In this essay, I respond to the critical remarks of Louise Barrett, Amanda Corris and Anthony Chemero, and Daniel Hutto on my book Enactivist Interventions. In doing so, I consider whether behaviorism can make a contribution to enactivist theory, whether synergies are the same as dynamical gestalts, and whether the brain can add anything to mathematical reasoning.
A number of contemporary philosophers of mind have brought considerations from the study of aspect to bear on the ontological question how perceptual experiences persist over time. But, apart from rare exceptions, relatively little attention has been devoted to assess whether the way we talk about perceptual occurrences is of any relevance for discussions of ontological matters in general, let alone discussions about the ontological nature of perception. This piece examines whether considerations derived from the study of lexical aspect have (...) a significant bearing on what ontological views of perception we should endorse: I shall argue that such aspectual considerations are in fact of very little use for settling the relevant ontological issue. (shrink)
Austere relationism rejects the orthodox analysis of hallucinations and illusions as incorrect perceptual representations. In this article, I argue that illusions of optimal motion present a serious challenge for this view. First, I submit that austere-relationist accounts of misleading experiences cannot be adapted to account for IOMs. Second, I show that any attempt at elucidating IOMs within an austere-relationist framework undermines the claim that perceptual experiences fundamentally involve relations to mind-independent objects. Third, I develop a representationalist model of IOMs. The (...) proposed analysis combines two ideas: Evans' dynamic modes of presentation and Fine's relational semantics for identity. (shrink)
The problem of phenomenal unity consists in providing a phenomenological characterization of the difference between phenomenally unified and disunified conscious experiences. Potential solutions to PPU are faced with an important challenge. I show that this challenge can be conceived as a phenomenological dual to what is known as Bradley’s regress. This perspective facilitates progress on PPU by finding duals to possible solutions to Bradley’s regress and makes it intelligible why many characterize phenomenal unity in terms of the existence of a (...) single global conscious state. I call this latter view the “single state conception”. SSC is superficially attractive, because it seems to provide a solution to the phenomenological dual to Bradley’s regress, but should still be rejected, because it does not solve PPU; instead, it creates more problems; these problems can be avoided by alternative conceptions of phenomenal unity. (shrink)
Usually, the B-theory of time is taken to involve the claim that time does not, in reality, pass; after all, on the B-theory, nothing really becomes present and then more and more past, times do not come into existence successively, and which facts obtain does not change. For this reason, many B-theorists have recently tried to explain away one or more aspect(s) of experience that they and their opponents take to constitute an experience of time as passing. In this paper, (...) I examine three prominent proposals of this kind and argue that, though intriguing, the proposals undermine, to some extent, the assumption that there is an element of experience that B-theorists need to take to be illusory. (shrink)
Perceptual illusions have often served as an important tool in the study of perceptual experience. In this paper I argue that a recently discovered set of visual illusions sheds new light on the nature of time consciousness. I suggest the study of these silencing illusions as a tool kit for any philosopher interested in the experience of time and show how to better understand time consciousness by combining detailed empirical investigations with a detailed philosophical analysis. In addition, and more speciﬁcally, (...) I argue against an initially plausible range of views that assume a close match between the temporal content of visual experience and the temporal layout of experience itself. Against such a widely held structural matching thesis I argue that which temporal changes we are experiencing bears no close relation to how our experience itself is changing over time. Explanations of the silencing illusions that are compatible with the structural matching thesis fail. (shrink)
We assume that we can act—in at least some cases—by consciously intending to do so. Wegner (2002) appeals to empirical research carried out by Libet et al. (1983) to challenge this assumption. I argue that his conclusion presupposes a particular view of conscious intention. But there is an alternative model available, which has been developed by various writers in the phenomenological tradition, and most recently defended by Moran (2001). If we adopt this alternative account of conscious intention, Wegner’s argument no (...) longer goes through, and we can retain the claim that our conscious intentions can give rise to action. (shrink)
Four experiments examined how accurately participants can report the times of their own decisions. Within an auditory reaction time task, participants reported the time at which the tone was presented, they decided on the response, or the response key was pressed. Decision time reports were checked for plausibility against the actual RTs, and we compared the effects of experimental manipulations on these two measures to see whether the reported decision times showed appropriate effects. In addition, we estimated the amount of (...) error associated with individual decision time reports by checking how often participants’ decision time reports were implausibly early or late , and by using several quantitative models. Overall, the results suggest that decision time reports are not very accurate but they may be usable for some purposes. (shrink)
