The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the content view are (...) partially vindicated, because perceptual error is due to false belief. (shrink)
The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or "in (...) the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
I know various contingent truths about my environment by perception. For example, by looking, I know that there is a computer before me; by hearing, I know that someone is talking in the corridor; by tasting, I know that the coffee has no sugar. I know these things because I have some built-in mechanisms specialized for detecting the state of my environment. One of these mechanisms, for instance, is presently transducing electromagnetic radiation (in a narrow band of wavelengths) coming from (...) the computer and the desk on which it sits. How that mechanism works is a complicated story—to put it mildly—and of course much remains unknown. But we can at least produce more-or- less plausible sketches of how the mechanism can start from retinal irradiation, and go on to deliver knowledge of my surroundings. Moreover, in the sort of world we inhabit, specialized detection mechanisms that are causally affected by the things they detect have no serious competition—seeing the computer by seeing an idea of the computer in the divine mind, for example, is not a feasible alternative. (shrink)
This paper elaborates and defends a familiar ‘transparent’ account of knowledge of one's own beliefs, inspired by some remarks of Gareth Evans, and makes a case that the account can be extended to mental states in general, in particular to knowledge of one's intentions.
Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt.
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences have (...) conceptual content. (1994, 162) Brewer agrees. Their view is sometimes called conceptualism; nonconceptualism is the rival position, that experiences have nonconceptual content. One initial obstacle is understanding what the issue is. What is conceptual content, and how is it different from nonconceptual content? Section 1 of this paper explains two versions of each of the rival positions: state (non)conceptualism and content (non)conceptualism; the latter pair is the locus of the relevant dispute. Two prominent arguments for content nonconceptualism—the richness argument and the continuity argument—both fail (section 2). McDowell’s and Brewer’s epistemological defenses of content conceptualism are also faulty (section 3). Section 4 gives a more simple-minded case for conceptualism; finally, some reasons are given for rejecting the claim—on one natural interpretation—that experiences justify beliefs. (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.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Abstract: Seventeenth and eighteenth century discussions of the senses are often thought to contain a profound truth: some perceptible properties are secondary qualities, dispositions to produce certain sorts of experiences in perceivers. In particular, colors are secondary qualities: for example, an object is green iff it is disposed to look green to standard perceivers in standard conditions. After rebutting Boghossian and Velleman’s argument that a certain kind of secondary quality theory is viciously circular, we discuss (...) three main lines of argument for the secondary quality theory. The first is inspired by an intuitively compelling picture of perception articulated by Reid; the second is that the secondary quality theory is a conceptual truth; the third line of argument is presented in Johnston’s influential paper ‘How to speak of the colors’. We conclude that all these arguments fail, and that the secondary quality theory is unmotivated. Keywords: color, secondary quality, disposition, vision, perception.. (shrink)
Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. Our first question is.
According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended.
1. The “puzzle” Physical objects are coloured: roses are red, violets are blue, and so forth. In particular, physical objects have fine-grained shades of colour: a certain chip, we can suppose, is true blue (unique, or pure blue). The following sort of scenario is commonplace. The chip looks true blue to John; in the same (ordinary) viewing conditions it looks (slightly) greenish-blue to Jane. Both John and Jane are “normal” perceivers. Now, nothing can be both true blue and greenish-blue; since (...) the chip is true blue, it is not greenish-blue. Hence Jane, unlike John, is misperceiving the chip. Generalizing, the conclusion is that there is widespread misperception of fine-grained shades. According to Tye (2006), and Cohen, Hardin, and McLaughlin (2006), the previous paragraph amounts to a paradox: an apparently unacceptable conclusion has been drawn from apparently acceptable premises via apparently acceptable reasoning. (See also Hawthorne and Kovakovich 2006, 180-1.) Tye