This is a slightly more polished version of a presentation I wrote for the Author-Meets-Critics session on Colin's book at the Eastern APA session on Jan 4, 2017, in Baltimore. I’ve decided to post this commentary online pretty much as is -- I am afraid I don't have time to prepare a version suitable for publication. I hope the reader will find it helpful. At any rate, please treat this piece as a rough draft originally intended to be delivered to (...) a live audience. Although my commentary is mostly critical, I admire Colin's book for its originality, breadth, and depth. It stimulated my thought like no other books in recent years. (shrink)
The Introduction to Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (B&N) contains a condensed, cryptic argument – the ‘ontological proof’ – that is meant to establish a position ‘beyond realism and idealism’. Despite its role in establishing the fundamental ontological distinction of B&N – the distinction between being-for-itself and being-in-itself – the ontological proof has received very little scholarly attention. My goal is to fill this lacuna. I begin by clarifying the idealist position Sartre attacks in the Introduction to B&N: Husserl’s idealism as (...) interpreted by Aron Gurwitsch and Roman Ingarden. I then propose a new interpretation of the ontological proof that gives a central role to the transparency of experience. On this interpretation, Sartre argues from the ‘emptiness’ of consciousness – its purely relational nature – to the existence of mind-independent substance (being-in-itself). In assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Sartre’s case against idealism, I put him in critical dialogue with contemporary work in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
AI systems play an increasingly important role in shaping and regulating the lives of millions of human beings across the world. Calls for greater _transparency_ from such systems have been widespread. However, there is considerable ambiguity concerning what “transparency” actually means, and therefore, what greater transparency might entail. While, according to some debates, transparency requires _seeing through_ the artefact or device, widespread calls for transparency imply _seeing into_ different aspects of AI systems. These two notions are in apparent tension with (...) each other, and they are present in two lively but largely disconnected debates. In this paper, we aim to further analyse what these calls for transparency entail, and in so doing, clarify the sorts of transparency that we should want from AI systems. We do so by offering a taxonomy that classifies different notions of transparency. After a careful exploration of the different varieties of transparency, we show how this taxonomy can help us to navigate various domains of human–technology interactions, and more usefully discuss the relationship between technological transparency and human agency. We conclude by arguing that all of these different notions of transparency should be taken into account when designing more ethically adequate AI systems. (shrink)
Since the 1990s the so-called transparency of experience has played a crucial role in core debates in philosophy of mind. However, recent developments in the literature have made transparency itself quite opaque. The very idea of transparent experience has become quite fuzzy, due to the articulation of many different notions of transparency and transparency theses. Absent a unified logical space where these notions and theses can be mapped and confronted, we are left with an overall impression of conceptual chaos. This (...) is a problem, given the constant and ubiquitous references to transparency in the literature and its prominent position in the contemporary philosophy of mind. My goal in this paper is to restore clarity through proper analysis of the mutual relations between the different transparency theses. This allows me to uncover a unitary multidimensional logical space where existing (as well as possible) views can be properly singled out and located. (shrink)
Proponents of the extended mind have suggested that phenomenal transparency may be important to the way we evaluate putative cases of cognitive extension. In particular, it has been suggested that in order for a bio-external resource to count as part of the machinery of the mind, it must qualify as a form of transparent equipment or transparent technology. The present paper challenges this claim. It also challenges the idea that phenomenological properties can be used to settle disputes regarding the constitutional (...) status of bio-external resources in episodes of extended cognizing. Rather than regard phenomenal transparency as a criterion for cognitive extension, we suggest that transparency is a feature of situations that support the ascription of certain cognitive/mental dispositional properties to both ourselves and others. By directing attention to the forces and factors that motivate disposition ascriptions, we arrive at a clearer picture of the role of transparency in arguments for extended cognition and the extended mind. As it turns out, transparency is neither necessary nor sufficient for cognitive extension, but this does not mean that it is entirely irrelevant to our understanding of the circumstances in which episodes of extended cognizing are apt to arise. (shrink)
Brain activity determines which relations between objects in the environment are perceived as differences and similarities in colour, smell, sound, etc. According to selectionism, brain activity does not create those relations; it only selects which of them are perceptually available to the subject on a given occasion. In effect, selectionism entails that perceptual experience is diaphanous, i.e. that sameness and difference in the phenomenal character of experience is exhausted by sameness and difference in the perceived items. It has been argued (...) that diaphaneity is undermined by phenomenological considerations and empirical evidence. This paper considers five prominent arguments of this sort and shows that none of them succeeds. (shrink)
