Frederick Kronz constructs interesting examples in an attempt to show deficiencies in my concept of evidence and the advantages in Carnap's positive relevance idea. His discussion raises general questions of importance in developing an adequate account of scientific evidence questions about the relationship between evidence and belief and the role of emphasis in determining evidence. His examples are challenging, but do they work?
The state that we inhabit plays a significant role in shaping our lives. For not only do its institutions constrain the kinds of lives we can lead, but it also claims the right to punish us if our choices take us beyond what it deems to be appropriate limits. Political philosophers have traditionally tried to justify the state's power by appealing to their preferred theories of justice, as articulated in complex and wide-ranging moral theories—utilitarianism, Kantianism, and the like. One of (...) John Rawls's greatest contributions to political philosophy has been his recognition that this is the wrong way for this field to approach its task. He points to what he calls “the fact of reasonable pluralism,” which is the incontestable fact that in a free society people striving to lead their lives ethically will subscribe to conflicting moral and religious doctrines, many of which will be “reasonable” in the special sense of leaving their adherents willing to cooperate with those with whom they have moral disagreements. And this means that political philosophers can no longer rely on any particular “comprehensive” doctrine in their attempts to justify the state. For doing so would be unfair to those who subscribe to a conflicting reasonable doctrine; it would mean that the coercive power of the state would not be justified to them in terms they can accept, even while they were forced to abide by its terms. (shrink)
In his Meditations, René Descartes asks, "what am I?" His initial answer is "a man." But he soon discards it: "But what is a man? Shall I say 'a rational animal'? No: for then I should inquire what an animal is, what rationality is, and in this way one question would lead down the slope to harder ones." Instead of understanding what a man is, Descartes shifts to two new questions: "What is Mind?" and "What is Body?" These questions develop (...) into Descartes's main philosophical preoccupation: the Mind-Body distinction. How can Mind and Body be independent entities, yet joined--essentially so--within a single human being? If Mind and Body are really distinct, are human beings merely a "construction"? On the other hand, if we respect the integrity of humans, are Mind and Body merely aspects of a human being and not subjects in and of themselves? For centuries, philosophers have considered this classic philosophical puzzle. Now, in this compact, engaging, and long-awaited work, UCLA philosopher Joseph Almog closely decodes the French philosopher's argument for distinguishing between the human mind and body while maintaining simultaneously their essential integration in a human being. He argues that Descartes constructed a solution whereby the trio of Human Mind, Body, and Being are essentially interdependent yet remain each a genuine individual subject. Almog's reading not only steers away from the most popular interpretations of Descartes, but also represents a scholar coming to grips directly with Descartes himself. In doing so, Almog creates a work that Cartesian scholars will value, and that will also prove indispensable to philosophers of language, ontology, and the metaphysics of mind. (shrink)
Mary learns all the physical facts that one can learn by watching lectures on black-on-white television. According to Jackson, Mary learns new facts when she leaves the room and has color experiences, and that this undermines physicalism. Physicalists have responded by denying the new facts thesis; they argue, she acquires abilities, acquaintance knowledge, or new guises. I argue that the NFT is more plausible than any of the proposed alternatives. I also argue that the NFT does not undermine physicalism unless (...) physicalism entails that all physical facts are discursively learnable, and that the latter entailment is questionable. (shrink)
The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the view that the world is entirely physical. The argument first establishes the existence of facts about consciousness that are not a priori deducible from the complete physical truth, and then infers the falsity of physicalism from this lack of deducibility. Frank Jackson gave the argument its classic formulation. But now he rejects the argument . On his view, it relies on a false conception of sensory experience, which should be replaced with representationalism (...) , the view that phenomenal states are just representational states. And he argues that mental representation is physically explicable. (shrink)
Many philosophers accept the conceivability of zombies: creatures that lack consciousness but are physically and functionally identical to conscious human beings. Many also believe that the conceivability of zombies supports their metaphysical possibility. And most agree that if zombies are metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false. So, the claim that zombies are conceivable may have considerable significance. 1.
David Lewis and Laurence Nemirow claim that knowing what an experience is like is knowing-how, not knowing-that. They identify this know-how with the abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize experiences, and Lewis labels their view ‘the Ability Hypothesis’. The Ability Hypothesis has intrinsic interest. But Lewis and Nemirow devised it specifically to block certain anti-physicalist arguments due to Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson . Does it?
In "What is it Like to be a Bat?" Thomas Nagel argues that we cannot imagine what it is like to be a bat or presently understand how physicalism might be true. Both arguments have been seriously misunderstood. I defend them against various objections, point out a problem with the argument against physicalism, and show how the problem can be solved.
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)
As I type these words, cognitive systems in my brain engage in visual and auditory information processing. This processing is accompanied by subjective states of consciousness, such as the auditory experience of hearing the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard and the visual experience of seeing the letters appear on the screen. How does the brain's activity generate such experiences? Why should it be accompanied by conscious experience in the first place? This is the hard problem of consciousness.
