During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, (...) on this proposal, involve unique cognitive mechanisms, but none that could not be fully physically implemented. David Chalmers has recently presented a Master Argument to show that the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – not just this or that version of it, but any version of it – fails. Chalmers argues that the phenomenal concepts posited by such theories are either not physicalistically explicable, or they cannot explain our epistemic situation with regard to qualia. I argue that it is his Master Argument that fails. My claim is his argument does not provide any new reasons to reject the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. I also argue that, although the Phenomenal Concept Strategy is successful in showing that the physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up physicalism in the light of the anti-physicalist arguments, the anti-physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up the anti-physicalist argument in the light of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy either. (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 “Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism” (2007), “Phenomenal Conservatism and the Internalist Intuition” (2006), and Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (2001), Michael Huemer endorses the principle of phenomenal conservatism, according to which appearances or seemings constitute a fundamental source of (defeasible) justification for belief. He claims that those who deny phenomenal conservatism, including classical foundationalists, are in a self-defeating position, for their views cannot be both true and justified; that classical foundationalists have difficulty accommodating false introspective beliefs; (...) and that phenomenal conservatism is most faithful to the central internalist intuition. I argue that Huemer’s self-defeat argument fails, that classical foundationalism is able to accommodate fallible introspective beliefs, and that classical foundationalism captures a relatively clear internalist intuition. I also show that the motivation for phenomenal conservatism is less than clear. (shrink)
Definitions of phenomenal types (Nelson Goodman’s definition of qualia, Sydney Shoemaker’s phenomenal types, Austen Clark’s physicalist theory of qualia) imply that numerically distinct experiences can be type-identical in some sense. However, Goodman also argues that objects cannot be replicated in respect of continuous and densely ordered types. In that case, how can phenomenal types be defined for sizes, shapes and colours, which appear to be continuously ordered types? Concentrating on size, I will argue for the following points. (...) (§2) We cannot deny the possibility of replication in respect of dense types, because this would imply that particulars have determinable sizes, shapes and colours. (§3) Phenomenal sizes and shapes are determinable types; objective, or super-determinate, sizes and shapes are unknowable. (§4) We can define and know, prior to verification, groupings of objective sizes for which indiscriminability is transitive. (§5) Phenomenal identity has to be defined on the basis of these transitive groupings, because finer-grained criteria (such as Goodman’s) lead to definition of objective identity. The quality space of phenomenal types consists of overlapping but not dense types, and this prevents a collapse of phenomenal types. (shrink)
We present a cognitive-physicalist account of phenomenal consciousness. We argue that phenomenal concepts do not differ from other types of concepts. When explaining the peculiarities 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 solution (...) 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 associated 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 character from those without it. (shrink)
Recently, Michael Huemer has defended the Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism: If it seems to S that p, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some degree of justification for believing that p. This principle has potentially far-reaching implications. Huemer uses it to argue against skepticism and to defend a version of ethical intuitionism. I employ a reductio to show that PC is false. If PC is true, beliefs can yield justification for believing their contents in (...) cases where, intuitively, they should not be able to do so. I argue that there are cases where a belief that p can behave like an appearance that p and thereby make it seem to one that p. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch made two main contributions to phenomenology. He showed how to import Gestalt theoretical ideas into Husserl’s framework of constitutive phenomenology. And he explored the light this move sheds on both the overall structure of experience and on particular kinds of experience, especially perceptual experiences and conscious shifts in attention. The primary focus of this paper is the overall structure of experience. I show how Gurwitsch’s Gestalt theoretically informed phenomenological investigations provide a basis for defending what I will call (...)Phenomenal Holism, the view that all the parts of a total phenomenal state metaphysically depend on it. To illustrate how the ideas developed along the way can be used in advancing work on the phenomenology of particular kinds of experience, I draw on them in defending Husserl’s view that we can be aware of abstract objects against a phenomenological objection. (shrink)
Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. In recent years, a consensus has emerged that the credibility of this and other well-known anti-physicalist arguments can be undermined by allowing that we possess a special category of concepts of experiences, phenomenal concepts, which are conceptually independent from physical/functional concepts. It is held by a large number of philosophers that since the conceptual independence of (...)phenomenal concepts does not imply the metaphysical independence of phenomenal properties, physicalism is safe. This paper distinguishes between two versions of this novel physicalist strategy –Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) – depending on how it cashes out “conceptual independence,” and argues that neither helps the physicalist cause. A dilemma for PCS arises: cashing out “conceptual independence” in a way compatible with physicalism requires abandoning some manifest phenomenological intuitions, and cashing it out in a way compatible with those intuitions requires dropping physicalism. The upshot is that contra Brian Loar and others, one cannot “have it both ways.”. (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to (...) justified religious belief. A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
