What is the nature of consciousness? How is consciousness related to brain processes? This volume collects thirteen new papers on these topics: twelve by leading and respected philosophers and one by a leading color-vision scientist. All focus on consciousness in the "phenomenal" sense: on what it's like to have an experience. Consciousness has long been regarded as the biggest stumbling block for physicalism, the view that the mind is physical. The controversy has gained focus over the last few decades, and (...) phenomenal knowledge and phenomenal concepts--knowledge of consciousness and the associated concepts--have come to play increasingly prominent roles in this debate. Consider Frank Jackson's famous case of Mary, the super-scientist who learns all the physical information while confined in a black-and-white room. According to Jackson, if physicalism is true, then Mary's physical knowledge should allow her to deduce what it's like to see in color. Yet it seems intuitively clear that she learns something when she leaves the room. But then how can consciousness be physical? Arguably, whether this sort of reasoning is sound depends on how phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge are construed. For example, some argue that the Mary case reveals something about phenomenal concepts but has no implications for the nature of consciousness itself. Are responses along these lines adequate? Or does the problem arise again at the level of phenomenal concepts? The papers in this volume engage with the latest developments in this debate. The authors' perspectives range widely. For example, Daniel Dennett argues that anti-physicalist arguments such as the knowledge argument are simply confused; David Papineau grants that such arguments at least reveal important features of phenomenal concepts; and David Chalmers defends the anti-physicalist arguments, arguing that the "phenomenal concept strategy" cannot succeed. (shrink)
The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say ’No’, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say ’Yes’. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level content can (...) directly inform the phenomenal character of perception. (shrink)
The phenomenology of agency has, until recently, been rather neglected, overlooked by both philosophers of action and philosophers of consciousness alike. Thankfully, all that has changed, and of late there has been an explosion of interest in what it is like to be an agent. 1 This burgeoning field crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines: philosophers of psychopathology are speculating about the role that unusual experiences of agency might play in accounting for disorders of thought and action; cognitive scientists are (...) developing models of how the phenomenology of agency is generated; and philosophers of mind are drawing connections between the phenomenology of agency and the nature of introspection, phenomenal character, and agency itself. My aim in this paper is not to provide an exhaustive survey of this recent literature, but to provide a.. (shrink)
Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on (...) the phenomenon of blindsight. Some information about stimuli in the blind field is represented in the brains of blindsight patients, as shown by their correct "guesses," but they cannot harness this information in the service of action, and this is said to show that a function of phenomenal consciousness is somehow to enable information represented in the brain to guide action. But stimuli in the blind field are BOTH access-unconscious and phenomenally unconscious. The fallacy is: an obvious function of the machinery of access-consciousness is illicitly transferred to phenomenal consciousness. (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)
What are the philosophical views of contemporary professional philosophers? We surveyed many professional philosophers in order to help determine their views on 30 central philosophical issues. This article documents the results. It also reveals correlations among philosophical views and between these views and factors such as age, gender, and nationality. A factor analysis suggests that an individual's views on these issues factor into a few underlying components that predict much of the variation in those views. The results of a metasurvey (...) also suggest that many of the results of the survey are surprising: philosophers as a whole have quite inaccurate beliefs about the distribution of philosophical views in the profession. (shrink)
This paper overviews the current status of debates on tracking representationalism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking features of one's environment in a certain way. We overview the main arguments for the view and the main objections and challenges it faces. We close with a discussion of alternative versions of representationalism that might overcome the shortcomings of tracking representationalism.
