I argue for three central theses: ‘intuition’ is ambiguous, in material object metaphysics ‘intuition’ refers to pre-theoretical beliefs, and these pre-theoretical beliefs are generated by an innate physical reasoning system. I begin by outlining the relevant background discussions on the nature of intuitions and their role in philosophy to motivate the need for a more careful investigation of the meaning of ‘intuition’ and the role of intuitions in specific sub-disciplines of philosophy. In chapters one and two I argue that ‘intuition’ (...) is ambiguous between an inflationary and deflationary sense. In the inflationary sense, ‘intuition’ refers to a priori intellectual seemings with a special phenomenology, conceptual etiology, and modal content. In the deflationary sense, ‘intuition’ refers to beliefs or inclinations to believe. In chapter three I specifically examine the use of intuitions in material object metaphysics and conclude that in this sub-community ‘intuition’ is used in the deflationary sense to refer to pre-theoretical beliefs. Drawing from research on infant cognition, in the final chapter I argue that intuitions regarding material object metaphysics are those judgments that arise from an innate physical reasoning system. Based on this empirical observation, I argue that metaphysicians ought to give preference to abstract intuitions over intuitions regarding concrete cases because these abstract intuitions reflect the innate structure of our physical reasoning mechanisms. (shrink)
The Humean view that conceivability entails possibility can be criticized via input from cognitive psychology. A mainstream view here has it that there are two candidate codings for mental representations (one of them being, according to some, reducible to the other): the linguistic and the pictorial, the difference between the two consisting in the degree of arbitrariness of the representation relation. If the conceivability of P at issue for Humeans involves the having of a linguistic mental representation, then it is (...) easy to show that we can conceive the impossible, for impossibilities can be represented by meaningful bits of language. If the conceivability of P amounts to the pictorial imaginability of a situation verifying P, then the question is whether the imagination at issue works purely qualitatively, that is, only by phenomenological resemblance with the imagined scenario. If so, the range of situations imaginable in this way is too limited to have a significant role in modal epistemology. If not, imagination will involve some arbitrary labeling component, which turns out to be sufficient for imagining the impossible. And if the relevant imagination is neither linguistic nor pictorial, Humeans will appear to resort to some representational magic, until they come up with a theory of a ‘third code’ for mental representations. (shrink)
Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
It has long been known that the popular account of egocentric thoughts developed by David Lewis is in conflict with a natural account of communication, according to which successful communication requires the transmission of a thought content from speaker to hearer. In this paper, I discuss a number of proposed attempts to reconcile these two accounts of egocentric thought and communication. Each of them postulates two kinds of mental content, where one is egocentric, and the other is transmitted from speaker (...) to hearer in communication. I argue that Ninan’s account, which involves multi-centered contents, and Kölbel’s and Moss’s accounts, which postulate centered and uncentered proxy contents, respectively, are unsatisfactory. Therefore, I propose a two-dimensionalist account, according to which egocentric thoughts are represented by primary intensions, while the thoughts shared by speaker and hearer in cases of successful communication are represented by secondary intensions. Finally, I argue that aside from being able to reconcile Lewis’s account of egocentric thoughts with the natural account of communication, two-dimensionalism also provides the means for modeling agreement and disagreement. (shrink)
Recent work on metaphysical grounding has suggested that physicalism can be characterised in terms of the mental facts being grounded in physical facts. It is often assumed that the full grounds of a fact metaphysically necessitate that fact. Therefore, it seems that if the physical grounds the mental, then the physical facts metaphysically necessitate the mental facts. Stefan Leuenberger argues that such a version of physicalism would be vulnerable to counterexamples. I shall outline a characterisation of grounding which appeals to (...) a relation between grounding and the essences of properties instantiated in the grounded facts or in their grounds. If a grounded fact is such that its constituent property is essentially related to the properties instantiated in its grounds, or vice versa, then the grounded fact will be metaphysically necessitated by its full grounds. This characterisation of grounding not only avoids Leuenberger’s counterexamples, but has broader implications for characterising physicalism in terms of grounding. (shrink)