The essay deals with the mechanism of interpretation for legal metaphorical expressions. Firstly, it points out the perspective the cognitive approach induced about legal metaphors; then it suggests that this perspective gains in plausibility when a new bilateral model of language understanding is endorsed. A possible sketch of the meaning-making procedure for legal metaphors, compatible with this new model, is then proposed, and illustrated with some examples built on concepts belonging to the Italian Civil Code. The insights the bilateral model (...) of understanding provides are compared with the practice followed by legal communities for dealing with the metaphorical expressions they coin and use. (shrink)
The law of prior entry was one of E.B. Titchener’s seven fundamental laws of attention. According to Titchener : “the object of attention comes to consciousness more quickly than the objects which we are not attending to.” Although researchers have been studying prior entry for more than a century now, progress in understanding the effect has been hindered by the many methodological confounds present in early research. As a consequence, it is unclear whether the behavioral effects reported in the majority (...) of published studies in this area should be attributed to attention, decisional response biases, and/or, in the case of exogenous spatial cuing studies of the prior-entry effect, to sensory facilitation effects instead. In this article, the literature on the prior-entry effect is reviewed, the confounds present in previous research highlighted, current consensus summarized, and some of the key questions for future research outlined. In particular, recent research has now provided compelling psychophysical and electrophysiological evidence to support the claim that attending to a sensory modality, spatial location, or stimulus feature/attribute can all give rise to a relative speeding-up of the time of arrival of attended, as compared to relatively less attended stimuli. Prior-entry effects have now been demonstrated following both the endogenous and exogenous orienting of attention, though prior-entry effects tend to be smaller in magnitude when assessed by means of participants’ performance on SJ tasks than when assessed by means of their performance on TOJ tasks. (shrink)
This paper examines the possibility of finding evidence that phenomenal consciousness is independent of access. The suggestion reviewed is that we should look for isomorphisms between phenomenal and neural activation spaces. It is argued that the fact that phenomenal spaces are mapped via verbal report is no problem for this methodology. The fact that activation and phenomenal space are mapped via different means does not mean that they cannot be identified. The paper finishes by examining how data addressing this theoretical (...) question could be obtained. (shrink)
visual masking provides a clear illustration that ‘there is really only a verbal difference’ between two versions of the Cartesian Theater model of the mind. This alleged lack of a distinction is both the crucial premise of their main argument against the Cartesian Theater and a motivator for accepting their own Multiple Drafts model. I argue that metacontrast reveals a difference between the two versions of the Cartesian Theater that meets criteria found in (Dennett and Kinsbourne ) for determining such (...) a difference. This difference undermines the soundness of their argument against the Cartesian Theater, and exerts pressure on Dennett and Kinsbourne to offer a more detailed articulation of their model. Introduction Brief Explanation of Metacontrast Backward Visual Masking The Stalinesque and Orwellian Models of Metacontrast 3.1 Criteria for determining a difference A Difference That Makes a Difference 4.1 Skeptical hypothesis objection Other Objections and Replies 5.1 Straw person objection 5.2 Corroborative issues objection Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The manifest image is teeming with activity. Objects are booming and buzzing by, changing their locations and properties, vivid perceptions are replaced, and we seem to be inexorably slipping into the future. Time—or at least our experience in time— seems a very turbulent sort of thing. By contrast, time in the scientist image seems very still. The fundamental laws of physics don’t differentiate between past and future, nor do they pick out a present moment that flows. Except for a minus (...) sign in the relativistic metric, there are few differences between the temporal and spatial coordinates in natural science. We seem to have, to echo another debate, an “explanatory gap” between time as we find it in experience and as we find it in science. Reconciling these two images of the world is the principal goal of philosophy of time. (shrink)
It is a common conviction among philosophers who hold that phenomenal properties, qualia, are distinct from any cognitive, intentional, or functional properties, that it is possible to trace the neural correlates of these properties. The main purpose of this paper is to present a challenge to this view, and to show that if “non-cognitive” phenomenal properties exist at all, they lie beyond the reach of neuroscience. In the final section it will be suggested that they also lie beyond the reach (...) of psychology, so that they may be said to lie beyond the reach of science. (shrink)
One of the interesting and occasionally controversial aspects of Dennett’s career is his direct involvement in the scientific process. This article describes some of Dennett’s participation on one particular project conducted at MIT, the building of the humanoid robot named Cog. One of the intentions of this project, not to date fully realized, was to test Dennett’s multiple drafts theory of consciousness. I describe Dennett’s involvement and impact on Cog from the perspective of a graduate student. I also describe the (...) problem of coordinating distributed intelligent systems, drawing examples from robot intelligence, human intelligence, and the Cog project itself. (shrink)
