Since the publication of David Lewis’ Counterfactuals, the standard line on subjunctive conditionals with impossible antecedents (or counterpossibles) has been that they are vacuously true. That is, a conditional of the form ‘If p were the case, q would be the case’ is trivially true whenever the antecedent, p, is impossible. The primary justification is that Lewis’ semantics best approximates the English subjunctive conditional, and that a vacuous treatment of counterpossibles is a consequence of that very elegant theory. Another justification (...) derives from the classical lore than if an impossibility were true, then anything goes. In this paper we defend non-vacuism, the view that counterpossibles are sometimes non-vacuously true and sometimes non-vacuously false. We do so while retaining a Lewisian semantics, which is to say, the approach we favor does not require us to abandon classical logic or a similarity semantics. It does however require us to countenance impossible worlds. An impossible worlds treatment of counterpossibles is suggested (but not defended) by Lewis (Counterfactuals. Blackwell, Oxford, 1973), and developed by Nolan (Notre Dame J Formal Logic 38:325–527, 1997), Kment (Mind 115:261–310, 2006a: Philos Perspect 20:237–302, 2006b), and Vander Laan (In: Jackson F, Priest G (eds) Lewisian themes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004). We follow this tradition, and develop an account of comparative similarity for impossible worlds. (shrink)
I respond to three arguments aimed at establishing that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience: the argument from phenomenal difference, the argument from mandatory seeing, and the argument from associative agnosia. I conclude with a simple argument against the view that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience.
Moral relativism provides a compelling explanation of linguistic data involving ordinary moral expressions like 'right' and 'wrong'. But it is a very radical view. Because relativism relativizes sentence truth to contexts of assessment it forces us to revise standard linguistic theory. If, however, no competing theory explains all of the evidence, perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift. However, I argue that a version of moral contextualism can account for the same data as relativism without relativizing sentence truth to (...) contexts of assessment. This version of moral contextualism is thus preferable to relativism on methodological grounds. (shrink)
Blindsight and vision for action seem to be exemplars of unconscious visual processes. However, researchers have recently argued that blindsight is not really a kind of uncon- scious vision but is rather severely degraded conscious vision. Morten Overgaard and col- leagues have recently developed new methods for measuring the visibility of visual stimuli. Studies using these methods show that reported clarity of visual stimuli correlates with accuracy in both normal individuals and blindsight patients. Vision for action has also come under (...) scrutiny. Recent ﬁndings seem to show that information processed by the dor- sal stream for online action contributes to visual awareness. Some interpret these results as showing that some dorsal stream processes are conscious visual processes (e.g., Gallese, 2007; Jacob & Jeannerod, 2003). The aim of this paper is to provide new support for the more traditional view that blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious per- ceptual processes. I argue that individuals with blindsight do not have access to the kind of purely qualitative color and size information which normal individuals do. So, even though people with blindsight have a kind of cognitive consciousness, visual information process- ing in blindsight patients is not associated with a distinctly visual phenomenology. I argue further that while dorsal stream processing seems to contribute to visual awareness, only information processed by the early dorsal stream (V1, V2, and V3) is broadcast to working memory. Information processed by later parts of the dorsal stream (the parietal lobe) never reaches working memory and hence does not correlate with phenomenal awareness. I con- clude that both blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious visual processes. (shrink)
There has been a recent surge in interest in two questions concerning the nature of perceptual experience; viz. the question of whether perceptual experience is sometimes cognitively penetrated and that of whether high-level properties are presented in perceptual experience. Only rarely have thinkers been concerned with the question of whether the two phenomena are interestingly related. Here we argue that the two phenomena are not related in any interesting way. We argue further that this lack of an interesting connection between (...) the two phenomena has potentially devastating consequences for naïve realism. Finally, we consider the possibility of a disunified view of experience that takes perceptual experience to be a matter of both being directly perceptually related to mind-independent objects and property instances as well as consciously representing these entities. (shrink)