Several of the most compelling anti-materialist arguments are motivated by the supposed existence of an unbridgeable epistemic gap between first-person subjective knowledge about one’s own conscious experience and third-personally acquired knowledge. The two with which this paper is concerned are Frank Jackson’s ‘knowledge argument’ and David Chalmers’s ‘modal argument’. The knowledge argument and the modal argument are often taken to function as ‘two sides of the same coin … in principle each succeeds on its own, but in practice they work (...) best in tandem’. This paper disagrees with the above claim, and argues that when considered together the knowledge argument and modal arguments illuminate each other’s weaknesses. These weaknesses become apparent when we acknowledge the epistemic richness of the cognitive aspect of perceptual experience, and question the epistemic role that any non-cognitive aspect might play. Closer examination of judgments about what it’s like to have a perceptual experience reveals fundamental problems with the knowledge argument, and when these problems are exposed, the two arguments can no longer ‘buttress each other where help is needed’. It becomes clear that neither is likely to succeed on its own, and when taken together both are destabilized. (shrink)
In various arguments, Descartes relies on the principles that conceivability implies possibility and that inconceivability implies impossibility. Those principles are in tension with another Cartesian view about the source of modality, i.e. the doctrine of the free creation of eternal truths. In this paper, I develop a ‘two-modality’ interpretation of the doctrine of eternal truths which resolves the tension and I discuss how the resulting modal epistemology can still be relevant for the contemporary discussion.
A new version of the ontological argument for the existence of God is outlined and examined. After giving a brief account of some traditional ontological arguments for the existence of God, where their defects are identified, it is explained how this new argument is built upon their foundations and surmounts their defects. In particular, this version uses the resources of impossible worlds to plug the common escape route from standard modal versions of the ontological argument. After outlining the nature of (...) impossible worlds, and motivating the need for positing them, the new argument is delineated and its premises justified. It is taken for granted that the argument cannot be sound, since it would prove too much. However, its premises are all plausible, and their denial promises to have significant ramifications. Several intuitive lines of objections are then explored in order to illuminate their shortcomings. The puzzle that the argument poses is therefore not whether the argument is sound, for it clearly cannot be. Rather, it is to place pressure on its plausible premises, so some plausible account of how the argument fails can be identified, and that the devising of such an account promises to be insightful. In the process, we should gain an improved understanding of how such ontological arguments work. (shrink)
The paper explores the project of an ambitious modal epistemology that attempts to combine the a priori methods of Chalmers’ 2D semantics with Kripke’s modal metaphysics. I argue that such a project is not viable. The ambitious modal epistemology involves an inconsistent triad composed of (1) Modal Monism, (2) Two-Dimensionalism, and what I call (3) “Metaphysical Kripkeanism”. I present the three theses and show how only two of those can be true at a time. There is a fundamental incompatibility between (...) Chalmers’ Modal Rationalism and Kripke’s modal metaphysics. Specifically, Chalmers’ conceivability entails possibilities that a Kripkean rejects as genuinely metaphysical. However, three positive stances in modal epistemology emerge from the combinations that the triad allows. One of those offers a promising way forward for 2D modal epistemologies. But it comes with a cost, as it requires abandoning modal monism and reshaping the scope of what a priori conceivability can give us access to. (shrink)
One central brand of representationalism claims that the specific phenomenal character of an experience is fully determined by its content. A challenge for this view is that cognitive and perceptual experiences sometimes seem to have the same representational content while differing in phenomenal character. In particular, it might seem that one can have faint imagery experiences or conscious thoughts with the same contents as vivid perceptual experiences. This paper argues that such cases never arise, and that they are probably metaphysically (...) impossible. I also suggest a fully representational account of differences in vividness between phenomenal experiences. (shrink)
