The goal of this chapter is to mount a critique of the claim that cognitive content (that is, the kind of content possessed by our concepts and thoughts) makes a constitutive contribution to the phenomenal properties of our mental lives. We therefore defend the view that phenomenal consciousness is exclusively experiential (or nonconceptual) in character. The main focus of the chapter is on the alleged contribution that concepts make to the phenomenology of visual experience. For we take it that if (...) cognitive phenomenology is to be found anywhere, it should be found here. However, we begin with a discussion of the question of cognitive phenomenology more generally, and we close by sketching how our argument might be extended into the domain of non-perceptual thought. (shrink)
A powerful reply to a range of familiar anti-physicalist arguments has recently been developed. According to this reply, our possession of phenomenal concepts can explain the facts that the anti-physicalist claims can only be explained by a non-reductive account of phenomenal consciousness. Chalmers (2006) argues that the phenomenal concept strategy is doomed to fail. This article presents the phenomenal concept strategy, Chalmers' argument against it, and a defence of the strategy against his.
Knowledge of what it’s like to have perceptual experiences, e.g. of what it’s like to see red or taste Turkish coffee, is phenomenal knowledge; and it is knowledge the substantial or significant nature of which is widely assumed to pose a challenge for physicalism. Call this the New Challenge to physicalism. The goal of this paper is to take a closer look at the New Challenge. I show, first, that it is surprisingly difficult to spell out clearly and neutrally what (...) the New Challenge is in fact urging the physicalist to explain. What initially look like plausible or promising ways of making sense of it turn out to be either question begging or insufficient to generate a challenge to physicalism at all. I go on to suggest that what the New Challenge may be asking the physicalist to explain may be the fact that we come to token certain higher-order judgments about the significance of phenomenal knowledge. I end with a discussion of the implications of this interpretation of the New Challenge—which turns out to be as much a challenge for the anti-physicalist as it is for the physicalist. (shrink)
Abstract In recent debates, both physicalist and anti-physicalist philosophers of mind have come to agree that understanding the nature of phenomenal concepts is key to understanding the nature of phenomenal consciousness itself. Recently, however, Derek Ball (2009) and Michael Tye (2009) have argued that there are no such concepts. Their case is especially troubling because they make use of a type of argument that proponents of phenomenal concepts have typically found persuasive in other contexts; namely, arguments much like those that (...) Tyler Burge used to motivate a certain form of externalism about mental content. The goal of this paper is to defend phenomenal concepts against this line of attack. Burge-style arguments, I contend, cannot be successfully used to make the case that there are no phenomenal concepts. As such, phenomenal concepts must remain central to understanding the nature of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
The so-called ‘re-identification condition’ (Kelly 2011) has played an important role in the most prominent argument for nonconceptualism, the argument from fineness of grain. A number of authors have recently argued that the condition should be modified or discarded altogether, with devastating implications for the nonconceptualist (see, e.g., Brewer 2005, Chuard 2006). The aim of this paper is to show that the situation is even more dire for nonconceptualists, for even if the re-identification condition remains in its original form, the (...) argument from fineness of grain still fails to make the case for nonconceptualism. The paper's central case rests on two claims: according to the first, if the re-identification condition holds, then some beliefs will represent some properties nonconceptually; and according to the second, if some beliefs represent some properties nonconceptually, the argument from fineness of grain fails to make the case for nonconceptualism in any relevant sense. It follows that if the re-identification condition holds, the argument from fineness of grain fails to make the case for nonconceptualism. (shrink)