The book under review is a collection of thirteen essays on the nature phenomenal concepts and the ways in which phenomenal concepts figure in debates over physicalism. Phenomenal concepts are of special interest in a number of ways. First, they refer to phenomenal experiences, and the qualitative character of those experiences (aka “qualia”) whose metaphysical status is hotly debated. There are recent arguments, originating in Descartes’ famous conceivability argument, that purport to show that phenomenal experience (...) is irreducibly non-physical. Second, phenomenal concepts are widely thought to be special and unique among concepts. Both the anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist replies to these arguments turn on views about the nature of phenomenal concepts. In this review I survey the many ways in which the essays in this volume are engaged (pro or con) with anti-physicalist arguments and the role phenomenal concepts play in these arguments. (shrink)
Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument and different conceivability arguments, advanced by Saul Kripke, David Chalmers and Joseph Levine, conclude that consciousness involves non-physical properties or properties that cannot be reductively accounted for in physical terms. Some physicalists have replied to these objections by means of different versions of the phenomenal concept strategy. David Chalmers has responded with the master argument, a reasoning that, if successful, would undermine any reasonable version of the phenomenal concept strategy. In this paper, I argue (...) that the master argument does not advance the debate between the supporters of the anti-physicalist arguments and those of the phenomenal concept strategy. (shrink)
It would be a mistake to deny commonsense intuitions a role in developing a theory of consciousness. However, philosophers have traditionally failed to probe commonsense in a way that allows these commonsense intuitions to make a robust contribution to a theory of consciousness. In this paper, I report the results of two experiments on purportedly phenomenal states and I argue that many disputes over the philosophical notion of ‘phenomenal consciousness’ are misguided—they fail to capture the interesting connection between (...) commonsense ascriptions of pain and emotion. With this data in hand, I argue that our capacity to distinguish between ‘mere things’ and ‘subjects of moral concern’ rests, to a significant extent, on the sorts of mental states that we take a system to have. (shrink)
In this chapter, I argue for the thesis that phenomenal consciousness is the basis of epistemic justification. More precisely, I argue for the thesis of phenomenal mentalism, according to which epistemic facts about which doxastic attitudes one has justification to hold are determined by non-epistemic facts about one’s phenomenally individuated mental states. I begin by providing intuitive motivations for phenomenal mentalism and then proceed to sketch a more theoretical line of argument according to which phenomenal mentalism (...) provides the best explanation of the independently motivated thesis of access internalism. The result is a theory of epistemic justification that brings intuition and theory into reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
One popular materialist response to the explanatory gap identifies phenomenal concepts with type-demonstrative concepts. This kind of response, however, faces a serious challenge: that our phenomenal concepts seem to provide a richer characterization of their referents than just the demonstrative characterization of 'that quality'. In this paper, I develop a materialist account that beefs up the contents of phenomenal concepts while retaining the idea that these contents contain demonstrative elements. I illustrate this account by focusing on our (...)phenomenal concepts of phenomenal colour. The phenomenal colours stand in a similarity space relative to one another in virtue of being complex qualities—qualities that contain saturation, lightness, and various aspects of hue as component elements. Our phenomenal concepts, in turn, provide a demonstrative characterization of each of these component elements as well as a description of how much of that element is present in a given phenomenal colour. The result is an account where phenomenal concepts contain demonstrative elements and yet provide a significantly richer characterization of the intrinsic nature of their referents than just 'that quality'. (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)
: Although Externalism is widely accepted as a thesis about belief, as a thesis about experience it is both controversial and unpopular. One potential explanation of this difference involves the phenomenality of perceptual experience—perhaps there is something about how perceptual experiences seem that straightforwardly speaks against Externalist accounts of their individuation conditions. In this paper, I investigate this idea by exploring the role that the phenomenality of color experience plays in a prominent argument against Phenomenal Externalism: Ned Block’s Inverted (...) Earth Argument. In the course of carrying out this investigation, I will show that challenging Phenomenal Externalism on phenomenological grounds is not as straightforward a task as it is commonly assumed to be. -/- . (shrink)
A book symposium on Peter, Carruthers. Phenomenal Consciousness: A Naturalistic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Contents: Author's précis Colin Allen, Evolving Phenomenal Consciousness - Carruthers's reply. José Luis Bermúdez, Commentary - Carruthers's reply - Reply to Carruthers: Properties, first-order representationalism and reinforcement. Joseph Levine, Commentary - Carruthers's reply. William Seager, Dispositions and Consciousness - Carruthers's reply.