Why is two-dimensional semantics important? One can think of it as the most recent act in a drama involving three of the central concepts of philosophy: meaning, reason, and modality. First, Kant linked reason and modality, by suggesting that what is necessary is knowable a priori, and vice versa. Second, Frege linked reason and meaning, by proposing an aspect of meaning (sense) that is constitutively tied to cognitive signi?cance. Third, Carnap linked meaning and modality, by proposing an aspect of meaning (...) (intension) that is constitutively tied to possibility and necessity. (shrink)
Two-dimensional approaches to semantics, broadly understood, recognize two "dimensions" of the meaning or content of linguistic items. On these approaches, expressions and their utterances are associated with two different sorts of semantic values, which play different explanatory roles. Typically, one semantic value is associated with reference and ordinary truth-conditions, while the other is associated with the way that reference and truth-conditions depend on the external world. The second sort of semantic value is often held to play a distinctive role in (...) analyzing matters of cognitive significance and/or context-dependence. (shrink)
To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. In this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the (...) door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance, and a double-aspect theory of information. (shrink)
Phenomenology is about subjective aspects of the mind, such as the conscious states associated with vision and touch, and the conscious states associated with emotions and moods, such as feelings of elation or sadness. These states have a distinctive first-person ‘feel’ to them, called their phenomenal character. In this respect they are often taken to be radically different from mental states and processes associated with thought. This is the first book to fully question this orthodoxy and explore the prospects of (...) cognitive phenomenology, applying phenomenology to the study of thought and cognition. Does cognition have its own phenomenal character? Can introspection tell us either way? If consciousness flows in an unbroken ‘stream’ as William James argued, how might a punctuated sequence of thoughts fit into it? Elijah Chudnoff begins with a clarification of the nature of the debate about cognitive phenomenology and the network of concepts and theses that are involved in it. He then examines the following topics: • Introspection and knowledge of our own thoughts • Phenomenal contrast arguments • The value of consciousness • The temporal structure of experience • The holistic character of experience and the interdependence of sensory and cognitive states • The relationship between phenomenal character and mental representation -/- Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading, and a glossary, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and informative introduction to and assessment of cognitive phenomenology, whether philosophy student or advanced researcher. It will also be valuable reading for those in related subjects such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology and epistemology. (shrink)
Awareness is a two-place determinable relation some determinates of which are seeing, hearing, etc. Abstract objects are items such as universals and functions, which contrast with concrete objects such as solids and liquids. It is uncontroversial that we are sometimes aware of concrete objects. In this paper I explore the more controversial topic of awareness of abstract objects. I distinguish two questions. First, the Existence Question: are there any experiences that make their subjects aware of abstract objects? Second, the Grounding (...) Question: if an experience makes its subject aware of an abstract object, in virtue of what does it do so? I defend the view that intuitions, specifically mathematical intuitions, sometimes make their subjects aware of abstract objects. In defending this view, I develop an account of the ground of intuitive awareness. (shrink)
Elijah Chudnoff elaborates and defends a view of intuition according to which intuition purports to, and reveals, how matters stand in abstract reality by making us aware of that reality through the intellect. He explores the experience of having an intuition; justification for beliefs that derives from intuition; and contact with abstract reality.