In this paper we try to diagnose one reason why the debate regarding the Hard Problem of consciousness inevitably leads to a stalemate: namely that the characterisation of consciousness assumed by the Hard Problem is unjustified and probably unjustifiable. Following Dennett : 4–6, 1996, Cognition 79:221–237, 2001, J Conscious Stud 19:86, 2012) and Churchland :402–408, 1996, Brainwise: studies in neurophilosophy. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002), we argue that there is in fact no non-question begging argument for the claim that consciousness (...) is a uniquely Hard Phenomenon. That is; there is no non-question begging argument for the claim that consciousness is necessarily in explicable in terms of the structure and function of mental states. Unfortunately the debate has not moved on because the majority of materialists feel the pull of the at least one of, what we call, the ‘key’ intuitions that supposedly support dualism and the existence of a Hard Phenomenon and so try to accommodate them rather than denying them. Although this a possible response to the intuitions it tends to mask the fact that there is in fact no argument for the existence of a Hard Phenomenon. So we end up participating in our own hornswoggling :402–408, 1996) and chasing our tails trying to answer a question we should in fact ignore. We have no reason to think there is a Hard Problem of consciousness because we have no reason to think the Hard Phenomenon exists. (shrink)
Gerald Harrison has argued that the readiness with which we have and agree to moral intuitions about the value of disembodied persons shows that persons are essentially non-material, for if we were essentially material we would not so easily be able to ascribe moral value to an impossible non-material person. To support this point, he advances a somewhat novel metaphor of intuitions as a "call" to a help desk which can answer our queries about counter-factual scenarios. I first point out (...) that the help desk metaphor is not only compatible with, but actually suggestive of, the possibility of systematic error on the part of our intuitions. But more crucially, rapid acquisition of and widespread agreement on even plausible intuitions about counter-factual scenarios does nothing to show that the counter-factual scenarios are possible, let alone true, giving several other counter-examples to this idea. I conclude with the suggestion that imagining such counter-factual scenarios should not be seen as a mode of accessing a fixed source of truths in a "help desk" manual, but as a constructive way of understanding the relationship between concepts, and hence ultimately as a mode of writing small parts of this heretofore unwritten text. (shrink)
I argue that metaphysicians of mind have not done justice to the notion of accessibility between possible worlds. Once accessibility is given its due, physicalism must be reformulated and conceivability arguments must be reevaluated. To reach these conclusions, I explore a novel way of assessing the zombie conceivability argument. I accept that zombies are possible and ask whether that possibility is accessible from our world in the sense of ‘accessible’ used in possible world semantics. It turns out that the question (...) whether zombie worlds are accessible from our world is equivalent to the question whether physicalism is true at our world. By assuming that zombie worlds are accessible from our world, proponents of the zombie conceivability argument beg the question against physicalism. In other words, it is a mistake to assume that the metaphysical possibility of zombies entails that physicalism is false at our world. I will then consider what happens if a proponent of the zombie conceivability argument should insist that zombie worlds are accessible from our world. I will argue that the same ingredients used in the zombie conceivability argument—whatever exactly they might be—can be used to construct an argument to the opposite conclusion. At that point, we reach a stalemate between physicalism and property dualism: while the possibility of zombies entails property dualism, the possibility of other creatures entails physicalism. Since these two possibilities are mutually inconsistent, either one of them is not genuine or one of them is inaccessible from the actual world. To resolve this stalemate, we need more than traditional conceivability arguments. (shrink)
Alleged self-evidence aside, conceivability arguments are one of the main reasons in favor of the claim that there is a Hard Problem. These arguments depend on the appealing Kripkean intuition that there is no difference between appearances and reality in the case of consciousness. I will argue that this intuition rests on overlooking a distinction between cognitive access and consciousness, which has received recently important empirical support. I will show that there are good reasons to believe that the intuition is (...) misguided—at least on the reading that the conceivability arguments require—and hence that the arguments are unsupported. This, in turn, alleviates the Hard Problem but leaves us with what I think is a not easy problem. (shrink)