swallows the conclusion, aided by a dose of evolutionary speculation. Hardin (1988), on the other hand, rejects the first premise, and denies that physical objects are coloured. Cohen (2004) and McLaughlin (2003) claim that both Jane and John have the colour of the chip right. Our opening paragraph concealed a crucial parameter. In fact, the chip looks greenish-blue-relative-tocircumstances-C to Jane, and true-blue-relative-to-circumstances-C* to John, and the chip has both these relativized colours.1 All this ingenious philosophizing would be in vain, of course, if the conclusion of the opening paragraph were not puzzling or problematic. So, why is it supposed to be? According to Tye, the conclusion is puzzling because John and Jane are both “normal perceivers” (xx). He seems to think that it is (prima facie) plausible to assume.. (shrink)
Perception is a source of knowledge: by looking at a white cup on a desk, one can come to know that there is a white cup on a desk. Schellenberg’s character Percy is in such an agreeable situation, the “good case”. Her hapless Hallie, on the other hand, is in the “bad case”: she is hallucinating a white cup on a desk. We may suppose that Percy and Hallie share a very specific visual state that completely characterizes the character of (...) Hallie’s hallucinatory experience. We can think of Percy’s total visual state as entailing this specific visual state that he and Hallie share, as well as entailing the state of seeing a white cup, a state that Hallie of course is not in. Because of the shared state, Percy’s total visual state is indiscriminable from Hallie’s, in the following sense: a ordinary perceiver who starts off in one s. (shrink)
The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available — if the colors are primitive sui generis properties — this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light (...) of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind—body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-reductive physicalism are staples, realist primitivism is by and large a recent addition to the color literature. And it remains a minority position, although one that is perhaps gaining support. In this paper, we investigate whether it should be accepted, and conclude it should not be. (shrink)
_the a priori role_ (for word T). For instance, perhaps anyone who understands the word _water_ is able to know, without appeal to any further a posteriori information, that _water_ refers to the clear, drinkable natural kind whose instances are predominant in our oceans and lakes (if _water_ refers at all.
The sceptic about the external world presents us with a paradox: an apparently acceptable argument for an apparently unacceptable conclusion—that we do not know anything about the external world. Some paradoxes, for instance the liar and the sorites, are very hard. The defense of a purported solution to either of these two inevitably deploys the latest in high-tech philosophical weaponry. On the other hand, some paradoxes are not at all hard, and may be resolved without much fuss. They do not (...) contain profound lessons about the human condition. Where should we place the sceptical paradoxes? (shrink)
Anything is similar to anything, provided the respects of similarity are allowed to be gerrymandered or gruesome, as Goodman observed.2 But similarity in non-gruesome or—as I shall say—genuine respects is much less ecumenical. Colors, it seems, provide a compelling illustration of the distinction as applied to similarities among properties.3 For instance, in innumerable gruesome respects, blue is more similar to yellow than to purple. But in a genuine respect, blue is more similar to purple than to yellow (genuinely more similar, (...) as I shall sometimes put it). (shrink)
A sensible quality is a perceptible property, a property that physical objects (or events) perceptually appear to have. Thus smells, tastes, colors and shapes are sensible qualities. An egg, for example, may smell rotten, taste sour, and look cream and round.1,2 The sensible qualities are not a miscellanous jumble—they form complex structures. Crimson, magenta, and chartreuse are not merely three different shades of color: the first two are more similar than either is to the third. Familiar color spaces or color (...) solids capture, to a greater or lesser extent, these relations between the colors. The same goes for sensible qualities perceived in other modalities: middle C, high C, and D are not merely three different notes, and the taste of lemons, oranges, and sugar cubes are not merely three different tastes. How can this structure of appearance be explained? One idea is that sensible qualities are of two sorts: basic and derived. The basic sensible qualities are the building blocks from which the derived sensible qualities can be.. (shrink)
The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind-body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-.
