In this review of Prinz's excellent book, I discuss an experiment that raises a significant challenge to Prinz's AIR theory of consciousness and Prinz's response to the experiment. I suggest that Prinz could avoid many objections to his theory by dropping attention as part of the core of the theory (this is a draft of a review written for Mind).
Milner and Goodale’s influential account of the primate cortical visual streams involves a division of consciousness between them, for it is the ventral stream that has the responsibility for visual consciousness. Hence, the dorsal visual stream is a “zombie” stream. In this paper, I argue that certain information carried by the dorsal stream likely plays a central role in the egocentric spatial content of experience, especially the experience of visual spatial constancy. Thus, the dorsal stream contributes to a pervasive feature (...) of consciousness. (shrink)
This is a comment on Peter Carruthers' "On Central Cognition", both originally presented at the 2011 Oberlin Colloquium in Philosophy. The comment discusses working memory, attention and the global workspace, and empirical evidence from neuroscience that Carruthers' adduces to argue for the claim that central cognition is sensory based because only sensory systems have direct access to working memory and the global workspace. I raise some questions about the empirical evidence for this claim.
This paper considers the connection between automaticity, control and agency. Indeed, recent philosophical and psychological works play up the incompatibility of automaticity and agency. Specifically, there is a threat of automaticity, for automaticity eliminates agency. Such conclusions stem from a tension between two thoughts: that automaticity pervades agency and yet automaticity rules out control. I provide an analysis of the notions of automaticity and control that maintains a simple connection: automaticity entails the absence of control. An appropriate analysis, however, shows (...) that actions are forms of control and pervasively automatic even if automaticity implies the absence of control. Consequences are drawn for the theory of mental agency and the psychological concepts of automaticity and control. (shrink)
In response to Mole 2009, I present an argument for zombie action. The crucial question is not whether but rather to what extent we are zombie agents. I argue that current evidence supports only minimal zombie agency.
Is vision informationally encapsulated from cognition or is it cognitively penetrated? I shall argue that intentions penetrate vision in the experience of visual spatial constancy: the world appears to be spatially stable despite our frequent eye movements. I explicate the nature of this experience and critically examine and extend current neurobiological accounts of spatial constancy, emphasizing the central role of motor signals in computing such constancy. I then provide a stringent condition for failure of informational encapsulation that emphasizes a computational (...) condition for cognitive penetration: cognition must serve as an informational resource for visual computation. This requires proposals regarding semantic information transfer, a crucial issue in any model of informational encapsulation. I then argue that intention provides an informational resource for computation of visual spatial constancy. Hence, intention penetrates vision. (shrink)
Recent work on the mechanisms underlying auditory verbal hallucination (AVH) has been heavily informed by self-monitoring accounts that postulate defects in an internal monitoring mechanism as the basis of AVH. A more neglected alternative is an account focusing on defects in auditory processing, namely a spontaneous activation account of auditory activity underlying AVH. Science is often aided by putting theories in competition. Accordingly, a discussion that systematically contrasts the two models of AVH can generate sharper questions that will lead to (...) new avenues of investigation. In this paper, we provide such a theoretical discussion of the two models, drawing strong contrasts between them. We identify a set of challenges for the self-monitoring account and argue that the spontaneous activation account has much in favor of it and should be the default account. Our theoretical overview leads to new questions and issues regarding the explanation of AVH as a subjective phenomenon and its neural basis. Accordingly, we suggest a set of experimental strategies to dissect the underlying mechanisms of AVH in light of the two competing models. (shrink)
Do self-monitoring accounts, a dominant account of the positive symptoms, explain auditory verbal hallucination (AVH)? In this essay, I argue that the account fails to answer many crucial questions any explanation of AVH must address. Where the account provides a plausible answer, I make a case for an alternative explanation: AVH is not the result of a failed control mechanism, namely failed self-monitoring, but the persistent automaticity of auditory experience of a voice. The argument emphasizes the importance of careful examination (...) of phenomenology as a constraint on causal models of the positive symptoms in schizophrenia. (shrink)
Attention has been studied in cognitive psychology for more than half a century, but until recently it was largely neglected in philosophy. Now, however, attention has been recognized by philosophers of mind as having an important role to play in our theories of consciousness and of cognition. At the same time, several recent developments in psychology have led psychologists to foundational questions about the nature of attention and its implementation in the brain. As a result there has been a convergence (...) of interest in fundamental questions about attention. This volume presents the latest thinking from the philosophers and psychologists who are working at the interface between these two disciplines. Its fourteen chapters contain detailed philosophical and scientific arguments about the nature and mechanisms of attention; the relationship between attention and consciousness; the role of attention in explaining reference, rational thought, and the control of action; the fundamental metaphysical status of attention, and the details of its implementation in the brain. These contributions combine ideas from phenomenology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind to further our understanding of this centrally important mental phenomenon, and to bring to light the foundational questions that any satisfactory theory of attention will need to address. (from OUP website). (shrink)
I argue that when perception plays a guiding role in intentional bodily action, it is a necessary part of that action. The argument begins with a challenge that necessarily arises for embodied agents, what I call the Many-Many Problem. The Problem is named after its most common case where agents face too many perceptual inputs and too many possible behavioral outputs. Action requires a solution to the Many-Many Problem by selection of a specific linkage between input and output. In bodily (...) action the agent perceptually selects, and in this way perceptually attends to, relevant information so as to guide the execution of specific movements. Since perceptual attention is a necessary part of solving the Many-Many Problem, it is a necessary part of bodily action. Indeed, the process of implementing a solution to the Many-Many Problem, as constrained by the agent's motivational state, just is the agent's performing an intentional bodily action in the relevant way. (shrink)
Perceptual attention is essential to both thought and agency, for there is arguably no demonstrative thought or bodily action without it. Psychologists and philosophers since William James have taken attention to be a ubiquitous and distinctive form of consciousness, one that leaves a characteristic mark on perceptual experience. As a process of selecting specific perceptual inputs, attention influences the way things perceptually appear. It may then seem that it is a specific feature of perceptual representation that constitutes what it is (...) like to consciously attend to an object. In fact conscious attention is more complicated. In what follows, I argue that the phenomenology of conscious attention to what is perceived involves not just a way of perceptually locking on to a specific object. It necessarily involves a way of cognitively locking on to it as well. (shrink)
Reflection on the fine-grained information required for visual guidance of action has suggested that visual content is non-conceptual. I argue that in a common type of visually guided action, namely the use of manipulable artefacts, vision has conceptual content. Specifically, I show that these actions require visual attention and that concepts are involved in directing attention. In acting with artefacts, there is a way of doing it right as determined by the artefact’s conventional use. Attention must reflect our understanding of (...) the function and appropriate ways to use these artefacts, understanding that requires possession of the relevant concept. As a result, we attend to the artefact’s relevant functional properties. In these cases, attention is structured by concepts. This discussion has a bearing on the dual visual stream hypothesis. While it is often held that the two visual streams are functionally independent, the argument of this essay is that the constraints on attention suggest a functional interaction between them. (shrink)