Many have deemed ineluctable the tension between Husserl’s transcendental eidetics and his Crisis method of historical reflection. In this paper, I argue that this tension is an apparent one. I contend that dissolving this tension and showing not only the possibility, but also the necessity of the successful collaboration between these two apparently irreconcilable methods guarantees the very freedom of inquiry Husserl so emphatically stressed. To make this case, I draw from Husserl’s synthetic analyses of type and concept constitution as (...) well as his later work on sedimentation and streaming-in and develop a richer modal taxonomy than the one Husserl proposed. I employ this taxonomy in an examination of the structures and conditions for the possibility of transcendental eidetic variation in order to show this method’s reliance on historically sedimented epistemic and normative resources. This reliance brings to light the necessity for a methodological critique, which is precisely what I take to be the work of teleological–historical reflection as Husserl comes to conceive it in the Crisis. (shrink)
This paper offers a detailed criticism of different versions of modal scepticism proposed by Van Inwagen and Hawke, and, against these views, attempts to vindicate our reliance on thought experiments in philosophy. More than one different meaning of “ modal scepticism” will be distinguished. Focusing mainly on Hawke’s more detailed view I argue that none of these versions of modal scepticism is compelling, since sceptical conclusions depend on an untenable and, perhaps, incoherent modal epistemology. With a detailed account of modal (...) defeaters at hand I argue that Van Inwagen and Hawke’s scepticism is either groundless, or it leads to boundless and unacceptable modal scepticism. Additionally, I show that Hawke’s conception of analogical modal reasoning is problematic. Either his principle of similarity is arbitrary or it begs the question about modal scepticism. In contrast to Hawke’s restricted view of analogical modal reasoning, I present two examples of analogy-based modal justification of philosophically relevant possibility claims. My criticism of modal scepticism also shows that there is no good reason to insist on a sharp distinction between an unproblematic and a presumably dubious kind of modality. The upshot is that in absence of proper defeaters both Yablo-style conceivability and properly applied analogical reasoning are reliable guides to possibility, and also that modal justification comes in degrees. The proposed framework of defeaters of modal justification as well as the analysed examples of analogical modal reasoning trace out interesting new areas for further discussions. (shrink)
Though not myself a physicalist, I develop a new argument against antiphysicalist positions that are motivated by zombie arguments. I first identify four general features of phenomenal states that are candidates for non-physical types; these are used to generate different types of zombie. I distinguish two antiphysicalist positions: strict dualism, which posits exactly one general non-physical type, and pluralism, which posits more than one such type. It turns out that zombie arguments threaten strict dualism and some pluralist positions as much (...) as they threaten physicalism—indeed, more so, since such positions need zombies to motivate them as alternatives to physicalism—and that the only pluralist position that escapes zombie arguments has a radically inflated ontology. (shrink)
I argue that the existence of a necessary concrete being can be derived from an exceedingly weak causal principle coupled with two contingent truths one of which falls out of very popular positions in contemporary analytic metaphysics. I then show that the argument resists a great many objections commonly lodged against natural theological arguments of the cosmological variety.
This paper argues: (1) All knowledge from fiction is from imagination (2) All knowledge from imagination is modal knowledge (3) So, all knowledge from fiction is modal knowledge Moreover, some knowledge is from fiction, so (1)-(3) are non-vacuously true.
This paper replies to objections from perceptual distortion against the representationalist thesis that the phenomenal characters of experiences supervene on their intentional contents. It has been argued that some pairs of distorted and undistorted experiences share contents without sharing phenomenal characters, which is incompatible with the supervenience thesis. In reply, I suggest that such cases are not counterexamples to the representationalist thesis because the contents of distorted experiences are always impoverished in some way compared to those of normal experiences. This (...) can be shown by considering limit cases of perceptual distortion, for example, maximally blurry experiences, which manifestly lack details present in clear experiences. I argue that since there is no reasonable way to draw the line between distorted experiences that have degraded content and distorted experiences that do not, we should allow that an increase in distortion is always acc.. (shrink)
According to modalism, modality is primitive. In this paper, we examine the implications of this view for modal epistemology, and articulate a modalist account of modal knowledge. First, we discuss a theoretical utility argument used by David Lewis in support of his claim that there is a plurality of concrete worlds. We reject this argument, and show how to dispense with possible worlds altogether. We proceed to account for modal knowledge in modalist terms.