Perceptual experience is often said to be transparent; that is, when we have a perceptual experience we seem to be aware of properties of the objects around us, and never seem to be aware of properties of the experience itself. This is a introspective fact. It is also often said that we can infer a metaphysical fact from this introspective fact, e.g. a fact about the nature of perceptual experience. A transparency theory fills in the details for these two facts, (...) and bridges the gap between them. We have three aims: to scrutinize Michael Tye’s transparency theory :137–151, 2002; Consciousness revisited: materialism without phenomenal concepts, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2009; Philos Stud 170:39–57, 2014a), introduce a new transparency theory, and advance a meta-theoretical hypothesis about the interest, and import, of transparency theories. (shrink)
Is self-knowledge a requirement of rationality, like consistency, or means-ends coherence? Many claim so, citing the evident impropriety of asserting, and the alleged irrationality of believing, Moore-paradoxical propositions of the form < p, but I don't believe that p>. If there were nothing irrational about failing to know one's own beliefs, they claim, then there would be nothing irrational about Moore-paradoxical assertions or beliefs. This article considers a few ways the data surrounding Moore's paradox might be marshaled to support rational (...) requirements to know one's beliefs, and finds that none succeed. (shrink)
In this article the authors identify and analyse points of agreement and disagreement between Michael Ayers and Charles Travis, starting from their views on ‘things before us’. The authors then try to spell out what separates these philosophers in matters concerning perception, knowledge and language. In spite of their both being self-professed realists, equally critical of conceptualism and representationalism, Ayers’ empiricism and Travis’ anti-empiricism lead them to different positions in these three areas. It is shown that in the case of (...) Ayers they hinge on “ordinary” objects and a KK principle (knowledge that and how we know), whereas in the case of Travis they are articulated around occasion-sensitivity and anti-psychologism. (shrink)
In this paper, I raise an objection to Philip Goff’s “Revelation Thesis” as articulated in his Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. In Sect. 1 I present the Revelation Thesis in the context of Goff’s broader defence of pan-psychism. In Sect. 2 I argue that the Revelation Thesis entails the identity of indiscriminable phenomenal properties. In Sect. 3 I argue that the identity of indiscriminable phenomenal properties is false. The upshot is that the Revelation Thesis is false.
The problem of consciousness, as I present it here, is the problem of reconciling our understanding of consciousness with (i) the evidence for phenomenal transparency and (ii) the evidence that the physical world is causally closed. We might hope that idealism will do this. For idealism is just as hospitable to phenomenal transparency as dualism. And there is a sense in which idealism posits no physical world to be causally closed in the first place. But I argue that idealism has (...) no advantage over dualism and physicalism in the face of this problem. In approaching this issue I also make some taxonomical suggestions that help clarify the options left open by the causal closure argument against dualism. I would urge these on theorists dealing with that argument generally, not just those interested in idealism. (shrink)
Harman famously argues that a particular class of antifunctionalist arguments from the intrinsic properties of mental states or events (in particular, visual experiences) can be defused by distinguishing “properties of the object of experience from properties of the experience of an object” and by realizing that the latter are not introspectively accessible (or are transparent). More specifically, Harman argues that we are or can be introspectively aware only of the properties of the object of an experience but not the properties (...) of the experience of an object and hence that the fact that functionalism leaves out the properties of the experience of an object does not show that it leaves out anything mentally relevant. In this paper, I argue that Harman’s attempt to defuse the anti-functionalist arguments in question is unsuccessful. After making a distinction between the thesis of experiencing-act transparency and the thesis of mental-paint transparency, (and casting some doubt on the former,) I mainly target the latter and argue that it is false. The thesis of mental-paint transparency is false, I claim, not because mental paint involves some introspectively accessible properties that are different from the properties of the objects of experiences but because what I call the identity thesis is true, viz. that mental paint is the same as (an array of) properties of the object of experience. The identification of mental paint with properties of the object of experience entails that the antifunctionalist arguments Harman criticizes cannot be rightly accused of committing the fallacy of confusing the two. (shrink)
