails to offer a unified account of how representational content makes them ambiguous. In this paper, I aim, first, to offer a representationalist account of ambiguous figures and, second, to examine and rebut Macpherson’s arguments. My main point is that in each ambiguous figure Macpherson discusses there are differences in representational content that can explain differences in phenomenal character or content. The representational differences are due to the ways the Cartesian frame of reference in which perceptual content is always cast cuts the figure, underlying different properties of the figure with respect to the axes of the Cartesian frame of reference. (shrink)
This essay surveys representationalist theories of phenomenal consciousness as well as the major arguments for them. It also takes up two major objections. The essay is divided into five sections. Section I offers some introductory remarks on phenomenal consciousness. Section II presents the classic view of phenomenal consciousness to which representationalists are opposed. Section III canvasses various versions of representationalism about consciousness. Section IV lays out the main arguments for the representationalist stance. The final section addresses the two objections.
There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to representationalism, perceptual states are representations: they represent the world as being a certain way. They have content, which may or may not be different from the content of beliefs. They represent objects as having properties, sometimes veridically, sometimes not. According to relationalism, perception is a relation between the agent and the perceived object. Perceived objects are literally constituents of our perceptual states and not of the contents thereof. (...) Perceptual states are not representations. My aim is to argue that if we frame this debate as a debate about the individuation of perceptual states, rather than the nature of perception, then there are ways of reconciling these two seemingly conflicting ways of thinking about perception. (shrink)
It is often said that by rejecting the representationalist model of mind, phenomenology makes a decisive advance over empiricism. Yet despite such pronouncements, the arguments Husserl uses to refute representationalism have received scant critical attention, and upon examination many turn out to be obscure. I argue here that some of Husserl's best known anti-representationalist arguments fail. I end the paper, however, by suggesting that if these unsuccessful arguments are paired with certain methodological considerations taken from Husserl's mature philosophy, they (...) may provide adequate grounds for a rejection of representationalism after all. (shrink)
Representationalist solutions to the qualia problem are motivated by two fundamental ideas: first, that having an experience consists in tokening a mental representation1; second, that all one is aware of in having an experience is the intentional content of that representation. In particular, one is not aware of any intrinsic features of the representational vehicle itself. For example, when you visually experience a red object, you are aware only of the redness of the object, not any redness or red quale (...) of your experience. You are aware of outer red without being aware of inner red. According to the representationalist, the phenomenal character of your experience is just (an element of) the intentional content of your representation. In effect, inner red just is outer red. For her part, the defender of qualia, or anyway the defender of qualia who will figure in the present discussion, grants that experiencing a red object involves mentally representing it, and that when you have such an experience you are aware of its intentional content. But she denies that that intentional content exhausts your awareness. The defender of qualia (call her ‘Quale’) contends that your mental vehicle is itself mentally or phenomenally red, and that in addition to the outer redness of the object, you are aware of this inner redness, the intrinsic phenomenal character of your representational vehicle. Thus, contra the representationalist (call him ‘Rep’), you are not aware of the content of your representation without being aware of its intrinsic features. (shrink)
: This paper advances an account of Twardowski as a representationalist. In particular, Twardowskian representationalism is a blend of what I call resemblance representationalism and mediator-content representationalism. It was not, I argue here, proxy-percept representationalism. Twardowski treated mental contents as "signs" or "quasi-pictures." Husserl was a well-known critic of this view. I additionally argue that Husserl's criticism is grounded in the claim that Twardowski conflated representational content with sensations. The distinction on which this Husserlian criticism rests (...) is between the psychological and ideal contents of consciousness, the cornerstone of the early Husserlian phenomenology. (shrink)
In a recent paper, after outlining various distinguishing features of derogatory words, Jennifer Hornsby suggests that the phenomenon raises serious difficulties for inferentialism. Against Hornsby, I claim that derogatory words do not pose any insuperable problems for inferentialism, so long as it is supplemented with apparatus borrowed from Grice and Hare. Moreover, I argue, derogatory expressions pose difficulties for Hornsby's favoured alternative theory of meaning, representationalism, unless it too is conjoined with a similar Grice/Hare mechanism. So, the upshot of (...) the discussion is that, contra Hornsby, focus on derogatory expressions alone does not provide grounds for deciding between competing theories of meaning, but nevertheless serves to highlight important features that any such theory must acknowledge and incorporate. (shrink)
