This paper presents an ‘over-representational’ account of blurred visual experiences. The basic idea is that blurred experiences provide too much, inconsistent, information about objects’ spatial boundaries, by representing them as simultaneously located at multiple locations. This account attempts to avoid problems with alternative accounts of blurred experience, according to which blur is a property of a visual field, a way of perceiving, a form of mis-representation, and a form of under-representation.
This book is the one to put into the hands of those who have been over-impressed by Austin 's critics....[Warnock's] brilliant editing puts everybody who is concerned with philosophical problems in his debt.
This paper explores a remarkable convergence of ideas and evidence, previously presented in separate places by its authors. That convergence has now become so persuasive that we believe we are working within substantially the same broad framework. Taylor's mathematical papers on neuronal systems involved in consciousness dovetail well with work by Newman and Baars on the thalamocortical system, suggesting a brain mechanism much like the global workspace architecture developed by Baars (see references below). This architecture is relational, in the sense (...) that it continuously mediates the interaction of input with memory. While our approaches overlap in a number of ways, each of us tends to focus on different areas of detail. What is most striking, and we believe significant, is the extent of consensus, which we believe to be consistent with other contemporary approaches by Weiskrantz, Gray, Crick and Koch, Edelman, Gazzaniga, Newell and colleagues, Posner, Baddeley, and a number of others. We suggest that cognitive neuroscience is moving toward a shared understanding of consciousness in the brain. (shrink)
The pain case can appear to undermine the radically intentionalist view that the phenomenal character of any experience is entirely constituted by its representational content. That appearance is illusory, I argue. After categorising versions of pain intentionalism along two dimensions, I argue that an “objectivist” and “non-mentalist” version is the most promising, provided it can withstand two objections: concerning what we say when in pain, and the distinctiveness of the pain case. I rebut these objections, in a way that’s available (...) to both opponents and adherents of the view that experiential content is entirely conceptual. In doing so I illuminate peculiarities of somatosensory perception that should interest even those who take a different view of pain experiences. (shrink)
During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, on this proposal, involve unique (...) cognitive mechanisms, but none that could not be fully physically implemented. David Chalmers has recently presented a Master Argument to show that the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – not just this or that version of it, but any version of it – fails. Chalmers argues that the phenomenal concepts posited by such theories are either not physicalistically explicable, or they cannot explain our epistemic situation with regard to qualia. I argue that it is his Master Argument that fails. My claim is his argument does not provide any new reasons to reject the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. I also argue that, although the Phenomenal Concept Strategy is successful in showing that the physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up physicalism in the light of the anti-physicalist arguments, the anti-physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up the anti-physicalist argument in the light of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy either. (shrink)
This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...) he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid. (shrink)
Representationalists argue that phenomenal states are intentional states of a special kind. This paper offers an account of the kind of intentional state phenomenal states are: I argue that they are underived intentional states. This account of phenomenal states is equivalent to two theses: first, all possible phenomenal states are underived intentional states; second, all possible underived intentional states are phenomenal states. I clarify these claims and argue for each of them. I also address objections which touch on a range (...) of topics, including meaning holism and concept empiricism. I conclude with a brief discussion of the consequences of the proposed view for the project of naturalizing consciousness. (shrink)
A satisfactory solution to the problem of consciousness would take the form of a simple yet fully general model which specifies the precise conditions under which any given state of consciousness occurs. Science has uncovered numerous correlations between consciousness and neural activity, but it has not yet come anywhere close to this. We are still looking for the Newtonian laws of consciousness. -/- One of the main difficulties with consciousness is that we lack a language in which to formulate illuminating (...) generalizations about it. Philosophers and scientists talk about "what it’s like", sensations, feelings, and perceptual states such as seeing and hearing. This language does not allow a precise articulation of the internal structures of conscious states and their inter-relations. It is inadequate to capture relations of the kind we are looking for between conscious states and physical states. -/- In this thesis I refine and defend a theory of consciousness which promises to solve this regimentation problem: the representational theory of consciousness. I argue that the representational theory can solve the regimentation problem and smooth out other important obstacles to a fruitful study of consciousness. I also make a case for the theory independently of its payoffs, and I discuss the leading opposing theories at some length. (shrink)
Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
Having laid the groundwork in his critically acclaimed books Neural Darwinism (Basic Books, 1987) and Topobiology (Basic Books, 1988), Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman now proposes a comprehensive theory of consciousness in The Remembered ...
