What are the philosophical views of contemporary professional philosophers? We surveyed many professional philosophers in order to help determine their views on 30 central philosophical issues. This article documents the results. It also reveals correlations among philosophical views and between these views and factors such as age, gender, and nationality. A factor analysis suggests that an individual's views on these issues factor into a few underlying components that predict much of the variation in those views. The results of a metasurvey (...) also suggest that many of the results of the survey are surprising: philosophers as a whole have quite inaccurate beliefs about the distribution of philosophical views in the profession. (shrink)
What are the philosophical views of professional philosophers, and how do these views change over time? The 2020 PhilPapers Survey surveyed around 2000 philosophers on 100 philosophical questions. The results provide a snapshot of the state of some central debates in philosophy, reveal correlations and demographic effects involving philosophers' views, and reveal some changes in philosophers' views over the last decade.
One sometimes believes a proposition without grasping it. For example, a complete achromat might believe that ripe tomatoes are red without grasping this proposition. My aim in this paper is to shed light on the difference between merely believing a proposition and grasping it. I focus on two possible theories of grasping: the inferential theory, which explains grasping in terms of inferential role, and the phenomenal theory, which explains grasping in terms of phenomenal consciousness. I argue that the phenomenal theory (...) is more plausible than the inferential theory. (shrink)
Representationalists argue that phenomenal states are intentional states of a special kind. This paper offers an account of the kind of intentional state phenomenal states are: I argue that they are underived intentional states. This account of phenomenal states is equivalent to two theses: first, all possible phenomenal states are underived intentional states; second, all possible underived intentional states are phenomenal states. I clarify these claims and argue for each of them. I also address objections which touch on a range (...) of topics, including meaning holism and concept empiricism. I conclude with a brief discussion of the consequences of the proposed view for the project of naturalizing consciousness. (shrink)
Philosophers traditionally recognize two main features of mental states: intentionality and phenomenal consciousness. To a first approximation, intentionality is the aboutness of mental states, and phenomenal consciousness is the felt, experiential, qualitative, or "what it's like" aspect of mental states. In the past few decades, these features have been widely assumed to be distinct and independent. But several philosophers have recently challenged this assumption, arguing that intentionality and consciousness are importantly related. This article overviews the key views on the relationship (...) between consciousness and intentionality and describes our favored view, which is a version of the phenomenal intentionality theory, roughly the view that the most fundamental kind of intentionality arises from phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
This paper overviews the current status of debates on tracking representationalism, the view that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking features of one's environment in a certain way. We overview the main arguments for the view and the main objections and challenges it faces. We close with a discussion of alternative versions of representationalism that might overcome the shortcomings of tracking representationalism.
This paper compares tracking and phenomenal intentionality theories of intentionality with respect to the issue of naturalism. Tracking theories explicitly aim to naturalize intentionality, while phenomenal intentionality theories generally do not. It might seem that considerations of naturalism count in favor of tracking theories. We survey key considerations relevant to this claim, including some motivations for and objections to the two kinds of theories. We conclude by suggesting that naturalistic considerations may in fact support phenomenal intentionality theories over tracking theories.
Phenomenal intentionality is a kind of intentionality, or aboutness, that is grounded in phenomenal consciousness, the subjective, experiential feature of certain mental states. The phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), is a theory of intentionality according to which there is phenomenal intentionality, and all other kinds of intentionality at least partly derive from it. In recent years, PIT has increasingly been seen as one of the main approaches to intentionality.