There are two competing views of knowledge-how: Intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. According to the reductionist varieties of intellectualism defended by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001) and Berit Brogaard (2007, 2008, 2009), knowledge-how simply reduces to knowledge-that. To a first approximation, s knows how to A iff there is a w such that s knows that w is a way to A. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle if and only if there is a way w such that (...) John knows that w is a way to ride a bicycle. John Bengson and Marc Moffett (2007) defend an anti-reductionist version of intellectualism which takes knowledge-how to require, in addition, that s understand the concepts involved in her belief. According to the anti-intellectualist accounts originally defended by Gilbert Ryle (1946) and many others after him, knowledge-how requires the possession of a practical ability and so knowing that w (for some w) is a way to A does not suffice for knowing-how. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle only if John has the ability to ride it; if John merely knows that w (for some w) is a way to ride a bicycle, John does not know how to ride a bicycle. Here I will argue for a conciliatory position that is compatible with the reductionist variety of intellectualism: knowledge-how is reducible to knowledge-that. But, I argue, there are knowledge states which are not justification-entailing and knowledge states which are not belief-entailing. Both kinds of knowledge state require the possession of practical abilities. I conclude by arguing that the view defended naturally leads to a disjunctive conception of abilities as either essentially involving mental states or as not essentially involving mental states. Only the former kind of ability is a kind of knowledge-state, viz. a knowledge-how state. (shrink)
Reductionists about knowledge-wh hold that "s knows-wh" (e.g. "John knows who stole his car") is reducible to "there is a proposition p such that s knows that p, and p answers the indirect question of the wh-clause." Anti-reductionists hold that "s knows-wh" is reducible to "s knows that p, as the true answer to the indirect question of the wh-clause." I argue that both of these positions are defective. I then offer a new analysis of knowledge-wh as a special kind (...) of de re knowledge. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale’s dissociation hypothesis is commonly taken to state that there are two functionally specialized cortical streams of visual processing originating in striate (V1) cortex: a dorsal, action-related “unconscious” stream and a ventral, perception-related “conscious” stream. As Milner and Goodale acknowledge, findings from blindsight studies suggest a more sophisticated picture that replaces the distinction between unconscious vision for action and conscious vision for perception with a tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and (...) unconscious vision for perception. The combination excluded by the tripartite division is the possibility of conscious vision for action. But are there good grounds for concluding that there is no conscious vision for action? There is now overwhelming evidence that illusions and perceived size can have a significant effect on action (Bruno & Franz, 2009; Dassonville & Bala, 2004; Franz & Gegenfurtner, 2008; McIntosh & Lashley, 2008). There is also suggestive evidence that any sophisticated visual behavior requires collaboration between the two visual streams at every stage of the process (Schenk & McIntosh, 2010). I nonetheless want to make a case for the tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and unconscious vision for perception. My aim here is not to refute the evidence showing that conscious vision can affect action but rather to argue (a) that we cannot gain cognitive access to action-guiding dorsal stream representations, and (b) that these representations do not correlate with phenomenal consciousness. This vindicates the semi-conservative view that the dissociation hypothesis is best understood as a tripartite division. (shrink)
In Philosophy Without Intuitions Herman Cappelen argues that unlike what is commonly thought, contemporary analytic philosophers do not typically rely on intuitions as evidence. If they do indeed rely on intuitions, that should be evident from their written works, either explicitly in the form of ‘intuition’ talk or by means of other indicators. However, Cappelen argues, while philosophers do engage in ‘intuition’ talk, that is not a good indicator that they rely on intuitions, as ‘intuition’ and its cognates have many (...) meanings that are irrelevant to this particular question. He identifies three other indicators and argues by appeal to case studies that these indicators are not present. I argue here that an account of intuitions as intellectual seemings draws attention to intuition features that Cappelen does not consider. These intuition features appear to be regularly present in the works of contemporary analytic philosophers. (shrink)
Perspectivalism is a semantic theory according to which the contents of utterances and mental states (perhaps of a particular kind) have a truth-value only relative to a particular perspective (or standard) determined by the context of the speaker, assessor, or bearer of the mental state. I have defended this view for epistemic terms, moral terms and predicates of personal taste elsewhere (Brogaard 2008a, 2008b, forthcoming a). The main aim of this paper is to defend perspectivalism about color perception and color (...) discourse. The content of color perception and color discourse, I will argue, has a truth-value only relative to an appropriate viewing condition and the perceiver, or a perceiver deferred to. (shrink)
Determiner phrases embedded under a propositional attitude verb have traditionally been taken to denote answers to implicit questions. For example, 'the capital of Vermont' as it occurs in 'John knows the capital of Vermont' has been thought to denote the proposition which answers the implicit question 'what is the capital of Vermont?' Thus, where 'know' is treated as a propositional attitude verb rather than an acquaintance verb, 'John knows the capital of Vermont' is true iff John knows that Montpelier is (...) the capital of Vermont. The traditional view lost its popularity long ago, because it was thought to rest on the controversial assumption that determiner phases embedded under a propositional attitude verb function semantically in the same way as the corresponding wh -clauses. Here we defend the traditional assumption against objections. We then argue that wh -clauses are not to be given a uniform treatment as indirect questions. When occurring under a propositional attitude verb, wh -clauses are better treated as having a predicate-type semantic value. We conclude by considering some possible objections to the predicate view. (shrink)