According to a currently popular approach to the analysis of phenomenal character, the phenomenal character of an experience is entirely determined by, and is in fact identical with, the experience's representational content. Two underlying assumptions motivate this approach to phenomenal character: (1) that conscious experiences are diaphanous or transparent, in the sense that it is impossible to discern, via introspection, any intrinsic features of an experience of x that are not experienced as features of x, and (2) (...) that the immediate objects of consciousness are not objects per se, but rather properties. This paper explores these assumptions, advancing the thesis that each is rejectable on phenomenological grounds. (shrink)
The conditional analysis of phenomenal concepts purports to give physicalists a way of understanding phenomenal concepts that will allow them to (1) accept the zombie intuition, (2) accept that conceivability is generally a good guide to possibility, and yet (3) reject the conclusion that zombies are metaphysically possible. It does this by positing that whether phenomenal concepts refer to physical or nonphysical states depends on what the actual world is like. In this paper, I offer support for (...) the Chalmers/Alter objection that the conditional analysis fails to accommodate the true zombie intuition, and develop a new and far more powerful argument against the conditional analysis. I argue that, as stated, the conditional analysis is radically incomplete. But when fully fleshed out, the analysis becomes viciously circular. The only way to avoid this circularity is to adopt a species of analytic functionalism, on which it’s a priori that phenomenal concepts refer to the state (perhaps physical, perhaps nonphysical) that actually plays so-and-so functional role. While this rigidified analytic functionalism is coherent, it is highly unattractive, running contrary to both the intuitions that motivate functionalism and the intuitions that motivated the conditional analysis. (shrink)
In the work of both Ludwik Fleck and Thomas Kuhn the scientific literature plays important roles for stability and change of scientific phenomenal worlds. In this article we shall introduce the analyses of scientific literature provided by Fleck and Kuhn, respectively. From this background we shall discuss the problem of how divergent thinking can emerge in a dogmatic atmosphere. We shall argue that in their accounts of the factors inducing changes of scientific phenomenal worlds Fleck and Kuhn offer (...) substantially different approaches, and we shall discuss in which respects their approaches may be compatible. (shrink)
In a series of papers and lectures, Sydney Shoemaker has developed a sophisticated Russellian theory of phenomenal content (1994, 2000, 2001, 2003). It has as its central motivation two considerations. One is the possibility of spectrum-inversion without illusion. The other is the transparency of experience.