Phenomenal holism is the thesis that some phenomenal characters can only be instantiated by experiences that are parts of certain wholes. The first aim of this paper is to defend phenomenal holism. I argue, moreover, that there are complex intellectual experiences (intellectual gestalts)—such as experiences of grasping a proof—whose parts instantiate holistic phenomenal characters. Proponents of cognitive phenomenology believe that some phenomenal characters can only be instantiated by experiences that are not purely sensory. The second aim of this paper is (...) to defend cognitive phenomenology. I argue that reflection on intellectual gestalts provides a basis for developing a case for cognitive phenomenology that is immune to many of the worries that beset more familiar arguments for cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
According to the most popular non-skeptical views about intuition, intuitions justify beliefs because they are based on understanding. More precisely: if intuiting that p justifies you in believing that p it does so because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. The aim of this paper is to raise some challenges for accounts of intuitive justification along these lines. I pursue this project from a non-skeptical perspective. I argue that there are cases in which intuiting (...) that p justifies you in believing that p, but such that there is no compelling reason to think this is because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. (shrink)
In this paper I assume that we have some intuitive knowledge—i.e. beliefs that amount to knowledge because they are based on intuitions. The question I take up is this: given that some intuition makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? We can ask a similar question about perception. That is: given that some perception makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? (...) A natural idea about perception is that a perception makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you sensorily aware of the concrete objects it is about. The analogous idea about intuition is that an intuition makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you intellectually aware of the abstract objects it is about. I expand both ideas into fuller accounts of perceptual and intuitive knowledge, explain the main challenge to this sort of account of intuitive knowledge (i.e. the challenge of making sense of intellectual awareness), and develop a response to it. (shrink)
A blindfolded clairvoyant walks into a room and immediately knows how it is arranged. You walk in and immediately see how it is arranged. Though both of you represent the room as being arranged in the same way, you have different experiences. Your experience doesn’t just represent that the room is arranged a certain way; it also visually presents the very items in the room that make that representation true. Call the felt aspect of your experience made salient by this (...) contrast its presentational phenomenology. Many philosophers have observed that perceptual experiences have presentational phenomenology. In this paper I explore its nature, scope, and significance. I argue that in addition to perceptual experiences, presentational phenomenology can be found in intuitive, introspective, imaginative, and recollective experiences. I also argue that presentational phenomenology is epistemologically significant: it plays a central role in explaining why the experiences that have it justify beliefs and give us knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I articulate and defend a view that I call phenomenal dogmatism about intuitive justification. It is dogmatic because it includes the thesis: if it intuitively seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. It is phenomenalist because it includes the thesis: intuitions justify us in believing their contents in virtue of their phenomenology—and in particular their presentational phenomenology. I explore the nature of presentational phenomenology as it occurs perception, (...) and I make a case for thinking that it is present in a wide variety of logical, mathematical, and philosophical intuitions. (shrink)
What are intuitions? According to doxastic views, they are doxastic attitudes or dispositions, such as judgments or inclinations to make judgments. According to perceptualist views, they are—like perceptual experiences—pre-doxastic experiences that—unlike perceptual experiences—represent abstract matters as being a certain way. In this paper I argue against doxasticism and in favor of perceptualism. I describe two features that militate against doxasticist views of perception itself: perception is belief-independent and perception is presentational. Then I argue that intuitions also have both features. The (...) upshot is that intuitions are importantly similar to perceptual experiences, and so should not be identified with doxastic attitudes or dispositions. I consider a popular argument from the introspective absence of sui generis intuition experiences in favor of doxasticism. I develop a conception of intuition experiences that helps to defuse this argument. (shrink)
Strawson (1994) and Peacocke (1992) introduced thought experiments that show that it seems intuitive that there is, in some way, an experiential character to mental events of understanding. Some (e.g., Siewert 1998, 2011; Pitt 2004) try to explain these intuitions by saying that just as we have, say, headache experiences and visual experiences of blueness, so too we have experiences of understanding. Others (e.g., Prinz 2006, 2011; Tye 1996) propose that these intuitions can be explained without positing experiences of understanding. (...) Call this the debate between Realism and Anti-Realism about experiences of understanding. This paper aims to advance that debate in two ways. In the first half, I develop more precise characterizations of what Realists and Anti-Realists propose. In the second half, I distinguish the four most plausible versions of Anti-Realism and argue that Realism better explains the target intuition than any of them does. (shrink)
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)
Descartes's philosophy has had a considerable influence on the modern conception of the mind, but many think that this influence has been largely negative. The main project of The Subject's Point of View is to argue that discarding certain elements of the Cartesian conception would be much more difficult than critics seem to allow, since it is tied to our understanding of basic notions, including the criteria for what makes someone a person, or one of us. The crucial feature of (...) the Cartesian view defended here is not dualism--which is not adopted--but internalism. Internalism is opposed to the widely accepted externalist thesis, which states that some mental features constitutively depend on certain features of our physical and social environment. In contrast, this book defends the minority internalist view, which holds that the mind is autonomous, and though it is obviously affected by the environment, this influence is merely contingent and does not delimit what is thinkable in principle. Defenders of the externalist view often present their theory as the most thoroughgoing criticism of the Cartesian conception of the mind; Katalin Farkas offers a defence of an uncompromising internalist Cartesian conception. (shrink)
The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitive science is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of rival theories, and (...) suggests that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations. This lively, conversational, and superbly accessible book is the first volume in the Oxford Cognitive Science Series, where the best original work in this field will be presented to a broad readership. Concepts will fascinate anyone interested in contemporary work on mind and language. Cognitive science will never be the same again. (shrink)
Marcus Giaquinto presents an investigation into the different kinds of visual thinking involved in mathematical thought, drawing on work in cognitive psychology, philosophy, and mathematics. He argues that mental images and physical diagrams are rarely just superfluous aids: they are often a means of discovery, understanding, and even proof.