Perceptual disjunctivism, as I regard it in this paper, is the view that veridical perceptions and hallucinations, while indistinguishable via introspection, are states of fundamentally different kinds. This fundamental difference can be spelled out in various ways. According to the view I will be concerned with, it is a fundamental difference in the personal-level structure of both states. Against this version of disjunctivism, I will raise a new challenge. It is a variant of what can be seen as the standard (...) challenge against disjunctivism: how to do justice to the indistinguishability of veridical perceptions and hallucinations. It differs, however, from common versions of this challenge in where it locates the potential incompatibility of disjunctivism with the relevant fact of indistinguishability. Commonly, it is the disjunctivist assumption of a fundamental difference between both kinds of states which is regarded as incompatible with the indistinguishability of these states. In contrast, I will suggest that if hallucinations and veridical perceptions differed in the way proposed by structural disjunctivism, this difference would induce a corresponding difference in the psychological processes of their introspection and that the assumption of such a difference in the manner of introspection is most likely incompatible with a properly formulated indistinguishability claim. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a kind of delusion in which the patients judge that their occurrent thoughts are false and try to abandon them precisely because they are false, but fail to do so. I call this delusion transparent, since it is transparent to the sufferer that their thought is false. In explaining this phenomenon, I defend a particular two-factor theory of delusion that takes the proper integration of relevant reasoning processes as vital for thought-evaluation. On this proposal, which (...) is a refinement of Gerrans’s account of delusion as unsupervised by decontextualized processing, I can have all my reasoning processes working reliably and thus judge that my delusion is false but, if I cannot use their outputs when revising the thought itself, the delusion will persist. I also sketch how this framework explains some interesting cases of failed belief-revision in the general population in which people judge that ~p but nonetheless continue to believe that p. (shrink)
A widespread view among philosophers and scientists is that recorded sounds and assisted hearing differ fundamentally from natural sounds and direct hearing. It is commonly claimed, for example, that the sounds we hear over the phone are not sounds emitted by the voice of our interlocutor, but the sounds reproduced by the phone’s loudspeaker. According to this view, hearing distant sounds through communication and audio equipment is at best indirect and at worst illusory. In what follows, I shall reject these (...) claims and argue in favor of a transparent view of auditory media, including radio, telephone, phonograph, etc. According to this approach, the great gift of Scott de Martinville and Edison is not to have invented devices able to reproduce vanished sounds but rather to have created technological instruments literally able to store and transmit them to future and distant listeners. (shrink)
Cognition is not, and could not possibly be, entirely representational in character. There is also a phenomenal form of cognitive expression that registers the intrinsic properties of mental states themselves. Arguments against the reality of this intrinsic phenomenal dimension to mental experience have focused either on its supposed impossibility, or secondly, the non-appearance of any such qualities to introspection. This paper argues to the contrary, that the registration of cognitive state properties does take place independently of representational content; and necessarily (...) so, since it supports an independent function—self-management. Given the fact that unlike a computer, the brain must, of necessity, operate itself, it needs to be in touch with itself to do so. Intrinsic phenomenal forms of cognitive expression allow the brain to do just that by registering characteristics of the cognitive states themselves. Self-management might well prove to constitute the prime reason for the emergence of subjectivity itself. (shrink)
Section 31 of Quine's Word and Object contains an eyebrow-raising argument, purporting to show that if an agent, Tom, believes one truth and one falsity and has some basic logical acumen, and if belief contexts are always transparent, then Tom believes everything. Over the decades this argument has been debated inconclusively. In this paper I clarify the situation and show that the trouble stems from bad presentation on Quine’s part.
The hermeneutic tradition divides /physical/ discourse, which takes an 'exterior' point of view in /describing/ its subject-matter, from /mental/ discourse, which takes an 'interior' point of view in /expressing/ its subject-matter: a 'metapsychological dualist' or 'metadualist' approach. The analytic tradition, in its attachment to truth-logic and consequently the 'unity of science', is 'metamonist', and thinks all discourse takes the 'exterior' viewpoint: the 'bump in the rug' moves to the disunification of mind into the functional and (big-'C') Consciousness. Assuming the hermeneuts (...) are correct, the literature's twisty path---from Place and Smart's confused metamonist responses to Ryle's crypto-metadualist /Concept of Mind/ to contemporary metamonist 'phenomenal intentionality'---emerges as an attempt to stabilize theory on a fundamentally wobbly platform. (shrink)
This paper critically evaluates Amie Thomasson’s (2003; 2005; 2006) view of the conscious mind and the interpretation of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction that it adopts. In Thomasson’s view, the phenomenological method is not an introspectionist method, but rather a “transparent” or “extrospectionist” method for acquiring epistemically privileged self-knowledge. I argue that Thomasson’s reading of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction is correct. But the view of consciousness that she pairs with it—a view of consciousness as “transparent” in the sense that first-order, world-oriented experience is (...) in no way given to itself—is not compatible with it. Rather, Thomasson’s view is, from a Husserlian vantage point, self-undermining in the same way that any genuinely skeptical view is self-undermining: it undermines the conditions of its own possibility. This is one of the motives Husserl has for developing a same-order view of self-consciousness as the complement to his transparent method for self-knowledge acquisition. (shrink)