Is Aquinas a representationalist or a direct realist? Max Herrera’s (and, for that matter, Claude Panaccio’s) qualified answers to each alternative show that the real significance of the question is not that if we answer it, then we can finally learn under which classification Aquinas should fall, but rather that upon considering it we can learn something about the intricacies of the question itself. In these comments I will first argue that the Averroistic notion of “intentional transfer”, combined with the (...) Avicennean idea of the indifference of nature, yielding the Thomistic doctrine of the formal unity of the knower and the known renders the question moot with regard to Aquinas, indeed, with regard to the pre-modern epistemological tradition in general. These considerations will then lead to a number of further, both historical and philosophical questions, which I will offer in the end for further discussion. (shrink)
The intransitivity of matching sensible qualities of color is a threat not only to the sense-data theory, but to all realist theories of sensible qualities, including the current leading realist theory: representationalism. I save representationalism from this threat by way of a novel yet empirically plausible hypothesis about the introspective classification of sensible qualities of color. I argue that due to limitations of the visual system's ability to extract fine-grained information about color from the environment, introspective classification of (...) sensible qualities of color is sensitive to features of context. I finish by arguing for the superiority of my solution over two alternative solutions: one by Nelson Goodman, the other by C.L. Hardin. (shrink)
John Searle''s hypothesis of the Background seems to conflict with his initial representationalism according to which each Intentional state contains a particular content that determines its conditions of satisfaction. In Section I of this essay I expose Searle''s initial theory of Intentionality and relate it to Edmund Husserl''s earlier phenomenology. In Section II I make it clear that Searle''s introduction of the notion of Network, though indispensable, does not, by itself, force us to modify that initial theory. However, a (...) comparison of this notion to the notion of horizon from Husserl''s later phenomenology and an interpretation of Husserl''s conception of the determinable X as providing a solution to the problem of perceptual misidentification lead me to conclude that in his discussion of ''twin examples'' Searle had better modified his initial theory. Finally, I critically examine Searle''s claim that anyone who tries seriously to follow out the threads in the Network will eventually reach a bedrock of non-Intentional capacities. In Section III I show in detail, partly in a rather Husserlian vein, that Searle''s four official arguments for the Background thesis, though containing some very valuable contributions to a theory of linguistic skills, are not convincing at all if they are to be understood as going beyond the scope of (Hus)Searle''s ''content-cum-Network'' picture of Intentionality. The upshot of these considerations is that the Background thesis should be read as a thesis concerning the causal neurophysiological preconditions of human Intentionality rather than concerning the logical properties of Intentional states in general. Recently Searle himself has come to the same result, but he does not say for which reasons. The present essay makes it clear why Searle just had to arrive at this important result. (shrink)
The debate between representationalists and anti-representationalists as I construe it in this chapter is a debate about whether truth-conditions are or should be assigned directly to natural language sentences (NLSs) – the anti-representationalist view – or whether they are or should be assigned instead to mental representations (MRs) that are related in some appropriate way to these NLSs. On the representationalist view, these MRs are related to NLSs in virtue of the fact that the MRs are the output of an (...) interpretive process that has as its input both representations of the lexico-syntactic structure of the NLSs and relevant non-linguistic assumptions that are accessible in the current conversational context. On this conception, language interpretation is a process of developing sentential forms into fully propositional forms, and it is these propositional forms that are the primary bearers of truth-conditional content, and are candidates for model-theoretic interpretation, not the NLSs themselves. (shrink)
The view of language is greatly changed from early modern philosophy to later modern philosophy and to postmodern philosophy. The linguistic question in early modern philosophy, which is characterized by rationalism and empiricism, is discussed in this paper. Linguistic phenomena are not at the center of philosophical reflections in early modern philosophy. The subject of consciousness is at the center of the philosophy, which makes language serve purely as an instrument for representing thoughts. Locke, Leibniz and Descartes consider language from (...) a representationalist point of view. To them, language itself is idealized and represents thought as if it were thought representing itself. Like the structural linguist Saussure, the founders of phenomenology and analytical philosophy give much attention to the logical or static structure of language, and stick up for the representationalism of early modern philosophy. However, their successors refuse to accept this attitude, meaning the final collapse of representationalism. (shrink)
Quantum Mechanics has imposed strain on traditional (dualist and representationalist) epistemological conceptions. An alternative was offered by Bohr and Heisenberg, according to whom natural science does not describe nature, but rather the interplay between nature and ourselves. But this was only a suggestion. In this paper, a systematic development of the Bohr-Heisenberg conception is outlined, by way of a comparison with the modern self-organizational theories of cognition. It is shown that a consistent non-representationalist (and/or relational) reading of quantum mechanics can (...) be reached thus. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to raise some serious worries about anti-representationalism: the recently popular view according to which there are no perceptual representations. Although anti-representationalism is more and more popular, I will argue that we have strong empirical reasons for mistrusting it. More specifically, I will argue that it is inconsistent with some important empirical findings about dorsal perception and about the multimodality of perception.