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)
According to proponents of irreducible cognitive phenomenology some cognitive states put one in phenomenal states for which no wholly sensory states suffice. One of the main approaches to defending the view that there is irreducible cognitive phenomenology is to give a phenomenal contrast argument. In this paper I distinguish three kinds of phenomenal contrast argument: what I call pure—represented by Strawson's Jack/Jacques argument—hypothetical—represented by Kriegel's Zoe argument—and glossed—first developed here. I argue that pure and hypothetical phenomenal contrast arguments face significant (...) difficulties, but that there is a sound glossed phenomenal contrast argument for irreducible cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
Within theoretical and empirical enquiries, many different meanings associated with consciousness have appeared, leaving the term itself quite vague. This makes formulating an abstract and unifying version of the concept of consciousness – the main aim of this article –into an urgent theoretical imperative. It is argued that consciousness, characterized as dually accessible (cognized from the inside and the outside), hierarchically referential (semantically ordered), bodily determined (embedded in the working structures of an organism or conscious system), and useful in action (...) (pragmatically functional), is a graded rather than an all-or-none phenomenon. A gradational approach, however, despite its explanatory advantages, can lead to some counterintuitive consequences and theoretical problems. In most such conceptions consciousness is extended globally (attached to primitive organisms or artificial systems), but also locally (connected to certain lower-level neuronal and bodily processes). For example, according to information integration theory (as introduced recently by Tononi and Koch, 2014), even such simple artificial systems as photodiodes possess miniscule amounts of consciousness. The major challenge for this article, then, is to establish reasonable, empirically justified constraints on how extended the range of a graded consciousness could be. It is argued that conscious systems are limited globally by the ability to individuate information (where individuated information is understood as evolutionarily embedded, socially altered, and private), whereas local limitations should be determined on the basis of a hypothesis about the action-oriented nature of the processes that select states of consciousness. Using these constraints, an abstract concept of consciousness is arrived at, hopefully contributing to a more unified state of play within consciousness studies itself. (shrink)
Computational imagination (CI) conceives imagination as an agent’s simulated sensorimotor interaction with the environment in the absence of sensory feedback, predicting consequences based on this interaction (Marques and Holland in Neurocomputing 72:743–759, 2009). Its bedrock is the simulation hypothesis whereby imagination resembles seeing or doing something in reality as both involve similar neural structures in the brain (Hesslow in Trends Cogn Sci 6(6):242–247, 2002). This paper raises two-forked doubts: (1) neural-level equivalence is escalated to make phenomenological equivalence. Even at an (...) abstract level, many imagined and real actions turn out to be dissimilar. More so, some imagined actions have no corresponding real actions and vice versa, even though neural regions involved in imaginings and real action-perception are the same (Sect. 1). (2) At the implementation level, the hypothesis presents a mutually exclusive view of imagination and perception whereby imagination functions in the absence of the sensory feedback and is action based. Both these issues are contested here: Neither imagination functions in the absence of perception nor all forms of imaginings are action based; it is, rather, about conceiving possibilities which emerge during the perceptual stage itself (Sect. 2). For the modal aspect to arise, it is submitted that an integrative framework is required which Kant can provide for whom imagination is an indispensable part of perception. Kant’s views on concept-formation are presented here to illustrate this aspect (Sect. 3). The Paper is concluded with emphasizing the relevance of Kant’s views to the problems identified in the two sections. (shrink)
How do we know when we have imagined something? How do we distinguish our imaginings from other kinds of mental states we might have? These questions present serious, if often overlooked, challenges for theories of introspection and self-knowledge. This paper looks specifically at the difficulties imagination creates for Neo-Expressivist, outward-looking, and inner sense theories of self-knowledge. A path forward is then charted, by considering the connection between the kinds of situations in which we can reliably say that another person is (...) imagining, and those in which we can say the same about ourselves. This view is a variation on the outward-looking approach, and preserves much of the spirit of Neo-Expressivism. (shrink)
