Many libertarians believe that self-ownership is a separate matter from ownership of extra-personal property. “No-proviso” libertarians hold that property ownership should be free of any “fair share” constraints, on the grounds that the inability of the very poor to control property leaves their self-ownership intact. By contrast, left-libertarians hold that while no one need compensate others for owning himself, still property owners must compensate others for owning extra-personal property. What would a “self” have to be for these claims to be (...) true? I argue that both of these camps must conceive of the boundaries of the self as including one's body but no part of the extra-personal world. However, other libertarians draw those boundaries differently, so that self-ownership cannot be separated from the right to control extra-personal property after all. In that case, property ownership must be subject to a fair share constraint, but that constraint does not require appropriators to pay compensation. This view, which I call “right libertarianism,” differs importantly from the other types primarily in its conception of the self, which I argue is independently more plausible. (shrink)
Daniel C. Dennett is a brilliant polemicist, famous for challenging unexamined orthodoxies. Over the last thirty years, he has played a major role in expanding our understanding of consciousness, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory. And with such groundbreaking, critically acclaimed books as Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea (a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist), he has reached a huge general and professional audience. In this new book, Dennett shows that evolution is the key to resolving the ancient (...) problems of moral and political freedom. Like the planet's atmosphere on which life depends, the conditions on which our freedom depends had to evolve, and like the atmosphere, they continue to evolve-and could be extinguished. According to Dennett, biology provides the perspective from which we can distinguish the varieties of freedom that matter. Throughout the history of life on this planet, an interacting web and internal and external conditions have provided the frameworks for the design of agents that are more free than their parts-from the unwitting gropings of the simplest life forms to the more informed activities of animals to the moral dilemmas that confront human beings living in societies. As in his previous books, Dennett weaves a richly detailed narrative enlivened by analogies as entertaining as they are challenging. Here is the story of how we came to be different from all other creatures, how our early ancestors mindlessly created human culture, and then, how culture gave us our minds, our visions, our moral problems-in a nutshell, our freedom. (shrink)
Intentional explanation and attributions of mentality -- International systems -- Reply to Arbib and Gunderson -- Brain writing and mind reading -- The nature of theory in psychology -- Skinner skinned -- Why the law of effect will not go away -- A cure for the common code? -- Artificial intelligence as philosophy and as psychology -- Objects of consciousness and the nature of experience -- Are dreams experiences? -- Toward a cognitive theory of consciousness -- Two approaches to mental (...) images -- Why you can't make a computer that feels pain -- Free will and personhood -- Mechanism and responsibility -- The abilities of men and machines -- Conditions of personhood -- On giving libertarians what they say they want -- How to change your mind -- Where am I? (shrink)
Are there really beliefs? Or are we learning (from neuroscience and psychology, presumably) that, strictly speaking, beliefs are figments of our imagination, items in a superceded ontology? Philosophers generally regard such ontological questions as admitting just two possible answers: either beliefs exist or they don't. There is no such state as quasi-existence; there are no stable doctrines of semi-realism. Beliefs must either be vindicated along with the viruses or banished along with the banshees. A bracing conviction prevails, then, to the (...) effect that when it comes to beliefs (and other mental items) one must be either a realist or an eliminative materialist. (shrink)
Ethologists and others studying animal behavior in a spirit are in need of a descriptive language and method that are neither anachronistically bound by behaviorist scruples nor prematurely committed to particular Just such an interim descriptive method can be found in intentional system theory. The use of intentional system theory is illustrated with the case of the apparently communicative behavior of vervet monkeys. A way of using the theory to generate data - including usable, testable data - is sketched. The (...) underlying assumptions of this approach can be seen to ally it directly with theorizing in evolutionary biology, which has recently come under attack from Stephen Gould and Richard Lewontin, who castigate it as the Their arguments, which are strongly analogous to B. F, Skinner's arguments against point to certain pitfalls that attend the careless exercise of such thinking (and rival varieties of thinking as well), but do not constitute a fundamental objection to either adaptationist theorizing or its cousin, intentional system theory. (shrink)
_Behavioral and Brain Sciences_ , 15, 183-247, 1992. Reprinted in _The Philosopher's Annual_ , Grim, Mar and Williams, eds., vol. XV-1992, 1994, pp. 23-68; Noel Sheehy and Tony Chapman, eds., _Cognitive Science_ , Vol. I, Elgar, 1995, pp.210-274.
" Qualia " is an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us. As is so often the case with philosophical jargon, it is easier to give examples than to give a definition of the term. Look at a glass of milk at sunset; the way it looks to you--the particular, personal, subjective visual quality of the glass of milk is the quale of your visual experience at the (...) moment. The way the milk tastes to you then is another, gustatory quale, and how it sounds to you as you swallow is an auditory quale; These various "properties of conscious experience" are prime examples of qualia. Nothing, it seems, could you know more intimately than your own qualia ; let the entire universe be some vast illusion, some mere figment of Descartes' evil demon, and yet what the figment is made of will be the qualia of your hallucinatory experiences. Descartes claimed to doubt everything that could be doubted, but he never doubted that his conscious experiences had qualia, the properties by which he knew or apprehended them. (shrink)
In Happiness for Humans , Daniel C. Russell takes a fresh look at happiness from a practical perspective: the perspective of someone trying to solve the wonderful problem of how to give himself a good life. From this perspective, "happiness" is the name of a solution to that problem for practical deliberation. Russell's approach to happiness falls within a tradition that reaches back to ancient Greek and Roman philosophers--a tradition now called "eudaimonism." Beginning with Aristotle's seminal discussion of the (...) role of happiness in practical reasoning, Russell asks what sort of good happiness would have to be in order to play the role in our practical economies that it actually does play. Looking at happiness from this perspective, Russell argues that happiness is a life of activity, with three main features: it is acting for the sake of ends we can live for, and living for them wisely; it is fulfilling for us, both as humans and as unique individuals; and it is inextricable from our connections with the particular persons, pursuits, and places that make us who we are. By returning to this ancient perspective on happiness, Russell finds new directions for contemporary thought about the good lives we want for ourselves. (shrink)
Damasio remarks, it "informs virtually all research on mind and brain, explicitly or implicitly." Indeed, serial information processing models generally run this risk (Kinsbourne, 1985). The commentaries provide a wealth of confirming instances of the seductive power of this idea. Our sternest critics Block, Farah, Libet, and Treisman) adopt fairly standard Cartesian positions; more interesting are those commentators who take themselves to be mainly in agreement with us, but who express reservations or offer support with arguments that betray a continuing (...) allegiance to one or another tenet of the view we sought to discredit. (shrink)
What is a self? I will try to answer this question by developing an analogy with something much simpler, something which is nowhere near as puzzling as a self, but has some properties in common with selves. What I have in mind is the center of gravity of an object. This is a well-behaved concept in Newtonian physics. But a center of gravity is not an atom or a subatomic particle or any other physical item in the world. It has (...) no mass; it has no color; it has no physical properties at all, except for spatio-temporal location. It is a fine example of what Hans Reichenbach would call an abstractum. It is a purely abstract object. It is, if you like , a theorist's fiction. It is not one of the real things in the universe in addition to the atoms. But it is a fiction that has nicely defined, well delineated and well behaved role within physics. (shrink)
Theorists are converging from quite different quarters on a version of the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness, but there are residual confusions to be dissolved. In particular, theorists must resist the temptation to see global accessibility as the cause of consciousness (as if consciousness were some other, further condition); rather, it is consciousness. A useful metaphor for keeping this elusive idea in focus is that consciousness is rather like fame in the brain. It is not a privileged medium of (...) representation, or an added property some states have; it is the very mutual accessibility that gives some informational states the powers that come with a subject's consciousness of that information. Like fame, consciousness is not a momentary condition, or a purely dispositional state, but rather a matter of actual influence over time. Theorists who take on the task of accounting for the aftermath that is critical for consciousness often appear to be leaving out the Subject of consciousness, when in fact they are providing an analysis of the Subject, a necessary component in any serious theory of consciousness. (shrink)