Gareth Evans famously observed that he can answer the question ‘Do you think there is going to be a third world war?’ by attending to “precisely the same outward phenomena as I would attend to if I were answering the question ‘Will there be a third world war?’”. I argue that this observation follows from two independently plausible ideas in philosophy of mind. The first is about rationality and consciousness: it is that to be rational is in part to be (...) required to believe that you are in a conscious state if you are in one, at least if various background conditions are met. The second is about consciousness and attention: it is that consciousness in a belief state consists in its subject engaging, to a sufficient extent, in a certain sort of world-directed attention. I also argue that this suggestion is superior to others that have been made in the literature regarding Evan’s observation. (shrink)
Consider a toothache, or a feeling of intense pleasure, or the sensation you would have if you looked impassively at an expanse of colour. In each case, the experience can easily be thought to fill time by being present throughout a period. This way of thinking of conscious experience is natural enough, but it is in deep conflict with the view that physical processes are ultimately responsible for experience. The problem is that physical processes are related to durations in a (...) very different way—not by being wholly present at each instant or sub-period, but by having temporal parts that are. There is a choice to be made, therefore, between preserving this common way of thinking of experience and preserving the fundamentality of processes. The first option holds fixed the view of experiences as occurring throughout time and takes this to constrain the category of entity to which they are identical, or upon which they supervene. The second option abandons this common view of experience by taking up a perspective on which we experience things in the world and their properties as existing or occurring a certain way, and mistakenly ascribe this ontological character to our experience as well. The second option is ultimately the better option, however, since only it can make sense of the facts of our experience. (shrink)
According to the thesis of transparency, subjects can attend only to the representational content of perceptual experience, never to the intrinsic properties of experience that carry this representational content, i.e., to “mental paint.” So far, arguments for and against transparency were conducted from the armchair, relying mainly on introspective observations. In this paper, we argue in favor of transparency, relying on the cognitive neuroscience of attention. We present a trilemma to those who hold that attention can be directed to mental (...) paint. Such attention is either first-order sensory, higher-order cognitive, or higher-order sensory attention. We argue that the notion of first-order sensory attention to mental paint is incompatible with the neuroscience of sensory attention; that higher-order cognitive attention to mental paint is irrelevant to transparency; and that the notion of higher-order sensory attention to mental paint has an apparently incoherent prediction. Via elimination, these considerations support the thesis of transparency. (shrink)
Philosophers frequently comment on the intimate connection there is between something’s being present in perceptual experience and that thing’s being, or at least appearing to be, temporally present. Yet, there is relatively little existing work that goes beyond asserting such a connection and instead examines its specific nature. In this paper, I suggest that we can make progress on the latter by looking at two more specific debates that have hitherto been conducted largely isolation from each other: one about the (...) nature of conscious experience and one about the nature of time itself. The first concerns the extent to which the temporal properties of experience form an exception to the transparency of experience, meaning that introspection can provide support for one particular view of how experience itself is structured temporally; the second concerns the question as to whether there is something about experience that gives us grounds for thinking that the present is somehow metaphysically special. As I argue, the idea of a connection between experiential presence and temporal presence plays a key background role in each of these debates. Yet it can also, in each of them, be seen to draw one side towards making claims that are supposed to express an important truth but are at the same time, on the face of it, self-contradictory. In each case, resolving what it actually is that these claims are trying to get at turns on recognizing a distinctive feature of perceptual experience, which I refer to as its lack of temporal viewpointedness. Recognising this feature also helps in making sense of what the issues at stake actually are in the intuition of an intimate connection between experiential presence and temporal presence. (shrink)
The so-called transparency of experience (TE) is the intuition that, in introspecting one’s own experience, one is only aware of certain properties (like colors, shapes, etc.) as features of (apparently) mind-independent objects. TE is quite popular among philosophers of mind and has traditionally been used to motivate Representationalism, i.e., the view that phenomenal character is in some strong way dependent on intentionality. However, more recently, others have appealed to TE to go the opposite way and support the phenomenal intentionality view (...) (PIV), according to which intentionality is in some strong way dependent on phenomenal character. If this line of argument succeeds, then not only TE does not speak in favor of Representationalism, but it actually speaks against it, contrary to the philosophical common-sense of the last two decades. Moreover, the representationalist project of naturalizing phenomenal character turns out to be seriously undermined on the same intuitive grounds that were supposed to make it plausible. In this paper, I reconstruct and discuss the line of argument from TE to PIV and argue that our introspective intuitions (TE) do not push us in the direction of PIV. On the contrary, the line of argument from TE to PIV is (at best) simply too weak to force us to conclude that intentionality depends on phenomenal character in the sense required for PIV to be true. (shrink)