In this essay I shall argue that the crucial assumptions of Kripke's argument, i.e. the collapse of the appearance/reality distinction in the case of phenomenal states and the idea of a qualitatively identical epistemic situation, imply an objective principle of identity for mental-state types. This principle, I shall argue, rather than being at odds with physicalism, is actually compatible with both the type-identity theory of the mind and Kripke's semantics and metaphysics. Finally, I shall sketch a version of the (...) type-identity theory. (shrink)
A popular defense of physicalist theories of consciousness against anti-physicalist arguments invokes the existence of ‘phenomenal concepts’. These are concepts that designate conscious experiences from a first person perspective, and hence differ from physicalistic concepts; but not in a way that precludes co-referentiality with them. On one version of this strategy phenomenal concepts are seen as (1) type demonstratives that have (2) no mode of presentation. However, 2 is possible without 1-call this the ‘bare recognitional concept’ view-and I (...) will argue that this avoids certain recent criticisms while retaining the virtue of finessing the ‘mode of presentation’ problem for phenomenal concepts. But construing phenomenal concepts this way seems to not do justice to the phenomenology of conscious experience. In this paper I examine whether or not this impression can be borne out by a good argument. As it turns out, it is harder to do so than one might think. It can be done, but it involves somewhat more convoluted reasoning than one might have supposed necessary. Having shown that, I will end with a few brief remarks on what my argument means for attempts to preserve a physicalist account of consciousness. (shrink)
In recent times, explanations of the Capgras delusion have tended to emphasise the cognitive dysfunction that is believed to occur at the second stage of two-stage models. This is generally viewed as a response to the inadequacies of the one-stage account. Whilst accepting that some form of cognitive disruption is a necessary part of the aetiology of the Capgras delusion, I nevertheless argue that the emphasis placed on this second-stage is to the detriment of the important role played by the (...) phenomenology underlying the disorder, both in terms of the formation and maintenance of the delusional belief. This paper therefore proposes an interactionist two-stage model in which the phenomenal experience of the Capgras patient is examined, emphasised, and its relation to top-down processing discussed. (shrink)
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches _vehicle_ and _process_ theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be (...) space for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are _dissociable_, and on the other, by the _classical_ computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of _connectionism; _and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: _phenomenal experience consists in the explicit_ _representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks_.. (shrink)
Kant, in various parts of his treatment of causality, refers to determinism or the principle of sufficient reason as an inescapable principle. In fact, in the Second Analogy we find the elements to reconstruct a purely phenomenal determinism as a logical and tautological truth. I endeavour in this article to gather these elements into an organic theory of phenomenal causality and then show, in the third section, with a specific argument which I call the “paradox of phenomenal (...) observation”, that this phenomenal determinism is the only rational approach to causality because any logico-reductivistic approach, such as the Humean one, would destroy the temporal order and so the very possibility to talk of a causal relation. I also believe that, all things said, Kant did not achieve a much greater comprehension of the problem than Hume did, in his theory of causality, for he did not free a phenomenal approach from the impasse of reductivism as his reflections on “simultaneous causation” and “vanishing quantities” indeed show, and this I will argue in Sect. 4 of this article. (shrink)
Against Hanna on Phenomenal Conservatism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0148-2 Authors Kevin McCain, Department of Philosophy, University of Rochester, Box 270078, Rochester, NY 14627-0078, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150.