Environmental representationalism is the position that phenomenal differences between visual experiences are determined by the representational claims those experiences make about the surrounding environment. Afterimage and phosphene experiences are an important and widely cited objection to this position. In this paper, I defend environmental representationalism from this objection. In particular, I point out several ways in which typical environmental representationalist accounts of these experiences are lacking while developing a more satisfying account which focuses on how the visual system (...) generates its representations as well as on several of the unique temporally-extended features of afterimage/phosphene experiences. (shrink)
There are no unicorns, but there are representations of them, hence motivating an explanation of discourse about the property 'unicorn' in terms of discourse about representations of unicorns. I show how to extend this strategy to apply to any kind or property terms. References to property instances may be explained as references to comprehensive representations of them, which represent all of the (supposed) properties of such an instance--unlike 'ordinary' representations, which are distinctive in that they represent only some limited subset (...) of such properties, through use only of some proper subset of their own (supposed) properties. This representationalist approach results in a very economical naturalist ontology, which has no need for properties. (shrink)
Representationalism is, roughly, the view that experiencing is to be analyzed wholly in terms of representing. But what sorts of properties are represented in experience? According to a prominent form of representationalism, objective representationalism, experiences represent only objective (i.e. suitably mind-independent) properties. I explore subjective representationalism, the view that experiences represent at least some subjective (i.e. suitably mind-dependent) properties. Subjective representationalists, but not objective representationalists, can accommodate cases of illusion-free phenomenal inversion. Moreover, subjective representationalism captures (...) the so-called transparency of experience, as it is standardly articulated, just as well as objective representationalism. (shrink)
Embodied and extended cognition is a relatively new paradigm within cognitive science that challenges the basic tenet of classical cognitive science, viz. cognition consists in building and manipulating internal representations. Some of the pioneers of embodied cognitive science have claimed that this new way of conceptualizing cognition puts pressure on epistemological and ontological realism. In this paper I will argue that such anti-realist conclusions do not follow from the basic assumptions of radical embodied cognitive science. Furthermore I will show that (...) one can develop a form of realism that reflects rather than just accommodates the core principles of non-representationalist embodied cognitive science. (shrink)
In “Naturalism without Representationalism” Huw Price contests a particular way of understanding how philosophy can be sensitive to the claims of science, and does this by sketching an alternate way in which such “science-sensitivity” might be conceived.1 Most naturalistic conceptions of philosophy, he claims, regard philosophy as taking as its object the world as science describes it. Such approaches then see their own task as one of finding a place for certain objects in this scientifically described world—objects that are (...) not easily so located, such as those having to do with morality, meaning, or mathematics. Conceived in this way, philosophy typically addresses what he calls “placement problems”. “[A] typical placement problem” he notes, “seeks to understand how some object, property, or fact can be a natural object, property, or fact”. But there may be hidden assumptions implicit in this approach that are actually incompatible with a genuinely naturalistic view of ourselves as the subjects capable of such knowledge. Hence he contrasts the “object naturalism” of such traditional orientations with his own “subject naturalist” approach which attempts to make explicit and hold on to a naturalistic approach to the knowing subject prior to the cutting in of the problematic hidden assumptions of object naturalism. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor begins chapter one of The Language of Thought with two claims. The first claim is that “[T]he only psychological models of cognitive processes that seem remotely plausible represent such processes as computational.” The second claim is that “[C]omputation presupposes a medium of computation: a representational system.” Together these two claims suggest one of the central theses of many contemporary representationalist theories of mind, viz. that the only remotely plausible psychology that could succeed in explaining the intentionally characterized abilities (...) and activities of sentient creatures must refer to computationally related representations. Although “[R]emotely plausible theories are”, according to Fodor, “better than no theories at all”, representationalism is not universally regarded as a “remotely plausible theory”. In what follows I will consider what many people believe to be a significant problem facing representationalism. I will then examine two different ways that this problem can be resolved, one based on the writings of Daniel Dennett, the other on ideas found in the later writings of Wittgenstein. I will conclude that although the resolution based on Dennett’s writings fails, a resolution based on ideas found in the later writings of Wittgenstein succeeds. (shrink)