In recent years, several philosophers have defended the idea of phenomenal intentionality : the intrinsic directedness of certain conscious mental events which is inseparable from these events’ phenomenal character. On this conception, phenomenology is usually conceived as narrow, that is, as supervening on the internal states of subjects, and hence phenomenal intentionality is a form of narrow intentionality. However, defenders of this idea usually maintain that there is another kind of, externalistic intentionality, which depends on factors external to the subject. (...) We may ask whether this concession to content externalism is obligatory. In this paper, I shall argue that it isn’t. I shall suggest that if one is convinced that narrow phenomenal intentionality is legitimate, there is nothing stopping one from claiming that all intentionality is narrow. (shrink)
Intuitions about the transparency of experience have recently begun to play a key role in the debate about qualia. Specifically, such intuitions have been used by representationalists to support their view that the phenomenal character of our experience can be wholly explained in terms of its intentional content.[i] But what exactly does it mean to say that experience is transparent? In my view, recent discussions of transparency leave matters considerably murkier than one would like. As I will suggest, there is (...) reason to believe that experience is not transparent in the way that representationalism requires. Although there is a sense in which experience can be said to be transparent, transparency in this sense does not give us any particular motivation for representationalism—or at least, not the pure or strong representationalism that it is usually invoked to support. (shrink)
Michael Tye has recently argued that the phenomenal character of conscious experiences is "one and the same as" (1) Poised (2) Abstract (3) Non-conceptual (4) Intentional Content (PANIC). Tye argues extensively that PANIC Theory accounts for differences in phenomenal character in representational terms. But another task of a theory of phenomenal consciousness is to account for the difference between those mental states that have phenomenal character at all and those that do not. By going through each of the four qualifiers (...) of PANIC, we argue that PANIC Theory fails to account for this difference in genuinely representational terms. We suggest, furthermore, that the reasons it fails are likely to be endemic to all representational theories of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
It is a live possibility that certain of our experiences reliably misrepresent the world around us. I argue that tracking theories of mental representation have difficulty allowing for this possibility, and that this is a major consideration against them.
This dissertation argues that mental representation is identical to phenomenal consciousness, and everything else that appears to be both mental and a matter of representation is not genuine mental representation, but either in some way derived from mental representation, or a case of non-mental representation.
My concern in this paper is with the intentionality of emotions. Desires and cognitions are the traditional paradigm cases of intentional attitudes, and one very direct approach to the question of the intentionality of emotions is to treat it as sui generis—as on a par with the intentionality of desires and cognitions but in no way reducible to it. A more common approach seeks to reduce the intentionality of emotions to the intentionality of familiar intentional attitudes like desires and cognitions. (...) In this paper, I argue for the sui generis approach. (shrink)
I address three interrelated issues concerning the contents of experiences. First, I address the preliminary issue of what it means to say that experiences have contents. Then I address the issue of why we should believe that experiences have contents. Finally, I address the issue of what the contents of experiences are.
Theories of Consciousness provides an introduction to a variety of approaches to consciousness, questions the nature of consciousness, and contributes to current debates about whether a scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. While discussing key figures including Descartes, Fodor, Dennett and Chalmers, the book incorporates identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism and new information-based theories.
One of the most vivid aspects of consciousness is the experience of emotion, yet this topic is given relatively little attention within consciousness studies. Emotions are crucial, for they provide quick and motivating assessments of value, without which action would be misdirected or absent. Emotions also involve linkages between phenomenal and intentional consciousness. This paper examines emotional consciousness from the standpoint of the representational theory of consciousness . Two interesting developments spring from this. The first is the need for the (...) representation of value, which is distinctive of emotional experience. The second is an extension of RTC’s theory of introspection to emotional states, revealing why emotional consciousness is so often introspective even though introspective abilities are not needed to experience emotions, and also explaining why introspection of emotional states is so much less reliable than that of other states of consciousness. (shrink)