Frank Jackson first presented the Knowledge Argument in "Epiphenomenal Qualia" 1982). The KA is an argument against physicalism, the doctrine that everything is physical. The general thrust of the KA is that physicalism errs by misconstruing or denying the existence of the subjective features of experience. Physicalists have given numerous responses, and the debate continues about whether the KA ultimately succeeds in refuting any or all forms of physicalism. Jackson himself has recently.
The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the doctrine that the world is entirely physical. Physicalism is widely accepted in contemporary philosophy. But some doubt that phenomenal consciousness.
There is a long and storied history of debates over 'realism' that has touched literally every academic discipline. Yet realism- antirealism debates play a relatively minor role in the contemporary study of consciousness. In this paper four basic varieties of realism and antirealism are explored and their potential impact on the study of consciousness is considered. Reasons are offered to explain why there is not more debate over these issues, including a discussion of the powerful influence of externalist versions of (...) physicalist realism. Examples are given of approaches to consciousness studies that challenge contemporary versions of physicalist realism. (shrink)
The use of expressions like ‘concepts of consciousness’, ‘kinds of consciousness’, and ‘meanings of ‘consciousness’’ interchangeably is ubiquitous within the consciousness literature. It is argued that this practice can be made sense of in only two ways. The first involves interpreting ‘concepts of consciousness’ and ‘kinds of consciousness’ metalinguistically to mean concepts expressed by ‘consciousness’ and kinds expressed by ‘consciousness’; and the second involves certain literal, though semantically deviant, interpretations of those expressions. The trouble is that researchers typically use the (...) above expressions interchangeably without satisfying either way of doing so coherently. The result is much error and confusion, which is demonstrated in the works of philosophers currently writing on consciousness. (shrink)
That consciousness is composed of simple or basic elements that combine to form complex experiences is an idea with a long history. This idea is approached through an examination of our “picture” or conception of consciousness . It is argued that CC commits us to a certain abstract notion of simple experiential events, or simples, and that traditional critiques of simple elements of experience do not threaten simples. To the extent that CC is taken to conform to how consciousness really (...) is, therefore, the concept of simples must be treated in kind. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that ‘ consciousness ’ is multiply ambiguous within the consciousness literature. Some alleged senses of the term are access consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, state consciousness, creature consciousness, introspective consciousness, self consciousness, to name a few. In the paper I argue for two points. First, there are few if any good reasons for thinking that such alleged senses are genuine: ‘ consciousness ’ is best viewed as univocal within the literature. The second point is that researchers would do (...) best to avoid the semantics of ‘ consciousness ’, since resorting to “semantic ascent” typically serves no clear purpose in the case of consciousness, and confuses matters more than anything else. (shrink)
In spite of the enormous interdisciplinary interest in consciousness these days, sorely lacking are general methodologies in terms of which individual research efforts across disciplines can be seen as contributing to a common end. In the paper I outline such a methodology. The central idea is that empirically studying our conception of consciousness—what we have in mind when we think about consciousness—can lead to progress on consciousness itself. The paper clarifies and motivates that idea.
An argument is offered for this conditional: If our current concept conscious state is sharp rather than vague, and also correct , then common versions of familiar metaphysical theories of consciousness are false--?namely versions of the identity theory, functionalism, and dualism that appeal to complex physical or functional properties in identification, realization, or correlation. Reasons are also given for taking seriously the claim that our current concept conscious state is sharp. The paper ends by surveying the theoretical options left open (...) by the concept's sharpness and the truth of the conditional argued for in the paper. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new line of attack on the conceivability argument for mind-body property dualism, based on the causal account of properties, according to which properties have their conditional powers essentially. It is argued that the epistemic possibility of physical but not phenomenal duplicates of actuality is identical to a metaphysical possibility, but irrelevant for establishing the falsity of physicalism. The proposed attack is in many ways inspired by a standard, broadly Kripkean approach to epistemic and metaphysical modality.
The subjective features of conscious mental processes--as opposed to their physical causes and effects--cannot be captured by the purified form of thought suitable for dealing with the physical world that underlies appearances.".
It is widely suspected that arguments from conceivability, at least in some of their more notorious instances, are unsound. However, the reasons for the failure of conceivability arguments are less well agreed upon, and it remains unclear how to distinguish between sound and unsound instances of the form. In this paper I provide an analysis of the form of arguments from conceivability, and use this analysis to diagnose a systematic weakness in the argument form which reveals all its instances to (...) be, roughly, either uninformative or unsound. I illustrate this conclusion through a consideration of David Chalmers. (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)
Hill and Levine offer alternative explanations of these conceivabilities, concluding that these conceivabilities are thereby defeated as evidence. However, this strategy fails because their explanations generalize to all conceivability judgments concerning phenomenal states. Consequently, one could defend absolutely any theory of phenomenal states against conceivability arguments in just this way. This result conflicts with too many of our common sense beliefs about the evidential value of conceivability with respect to phenomenal states. The general moral is that the application of such (...) principles of explanatory defeat is neither simple nor straightforward. (shrink)