El debate entre representacionistas y fenomenistas acerca del realismo de los qualia parece no avanzar. Este artículo defiende una solución que no es ni representacionista ni fenomenista. En contra de los representacionistas mantenemos que no todo contenido perceptual es reducible a su contenido representacional. En contra de los fenomenistas sostenemos que todo contenido perceptual es contenido intencional. Negamos así la existencia de los qualia, de aquellos, al menos, caracterizados de manera más estándar. Finalmente, mostramos que nuestra propuesta --situada entre el (...) representacionismo y el fenomenismo-- no ha sido explorada, porque se ha asumido, erróneamente, que todo contenido no representacional debe ser contenido no intencional. \\\ The debate between representationalists and phenomenalists on the reality of qualia has stagnated. The present article argues for a solution that is neither representationalist nor phenomenalist. Unlike the representationalists, we hold that not all perceptual content is reducible to its representational content. Against the phenomenalists, we claim that all perceptual content is intentional content. We therefore discard the existence of qualia, at least in their standard guise. Finally, we show that our intermediate proposal has not been explored because until now all non-representational content has been erroneously understood to be non-intentional content. (shrink)
Representationalism in cognitive science holds that semantic meaning should be explained by representations in the mind or brain. In this paper it is argued that semantic meaning should instead be explained by an abstract theory of semantic machines -- machines with predicative capability. The concept of a semantic machine (like that of a Turing machine or of Dennett's intentional systems ) is not a physical concept -- although it has physical implementations. The predicative competence of semantic machines is defined (...) in terms of independent agreement alone (cf. independent, and yet synchronised, clocks). Abstract theories are analysed as systems of quasi-apriori rules for abstract predicates. A relatively limited number of such theories and a few fundamental dimensions (space, time, mass, etc.) are today assumed to exhaust physical reality. However, that assumption need not be in conflict with predicates that cannot be defined in physical terms â for instance the functional and intentional terms that are crucial for cognitive science. (shrink)
It is often said that some kind of peripheral (or inattentional) conscious awareness accompanies our focal (attentional) consciousness. I agree that this is often the case, but clarity is needed on several fronts. In this paper, I lay out four distinct theses on peripheral awareness and show that three of them are true. However, I then argue that a fourth thesis, commonly associated with the so-called "self-representational approach to consciousness," is false. The claim here is that we have outer focal (...) consciousness accompanied often (or even always) by inner peripheral (self-)awareness. My criticisms stem from both methodological and phenomenological considerations. In doing so, I offer a diagnosis as to why the fourth thesis has seemed true to so many and also show how the so-called "transparency of experience," frequently invoked by representationalists, is importantly relevant to my diagnosis. Finally, I respond to several objections and to further attempts to show that thesis four is true. What emerges is that if one wishes to hold that some form of self-awareness accompanies all outer-directed conscious states, one is better off holding that such self-awareness is itself unconscious, as is held for example by standard higher-order theories of consciousness. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences inform us about objective properties of things in our environment. But they also have perspectival character in the sense that they differ phenomenally when objects are viewed from different points of view. Contemporary representationalists hold, at a minimum, that phenomenal character supervenes on representational content. Thus, in order to account for perspectival character, they need to indentify a type of representational content that changes in appropriate ways with the perceiver’s point of view. Many representationlists, including Shoemaker and Lycan, (...) argue that such contents are best construed in terms of mind-dependent properties. Other representationalists, including Tye and Dretske, hold that these contents involve only mind-independent properties. Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed an account of perceptual experience that would serve these latter representationalists extremely well. She suggests that we can do justice to the perspectival character of perceptual experience by appeal to representations of a certain type of relational properties, so-called ‘situation-dependent properties.’ In this paper, I critically engage with Schellenberg’s proposal in order to show how mind-independent representationalists can explain perspectival character. I argue that appeal to situation-dependent properties is problematic. I then show that mind-independent representationalists can account for perspectical character by means of scenario contents in Christopher Peacocke’s sense. (shrink)