In a recent response paper to Brogaard (2011a), Morten Overgaard and Thor Grünbaum argue that my case for the claim that blindsight subjects are not visually conscious of the stimuli they correctly identify rests on a mistaken necessary criterion for determining whether a conscious experience is visual or non-visual. Here I elaborate on the earlier argu- ment while conceding that the question of whether blindsight subjects are visually con- scious of the visual stimuli they correctly identify largely is an empirical (...) question. I conclude by sketching a method for testing whether blindsight subjects have visual con- sciousness of stimuli presented to them in their blind ﬁeld. (shrink)
Is color experience cognitively penetrable? Some philosophers have recently argued that it is. In this paper, we take issue with the claim that color experience is cognitively penetrable. We argue that the notion of cognitive penetration that has recently dominated the literature is flawed since it fails to distinguish between the modulation of perceptual content by non-perceptual principles and genuine cognitive penetration. We use this distinction to show that studies suggesting that color experience can be modulated by factors of the (...) cognitive system do not establish that color experience is cognitively penetrable. Additionally, we argue that even if color experience turns out to be modulated by color-related beliefs and knowledge beyond non-perceptual principles, it does not follow that color experience is cognitively penetrable since the experiences of determinate hues involve post-perceptual processes. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications that these ideas may have on debates in philosophy. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the relationship between consciousness and knowledge, and in particular on the role perceptual consciousness might play in justifying beliefs about the external world. We outline a version of phenomenal dogmatism according to which perceptual experiences immediately, prima facie justify certain select parts of their content, and do so in virtue of their having a distinctive phenomenology with respect to those contents. Along the way we take up various issues in connection with this core theme, including the (...) possibility of immediate justification, the dispute between representational and relational views of perception, the epistemic significance of cognitive penetration, the question of whether perceptual experiences are composed of more basic sensations and seemings, and questions about the existence and epistemic significance of high-level content. In a concluding section we briefly consider how some of the topics pursued here might generalize beyond perception. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that contraposition, strengthening the antecedent and hypothetical syllogism fail for subjunctive conditionals. The following putative counter-examples are frequently cited, respectively.
Tensism holds that the present moment has a special status that sets it apart from the past and the future, independently of perceivers. One of the main objections to this view has been Einstein’s argument from special relativity, which aims at showing that absolute simultaneity is a myth. We argue that the moving observer in a causal variant of Einstein’s original thought experiment is subject to a temporal illusion. Owing to the analogy of the cases, this casts doubt on the (...) conjectures that there is no privileged frame of reference and that special relativity poses a problem for tensism. (shrink)
Russell's new theory of denoting phrases introduced in "On Denoting" in Mind 1905 is now a paradigm of analytic philosophy. The main argument for Russell's new theory is the so-called 'Gray's Elegy' argument, which purports to show that the theory of denoting concepts promoted by Russell in the 1903 Principles of Mathematics is incoherent. The 'Gray's Elegy' argument rests on the premise that if a denoting concept occurs in a proposition, then the proposition is not about the concept. I argue (...) that the premise is false. The 'Gray's Elegy' argument does not exhaust Russell's ammunition against the theory of denoting concepts. Another reason Russell rejects the theory is, as he says, that it cannot provide an adequate account of non-uniquely denoting concepts. In the last section of the paper, I argue that even though Russell was right in thinking that the theory of denoting concepts cannot provide an adequate account of non-uniquely denoting concepts, Russell's new theory does not succeed in eliminating the occurrence of all denoting concepts, as it requires a commitment to the existence of variables that indirectly denote their values. However, the view that variables are denoting concepts is unproblematic once the 'Gray's Elegy' argument is blocked. (shrink)
Perceptual reports are utterances of sentences that contain a perceptual verb, such as ‘look’, ‘sound’, ‘feel’, ‘see’, and ‘perceive’. It is natural to suppose that at least in many cases, these types of reports reflect aspects of the phenomenal character and representational content of a subject’s perceptual experiences. For example, an utterance of ‘my chair looks red but it’s really white’ appears to reflect phenomenal properties of the speaker’s experience of a chair. Whether perceptual reports actually reflect these things is (...) a substantial question and one with which this entry will be partially concerned. This article begins with a linguistic analysis of perceptual verbs and then considers some potential implications of this analysis for the philosophy of perception, given the assumption that perceptual reports sometimes express truths. (shrink)
With the aid of some results from current linguistic theory I examine a recent anti-Fregean line with respect to hybrid talk of numbers and ordinary things, such as ‘the number of moons of Jupiter is four’. I conclude that the anti-Fregean line with respect to these sentences is indefensible.