Any theoretician constructing a serious model of consciousness should carefully assess the details of empirical data generated in the neurosciences and psychology. A failure to account for those details may cast doubt on the adequacy of that model. This paper presents a case in point. Dennett and Kinsbourne's (Dennett, D., & Kinsbourne, M. (1992). Time and the observer: The where and when of consciousness in the brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 183-243) assault on the materialist version of the Cartesian (...) Theater model of the mind relies significantly on the superiority of their Multiple Drafts model of consciousness as an explanation of the phenomenon of metacontrast. However, their description of metacontrast is, in important ways, inadequate. The result is that their explanation of how the Multiple Drafts model handles this phenomenon fails to account for the actual data. In this paper I offer a more complete description of metacontrast, show how Dennett and Kinsbourne's explanation fails, and argue that there are good theoretical reasons for choosing the so-called Stalinesque model over the so-called Orwellian model. (shrink)
Studies that compare human and animal behaviour suspend prejudices about mind, body and their relation, by approaching thinking in terms of behaviour. Yet comparative approaches typically engage another prejudice, motivated by human social and bodily experience: taking the lone animal as the unit of comparison. This prejudice informs Heidegger’s and Merleau-Ponty’s comparative studies, and conceals something important: that animals moving as a group in an environment can develop new sorts of “sense.” The study of animal group-life suggests a new way (...) of thinking about the creation of sense, about the body, the brain, and the relation between thinking and nature. (shrink)
The belief that conscious will is merely "an illusion created by the brain" appears to be gaining in popularity among cognitive neuroscientists. Its main adherents usually refer to the classic, but controversial 'Libet-experiments', as the empirical evidence that vindicates this illusion-claim. However, based on recent work that provides other interpretations of the Libet-experiments, we argue that the illusion-claim is not only empirically invalid, but also theoretically incoherent, as it is rooted in a category mistake; namely, the presupposition that neuronal activity (...) causes conscious will. We show that the illusion-claim is based on the behaviorist 'input-output' paradigm, and discuss the notions of 'self-organization' and 'self-steering' to provide an alternative perspective on the causal efficacy of conscious will. In the final sections, a tentative theoretical picture is sketched of conscious will as an instance of self-steered self-organization. We conclude that the subjective experience of conscious will is not a misguided one, but rather that the mechanisms supporting conscious will are considerably more complex than mainstream cognitive neuroscience currently acknowledges. (shrink)
While "Consciousness Explained" has received an enormous amount of attention since its publication, there is still little agreement on what Dennett’s account of consciousness is. Most interpreters treat his view as an instance of one or another of the standard ontological positions (functionalism, behaviorism, eliminativism, instrumentalism). I believe a different metaphysical account underlies Dennett’s view, one that is important though ill-understood. In the paper I attempt to point in the direction of a proper characterization of that account through the use (...) of two illustrative examples. A ten-point story that applies to the examples is developed, and it is suggested that the story applies equally well to Dennett’s view of consciousness. (shrink)
The question is, How does the brain make its mind? In Cognition, computation and consciousness [Ito et al. (Eds) (1997) Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press], a variety of noted theoreticians from the fields of cognitive psychology, computer science, and philosophy postulate answer-blueprints rather than full-blown explanatory solutions to this most nettlesome question. Coming to the problem from quite different starting points and perspectives, they nevertheless succeed in reaching consensus on the idea that the contingencies of the brain's evolution (...) have resulted in an organ that generates its mind by a complex process of information exchange among its constituents. Put in the vernacular, the brain produces its mind by having its parts, especially those most recently evolved, talk to each other. In this essay I take a critical look at proposals of several celebrated (neuro)scientists and philosophers in their specific areas of expertise. The underlying theme of brain component communication suggests the image of conversations in the cortex. From such cortical conversations arise selves (the mind/brain's I) and their stories and projects. This in turn suggests the idea that the brain is a stage where a Pirandello-like play is continually rehearsed. (shrink)
: In Consciousness Explained, Daniel Dennett presents the Multiple Drafts Theory of consciousness, a very brief, largely empirical theory of brain function. From these premises, he draws a number of quite radical conclusions—for example, the conclusion that conscious events have no determinate time of occurrence. The problem, as many readers have pointed out, is that there is little discernible route from the empirical premises to the philosophical conclusions. In this article, I try to reconstruct Dennett's argument, providing both the philosophical (...) views behind the empirical premises, and the hidden empirical arguments behind the derivation of the philosophical conclusions. (shrink)
