Acta Analytica 30 (4):325-345 (2015)

Matthew Rellihan
Seattle University
Representationalism is widely thought to grease the skids of ontological reduction. If phenomenal character is just a certain sort of intentional content, representationalists argue, the hard problem of accommodating consciousness within a broadly naturalistic view of the world reduces to the much easier problem of accommodating intentionality. I argue, however, that there’s a fatal flaw in this reasoning, for if phenomenal character really is just a certain sort of intentional content, it’s not anything like the sort of intentional content described by our best naturalistic theories. These theories make intentional content a mere Cambridge property of intentional states, a property that can be gained or lost through changes to distinct and causally disconnected objects. But consciousness is manifestly not like this; consciousness cannot suffer a mere Cambridge change. Thus, whatever ground is gained by explaining the phenomenal in terms of the intentional is lost again by undermining our best attempts to explain the intentional in terms of the natural. A Pyrrhic victory at best
Keywords Consciousness  Representationalism  Intentionality  Naturalistic theories of meaning
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12136-015-0256-x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,290
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reason, Truth and History.Hilary Putnam - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
Knowledge and the Flow of Information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.

View all 38 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Functional Properties Are Epiphenomenal.Matthew Rellihan - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1171-1195.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Representational Character of Experience.David J. Chalmers - 2004 - In Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 153--181.
Theories of Consciousness.Uriah Kriegel - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):58-64.
Intentionalism and Change Blindness.Greg Janzen - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (3):355-366.
Consciousness and Intentionality.John Barresi - 2007 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (1-2):77-93.
Phenomenal Consciousness and Intentionality.Dana K. Nelkin - 2001 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 7.
The Fiction of Phenomenal Intentionality.Nicholas Georgalis - 2003 - Consciousness and Emotion 4 (2):243-256.
Restrictions on Representationalism.Amy Kind - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (3):405-427.
Representational Theories of Phenomenal Character.Fiona Macpherson - 2000 - Dissertation, University of Stirling
Information and Consciousness.Shaun Perceval-Maxwell - 2003 - Dissertation, Queen's University at Kingston (Canada)
Phenomenal Character, Phenomenal Concepts, and Externalism.Jonathan Ellis - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (2):273 - 299.


Added to PP index

Total views
38 ( #300,885 of 2,519,270 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #407,861 of 2,519,270 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes