To what extent is the external world the way that it appears to us in perceptual experience? This perennial question in philosophy is no doubt ambiguous in many ways. For example, it might be taken as equivalent to the question of whether or not the external world is the way that it appears to be? This is a question about the epistemology of perception: Are our perceptual experiences by and large veridical representations of the external world? Alternatively, the question might (...) be taken as asking whether or not the external world is like its ways of appearing to us, where the expression “ways of appearing” is intended to pick out aspects of our perceptual experiences themselves. This is a metaphysical version of the question of the relationship between appearance and reality: What is the relationship between the phenomenal features that characterize perceptual experience, on the one hand, and the mind-independent features of the external objects of perception, on the other? There are some philosophers who might resist distinguishing between these two questions. For them, “ways of appearing” in the phenomenal sense just are the ways that things appear to be (let’s call the latter the “intentional sense” of “ways of appearing”).1 That is, the phenomenal character of an experience is nothing over and above its representational content. Phenomenal properties are represented properties—the properties that an experience attributes to the external objects of perception. The question of whether or not phenomenal properties can be identified with the represented properties of an experience mirrors traditional questions in the philosophy of perception. If they can be identified with each other, then in veridical perception we might be said to “directly grasp” features of the external world through perception. The properties that are present to the mind are the very same properties that belong to the external objects of perception. Such a view affords.... (shrink)
If two subjects have phenomenally identical experiences, there is an important sense in which the way the world appears to them is precisely the same. But how are we to understand this notion of 'ways of appearing'? Most philosophers who have acknowledged the existence of phenomenal content have held that the way something appears is simply a matter of the properties something appears to have. On this view, the way something appears is simply the way something appears to be . (...) This identification supports a Russellian theory of phenomenal content, according to which phenomenal content is exhausted by facts about what specific properties are represented by an experience. The present paper motivates and develops an alternative Fregean theory of phenomenal colour content. According to Fregean theories, the phenomenal content that is shared by any two phenomenally identical experiences is a matter of how the world is represented, and need not involve sameness in what is represented. It is argued that ways of appearing are modes of presentations of external properties and objects, and a detailed theory is presented about the nature of the modes of presentation involved in colour experience. (shrink)
It’s a familiar fact that there is something it is like to see red, eat chocolate or feel pain. More recently philosophers have insisted that in addition to this objectual phenomenology there is something it is like for me to eat chocolate, and this for-me-ness is no less there than the chocolatishness. Recognizing this subjective feature of consciousness helps shape certain theories of consciousness, introspection and the self. Though it does this heavy philosophical work, and it is supposed to be (...) relatively obvious to anyone who introspects, it is rather difficult to see just what this phenomenal me-ness is supposed to be; indeed, many philosophers deny it exists. In this paper we try to provide a clear sense of what phenomenal me-ness involves, and then then consider some arguments for the existence of phenomenal me-ness experience as well as some accounts of what gives rise to it. In the end, we argue that the plausible senses of me-ness are a good deal thinner than what often seems to be claimed. (shrink)
Phenomenal character is determined by representational content, which both hallucinatory and veridical experiences can share. But in the case of veridical experience, unlike hallucination, the external objects of experience literally have the properties one is aware of in experience. The representationalist can accept the common factor assumption without having to introduce sensory intermediaries between the mind and the world, thus securing a form of direct realism.
Representationalism, the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content, has attracted a wide following in recent years. Most representationalists have also endorsed what I call 'standard Russellianism'. According to standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. I argue that standard Russellianism conflicts with the everyday experience of colour constancy. Due to colour constancy, standard Russellianism is unable to simultaneously give a proper account of the phenomenal content of (...) colour experience and do justice to its phenomenology. (shrink)
In a series of papers and lectures, Sydney Shoemaker has developed a sophisticated Russellian theory of phenomenal content. It has as its central motivation two considerations. One is the possibility of spectrum - inversion without illusion. The other is the transparency of experience.
Most philosophers who have endorsed the idea that there is such a thing as phenomenal content—content that supervenes on phenomenal character—have also endorsed what I call Standard Russellianism. According to Standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. In agreement with Sydney Shoemaker [Shoemaker, S. (1994). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 54 249–314], I argue that Standard Russellianism is incompatible with the possibility of spectrum inversion without illusion. One defense of (...) (...) Standard Russellianism is to hold that spectrum inversion without illusion is conceivable but not in fact possible. I argue that this response fails. As a consequence, either phenomenal content is not Russellian, or experiences do not represent mind-independent physical properties. (shrink)
Furthermore, moral facts do seem to bear an intimate relationship to our moral attitudes and capacities. It is perhaps inconceivable that, at the end of moral deliberation and inquiry, fully rational human beings invested with our moral concepts could be radically incorrect in their moral beliefs. Moral properties seem to be essentially knowable. We hope that the fundamental truths of physics are epistemically available to us, but our conception of the physical world certainly does not guarantee it. However implausible, it (...) is certainly conceivable that the cognitive capacities that are our evolutionary inheritance, adapted for survival in the terrestrial niche in which our ancestors found themselves, are not well suited for doing cosmology. Is a similar pessimism about our ability to know the moral facts even coherent? I don’t think so. No matter how difficult it is to arrive at correct moral judgments, barring ignorance of any relevant non-moral empirical facts, the moral facts are by their very nature within our reach. And it is difficult to see how this could be so unless moral properties are in some way dependent on us. (shrink)
It is part of our notion of moral properties (certain forms of relativism to the contrary) that they are in some sense independent of our moral beliefs. A murderer cannot make his action moral simply by believing that it is so. Slavery was immoral even if a large number of people once believed that it was permissible, and it would remain so in the future even if every person came to believe that it was morally acceptable. But views that take (...) moral properties to be objective and thoroughly mind-independent constituents of reality face familiar metaphysical and epistemological obstacles. (shrink)
When I open my eyes and look at a Rubik’s cube, there is something it is like for me visually in looking at it. Various color qualities are presented to me, and they are arranged in a specific pattern. By having an experience with this particular phenomenal character I am also thereby visually representing the world outside my experience as being a certain way. If I experience a blue square to the left of a red square, the world outside my (...) experience is represented as being one way. As I turn the cube, and come to view a green square to the left of another green square, I have an experience with a different phenomenal character. But I also come to represent the world differently. In virtue of the difference in phenomenology there is a corresponding difference in how the world is represented as being. Moreover, it seems that any two experiences with the same phenomenal character will share a certain sort of intentional content.1 If two subjects have phenomenally identical experiences, there is an important sense in which the way the world appears to them is precisely the same. I will call this intentional content that supervenes on phenomenal character “phenomenal content”. But how are we to understand this notion of “ways of appearing”? Most philosophers who have acknowledged the existence of phenomenal content have held that the way something appears to a subject is simply a matter of the properties.. (shrink)