The assumption that the future is open makes well known problems for traditional semantics. According to a commonly held intuition, today's occurrence of the sentence 'There will be a sea battle tomorrow', while truth-valueless today, will have a determinate truth-value by tomorrow night. Yet given traditional semantics, sentences that are truth-valueless now cannot later 'become' true. Relativistic semantics has been claimed to do a better job of accommodating intuitions about future contingents than non-relativistic semantics does. However, intuitions about future contingents (...) cannot by themselves give good reasons for shifting to a new paradigm, for despite the initial appearances, standard non-relativistic semantics (plus an account of truth-value gaps) can accommodate both intuitions about future contingents. (shrink)
When does a human being begin to exist? We argue that it is possible, through a combination of biological fact and philosophical analysis, to provide a definitive answer to this question. We lay down a set of conditions for being a human being, and we determine when, in the course of normal fetal development, these conditions are first satisfied. Issues dealt with along the way include: modes of substance-formation, twinning, the nature of the intra-uterine environment, and the nature of the (...) relation between fetus and mother (connection, parthood, dependence). (shrink)
I. Tensed Plural Quantifiers Presentists typically assent to a range of tensed statements, for instance, that there were dinosaurs, that there was a president named Lincoln, and that my future grandchildren will be on their way to school.1 Past- and future-tensed claims are dealt with by introducing primitive, intensional tense operators, for instance, it has been 12 years ago that, it was the case when I was born that, and it will be the case that (Prior 1968). For example, ‘there (...) were dinosaurs’, upon analysis, cashes out to. (shrink)
The paradox of knowability is a logical result suggesting that, necessarily, if all truths are knowable in principle then all truths are in fact known. The contrapositive of the result says, necessarily, if in fact there is an unknown truth, then there is a truth that couldn't possibly be known. More specifically, if p is a truth that is never known then it is unknowable that p is a truth that is never known. The proof has been used to argue (...) against versions of anti-realism committed to the thesis that all truths are knowable. For clearly there are unknown truths; individually and collectively we are non-omniscient. So, by the main result, it is false that all truths are knowable. The result has also been used to draw more general lessons about the limits of human knowledge. Still others have taken the proof to be fallacious, since it collapses an apparently moderate brand of anti-realism into an obviously implausible and naive idealism. (shrink)
Virtue reliabilism appears to have a major advantage over generic reliabilism: only the former has the resources to explain the intuition that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. I argue that this appearance is illusory. It is sustained only by the misguided assumption that a principled distinction can be drawn between those belief-forming methods that are grounded in the agent’s intellectual virtues, and those that are not. A further problem for virtue reliabilism is that of explaining why knowledge (...) is more valuable than mere justified true belief. I argue that virtue reliabilism lacks the resources to explain this value difference. I conclude by considering what it would take for a theory to explain the extra value of knowledge over mere justified true belief. (shrink)
The article provides the state of the art on the debate about whether the semantics of ‘look’ statements commits us to any particular theory of perceptual experience. The debate began with Frank Jackson's argument that ‘look’ statements commit us to a sense-datum theory of perception. Thinkers from different camps have since then offered various rejoinders to Jackson's argument. Others have provided novel arguments from considerations of the semantics of ‘look’ to particular theories of perception. The article closes with an argument (...) of this sort for a representational theory of perceptual experience. (shrink)
The paper reviews the empirical evidence for highly significant variation across perceivers in hue perception and argues that color physicalism cannot accommodate this variability. Two views that can accommodate the individual differences in hue perception are considered: the self-locating property theory, according to which colors are self-locating properties, and color relationalism, according to which colors are relations to perceivers and viewing conditions. It is subsequently argued that on a plausible rendition of the two views, the self-locating theory has a slight (...) advantage over color relationalism in being truer to the phenomenology of our color experiences. (shrink)