According to intentionalism, the phenomenal character of experience is one and the same as the intentional content of experience. This view has a problem with moods (anxiety, depression, elation, irritation, gloominess, grumpiness, etc.). Mood experiences certainly have phenomenal character, but do not exhibit directedness, i.e., do not appear intentional. Standardly, intentionalists have re-described moods’ undirectedness in terms of directedness towards everything or the whole world (e.g., Crane, 1998; Seager, 1999). This move offers the intentionalist a way out, but is quite (...) unsatisfying. More recently, Angela Mendelovici (2013a, b) has suggested something that looks more interesting and promising: instead of re-describing moods’ phenomenology, she accepts its undirectedness at face value and tries to explain it in intentionalist terms. In this paper, I focus on and criticize Mendelovici’s proposal. As I will show, despite its prima facie virtues, the view is poorly motivated. For, contrary to what Mendelovici argues, introspection does not support her proposal—arguably, it provides some evidence against it. So, the problem that intentionalism has with moods is not solved, but is still there. (shrink)
According to the influential thesis of attentional transparency, in having or reflecting on an ordinary visual experience, we can attend only outwards, to qualities the experience represents, never to intrinsic qualities of the experience itself, i.e., to “mental paint.” According to the competing view, attentional semitransparency, although we usually attend outwards, to qualities the experience represents, we can also attend inwards, to mental paint. So far, philosophers have debated this topic in strictly armchair means, especially phenomenological reflection. My aim in (...) this paper is to show how to design an experiment, using the change detection paradigm for studying visual working memory that, if yielding positive results, would support AS. The structure of the argument is as follows. In standard change detection tasks, which involve attention to qualities the experience represents, there exists a known object integration effect (Luck and Vogel in Nature 390(6657):279–281, 1997). I formulate a hypothesis I call “the turn-off hypothesis,” according to which this effect does not exist in change detection tasks where subjects are instructed to attend to mental paint. I argue that, given AS, we have some reason to expect the turn-off hypothesis to be true, but given AT, we do not. Consequently, the truth of the turn-off hypothesis would support AS. I further argue that one can straightforwardly test the turn-off hypothesis, taking the standard change detection paradigm and instructing participants to attend inwards. (shrink)
Many have suggested that, unlike the so-called higher-senses, the lower-senses are not capable of providing aesthetic experience. Supporting this is, what I will call, the Transparency-Exteroceptivity Argument, which says that a necessary feature for aesthetic experience is lacking in the case of the lower-senses, namely transparency/exteroceptivity. I argue, contrary to the Transparency-Exteroceptivity Argument, that olfaction can provide transparent access to the properties of particular external objects. I argue that the Transparency-Exteroceptivity Argument relies on a misleading visuocentric and unimodal view of (...) the senses, is guilty of hasty generalization, and should be rejected. (shrink)
This paper critically examines currently influential transparency accounts of our knowledge of our own beliefs that say that self-ascriptions of belief typically are arrived at by “looking outward” onto the world. For example, one version of the transparency account says that one self-ascribes beliefs via an inference from a premise to the conclusion that one believes that premise. This rule of inference reliably yields accurate self-ascriptions because you cannot infer a conclusion from a premise without believing the premise, and so (...) you cannot infer from a premise that you believe the premise unless you do believe it. I argue that this procedure cannot be a source of justification, however, because one can be justified in inferring from p that q only if p amounts to strong evidence that q is true. This is incompatible with the transparency account because p often is not very strong evidence that you believe that p. For example, unless you are a weather expert, the fact that it will rain is not very strong evidence that you believe it will rain. After showing how this intuitive problem can be made precise, I conclude with a broader lesson about the nature of inferential justification: that beliefs, when justified, must be underwritten by beliefs, when justified, must be underwritten by evidential relationships between the facts or propositions which those beliefs represent. (shrink)
The author puts forward and defends a new argument for indirect realism called the argument from pain. The argument is akin to a well-known traditional argument to the same end, the argument from hallucination. Like the latter, it contains one premise stating an analogy between veridical perceptions and certain other states and one premise stating that those states are states of acquaintance with sense-data. The crucial difference is that the states that are said to be analogous to veridical perceptions are (...) pain-states instead of hallucinations. This difference makes the argument from pain immune to the standard objections against the argument from hallucination. (shrink)
Some have argued that we can put pressure on a relational view of experience with reference to the fact that the idiosyncrasies of perceivers can affect the qualitative characters of their experiences. Quassim Cassam calls this the problem of idiosyncratic perception. I defend the relational view in response to this problem.