The novel approach presented in this paper accounts for the occurrence of the epistemic gap and defends physicalism against anti-physicalist arguments without relying on so-called phenomenal concepts. Instead of concentrating on conceptual features, the focus is shifted to the special characteristics of experiences themselves. To this extent, the account provided is an alternative to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. It is argued that certain sensory representations, as accessed by higher cognition, lack constituent structure. Unstructured representations could freely exchange their (...) causal roles within a given system which entails their functional unanalysability. These features together with the encapsulated nature of low level complex processes giving rise to unstructured sensory representations readily explain those peculiarities of phenomenal consciousness which are usually taken to pose a serious problem for contemporary physicalism. I conclude that if those concepts which are related to the phenomenal character of conscious experience are special in any way, their characteristics are derivative of and can be accounted for in terms of the cognitive and representational features introduced in the present paper. (shrink)
Certain conceivable situations figure as premises in arguments for the conclusion that conscious experiences have nonphysical properties or qualia. Frank Jackson's knowledge argument considers the hypothetical scientist Mary, who despite having complete scientific knowledge of colour vision, supposedly lacks knowledge of qualia. Both Saul Kripke's and David Chalmers' modal arguments involve zombies, conceivable creatures physically identical to us who lack qualia. Several physicalists have replied to all these objections by endorsing the phenomenal concept reply. Without trying to undermine this (...) reply in general, I argue that recent versions of it proposed by John Perry and David Papineau are unsatisfactory. (shrink)
According to phenomenal conservatism, if it seems to S that P, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has some degree of justification for believing P. Phenomenal conservatism has received its fair share of criticism. Among other things, it has been argued that too many beliefs for which the agent has no justification come out as having some degree of justification, given phenomenal conservatism. I believe many of these criticisms are justified. Here I want to propose (...) and defend a close cousin of phenomenal conservatism, a position I will call ‘sensible dogmatism’. Sensible dogmatism is the view that a specific subset of seemings, which I call non-epistemic seemings, can confer justification on belief when they are grounded in the content of memory, introspection or perception. I argue that this position avoids the most devastating problems for phenomenal conservatism while inheriting its virtues. (shrink)
When cognitive scientists apply computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, as many of them have been doing recently, there are two fundamentally distinct approaches available. Either consciousness is to be explained in terms of the nature of the representational vehicles the brain deploys; or it is to be explained in terms of the computational processes defined over these vehicles. We call versions of these two approaches vehicle and process theories of consciousness, respectively. However, while there may be (...) space for vehicle theories of consciousness in cognitive science, they are relatively rare. This is because of the influence exerted, on the one hand, by a large body of research which purports to show that the explicit representation of information in the brain and conscious experience are dissociable, and on the other, by the classical computational theory of mind – the theory that takes human cognition to be a species of symbol manipulation. But two recent developments in cognitive science combine to suggest that a reappraisal of this situation is in order. First, a number of theorists have recently been highly critical of the experimental methodologies employed in the dissociation studies – so critical, in fact, it’s no longer reasonable to assume that the dissociability of conscious experience and explicit representation has been adequately demonstrated. Second, classicism, as a theory of human cognition, is no longer as dominant in cognitive science as it once was. It now has a lively competitor in the form of connectionism; and connectionism, unlike classicism, does have the computational resources to support a robust vehicle theory of consciousness. In this paper we develop and defend this connectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. It takes the form of the following simple empirical hypothesis: phenomenal experience consists in the explicit representation of information in neurally realized PDP networks. This hypothesis leads us to re-assess some common wisdom about consciousness, but, we will argue, in fruitful and ultimately plausible ways. (shrink)
There is widespread debate in contemporary philosophy of mind over the place of conscious experiences in the natural world – where the latter is taken to be broadly as described and explained by such sciences as physics, chemistry and biology; while conscious experiences encompass pains, bodily sensations, perceptions, feelings and moods. Many philosophers and scientists, who endorse physicalism or materialism, maintain that these mental states can be completely described and explained in natural terms. Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument is a very (...) influential objection to physicalism and, thus, to such an optimistic view about the scientific treatability of conscious experiences. According to the knowledge argument, we can know facts about our colour experiences that are not physical facts. At the heart of this book lies a response to the knowledge argument that aims to defend a version of physicalism, that the author calls modest reductionism. This reply is based on the endorsement of the phenomenal concept strategy. According to this response, the knowledge argument cannot prove that there are non-physical facts. Instead, it can only show that there are ways of thinking about colour experiences that are based on phenomenal concepts that differ from scientific concepts. The author argues for the superiority of the phenomenal concept strategy over other influential physicalist replies to the knowledge argument. However, he criticises some recent physicalist accounts of phenomenal concepts and develops his own distinctive theory of these concepts. (shrink)
Humans can think about their conscious experiences using a special class of ?phenomenal? concepts. Psychophysical identity statements formulated using phenomenal concepts appear to be contingent. Kripke argued that this intuited contingency could not be explained away, in contrast to ordinary theoretical identities where it can. If the contingency is real, property dualism follows. Physicalists have attempted to answer this challenge by pointing to special features of phenomenal concepts that explain the intuition of contingency. However no physicalist account (...) of their distinguishing features has proven to be satisfactory. Leading accounts rely on there being a phenomenological difference between tokening a physical-functional concept and tokening a phenomenal concept. This paper shows that existing psychological data undermine that claim. The paper goes on to suggest that the recalcitrance of the intuition of contingency may instead by explained by the limited means people typically have for applying their phenomenal concepts. Ways of testing that suggestion empirically are proposed. (shrink)
In this paper, I outline a reductio against Phenomenal Conservatism. If sound, this reductio shows that the phenomenal conservative is committed to the claim that appealing to appearances is not a trustworthy method of fixing belief.