The central mission of cognitive science is to reveal the real nature of the mind, however familiar or foreign that nature may be to naive preconceptions. The existence of naive conceptions is also important, however. Prescientific thought and language contain concepts of the mental, and these concepts deserve attention from cognitive science. Just as scientific psychology studies folk physics (McCloskey 1983, Hayes 1985), viz., the common understanding (or misunderstanding) of physical phenomena, so it must study folk psychology, the common understanding (...) of mental states. This subfield of scientific psychology is what I mean by the phrase 'the psychology of folk psychology'. (shrink)
I argue that explanation should be thought of as the phenomenological mark of the operation of a particular kind of cognitive system, the theory-formation system. The theory-formation system operates most clearly in children and scientists but is also part of our everyday cognition. The system is devoted to uncovering the underlying causal structure of the world. Since this process often involves active intervention in the world, in the case of systematic experiment in scientists, and play in children, the cognitive system (...) is accompanied by a theory drive, a motivational system that impels us to interpret new evidence in terms of existing theories and change our theories in the light of new evidence. What we usually think of as explanation is the phenomenological state that accompanies the satisfaction of this drive. However, the relation between the phenomenology and the cognitive system is contingent, as in similar cases of sexual and visual phenomenology. Distinctive explanatory phenomenology may also help us to identify when the theory-formation system is operating. (shrink)
Among philosophers of science there seems to be a general consensus that understanding represents a species of knowledge, but virtually every major epistemologist who has thought seriously about understanding has come to deny this claim. Against this prevailing tide in epistemology, I argue that understanding is, in fact, a species of knowledge: just like knowledge, for example, understanding is not transparent and can be Gettiered. I then consider how the psychological act of "grasping" that seems to be characteristic of understanding (...) differs from the sort of psychological act that often characterizes knowledge. Zagzebski's account Kvanvig's account Two problems Comanche cases Unreliable sources of information The upper-right quadrant So is understanding a species of knowledge? A false choice. (shrink)
Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I call potentialism, (...) inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
In this paper, I address the what, the how, and the why of moral phenomenology. I consider first the question What is moral phenomenology?, secondly the question How to pursue moral phenomenology?, and thirdly the question Why pursue moral phenomenology? My treatment of these questions is preliminary and tentative, and is meant not so much to settle them as to point in their answers’ direction.
It is often assumed thatconsciousness and intentionality are twomutually independent aspects of mental life.When the assumption is denounced, it usuallygives way to the claim that consciousness issomehow dependent upon intentionality. Thepossibility that intentionality may bedependent upon consciousness is rarelyentertained. Recently, however, John Searle andColin McGinn have argued for just suchdependence. In this paper, I reconstruct andevaluate their argumentation. I am in sympathyboth with their view and with the lines ofargument they employ in its defense. UnlikeSearle and McGinn, however, I am (...) quite attachedto a naturalist approach to intentionality. Itwill turn out to be somewhat difficult toreconcile naturalism with the notion thatintentionality is dependent upon consciousness,although, perhaps surprisingly, I will arguethat McGinn's case for such dependence iscompatible with naturalism. (shrink)