Short introduction to the V2 publication of "The War of Appearances: Transparency, Opacity, Radiance" (2016). An anthology with Matteo Pasquinelli, Luciana Parisi, Graham Harman, Tomas Saraceno, René ten Bos, Tim Morton, McKenzie Wark, Wim Delvoye, Diana Scherer, Paolo Cirio, Paul Frissen, and Willem Schinkel.
Thought insertion is a common delusion in schizophrenia. People affected by it report that there are thoughts in their heads that have been inserted by a third party. These thoughts are self-generated but subjec-tively experienced as alien (hereafter, we shall call them alien thoughts for convenience). In chapter 5 of Transparent Minds, Jordi Fernández convincingly argues that the phenomenon of thought insertion can be accounted for as a pathology of self-knowledge. In particular, he argues that the application of the bypass (...) model of self-knowledge can shed light on what is amiss in people with thought insertion. In this brief commentary, we examine the proposal by Fernández, highlight some of its strengths, and raise one main objection to it. In mainstream philosophical accounts of thought insertion, people who report the delusion are thought to have ownership of the alien thoughts, but to lack a sense of agency with respect to such thoughts, and this is supposed to explain why they ascribe the thoughts to some-one else. Fernández correctly identifies the limitations of mainstream accounts of thought insertion. First, to claim that people with the delu-sion of thought insertion own the alien thoughts does not sit well with the phenomenology of thought insertion as it is reflected in people’s self-reports. Second, people do not need to experience a sense of agency with respect to a thought in order to ascribe the thought to themselves. Sense of agency is too demanding a condition for self-ascription. Fernández puts forward a novel account of thought insertion, at-tempting to solve the problems identified with mainstream accounts. He defends the view that thought insertion is a failure of self-knowledge that consists in the person failing to ascribe one of her be-liefs to herself. Similar accounts to the one Fernández develops in the chapter have been defended by Bortolotti and Broome (2009) and Pickard (2010). For Fernández, the failure in self-ascription is due to the fact that the person with thought insertion does not feel pressured to endorse the content of a belief that she has [Fernández (2013), p. 142]. Fernández explains this phenomenon in detail by reference to the bypass model of self-knowledge. When Fernández develops his own proposal, he relies on the claim that the alien thought is a belief. We challenge this claim.We agree with Fernández that, in thought insertion, the person does not ascribe the alien thought to herself and does not commit to the content of the thought being true, in spite of the thought being self-generated. Such considerations powerfully suggest to us that the alien thought is not a belief. Given the elusive nature of mental states in general and beliefs in particular, this may seem just a terminological issue. But in the present context, whether the alien thought is a belief is important in order to offer a characterisation of thought insertion that makes jus-tice to the first-person reports and other behavioural manifestations of people with the delusion. One may also argue that, as the model of self-knowledge Fernández applies to alien thoughts, that is, the bypass model, is a model of self-knowledge for beliefs, such a model could only feature in the explanation of thought insertion if alien thoughts were beliefs. But we do not think this is necessarily the case, as in the book Fernández successfully applies his bypass model to other types of mental states, such as desires. (shrink)
Blindsight is a kind of residual vision found in people with lesions to V1. Subjects with blindsight typically report no visual awareness, but they are nonetheless able to make above-chance guesses about the shape, location, color and movement of visual stimuli presented to them in their blind field. A different kind of blindsight, sometimes called type 2 blindsight, is a kind of residual vision found in patients with V1 lesions in the presence of some residual awareness. Type 2 blindsight differs (...) from ordinary visual experience in lacking the particularity, transparency and fine-grainedness often taken to be essential to visual experience, at least in veridical cases. I argue that the case of type 2 blindsight provides a counterexample to the view that these characteristics are essential to veridical visual experience and that this gives us reason to resist the view that visual experience is essentially a perceptual relation to external objects. In the second part of the paper I argue that the case of type 2 blindsight yields important insights into the effects of attentional modulation on perceptual content and that cases of attentional modulation of appearance are not at odds with the view that the phenomenology of visual experience flows from its content. (shrink)
Contemporary phenomenal externalists are motivated to a large extent by the transparency of experience and by the related doctrine of representationalism. On their own, however, transparency and representationalism do not suffice to establish externalism. Hence we should hesitate to dismiss phenomenal internalism, a view shared by many generations of competent philosophers. Rather, we should keep both our options open, internalism and externalism. It is hard, however, to see how to keep open the internalist option, for although transparency and representationalism have (...) not yet definitively established externalism, they have indeed made it quite intuitive. Internalism, by comparison, comes across at first sight as antiquated and ridden with difficulties. This is why I propose the Stained Glass model of consciousness. I do so with the following two aims: first, to make internalism intuitive in the age of transparency, and second, to show how to resist the many recent anti-internalist arguments. In particular, I argue that phenomenal internalism need not be epistemically worrisome, that it is compatible at once with transparency, representationalism, and content externalism, and that although it requires an error theory, this error theory is a harmless one. (shrink)
Nous nous attribuons naturellement une vie mentale, au sens minimal où il nous semble intuitivement que quelque chose se passe dans notre esprit. Mais que veut dire « quelque chose se passe dans notre esprit »?La formule est singulièrement obscure, et les philosophes y consacrent depuis toujours de patientes recherches. Au sens le plus naturel et immédiat, elle semble signifier quelque chose de ce...
