The first-person perspective is a challenge to naturalism. Naturalistic theories are relentlessly third-personal. The first-person perspective is, well, first-personal; it is the perspective from which one thinks of oneself as oneself* without the aid of any third-person name, description, demonstrative or other referential device. The exercise of the capacity to think of oneself in this first-personal way is the necessary condition of all our self-knowledge, indeed of all our self-consciousness. As important as the first-person perspective is, many philosophers have not (...) appreciated the force of the data from the first-person perspective, and suppose that the first-person perspective presents no particular problems for the naturalizing philosopher. For example, Ned Block commented, “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-consciousness that has seemed such a scientific mystery.” And David Chalmers says that self-consciousness is one of those psychological states that “pose no deep metaphysical enigmas.”. (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)
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)
Phenomenal intentionality is a kind of intentionality, or aboutness, that is grounded in phenomenal consciousness, the subjective, experiential feature of certain mental states. The phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), is a theory of intentionality according to which there is phenomenal intentionality, and all other kinds of intentionality at least partly derive from it. In recent years, PIT has increasingly been seen as one of the main approaches to intentionality.
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.
Physics tells us what is objectively there. It has no place for the colours of things. So colours are not objectively there. Hence, if there is such a thing at all, colour is mind-dependent. This argument forms the background to disputes over whether common sense makes a mistake about colours. It is assumed that..
In the Garden of Eden, we had unmediated contact with the world. We were directly acquainted with objects in the world and with their properties. Objects were simply presented to us without causal mediation, and properties were revealed to us in their true intrinsic glory.
The book is an extended study of the problem of consciousness. After setting up the problem, I argue that reductive explanation of consciousness is impossible , and that if one takes consciousness seriously, one has to go beyond a strict materialist framework. In the second half of the book, I move toward a positive theory of consciousness with fundamental laws linking the physical and the experiential in a systematic way. Finally, I use the ideas and arguments developed earlier to defend (...) a form of strong artificial intelligence and to analyze some problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics. (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)
This is a condensed version of the material in chapters 8-10 in Meaning and Mental Representation (MIT, 1989). It is an explanation and defence of a theory of content for the mind considered as a symbolic computational process. It is a view i abandoned shortly thereafter when I abandoned symbolic computatioalism as a viable theory of cognition.
This book presents an attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning by viewing meaning as (...) a certain kind of information-carrying role. (shrink)
It is an integral part of the phenomenology of mature perceptual experience that it seems to present to us an experience-independent world. I shall call this feature 'perceptual intentionality'. In this paper, I argue that perceptual intentionality is constructed by the structure of more basic sensory features, features that are not intentional themselves. This theory can explain why the same sensory feature can figure both in presentational and non-presentational experiences. There is a fundamental difference between the intentionality of sensory experiences (...) and the intentionality of thoughts: unlike the former, the latter is not constructed. (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 orthodox view in the study of representation is that a strictly third-person objective methodology must be employed. The acceptance of this methodology is shown to be a fundamental and debilitating error. Toward this end I defend what I call.
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)
Most contemporary philosophers of mind claim to be in search of a 'naturalistic' theory. However, when we look more closely, we find that there are a number of different and even conflicting ideas of what would count as a 'naturalization' of the mind. This article attempts to show what various naturalistic philosophies of mind have in common, and also how they differ from one another. Additionally, it explores the differences between naturalistic philosophies of mind and naturalisms found in ethics, epistemology, (...) and philosophy of science. Section 1 introduces a distinction between two types of project that have been styled 'naturalistic', which I call philosophical naturalism and empirical naturalism . Sections 2 to 6 canvass different strands of philosophical naturalism concerning the mind, followed by a much briefer discussion of attempts to provide empirical naturalizations of the mind in Section 7 . Section 8 concludes the essay with a consideration of the relations between philosophical and empirical naturalism in philosophy of mind, arguing that at least some types of philosophical naturalism are incompatible with empirical naturalism. (shrink)
Phenomenal intentionality is supposed to be a kind of directedness of the mind onto the world that is grounded in the conscious feel of mental life. This book of new essays explores a number of issues raised by the notion of phenomenal intentionality.
We review some of the work already done around the notion of phenomenal intentionality and propose a way of turning this body of work into a self-conscious research program for understanding intentionality.
What do thoughts, hopes, paintings, words, desires, photographs, traffic signs, and perceptions have in common? They are all about something, are directed, are contentful - in a way chairs and trees, for example, are not. This book inquires into the source of this power of directedness that some items exhibit while others do not. An approach to this issue prevalent in the philosophy of the past half-century seeks to explain the power of directedness in terms of certain items' ability to (...) reliably track things in their environment. A very different approach, with a venerable history and enjoying a recent resurgence, seeks to explain the power of directedness rather in terms of an intrinsic ability of conscious experience to direct itself. This book attempts a synthesis of both approaches, developing an account of the sources of such directedness that grounds it both in reliable tracking and in conscious experience. (shrink)
How come we can represent Bigfoot even though Bigfoot does not exist, given that representing something involves bearing a relation to it and we cannot bear relations to what does not exist?This is the problem of intentional inexistence. This paper develops a two-step solution to this problem, involving an adverbial account of conscious representation, or phenomenal inten- tionality, and the thesis that all representation derives from conscious representation. The solution is correspondingly two-part: we can consciously represent Bigfoot because consciously representing (...) Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather instantiating a certain non-relational property of representing Bigfoot-wise; and we can non-consciously represent Bigfoot because non-consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather bearing a relation to conscious representations of Bigfoot. (shrink)
_Naming and Necessity_ has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this is (...) it. (shrink)