I argue that strong representationalism, the view that for a perceptual experience to have a certain phenomenal character just is for it to have a certain representational content (perhaps represented in the right sort of way), encounters two problems: the dual looks problem and the duplication problem. The dual looks problem is this: strong representationalism predicts that how things phenomenally look to the subject reflects the content of the experience. But some objects phenomenally look to both have and not have (...) certain properties, for example, my bracelet may phenomenally look to be circular-shaped and oval-shaped (and hence non-circularshaped). So, if strong representationalism is true, then the content of my experience ought to represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. Yet, intuitively, the content of my experience does not represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. The duplication problem is this. On a standard conception of content, spatio-temporally distinct experiences and experiences had by distinct subjects may differ in content despite the fact that they are phenomenally indistinguishable. But this undermines the thesis that phenomenal character determines content. I argue that the two problems can be solved by applying a version of an idea from David Chalmers, which is to recognize the existence of genuinely centered properties in the content of perceptual experience. (shrink)
Attitude reports are reports about people’s states of mind. They are reports about what people think, believe, know, know a priori, imagine, hate, wish, fear, and the like. So, for example, I might report that s knows p, or that she imagines p, or that she hates p, where p specifies the content to which s is purportedly related. One lively current debate centers around the question of what sort of specification is involved when such attitude reports are successful. Some (...) hold that it is specification of the precise content of a mental state; others hold that it is specification of the content of a mental state only relative to a mode of presentation; yet others hold that it is merely a description or characterization of the content of a mental state. After providing a brief introduction to the traditional debate on attitude reports, this entry argues that for certain kinds of knowledge reports and for so-called de re attitude reports, descriptive theories emerge as the most plausible. The entry concludes with a discussion of how the characterizing relation between attitude reports and mental states might be construed. (shrink)
A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...) meaning than a life with the same positive outcomes but which lacks responsiblity on the part of the agent? The other turns on these outcomes themselves: how can the meaningfulness engendered by actions you perform now be affected by what those actions go on to produce in the future, perhaps even after your death? We provide a response to both of these difficulties. (shrink)
Perceptual appearances of personality can be highly inaccurate, for example, when they rely on race, masculinity, and attractiveness, factors that have little to do with personality, as well as when they are the result of perceiver effects, such as an idiosyncratic tendency to view others negatively. This raises the question of whether these types of appearances can provide immediate justification for our judgments about personality. I argue that there are three reasons that we should think that they can. The inaccuracy (...) of these types of appearances is not nearly as widespread as it may initially seem. Even thin-slicing in zero-acquaintance conditions seems to reliably track many personality traits. The thought that perceptual appearances of personality can justify our beliefs only in conjunction with background information rests on a failure to acknowledge the existence of genuine high-level perceptual appearances of personality. Perceiver effect cases are not unlike cases in which we have inaccurate low-level perceptual appearances in unfavorable perceptual conditions. (shrink)
There are two doctrines for which Quine is particularly well known: the doctrine of ontological commitment and the inscrutability thesis—the thesis that reference and quantification are inscrutable. At first glance, the two doctrines are squarely at odds. If there is no fact of the matter as to what our expressions refer to, then it would appear that no determinate commitments can be read off of our best theories. We argue here that the appearance of a clash between the two doctrines (...) is illusory. The reason that there is no real conflict is not simply that in determining our theories’ ontological commitments we naturally rely on our home language but also (and more importantly) that ontological commitment is not intimately tied to objectual quantification and a reference-first approach to language. Or so we will argue. We conclude with a new inscrutability argument which rests on the observation that the notion of objectual quantification, when properly cashed out, deflates. (shrink)
In this paper I begin by considering Travis’s main argument against a representational view of experience. I argue that the argument succeeds in showing that representation is not essential to experience. However, I argue that it does not succeed in showing that representation is not an essential component of experience enjoyed by creatures like us. I then provide a new argument for thinking that the perceptual experience of earthly creatures is representational. The view that ensues is compatible with a certain (...) relational view of experience but entails a rejection of representationalism. (shrink)
Knobe argues that people’s judgments of the moral status of a side-effect of action influence their assessment of whether the side-effect is intentional. We tested this hypothesis using vignettes akin to Knobe’s but involving economically or eudaimonistically (wellness-related) negative side-effects. Our results show that it is people’s sense of what agents deserve and not the moral status of side-effects that drives intuition.
I. Non-Trivial Counterpossibles On Lewis’ account, a subjunctive of the form ‘if it were the case that p, it would be the case that q’ (represented as ‘p → q’) is to be given the following rough meta-linguistic truth-conditions1.