Representationalists currently cannot explain counter-examples that involve _indeterminate _perceptual content, but a _double content_ (DC) view is more promising. Four related cases of perceptual imprecision are used to outline the DC view, which also applies to imprecise photographic content. Next, inadequacies in the more standard single content (SC) view are demonstrated. The results are then generalized so as to apply to the content of any kinds of non-conventional representation. The paper continues with evidence that a DC account provides a moderate (...) rather than extreme realist account of perception, and it concludes with an initial analysis of the failure of nomic covariance accounts of information in indeterminacy cases. (shrink)
Ambiguous figures pose a problem for representationalists, particularly for representationalists who believe that the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual (MacPherson in Nous 40(1):82–117, 2006). This is because, in viewing ambiguous figures, subjects have perceptual experiences that differ in phenomenal properties without differing in non-conceptual content. In this paper, I argue that ambiguous figures pose no problem for non-conceptual representationalists. I argue that aspect shifts do not presuppose or require the possession of sophisticated conceptual resources and that, although viewing ambiguous (...) figures often causes a change in phenomenal properties, this change is accompanied by a change in non-conceptual content. I illustrate the case by considering specific examples. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that many “simple minded” invertebrates are “natural zombies” in that they utilize their senses in intelligent ways, but without phenomenal awareness. The discussion considers how “first-order” representationalist theories of consciousness meet the explanatory challenge posed by blindsight. It would be an advantage of first-order representationalism, over higher-order versions, if it does not rule out consciousness in most non-human animals. However, it is argued that a first-order representationalism which adequately accounts for blindsight also implies (...) that most non-mammals are not conscious. The example of the honey bee is used to illuminate these claims. Although there is some reason to think that bees have simple beliefs and desires, nevertheless, their visually-mediated cognizing is comparable to that of an animal with blindsight. There is also reason to think that the study of blindsight can also help determine how consciousness is distributed in the animal world. (shrink)
I oppose the popular view that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience consists in the subject's representing the (putative) perceived object as being so-and-so. The account of perceptual experience I favor instead is a version of the "Theory of Appearing" that takes it to be a matter of the perceived object's appearing to one as so-and-so, where this does not mean that the subject takes or believes it to be so-and-so. This plays no part in my criticisms of Representationalism. (...) I mention it only to be up front as to where I stand. My criticism of the Representationalist position is in sections. (1) There is no sufficient reason for positing a representative function for perceptual experience. It doesn't seem on the face of it to be that, and nothing serves in place of such seeming. (2) Even if it did have such a function, it doesn't have the conceptual resources to represent a state of affairs. (3) Even if it did, it is not suited to represent, e.g., a physical property of color. (4) Finally, even if I am wrong about the first three points, it is still impossible for the phenomenal character of the perceptual experience to consist in it's representing what it does. My central argument for this central claim of the paper is that it is metaphysically, de re possible that one have a certain perceptual experience without it's presenting any state of affairs. And since all identities hold necessarily, this identity claim fails. (shrink)
I argue that any account of perceptual experience should satisfy the following two desiderata. First, it should account for the particularity of perceptual experience, that is, it should account for the mind-independent object of an experience making a difference to individuating the experience. Second, it should explain the possibility that perceptual relations to distinct environments could yield subjectively indistinguishable experiences. Relational views of perceptual experience can easily satisfy the first but not the second desideratum. Representational views can easily satisfy the (...) second but not the first desideratum. I argue that to satisfy both desiderata perceptual experience is best conceived of as fundamentally both relational and representational. I develop a view of perceptual experience that synthesizes the virtues of relationalism and representationalism, by arguing that perceptual content is constituted by potentially gappy de re modes of presentation. (shrink)