Amidst the progress being made in the various (sub-)disciplines of the behavioural and brain sciences a somewhat neglected subject is the problem of how everything fits into one world and, derivatively, how the relation between different levels of discourse should be understood and to what extent different levels, domains, approaches, or disciplines are autonomous or dependent. In this paper I critically review the most recent proposals to specify the nature of interdiscourse relations, focusing on the concept of supervenience. Ideally supervenience (...) is a relation between different discourses which has all the advantages of reduction, but without its disadvantages. I apply the more abstract considerations to two concrete cases: schizophrenia and colour. Usually an interlevel or interdiscourse relation is seen as asymmetrical: the overlaying discourse depends on the underlying discourse (and not vice versa), where the out- or un-spoken assumption is that the ultimate underlying discourse is physical. Instead I argue that scientific categories referred to in interdiscourse relations are, ultimately, dependent on common sense categories and common sense normative criteria. It is the manifest categories and common sense ideas about what is reasonable and what is right that determine the relevant categorisations at the deeper, underlying levels. I suggest that the implications of this are not merely methodological or epistemological. (shrink)
In this comment, a picture of ERP research is sketched that is slightly different from Hardcastle's account, in that it emphasises the functional characterisation of ERP components rather than the neurophysiological connections. It is suggested that selection pressure of ERP work on cognitive and neurophysiological theories and vice versa is a more apt metaphor for intertheoretical relations in this field than explanatory extension. Secondly, it is argued that the temporal characteristics of ERP components do not support Hardcastle's claim that they (...) may be used to fix timing in phenomenal consciousness. Although I agree that ERP components, cautiously interpreted, can contribute to the identification of substages of information processing, rather than refuting Dennett and Kinsbourne, her ERP data seem compatible with a multiple drafts model. (shrink)
Abstract Connectionist views in psychology and neuroscience give the impression that there is no one place in the brain into which all information funnels. If these impression are accurate, then we will have great difficulty picking out a point in neuronal or psychological time at which phenomena become conscious. If so, pointing to one place in which we are conscious of a particular event and expecting a psychophysical correlation between qualitative and neural events seems hopeless. In response to this worry, (...) I argue that ERP research can bridge the psychology and neuroscience such that we can identify when qualitative experiences occur relative to other cognitive events. I present data suggesting that accessing an early implicit priming system gives rise to a qualitatively different kind of ERP wave than does accessing a later episodic memory system. These results illustrate how it is possible to parse psychological events finely enough in (neuro?)psychological investigations in order to determine when particular psychological events occur in the head. So, if we could align consciousness with some psychological event, then we should be able to articulate when that event occurs in the processing stream (relative to other events) as long as that event can be correlated with some ERP waveform. (shrink)
Connectionist views in psychology and neuroscience give the impression that there is no one place in the brain into which all information funnels. If these impression are accurate, then we will have great difficulty picking out a point in neuronal or psychological time at which phenomena become conscious. If so, pointing to one place in which we are conscious of a particular event and expecting a psychophysical correlation between qualitative and neural events seems hopeless. In response to this worry, I (...) argue that ERP research can bridge the psychology and neuroscience such that we can identify when qualitative experiences occur relative to other cognitive events. I present data suggesting that accessing an early implicit priming system gives rise to a qualitatively different kind of ERP wave than does accessing a later episodic memory system. These results illustrate how it is possible to parse psychological events finely enough in (neuro-)psychological investigations in order to determine when particular psychological events occur in the head. So, if we could align consciousness with some psychological event, then we should be able to articulate when that event occurs in the processing stream (relative to other events) as long as that event can be correlated with some ERP waveform. (shrink)
Although information-processing theories cannot provide a full explanatory account of P-consciousness, there is less conflation and confusion in cognitive psychology than Block suspects. Some of the reasoning that Block criticises can be interpreted plausibly in the light of a folk psychological view of the relation between P-consciousness and A-consciousness.
To demonstrate that a fallacy is committed, Block needs to convince us of two things: first, that the concept of phenomenal consciousness is distinct from that of access consciousness, and second, that it picks out a different property from that of access consciousness. I raise doubt about both of these claims, suggesting that the concept of a phenomenal property is the concept of a property to which we have a special sort of access.
Gray mistakenly thinks I have rejected the sort of theoretical enterprise he is undertaking, because, according to him, I think that "more data" is all that is needed to resolve all the issues. Not at all. My stalking horse was the bizarre (often pathetic) claim that no amount of empirical, "third-person point-of-view" science (data plus theory) could ever reduce the residue of mystery about consciousness to zero. This "New Mysterianism" (Flanagan, 1991) is one that he should want to combat as (...) vigorously as I have done. (shrink)
The differences Block attempts to capture with his putative distinction between P-consciousness and A-consciousness are more directly and perspicuously handled in terms of differences in richness of content and degree of influence. Block's critiques, based on his misbegotten distinction, evaporate on closer inspection.