In the Logical Investigations, Ideas I and many other texts, Husserl maintains that perceptual consciousness involves the intentional “animation” or interpretation of sensory data or hyle, e.g., “color-data,” “tone-data,” and algedonic data. These data are not intrinsically representational nor are they normally themselves objects of representation, though we can attend to them in reflection. These data are “immanent” in consciousness; they survive the phenomenological reduction. They partly ground the intuitive or “in-the-flesh” aspect of perception, and they have a determinacy of (...) character that we do not create but can only discover. This determinate, non-representational stratum of perceptual consciousness also serves as a bridge between consciousness and the world beyond it. I articulate and defend this conception of perceptual consciousness. I locate the view in the space of contemporary positions on phenomenal character and argue for its superiority. I close by briefly arguing that the Husserlian account is perfectly compatible with physicalism (this involves disarming the Grain Problem). (shrink)
The aim of my paper is twofold. First, I show how the notion of phenomenal field can be used to examine, describe and understand particular collective patterns pertaining to the everyday domain of our common social experience. Secondly, I outline the role of the notion of “phenomenal field” in ethnomethodology. I briefly discuss Gurwitsch’s notion of functional meaning. After presenting the argument, I show “the locally achieved ordinariness of a common task”, that is the lining up of the (...) player of the two teams in the pitch, as an embodied coherence of figural contexture in its empirical perceptual details, as Garfinkel says. (shrink)
Chalmers (The character of consciousness, 2010) argues for an acquaintance theory of the justification of direct phenomenal beliefs. A central part of this defense is the claim that direct phenomenal beliefs are cognitively significant. I argue against this. Direct phenomenal beliefs are justified within the specious present, and yet the resources available with the present ‘now’ are so impoverished that it barely constrains the content of a direct phenomenal belief. I argue that Chalmers’s account does not (...) have the resources for explaining how direct phenomenal beliefs support the inference from ‘this E is R’ to ‘that was R.’. (shrink)
The empirical literature on phenomenal causality (i.e., the notion that causality can be perceived) is reviewed. In Part I of this two-part series, different potential types of phenomenal causality (launching, triggering, reaction, tool, entraining, traction, braking, enforced disintegration and bursting, coordinated movement, penetration, expulsion) are described. Stimulus variables (temporal gap, spatial gap, spatial overlap, direction, absolute velocity, velocity ratio, trajectory length, radius of action, size, motion type, modality, animacy) and observer variables (attention, eye movements and fixation, prior experience, (...) intelligence, age, culture, psychopathology) that influence phenomenal causality are reviewed. This provides the necessary background for consideration in Part II (Hubbard, in press) of broader questions regarding properties of phenomenal causality, empirical and theoretical connections of phenomenal causality to other perceptual or cognitive phenomena or processes, and potential mechanisms and models of phenomenal causality. (shrink)
The empirical literature on phenomenal causality (the notion that causality can be perceived) is reviewed. Different potential types of phenomenal causality and variables that influence phenomenal causality were considered in Part I (Hubbard 2012b) of this two-part series. In Part II, broader questions regarding properties of phenomenal causality and connections of phenomenal causality to other perceptual or cognitive phenomena (different types of phenomenal causality, effects of spatial and temporal variance, phenomenal causality in infancy, (...) effects of object properties, naïve physics, spatial localization, other illusions, amodal completion, Gestalt principles of perceptual grouping, effects of context, differences between physical and social causality, effects of learning and experience, individual differences, effects of predictability, asymmetry in phenomenal causality, differences between perceived causality and perceived force, phenomenal causality in nonhuman animals) are considered. Potential mechanisms of phenomenal causality (inference from contiguity, a priori understanding, ampliation, perceptual learning, stimulus activity, beliefs regarding kinematics, haptic experience, beliefs regarding impetus, postdiction, innateness, modularity, specific neural structures) are also considered. (shrink)