The words “content” and “character” in my title refer to the representational content and phenomenal character of color experiences. So my topic concerns the nature of our experience of color. But I will, of course, be talking about colors as well as color experience. Let me set the stage by mentioning some things, some more controversial than others, that I will be taking for granted. I assume, to begin with, that objects in the world have colors, and have them independently (...) of being perceived to have them, and independently even of there being creatures capable of perceiving them. I think, and this of course sets me apart from the many color irrealists among philosophers and color scientists, that any reasonable semantics for color terms, and any reasonable account of the reference of color concepts, should yield the result that colors are properties of external things that are realized in certain of their physical properties, namely those responsible for their reflecting or emitting the light whose impact on our retinas is involved in causing our color perceptions. This brings me to a further assumption that I shall be making, namely the truth of physicalism. I take physicalism to be the thesis that all properties of things either are or are realized in basic physical properties, where basic physical properties are the properties that underlie the behavior and causal powers of inanimate things. There are two ways in which the commitment to physicalism will figure in my discussion. First, I assume that colors are physically realized properties. Second, I assume that color experiences are physically realized. These two commitments frame the problem I am discussing – how can colors be properties realized in the microphysical properties of things, and how can color experience be so realized? I don’t think there is any generally accepted account of what it is for a property to be “realized in” other properties. For those who think, as I do, that properties are individuated by their causal features, it should seem plausible to say that property P realizes property Q just in case the forward looking causal features of Q are a subset of the forward looking causal features of P, and the backward looking.... (shrink)
Recently representationalists have cited a phenomenon known as the transparency of experience in arguments against the qualia theory. Representationalists take transparency to support their theory and to work against the qualia theory. In this paper I argue that representationalist assessment of the philosophical importance of transparency is incorrect. The true beneficiary of transparency is another theory, naïve realism. Transparency militates against qualia and the representationalist theory of experience. I describe the transparency phenomenon, and I use my description to argue for (...) naïve realism and against representationalism and the qualia theory. I also examine the relationship between phenomenological study and phenomenal character, and discuss the results in connection with the argument from hallucination. (shrink)
As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the standard (...) conception is false. Perhaps surprisingly, naïve realism provides a better account of color illusion.An apparence ymaad by som Magyk. Chaucer. (shrink)
There are two very different ways of thinking about perception. According to the first one, perception is representational: it represents the world as being a certain way. According to the second, perception is a genuine relation between the perceiver and a token object. These two views are thought to be incompatible. My aim is to work out the least problematic version of the representational view of perception that preserves the most important considerations in favor of the relational view. According to (...) this version of representationalism, the properties represented in perception are tropes—abstract particulars that are logically incapable of being present in two distinct individuals at the same time. I call this view ‘trope representationalism’. (shrink)
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of a perceptual experience supervenes upon its representational content. The phenomenon of blurry vision is thought to raise a difficulty for this position. More specifically, it is alleged that representationalists cannot account for the phenomenal difference between clearly seeing an indistinct edge and blurrily seeing a distinct edge solely in terms of represented features of the surrounding environment. I defend representationalism from this objection by offering a novel account of the (...) phenomenal difference between these two kinds of cases. (shrink)