There is no question that the constituents of cells and organisms are joined together by the part-whole relation. Genes are part of cells, and cells are part of organisms. Species taxa, however, have traditionally been conceived of, not as wholes with parts, but as classes with members. But why does the relation change abruptly from part-whole to class-membership above the level of organisms? Ghiselin, Hull and others have argued that it doesn't. Cells and organisms are cohesive mereological sums, and since (...) species taxa are like cells and organisms in the relevant respects, they, too, are cohesive mereological sums. I provide further reasons in support of the thesis that species are mereological sums. I argue, moreover, that the advocate of this thesis is committed to a form of pluralism with respect to the species concept. (shrink)
Tr(A) iff ‡K(A) To remedy the error, Dummett’s proposes the following inductive characterization of truth: (i) Tr(A) iff ‡K(A), if A is a basic statement; (ii) Tr(A and B) iff Tr(A) & Tr(B); (iii) Tr(A or B) iff Tr(A) v Tr(B); (iv) Tr(if A, then B) iff (Tr(A) Æ Tr(B)); (v) Tr(it is not the case that A) iff ¬Tr(A), where the logical constant on the right-hand side of each biconditional clause is understood as subject to the laws of intuitionistic (...) logic.2 The only other principle in play in Dummett’s discussion is (+) A iff Tr(A), which, as he notes, the anti-realist is likely to accept. (shrink)
The truthmaker theory rests on the thesis that the link between a true judgment and that in the world to which it corresponds is not a one-to-one but rather a one-to-many relation. An analogous thesis in relation to the link between a singular term and that in the world to which it refers is already widely accepted. This is the thesis to the effect that singular reference is marked by vagueness of a sort that is best understood in supervaluationist terms. (...) In what follows we show that the supervaluationist approach to singular reference, when wedded to the truthmaker idea, yields a framework of surprising power, which offers a uniform set of solutions to a range of problems regarding identity, reference and knowledge, problems which have hitherto been dealt with on an ad hoc basis. (shrink)
Rapid advances in the field of neuroimaging techniques including magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG), functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), voxel based morphomentry (VBM), and optical imaging, have allowed neuroscientists to investigate neural processes in ways that have not been possible until recently. Combining these techniques with advanced analysis procedures during different conditions such as hypnosis, psychiatric and neurological conditions, subliminal stimulation, and psychotropic drugs began transforming the study of neuroscience, ushering a new paradigm that may allow neuroscientists to tackle (...) the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
Discourse containing the verb ‘feel’, almost without exception, purports to describe inner experience. Though this much is evident, the question remains what exactly is conveyed when we talk about what and how we feel? Does discourse containing the word ‘feel’ actually succeed in describing the content and phenomenology of inner experience? If so, how does it reflect the phenomenology and content of the experience it describes? Here I offer a linguistic analysis of ‘feels’ reports and argue that a subset of (...) ‘feels’ reports, when accurate, reflect the representational content of emotions, tactile experiences and bodily sensations. Because ‘feels’ reports may reflect the representational content of bodily experience, these types of report may be able to give us some insight into the structure of bodily experience. I argue that our descriptions of bodily experience, on the assumption that they are sometimes accurate, indicate that emotions and tactile experiences are experiences of bodily reactions to objects, whereas bodily sensations are partial descriptions of emotions and tactile experiences or other events of the body. At the end I address the concern that an adequate account of inner experience cannot be given in terms of an analysis of ordinary language. (shrink)
Blindsight, the ability to blindly discriminate wavelength and other aspects of stimuli in a blind field, sometimes occurs in people with lesions to striate (V1) cortex. There is currently no consensus on whether qualitative color information of the sort that is normally computed by double opponent cells in striate cortex is indeed computed in blindsight but doesn?t reach awareness, perhaps owing to abnormal neuron responsiveness in striate or extra-striate cortical areas, or is not computed at all. The existence of primesight, (...) the experience of colored afterimages in blindsight, has been taken to suggest that qualitative color information is computed either in pre-striate or striate cortical areas but is not broadcast to working memory. I argue here that a recent study in which color phosphenes were induced in a blindsighter using bilateral transcranial magnetic stimulation indicates that computations necessary for conscious color vision are lost in blindsight. Owing to this loss, the neural responsiveness in extrastriate cortical areas is abnormal and hence is unable to give rise to color awareness. Blindsight is thus degraded vision in which the computations necessary for conscious color vision have been lost. (shrink)