This paper aims to shed new light on certain philosophical theories of perceptual experience by examining the semantics of perceptual ascriptions such as “Jones sees an apple.” I start with the assumption, recently defended elsewhere, that perceptual ascriptions lend themselves to intensional readings. In the first part of the paper, I defend three theses regarding such readings: I) intensional readings of perceptual ascriptions ascribe phenomenal properties, II) perceptual verbs are not ambiguous between intensional and extensional readings, and III) intensional perceptual (...) ascriptions have a relational form. The second part of the paper describes the implications of I-III for theories of perceptual experience. I argue that I-III support and reconcile the three main views of perceptual experience, relationalism, disjunctivism, and representationalism. However, I-III leave open at least one important point of contention: particularism, the view that we experience external objects. I conclude by exploring the implications of accepting or denying particularism given I-III. (shrink)
This paper replies to objections from perceptual distortion against the representationalist thesis that the phenomenal characters of experiences supervene on their intentional contents. It has been argued that some pairs of distorted and undistorted experiences share contents without sharing phenomenal characters, which is incompatible with the supervenience thesis. In reply, I suggest that such cases are not counterexamples to the representationalist thesis because the contents of distorted experiences are always impoverished in some way compared to those of normal experiences. This (...) can be shown by considering limit cases of perceptual distortion, for example, maximally blurry experiences, which manifestly lack details present in clear experiences. I argue that since there is no reasonable way to draw the line between distorted experiences that have degraded content and distorted experiences that do not, we should allow that an increase in distortion is always accompanied by a change in content. This applies to perceptual distortions due to blur, double vision, perspective, and illumination conditions. (shrink)
Intermodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are fully determined by their contents. In contrast, intramodal representationalists hold that the phenomenal characters of experiences are determined by their contents together with their intentional modes or manners of representation, which are nonrepresentational features corresponding roughly to the sensory modalities. This paper discusses a kind of experience that provides evidence for an intermodal representationalist view: intermodal experiences, experiences that unify experiences in different modalities. I argue that such experiences are much (...) easier to explain on the intermodal view. (shrink)
This paper asks whether phenomenal intentionality (intentionality that arises from phenomenal consciousness alone) has a relational structure of the sort envisaged in Russell’s theory of acquaintance. I put forward three arguments in favor of a relation view: one phenomenological, one linguistic, and one based on the view’s ability to account for the truth conditions of phenomenally intentional states. I then consider several objections to the relation view. The chief objection to the relation view takes the form of a dilemma between (...) Platonic and Aristotelian conceptions of the properties constitutive of the contents of phenomenally intentional states on this view: the Aristotelian view seems unable to account for all the apparent contents of phenomenally intentional states, but the Platonic view seems to be ontologically unacceptable. I also consider other objections from physicalism, phenomenology, and epistemology. (shrink)
One central brand of representationalism claims that the specific phenomenal character of an experience is fully determined by its content. A challenge for this view is that cognitive and perceptual experiences sometimes seem to have the same representational content while differing in phenomenal character. In particular, it might seem that one can have faint imagery experiences or conscious thoughts with the same contents as vivid perceptual experiences. This paper argues that such cases never arise, and that they are probably metaphysically (...) impossible. I also suggest a fully representational account of differences in vividness between phenomenal experiences. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that perceptual ascriptions such as “Jones sees a cat” are sometimes intensional. I offer a range of examples of intensional perceptual ascriptions, respond to objections to intensional readings of perceptual ascriptions, and show how widely accepted semantic accounts of intensionality can explain the key features of intensional perceptual ascriptions.
Over the past few decades, the dominant approach to explaining intentionality has been a naturalistic approach, one appealing only to non-mental ingredients condoned by the natural sciences. Karen Neander’s A Mark of the Mental (2017) is the latest installment in the naturalist project, proposing a detailed and systematic theory of intentionality that combines aspects of several naturalistic approaches, invoking causal relations, teleological functions, and relations of second-order similarity. In this paper, we consider the case of perceptual representations of colors, which (...) is a challenging case for Neander’s theory. This case will brings out a general methodological concern with Neander’s and other naturalistic theories: these theories generally rest on the assumption that the mental intentionality we are acquainted with in everyday life—the phenomenon exhibited by desires for cups of coffee, perceptual experiences of dogs playing in yards, and thoughts about the weather—is the very same kind of phenomenon that cognitive science studies under labels such as “mental representation” and, in some cases, “information processing.” This assumption is dubious, as the case of Neander’s theory illustrates. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism about consciousness, a view that has not previously been explored in any detail. We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions: first, a theory might be physicalist or dualist; second, a theory might endorse any of the three following views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through deterministic laws), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and (...) anomalism (they interact but not through deterministic laws). I suggest that a kind of anomalous dualism, nonreductive anomalous panpsychism, promises to offer the best overall answer to two pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). (shrink)
In their monograph Narrow Content, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne argue that all versions of internalism about mental content are either false or "pointless" (roughly, of no interest). We overview Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne's main line of argument and suggest that, while largely correct, it does not touch the core internalist claim that mental states have internally determined contents. Instead of engaging with this claim, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne attack a variety of stronger or weaker claims. The stronger claims fall prey to the Mirror (...) Man argument and other considerations. The weaker claims fall prey to the charge of pointlessness. But the core internalist view is left untouched. (shrink)