One of the promising approaches to the problem of perceptual consciousness has been the representational theory, or representationalism. The idea is to reduce the phenomenal character of conscious perceptual experiences to the representational content of those experiences. Most representationalists appeal specifically to non-conceptual content in reducing phenomenal character to representational content. In this paper, I discuss a series of issues involved in this representationalist appeal to non-conceptual content. The overall argument is the following. On the face of it, conscious (...) perceptual experience appears to be experience of a structured world, hence to be at least partly conceptual. To validate the appeal to non-conceptual content, the representationalist must therefore hold that the content of experience is partly conceptual and partly non-conceptual. But how can the conceptual and the non-conceptual combine to form a single content? The only way to make sense of this notion, I argue, leads to a surprising consequence, namely, that the representational approach to perceptual consciousness is a disguised form of functionalism. (shrink)
Recent debates between representational and relational theories of perceptual experience sometimes fail to clarify in what respect the two views differ. In this essay, I explain that the relational view rejects two related claims endorsed by most representationalists: the claim that perceptual experiences can be erroneous, and the claim that having the same representational content is what explains the indiscriminability of veridical perceptions and phenomenally matching illusions or hallucinations. I then show how the relational view can claim that errors associated (...) with perception should be explained in terms of false judgments, and develop a theory of illusions based on the idea that appearances are properties of objects in the surrounding environment. I provide an account of why appearances are sometimes misleading, and conclude by showing how the availability of this view undermines one of the most common ways of motivating representationalist theories of perception. (shrink)
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments to account (...) for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position. (shrink)
Husserl and Searle agree that, for a bodily movement to be an action, it must be caused by a propositional representation. Husserl's representation is a mental state whose intentional content is what the agent is trying to do; Searle thinks of the representation as a logical structure expressing the action's conditions of satisfaction. Merleau-Ponty criticises both views by introducing a kind of activity he calls motor intentionality, in which the agent, rather than aiming at success, feels drawn to reduce a (...) felt tension. I argue that Searle can account for Merleau-Ponty's kind of coping only by broadening his notion of propositional representation to include indexicals, but that, in so doing, he covers up the way representational intentionality depends upon motor intentionality. (shrink)
Naturalism as spare as this is by no means platitudinous. However, most opposition to naturalism in contemporary philosophy is not opposition to naturalism in this basic sense, but to a more specific view of the relevance of science to philosophy. Similarly on the pro-naturalistic side. What most self-styled naturalists have in mind is the more specific view. As a result, I think, both sides of the contemporary debate pay insufficient attention to a different kind of philosophical naturalism — a different (...) view of the impact of science on philosophy. This different view is certainly not new — it has been with us at least since Hume — but nor is it prominent in many contemporary debates. (shrink)
This dissertation explores several illuminating points of intersection between the philosophy of perception and the philosophy of vagueness. Among other things, I argue: (i) that it is entirely unhelpful to theorize about perception or consciousness using Nagelian "what it's like" talk; (ii) that a popular recent account of perceptual phenomenology (representationalism) conflicts with our best theory of vagueness (supervaluationism); (iii) that there are no vague properties, for Evans-esque reasons; (iv) that it is impossible to insert "determinacy" operators into (...) class='Hi'>representationalism in a truth-preserving manner; and (v) that strong versions of dualism are unable to accommodate the possibility of borderline consciousness. (shrink)
Jane’s fleeting glimpse of a mockingbird conscious is Jane’s taking a perspective on, or representing, that glimpse; or one might say that the specific feel of that fleeting glimpse can be understood by saying how things are from Jane’s perspective, or how Jane represented things to be (it was to Jane as if a mockingbird flashed by).
Representationalist theories of phenomenal consciousness have problems in accounting for pain, for at least two reasons. First of all, the negative affective phenomenology of pain (its painfulness) does not seem to be representational at all. Secondly, pain experiences are not transparent to introspection in the way perceptions are. This is reflected, e.g. in the fact that we do not acknowledge pain hallucinations. In this paper, I defend that representationalism has the potential to overcome these objections. Defenders of representationalism (...) have tried to analyse every kind of phenomenal character in terms of indicative contents. But there is another possibility: Affective phenomenology, in fact, depends on imperative representational content. This provides a satisfactory solution to the aforementioned difficulties. (shrink)