The principle of mass additivity states that the mass of a composite object is the sum of the masses of its elementary components. Mass additivity is true in Newtonian mechanics but false in special relativity. Physicists have explained why mass additivity is true in Newtonian mechanics by reducing it to Newton’s microphysical laws. This reductive explanation does not fit well with deducibility theories of reductive explanation such as the modern Nagelian theory of reduction, and the a priori entailment theory of (...) reduction that is prominent in the philosophy of mind. Nonetheless, I argue that a reconstruction of the explanation that incorporates distinctively philosophical concepts in fact fits both theories. I discuss the implications of this result for both theories and for the reductive explanation of consciousness. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss, on behalf of the materialist, a consideration against the modal or conceivability argument against materialism which was first voiced in the third lecture of Naming and Necessity. This consideration is based on intertheoretic identities, statements in which both terms flanking the identity sign are theoretical. I argue that the defender of the conceivability argument has trouble to account for the appearance of contingency in those types of necessary identities. In fact, intertheoretic identities pose a formidable (...) dilemma for the defender of the modal argument and actually force the antimaterialist to say more about the semantics of theoretical terms than is implicit in standard discussions of the argument. I myself consider several options in this regard, the upshot being, however, that none of the alternative semantics for theoretical terms available to the antimaterialist is good enough to achieve the twofold aim which her modal argument requires, namely, to account for the a posteriori necessity of identities of this sort and, at the same time, to preserve her antimaterialist argument. Finally, in the last part of the paper, I argue that my defense of materialism can withstand some worries coming from David Chalmers’ recent views on a priori scrutability. (shrink)
Some philosophers, like David Chalmers, have either shown their sympathy for, or explicitly endorsed, the following two principles: Panpsychism—roughly the thesis that the mind is ubiquitous throughout the universe—and Organizational Invariantism—the principle that holds that two systems with the same fine-grained functional organization will have qualitatively identical experiences. The purpose of this paper is to show the tension between the arguments that back up both principles. This tension should lead, or so I will argue, defenders of one of the principles (...) to give up on the other. (shrink)
Some time ago, Joel Katzav and Brian Ellis debated the compatibility of dispositional essentialism with the principle of least action. Surprisingly, very little has been said on the matter since, even by the most naturalistically inclined metaphysicians. Here, we revisit the Katzav–Ellis arguments of 2004–05. We outline the two problems for the dispositionalist identified Katzav in his 2004 , and claim they are not as problematic for the dispositional essentialist at it first seems – but not for the reasons espoused (...) by Ellis. (shrink)
Jonathan Schaffer argues against a necessary connection between properties and laws. He takes this to be a question of what possible worlds we ought to countenance in our best theories of modality, counterfactuals, etc. In doing so, he unfairly rigs the game in favor of contingentism. I argue that the necessitarian can resist Schaffer’s conclusion while accepting his key premise that our best theories of modality, counterfactuals, etc. require a very wide range of things called ‘possible worlds’. However, the necessitarian (...) can and should insist that, in many cases, these worlds are not metaphysically possible. I will further argue that, having taken such a stance, the necessitarian has additional resources to respond to Schaffer’s other arguments against the view. (shrink)
Beliefs are commonly analyzed as binary relations between subjects and propositions. Perry and Lewis have shown that the standard account has difficulties in handling self-locating beliefs. Robert Stalnaker has recently put forward a version of the standard account that is supposed to overcome this problem. Stalnaker's motivation for defending the propositional account of belief is that it comes with a simple and powerful propositional model of communication. In this paper I argue that Stalnaker's proposal fails. The only way of upholding (...) the propositional account of belief is by abandoning the simple account of communication. (shrink)
In Philosophy Without Intuitions Herman Cappelen argues that unlike what is commonly thought, contemporary analytic philosophers do not typically rely on intuitions as evidence. If they do indeed rely on intuitions, that should be evident from their written works, either explicitly in the form of ‘intuition’ talk or by means of other indicators. However, Cappelen argues, while philosophers do engage in ‘intuition’ talk, that is not a good indicator that they rely on intuitions, as ‘intuition’ and its cognates have many (...) meanings that are irrelevant to this particular question. He identifies three other indicators and argues by appeal to case studies that these indicators are not present. I argue here that an account of intuitions as intellectual seemings draws attention to intuition features that Cappelen does not consider. These intuition features appear to be regularly present in the works of contemporary analytic philosophers. (shrink)