I argue that an experience’s sensuous elements play an ineliminable role in our being intentionally directed upon an entity through perception. More specifically, I argue that whenever we appreciate a sensuous element in experience, we appreciate an intrinsic and irreducibly phenomenal aspect of experience that I call phenomenal presence – an aspect of experience that I show is central to its presentational character – and that the appreciation of phenomenal presence is necessary for perceptual intentionality. If an experience is to (...) possess intentionality, the experience itself must make an entity available as an object of perceptually-based singular beliefs and the experiencing subject, by virtue of undergoing the experience, must in some sense be able to appreciate that it has done so. Phenomenal presence is necessary for perceptual intentionality because it plays an ineliminable role in making an entity available to its subject in this way. (shrink)
The transparency of perceptual experience has been invoked in support of many views about perception. I argue that it supports a form of enactivism—the view that capacities for perceptual experience and for intentional agency are essentially interdependent. I clarify the perceptual phenomenon at issue, and argue that enactivists should expect to find a parallel instance of transparency in our agentive experience, and that the two forms of transparency are constitutively interdependent. I then argue that i) we do indeed find such (...) parallels: the way in which an action is directed towards its goal through our bodily movements parallels the way in which an experience is directed towards its object through our perceptual sensation, and ii) reflecting on sensorimotor skills shows why the two instances of transparency are constitutively interdependent. Section 4 gives reasons for generalizing beyond the cases considered so far by applying the enactive view to Kohler's landmark studies of perceptual adaptation. The final section clarifies the form of enactivism to which the previous sections point. The view that emerges is one whereby our perceptual and practical skills are interrelated aspects of a single capacity to have one's mind intentionally directed upon the world. The transparency of experience, on this view, is achieved in virtue of our capacities as agents as much as it is given in virtue of our capacities as perceivers. (shrink)
Visualizing and mental imagery are thought to be cognitive states by all sides of the imagery debate. Yet the phenomenology of those states has distinctly visual ingredients. This has potential consequences for the hypothesis that vision is cognitively impenetrable, the ability of visual processes to ground perceptual warrant and justification, and the distinction between cognitive and perceptual phenomenology. I explore those consequences by describing two forms of visual ambiguity that involve visualizing: the ability to visually experience a picture surface as (...) flat after it has caused volumetric nonconceptual contents, and the ability to use a surface initially perceived as flat to visualize three-dimensional scenes. In both cases, the visual processes which extract viewer-centered volumetric shapes have to rely solely on monocular depth cues in the absence of parallax and stereopsis. Those processes can be cognitively penetrated by acts of visualizing, including ones that draw on conceptual information about kinds. However, the penetrability of the visual processes does not weaken their ability to provide perceptual warrant and justification for beliefs. The reason is that picture perceptions—whether they are stimulus -driven or based on acts of visualizing—are different to object perceptions both phenomenologically and in terms of their functional roles as states. Thus, although the penetrability of the visual processes does mean that subjects can have visual experiences with contradictory contents, perceptual belief is adopted at most towards one set of contents, and questions of warrant and justification are raised only for those contents. A rule-proving exception is provided by trompe-l’oeils. (shrink)
A central topic in discussions about qualia concerns their purported transparency. According to transparency theorists, an experience is transparent in the sense that the subject having the experience is aware of nothing but the intended object of the experience. In this paper this notion is criticized for failing to account for the dynamical aspects of perception. A key assumption in the paper is that perceptual content has a certain temporal depth, in the sense that each act of perception can present (...) an object as extended in time and that objects can be perceived as persisting through time. An object that is seen as persisting through time is often seen as constant and unchanging, even though the presentation of it is changing. In this paper it is argued that in order to account for these cases of perceptual constancy, we must distinguish between the awareness of having perceived that an object has a property at a certain point in time, and perceptually intending that it has that property at that point in time. Consequently, we must in at least some instances be aware of something more than the object of the experience. But precisely this distinction is rejected by the transparency theory. (shrink)
Representationalism is the view that the phenomenal character of experiences is identical to their representational content of a certain sort. This view requires a strong transparency condition on phenomenally conscious experiences. We argue that affective qualities such as experienced pleasantness or unpleasantness are counter-examples to the transparency thesis and thus to the sort of representationalism that implies it.