Though physicalism remains the most popular position in the metaphysics of mind today, there is still considerable debate over how to retain a plausible account of mental concepts consistently with a physicalistic world view. Philip Goff (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89(2), 191–209, 2011) has recently argued that physicalism cannot give a plausible account of our phenomenal concepts, and that as such, physicalism should be rejected. In this paper I hope to do three things, firstly I shall use some considerations (...) from ontology to rebut Goff’s argument and consider some objections and replies. Secondly, I shall outline a version of a posteriori physicalism about phenomenal consciousness which draws on this particular ontology. Thirdly, I shall give support to this version of physicalism by arguing that it marries well with prominent theories in cognitive science, and has important advantages over other versions of a posteriori physicalism. (shrink)
This metatheoretical paper develops a list of new research targets by exploring particularly promising interdisciplinary contact points between empirical dream research and philosophy of mind. The central example is the MPS-problem. It is constituted by the epistemic goal of conceptually isolating and empirically grounding the phenomenal property of “minimal phenomenal selfhood”, which refers to the simplest form of self-consciousness. In order to precisely describe MPS, one must focus on those conditions that are not only causally enabling, but strictly (...) necessary to bring it into existence. This contribution argues that research on bodiless dreams, asomatic out-of-body experiences, and full-body illusions has the potential to make decisive future contributions. Further items on the proposed list of novel research targets include differentiating the concept of a “first-person perspective” on the subcognitive level; investigating relevant phenomenological and neurofunctional commonalities between mind-wandering and dreaming; comparing the functional depth of embodiment across dream and wake states; and demonstrating that the conceptual consequences of cognitive corruption and systematic rationality deficits in the dream state are much more serious for philosophical epistemology (and, perhaps, the methodology of dream research itself) than commonly assumed. The paper closes by specifying a list of potentially innovative research goals that could serve to establish a stronger connection between dream research and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to analyze the relationship between phenomenal experience and our folk conceptualization of it. I will focus on the phenomenal concept strategy as an answer to Mary's puzzle. In the first part I present Mary's argument and the phenomenal concept strategy. In the second part I explain the requirements phenomenal concepts should satisfy in order to solve Mary's puzzle. In the third part I present various accounts of what a phenomenal (...) concept is, and I show the difficulties each of them have. Finally, I develop my own account of phenomenal concepts. My thesis claims that phenomenal concepts are complex concepts whose possession conditions depend upon the mastery of many other concepts, in fact, quite complex concepts such as the distinction between appearance and reality (which belongs to our theory of mind system), and color concepts (at least in the case of the phenomenal concepts needed in order to account for Mary's case). And these later concepts are concepts that have special possession conditions: they include the deployment of nonconceptual recognitional capacities. (shrink)
*[[This paper is largely based on material in other papers. The first three sections and the appendix are drawn with minor modifications from Chalmers 2002c (which explores issues about phenomenal concepts and beliefs in much more depth, mostly independently of questions about materialism). The main ideas of the last three sections are drawn from Chalmers 1996, 1999, and 2002a, although with considerable revision and elaboration. ]].
We review some of the work already done around the notion of phenomenal intentionality and propose a way of turning this body of work into a self-conscious research program for understanding intentionality.
In some philosophical arguments an important role is played by the claim that certain situations differ from each other with respect to phenomenology. One class of such arguments are minimal pair arguments. These have been used to argue that there is cognitive phenomenology, that high-level properties are represented in perceptual experience, that understanding has phenomenology, and more. I argue that facts about our mental lives systematically block such arguments, reply to a range of objections, and apply my critique to some (...) examples from the literature. (shrink)