One reason for the recent attention to conceivability claims is to be found in the extended use of conceivability in philosophy of mind, and then especially in connection with zombie thought experiments. The idea is that zombies are conceivable; beings that look like us and behave like us in all ways, but for which “all is dark inside;” that is, for a zombie, there is no “what it is like.” There is no “what it is like” to be a zombie, (...) there is no “what it is like” for a zombie to feel pain, there is no “what it is like” for a zombie to taste, or feel, or smell something. They are creatures without consciousness. I am skeptical about the conceivability of zombies. That is not to say that I believe that there is some inherent contradiction to be found in the idea of zombies. Instead, I do not think that I am justified in believing that zombies are conceivable. The focus on justification is not common in the literature on conceivability, or for that matter in the literature on the possibility of zombies. Instead, the focus tends to be on trying to find out whether or not the notion of a zombie is contradictory. It is widely accepted in the literature on conceivability that the absence of a contradiction when conceiving of X is both necessary and sufficient for X to be conceivable. That might be true of ideal conceivability, but as I will argue below, ideal conceivability is not relevant to our (human) pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Further, as I will argue, once we focus on non-ideal conceivability the notion of justification, and degrees of justification comes into play. (shrink)
I focus on a key argument for global external world scepticism resting on the underdetermination thesis: the argument according to which we cannot know any proposition about our physical environment because sense evidence for it equally justifies some sceptical alternative (e.g. the Cartesian demon conjecture). I contend that the underdetermination argument can go through only if the controversial thesis that conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility is true. I also suggest a reason to doubt that (...) conceivability is per se a source of evidence for metaphysical possibility, and thus to doubt the underdetermination argument. (shrink)
I propose a new guide for assessing claims about what is possible. I offer examples of modal claims that are, in a certain intuitive respect, ?continuous? with one another. I then put forward a general, defeasible principle of modal continuity that can account for our intuitions about those examples. According to this principle, statements that differ by a mere quantitative term don't normally differ with respect to being possibly true. I offer a precise statement of the principle, and then I (...) consider exceptions in an effort to find a more nuanced continuity principle that is more reliable and still sufficiently general. Next, I offer a possible explanation of why modal continuity tends to hold and why exceptions occur where they do. Although my primary purpose is to introduce a new technique for modal reasoning, I showcase the power of the principle by applying it to a philosophical dispute concerning parts and wholes: the principle, if true, reveals a new cost of the thesis that composition is restricted. Furthermore, I point out examples of other philosophical inquiries (in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophical cosmology) that may benefit from a principle of modal continuity. The principle gives us a new tool for assessing a wide variety of modal claims. (shrink)
This essay concerns the question of how we make genuine epistemic progress through conceptual analysis. Our way into this issue will be through consideration of the paradox of analysis. The paradox challenges us to explain how a given statement can make a substantive contribution to our knowledge, even while it purports merely to make explicit what one’s grasp of the concept under scrutiny consists in. The paradox is often treated primarily as a semantic puzzle. However, in “Sect. 1” I argue (...) that the paradox raises a more fundamental epistemic problem, and in “Sects.1 and 2” I argue that semantic proposals—even ones designed to capture the Fregean link between meaning and epistemic significance—fail to resolve that problem. Seeing our way towards a real solution to the paradox requires more than semantics; we also need to understand how the process of analysis can yield justification for accepting a candidate conceptual analysis. I present an account of this process, and explain how it resolves the paradox, in “Sect. 3”. I conclude in “Sect. 4” by considering the implications for the present account concerning the goal of conceptual analysis, and by arguing that the apparent scarcity of short and finite illuminating analyses in philosophically interesting cases provides no grounds for pessimism concerning the possibility of philosophical progress through conceptual analysis. (shrink)
This paper advances a version of physicalism which reconciles the “a priori entailment thesis” (APET) with the analytic independence of our phenomenal and physical vocabularies. The APET is the claim that, if physicalism is true, the complete truths of physics imply every other truth a priori. If so, “cosmic hermeneutics” is possible: a demon having only complete knowledge of physics could deduce every truth about the world. Analytic independence is a popular physicalist explanation for the apparent “epistemic gaps” between phenomenal (...) and physical truths. The two are generally seen as incompatible, since the demon’s deductions seem to presuppose analytic connections between physical and phenomenal terms. I begin by arguing, in support of the APET, that implications from the complete truths of physics to phenomenal truths cannot be a posteriori. Such implications are (according to the physicalist) necessarily true. But they cannot be Kripke-style a posteriori necessities, since (according to the physicalist) the complete truths of physics fix any relevant a posteriori facts about the reference of terms. I then show how the physicalist can turn the tables: the demon can exploit the physical fixing of reference to bridge the gap between the vocabularies, by deducing when phenomenal and physical terms co-refer. This opens the way for a “type-C” physicalism, which accepts in-principle deducibility while still appealing to analytic independence to explain why we (who are not demons) find it impossible to see phenomenal-physical connections a priori. (shrink)