In my (1992, 1994), I argued that introspective accessibility of facts about sameness and difference ofthe concepts exercised in our thoughts plays a pivotal role in our most basic conceptions of rational agency and rational explanation. In particular, I argued that any theory of concepts that allows for such failures of (epistemic) transparency faces a serious difficulty: it seems committed to mis-describing the conditions underwhich agents are rational. ...
In philosophical inquiry into the mind, the metaphor of ‘transparency’ has been attractive to many who are otherwise in deep disagreement. It has thereby come to have a variety of different and mutually incompatible connotations. The mind is said to be transparent to itself, our perceptual experiences are said to be transparent to the world, and our beliefs are said to be transparent to – a great many different things. The first goal of this essay is to sort out the (...) different uses of the notion of transparency in the context of the philosophy of mind. The remainder of the essay will then be devoted to examining so-called Transparency theories of self-knowledge, or how we know our own minds. This type of theory has attracted a great deal of interest in recent years, but its prospects hinge on answers to unresolved questions concerning the epistemological details of the account and the scope of its ambitions. (shrink)
In this essay, I want to take another look at the phenomenon of transparency and its relevance to qualia realism and representationalism. I don’t suppose that what I have to say will cause those who disagree with me to change their minds, but I hope not only to clarify my position and that of others who are on my side of the debate but also to respond to various criticisms and objections that have arisen over the last 10–15 years or (...) so.The transparency thesisI begin with four quotations, two from G. E. Moore, one from Gilbert Harman, and one from an earlier paper of mine:…that which makes the sensation of blue a mental fact seems to escape us; it seems, if I may use a metaphor, to be transparent — we look through it and see nothing but the blue… (Moore 1903, p. 446).When we try to introspect the sensation of blue, all we can see is the blue: the other element is as if it were diaphanous (Moore 1903, p. 450).When Eloise sees a tree before her, the colors she experiences are all experien. (shrink)
I argue that the most common interpretation of experiential transparency’s significance is laden with substantive and ultimately extraneous metaphysical commitments. I divest this inflated interpretation of its unwarranted encumbrances and consolidate the precipitate into a position I call core transparency. Core Transparency is a thesis about experience’s presentational character. The objects of perceptual experience are there, present to us, in a way that the objects of most beliefs and judgments are not. According to core transparency, it is in the disclosure (...) of that which is central to experience’s presentational character, an intrinsic and irreducibly phenomenal aspect of experience I call phenomenal presence, that transparency’s significance principally consists. Phenomenal presence is uniquely positioned to illuminate the relationship between perceptual experience’s most important features: its intentionality and its phenomenality. The position I defend comprises two main claims. (1) The representational features of experience, understood in isolation from experiential phenomenality, neither constitute nor explain phenomenal presence. Consequently, the representational features of experience neither determine completely nor explain exhaustively experiential phenomenality. (2) Phenomenal presence is not representational, but is nevertheless the minimal realization of experiential intentionality. (shrink)
We seem to directly perceive external things. But can we? According to the time‐lag argument, we cannot. What we directly perceive happens now. There is a time‐lag between our perceptions and the external things we seem to directly perceive; these external things happen in the past; thus, what we directly perceive must be something else, for example, sense‐data, and we can only at best indirectly perceive other things. This paper examines the time‐lag argument given contemporary metaphysics. I argue that this (...) argument is not as compelling as it may initially seem. First, it denies that what we directly perceive can ever be what it seems to be; second, it conflicts with the current physical conception of time, relativity theory. This latter point leads to a more general one: the argument's force depends on a particular metaphysical conception on time, presentism, which is controversial in contemporary metaphysics of time. Given the alternative conception, eternalism, the argument is much less compelling. The overall argument of this paper, then, is that, if one wishes to hold that we directly perceive external things, we should subscribe to the latter view of time, i.e., eternalism. (shrink)