David Lewis claims that a simple sort of anti-Humeanism-that the rational agent desires something to the extent he believes it to be good-can be given a decision-theoretic formulation, which Lewis calls 'Desire as Belief' (DAB). Given the (widely held) assumption that Jeffrey conditionalising is a rationally permissible way to change one's mind in the face of new evidence, Lewis proves that DAB leads to absurdity. Thus, according to Lewis, the simple form of anti-Humeanism stands refuted. In this paper we investigate (...) whether Lewis's case against DAB can be strengthened by examining how it fares under rival versions of decision theory, including other conceptions of rational ways to change one's mind. We argue that the anti-Humean may escape Lewis's argument either by adopting a version of causal decision theory, or by claiming that the refutation only applies to hyper-idealised rational agents, or by denying that the decision-theoretic framework has the expressive capacity to formulate anti-Humeanism. (shrink)
Dispositional theories of colour have been attacked by McGinn and others on the ground that ‘Colours do not look like dispositions’. Langsam has argued that on the contrary they do, in ‘Why Colours Do Look Like Dispositions’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 50 , pp. 68–75. I make three claims. First, neither side has made its case. Secondly, it is true, at least on one interpretation, that colours do not look like dispositions. Thirdly, this does not show that dispositionalism about colours is (...) false. (shrink)
Our reply is in three parts. The first part concerns some foundational issues in the debate about color realism. The second part addresses the many objections to the version of physicalism about color ("productance physicalism") defended in the target article. The third part discusses the leading alternative approaches and theories endorsed by the commentators.
The terminology surrounding the dispute between higher-order and first-order theories of consciousness is piled so high that it sometimes obscures the view. When the debris is cleared away, there is a real prospect.
When we open our eyes, the world seems full of colored opaque objects, light sources, and transparent volumes. One historically popular view, _eliminativism_, is that the world is not in this respect as it appears to be: nothing has any color. Color _realism_, the denial of eliminativism, comes in three mutually exclusive varieties, which may be taken to exhaust the space of plausible realist theories. Acccording to _dispositionalism_, colors are _psychological_ dispositions: dispositions to produce certain kinds of visual experiences. According (...) to both _primitivism_ and _physicalism_, colors are not psychological dispositions; they differ in that primitivism says that no reductive analysis of the colors is possible, whereas physicalism says that they are physical properties. This paper is a defense of physicalism about color. (shrink)
Soc. …I speak of what I scarcely understand; but the soul when thinking appears to me to be just talking—asking questions of herself and answering them, affirming and denying. And when she has arrived at a decision, either gradually or by a sudden impulse, and has at last agreed, and does not doubt, this is called her opinion. I say, then, that to form an opinion is to speak, and opinion is a word spoken,—I mean, to oneself and in silence, (...) not aloud or to another: What think you? Theaet. I agree. (shrink)
In the writings of Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson we find something like the following bold conjecture: it is an a priori truth that there is no gap between our best judgements of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Under ideal conditions a subject's belief-box and desire-box become transparent.
We have justified beliefs about the external world, and some of these are formed directly on the basis of perception. I may justifiably believe that a certain dog is in certain manger, and I may have this belief because I can see that the dog is in the manger. So far, so good.
Cohen begins by defining ‘Color Physicalism’ so that the position is incompatible with Color Relationalism (unlike Byrne and Hilbert 2003, 7, and note 18). Physicalism, in any event, is something of a distraction, since Cohen’s argument from perceptual variation is directed against any view on which minor color misperception is common (Byrne and Hilbert 2004). A typical color primitivist, for example, is equally vulnerable to the argument. Suppose that normal human observers S1 and S2 are viewing a chip C, as (...) in Cohen’s example. C looks unique green to S1, and bluish green to S2. The problem, as Cohen has it, is to explain “what could (metaphysically) make it the case” that S1, say, and not S2, is perceiving C correctly. He purports to find the explanation “extremely hard to imagine”, and so concludes that both S1 and S2 are perceiving C correctly. (That is not the only option, of course: Hardin concludes that neither is perceiving the chip correctly.). (shrink)
This paper critically examines color relationalism and color relativism, two theories of color that are allegedly supported by variation in normal human color vision. We mostly discuss color relationalism, defended at length in Jonathan Cohen's The Red and the Real, and argue that the theory has insuperable problems.
Introductory texts in the philosophy of mind often begin with a discussion of behaviourism, presented as one of the few theories of mind that have been conclusively refuted. But matters are not that simple: behaviourism, in one form or another, is still alive and kicking.