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to (...) whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists. (shrink)
We outline a theory of the cognitive role of belief in absolute necessity that is normative and intended to be metaphysically neutral. We take this theory to be unique in scope since it addresses simultaneously the questions of how such belief is (properly) acquired and of how it is (properly) manifest. The acquisition and manifestation conditions for belief in absolute necessity are given univocally, in terms of complex higher-order attitudes involving two distinct kinds of supposition (A-supposing and C-supposing). It is (...) subsequently argued that the proposed acquisition and manifestation conditions are rationally interdependent, and that such harmony affords explanations of connections between different facets of belief in necessity that otherwise remain mysterious. (shrink)
There are, by now, many rival, sophisticated philosophical accounts of causation that qualify as ‘metaphysically reductive’. This is a good thing: these collective efforts have vastly improved our understanding of causation over the last 30 years or so. They also put us in an excellent position to reflect on some central methodological questions: What exactly is the point of offering a metaphysical reduction of causation? What philosophical scruples ought to guide the pursuit of such a reduction? Finally, how should answers (...) to these latter questions affect one’s assessment of the main contemporary approaches? That’s what we investigate in this essay. Section 1 lays out our presuppositions. Section 2 reviews a sample of philosophical accounts. Then comes the main event: Section 3 looks in detail at the foregoing methodological questions, closing with a reconsideration of our sample accounts, in light of what we’ve found. (shrink)
The conceivability argument against materialism, originally raised by Saul Kripke and then reformulated, among others, by David Chalmers holds that we can conceive of the distinctness of a phenomenal state and its neural realiser, or, in Chalmers’ variation of the argument, a zombie world. Here I argue that both phenomenal and natural kind terms are ambiguous between two senses, phenomenal and natural, and that the conceivability argument goes through only on one reading of a term. Thus, the antimaterialist has to (...) provide some reasons independent of anti-materialism itself to favour that reading of a term that supports his or her argument. Given that there are no such independent reasons, I conclude that we should put more weight on empirical considerations than on a priori discussion in resolving the question concerning the identity between a phenomenal state and its neural realiser. (shrink)
Imagination has been assigned an important explanatory role in a multitude of philosophical contexts. This paper examines four such contexts: mindreading, pretense, our engagement with fiction, and modal epistemology. Close attention to each of these contexts suggests that the mental activity of imagining is considerably more heterogeneous than previously realized. In short, no single mental activity can do all the explanatory work that has been assigned to imagining.
It is widely thought that mind–body substance dualism is implausible at best, though mere “property” dualism is defensible and even flourishing. This paper argues that substance dualism is no less plausible than property dualism and even has two advantages over it.
Our limited a priori-reasoning skills open a gap between our finding a proposition conceivable and its metaphysical possibility. A prominent strategy for closing this gap is the postulation of ideal conceivers, who suffer from no such limitations. In this paper I argue that, under many, maybe all, plausible unpackings of the notion of ideal conceiver, it is false that ideal negative conceivability entails possibility.
Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism has three parts. The first (Chapters 1–4) develops a response to the knowledge and conceivability arguments against physicalism, one that features the open possibility that introspective representations represent mental properties as having features they actually lack. The second part (Chapters 5 and 6) proposes a physicalist version of a Russellian Monist answer to these arguments, the core of which is that currently unknown intrinsic physical properties provide categorical bases for known physical properties and also (...) yield an account of consciousness. The third part (Chapters 7 and 8) defends a nonreductive account of physicalism about the mental, according to which the relation between the mental and the microphysical is constitution, where this relation is not explicated by the notion of identity. (shrink)