If there is content that we reason on, cognitive content, it is in the head and accessible to reasoning mechanisms. This paper discusses the phenomenal theory of cognitive content, according to which cognitive contents are the contents of phenomenal consciousness. I begin by distinguishing cognitive content from the closely associated notion of narrow content. I then argue, drawing on prior work, that the phenomenal theory can plausibly account for the cognitive contents of many relatively simple mental states. My main focus (...) in this paper is the question whether the phenomenal theory can account for the apparently abstract and complex cognitive contents of "high-level" thoughts. It might seem dubious that the theory can account for such cognitive contents, because cognitive phenomenology is too scarce and too thin. However, I argue there are in fact few abstract or complex cognitive contents, so the phenomenal theory's predictions are correct. This position explains some apparently irrational behavior that is otherwise hard to explain, and it makes sense of the central role of inner speech and other forms of consciousness in reasoning. (shrink)
A satisfactory solution to the problem of consciousness would take the form of a simple yet fully general model that specifies the precise conditions under which any given state of consciousness occurs. Science has uncovered numerous correlations between consciousness and neural activity, but it has not yet come anywhere close to this. We are still looking for the Newtonian laws of consciousness. -/- One of the main difficulties with consciousness is that we lack a language in which to formulate illuminating (...) generalizations about it. Philosophers and scientists talk about "what it’s like", sensations, feelings, and perceptual states such as seeing and hearing. This language does not allow a precise articulation of the internal structures of conscious states and their inter-relations. It is inadequate to capture relations of the kind we are looking for between conscious states and physical states. -/- In this thesis I refine and defend a theory of consciousness which promises to solve this regimentation problem: the representational theory of consciousness. I argue that the representational theory can solve the regimentation problem and smooth out other important obstacles to a fruitful study of consciousness. I also make a case for the theory independently of its payoffs, and I discuss the leading opposing theories at some length. (shrink)
Karen Neander's A Mark of the Mental is a noteworthy and novel contribution to the long-running project of naturalizing intentionality. The aim of the book is to “solve the part of Brentano’s problem that is within reach” (3). Brentano's problem is the problem of explaining intentionality; the part of this problem that is supposedly within reach is that of explaining nonconceptual sensory-perceptual intentionality; and Neander aims to solve it via an informational teleosemantic theory. In this review, we provide a chapter-by-chapter (...) summary followed by some discussion. We argue that Neander's theory yields incorrect predictions in some cases, that the methodological argument for informational teleosemantics does not succeed, and that it is not clear that the book makes contact with its initial target, the everyday phenomenon of intentionality. (shrink)
In this paper we look at the manual analysis of arguments and how this compares to the current state of automatic argument analysis. These considerations are used to develop a new approach combining a machine learning algorithm to extract propositions from text, with a topic model to determine argument structure. The results of this method are compared to a manual analysis.
I discuss the quantum mechanical theory of consciousness and freewill offered by Stapp (1993, 1995, 2000, 2004). First I show that decoherence-based arguments do not work against this theory. Then discuss a number of problems with the theory: Stapp's separate accounts of consciousness and freewill are incompatible, the interpretations of QM they are tied to are questionable, the Zeno effect could not enable freewill as he suggests because weakness of will would then be ubiquitous, and the holism of measurement in (...) QM is not a good explanation of the unity of consciousness for essentially the same reason that local interactions may seem incapable of accounting for it. (shrink)
We show how faceted search using a combination of traditional classification systems and mixed-membership topic models can go beyond keyword search to inform resource discovery, hypothesis formulation, and argument extraction for interdisciplinary research. Our test domain is the history and philosophy of scientific work on animal mind and cognition. The methods can be generalized to other research areas and ultimately support a system for semi-automatic identification of argument structures. We provide a case study for the application of the methods to (...) the problem of identifying and extracting arguments about anthropomorphism during a critical period in the development of comparative psychology. We show how a combination of classification systems and mixed-membership models trained over large digital libraries can inform resource discovery in this domain. Through a novel approach of “drill-down” topic modeling—simultaneously reducing both the size of the corpus and the unit of analysis—we are able to reduce a large collection of fulltext volumes to a much smaller set of pages within six focal volumes containing arguments of interest to historians and philosophers of comparative psychology. The volumes identified in this way did not appear among the first ten results of the keyword search in the HathiTrust digital library and the pages bear the kind of “close reading” needed to generate original interpretations that is the heart of scholarly work in the humanities. Zooming back out, we provide a way to place the books onto a map of science originally constructed from very different data and for different purposes. The multilevel approach advances understanding of the intellectual and societal contexts in which writings are interpreted. (shrink)
Modern representationalism about consciousness (MR) is often conflated with classical representationalism (CR). This chapter discusses CR first in order to highlight the contrast between old and new representationalism and bring out some of the strengths of the latter. It discerns three key projects related to MR. The first is that of determining whether its defining claim, the exhaustion thesis, is true. The second is that of explicating the fundamental difference between phenomenal and nonphenomenal states. The third project is that of (...) developing a theory of representation strong and stable enough to support MR. MR naturally bifurcates into externalist and internalist versions, depending upon the favored theory of mental representation. Many proponents of MR endorse the externalist view. MR is compatible with a range of theories of introspection. Introspection requires a special and sophisticated way of thinking about conscious experience. (shrink)