When doing mental ontology, we must ask how to individuate distinct categories of mental states, and then, given that individuation, ask how states from distinct categories interact. One promising proposal for how to individuate cognitive from sensorimotor states is in terms of their representational form. On these views, cognitive representations are propositional in structure, while sensorimotor representations have an internal structure that maps to the perceptual and kinematic dimensions involved in an action context. This way of thinking has resulted in (...) worries about the interface between cognition and sensorimotor systems – that is, about how representations of these distinct types might interact in performing actions. I claim that current solutions to the interface problem fail, because they have not sufficiently abandoned intuitions inspired by faculty psychology. In particular, current proposals seek to show how cognitive states can enforce prior decisions on sensorimotor systems. I argue that such “determination” views are the wrong kind of views to adopt, given the form distinction. Instead, I offer a proposal on which propositional representations can at best bias us toward certain kinds of action. This kind of view, I argue, appealingly distributes the explanation of action across distinctive contributions from cognitive and sensorimotor processing. (shrink)
Let us begin with what all of us here agree on: folk psychology is not immune to revision. It has a certain vulnerability in principle. Any particular part of it might be overthrown and replaced by some other doctrine. Yet we disagree about how likely it is that that vulnerability in principle will turn into the actual demise of large portions--or all--of folk psychology. I am of the view that folk psychology is here for the long haul, and for some (...) very good reasons. But I am not going to concentrate on that in my remarks. What nobody has bothered saying here yet, but is probably worth saying, is that for all of its blemishes, warts and perplexities, folk psychology is an extraordinarily powerful source of prediction. It is not just prodigiously powerful but remarkably easy for human beings to use. We are virtuoso exploiters of not so much a theory as a craft. That is, we might better call it a folk craft rather than a folk theory. The theory of folk psychology is the ideology about the craft, and there is lots of room, as anthropologists will remind us, for false ideology. (shrink)
I want to explore four different exercises of interpretation: (1) the interpretation of texts (or hermeneutics), (2) the interpretation of people (otherwise known as "attribution" psychology, or cognitive or intentional psychology), (3) the interpretation of other artifacts (which I shall call artifact hermeneutics), (4) the interpretation of organism design in evolutionary biology--the controversial interpretive activity known as adaptationism.
There is a pattern of miscommunication bedeviling the people working on consciousness that is reminiscent of the classic Abbott and Costello ‘ Who ’ s on First?’ routine. With the best of intentions, people are talking past each other, seeing major disagreements when there are only terminological or tactical preferences — or even just matters of emphasis — that divide the sides. Since some substantive differences also lurk in this confusion, it is well worth trying to sort out. Much of (...) the problem seems to have been caused by some misdirection in my apologia for heterophenomenology, advertised as an explicitly third - person approach to human consciousness, so I will try to make amends by first removing those misleading signposts and sending us back to the real issues. On the face of it, the study of human consciousness involves phenomena that seem to occupy something rather like another dimension : the private, subjective, ‘ first - person ’ dimension. Everybody agrees that this is where we start. What, then, is the relation between the standard ‘ third - person ’ objective methodologies for studying meteors or magnets, and the methodologies for studying human consciousness? Can the standard methods be extended in such a way as to do justice to the phenomena of human consciousness? Or do we have to find some quite radical or revolutionary alternative science? I have defended the hypothesis that there is a straightforward, conservative extension of objective science that handsomely covers the ground — all the ground — of human consciousness, doing justice to all the data without ever having to abandon the rules and constraints of the experimental method that have worked so well in the rest of science. This third - person methodology, dubbed heterophenomenology, is, I have claimed, the sound way to take the first person point of view as seriously as it can be taken. (shrink)
Knock-down refutations are rare in philosophy, and unambiguous self-refutations are even rarer, for obvious reasons, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over. Just such a boon is the philosophers' concept of a zombie, a strangely attractive notion that sums up, in one leaden lump, almost everything that (...) I think is wrong with current thinking about consciousness. Philosophers ought to have dropped the zombie like a hot potato, but since they persist in their embrace, this gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on the most seductive error in current thinking. (shrink)