The paper discusses radical constructivism about episodic memory as developed by Kourken Michaelian under the name of “simulationism”, a view that equates episodic memory with mental time travel. An alternative, direct realist view is defended, which implies disjunctivism about the appearance of remembering. While admitting the importance of mental time travel as an underlying cognitive mechanism in episodic memory, as well as the prima facie reasonableness of the simulationist’s critique of disjunctivism, I formulate three arguments in defense of disjunctivism, which (...) thus appears to be a feasible alternative to radical constructivism. (shrink)
The paper explicates and defends a direct realist view of episodic memory as pastperception, on the model of the more prominent direct realism about perception. First, a number of extant allegedly direct realist accounts are critically assessed, then the slogan that memory is past-perception is explained, defended against objections, and compared to extant rival views. Consequently, it is argued that direct realism about memory is a coherent and defensible view, and an attractive alternative to both the mainstream causal theories and (...) the post-causal and constructivist views. (shrink)
Mainstream metaphysics has been preoccupied by inquiring into the nature of major kinds of entities, like objects, properties and events, while avoiding minor entities, like shadows or holes. However, one might want to hope that dealing with such minor entities could be profitable for even solving puzzles about major entities. I propose a new ontological puzzle, the Shadow of Constitution Puzzle, incorporating the old puzzle of material constitution, with shadows in the role of the minor entity to guide our approach (...) to the issues involved. I then analyze the standard answers to the original puzzle of constitution, in their role as potential solutions to the new puzzle. Finally, I discuss three views that can solve the proposed puzzle. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind, both in the conceptual analysis tradition and in the empirical informed school, have been implicitly neglecting the potential conceptual role of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in understanding sensory and perceptual states. Instead, the philosophical as well as the neuroscientific literature has been assuming that it is the Central Nervous System (CNS) alone, and more exactly the brain, that should prima facie be taken as conceptually and empirically crucial for a philosophical analysis of such states This is (...) the first monograph that focuses on the PNS and its constitutive role in sensory states, including pain, mechanoception, proprioception, tactile perception, and so forth. -/- The author argues that the brain-centeredness of current philosophy of mind is a prejudice, and proposes a series of original ways in which classic puzzles in the philosophy of mind can be solved once the hypothesis that PNS is a constitutive element of mental states is taken seriously. The author calls this “the Peripheral Mind Hypothesis”, and employs it in a vast range of issues, such as functionalism, physicalism, mental content, embodiment, as well as some issues in neuroethics. -/- Making equal use of conceptual analysis, empirical data from neuroscience, first-person phenomenological data, and philosophical speculation, this work offers a fresh look at, and novel solutions to many philosophical problems. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new line of attack on the conceivability argument for mind-body property dualism, based on the causal account of properties, according to which properties have their conditional powers essentially. It is argued that the epistemic possibility of physical but not phenomenal duplicates of actuality is identical to a metaphysical possibility, but irrelevant for establishing the falsity of physicalism. The proposed attack is in many ways inspired by a standard, broadly Kripkean approach to epistemic and metaphysical modality.
I argue that bodybuilding should not qualify as a sport, given that at the competition stage it lacks an essential feature of sports, namely, skillful activity. Based on the classic distinction between Leib and Körper in phenomenology, I argue that bodybuilding competition’s sole purpose is to present the Körper, whereas sports are about manifestations of Leib. I consider several objections to this analysis, after which I conclude that bodybuilding is an endeavor closer to both beauty competitions and classical sculpture rather (...) than to any other known sports. (shrink)
In his latest book, Roy Sorensen offers a solution to a puzzle he put forward in an earlier article -The Disappearing Act. The puzzle involves various question about how the causal theory perception is to be applied to the case of seeing shadows. Sorensen argues that the puzzle should be taken as bringing out a new way of seeing shadows. I point out a problem for Sorensenâs solution, and offer and defend an alternative view, according to which the puzzle is (...) to be interpreted as showing a new way of seeing objects, in virtue of their contrast with light. (shrink)
The prospect, in terms of subjective expectations, of immortality under the no-collapse interpretation of quantum mechanics is certain, as pointed out by several authors, both physicists and, more recently, philosophers. The argument, known as quantum suicide, or quantum immortality, has received some critical discussion, but there hasn't been any questioning of David Lewis's point that there is a terrifying corollary to the argument, namely, that we should expect to live forever in a crippled, more and more damaged state, that barely (...) sustains life. This is the prospect of eternal quantum torment. Based on some empirical facts, I argue for a conclusion that is much more reassuring than Lewis's terrible scenario.1. (shrink)
Ordinary people tend to be realists regarding perceptual experience, that is, they take perceiving the environment as a direct, unmediated, straightforward access to a mindindependent reality. Not so for (ordinary) philosophers. The empiricist influence on the philosophy of perception, in analytic philosophy at least, made the problem of perception synonymous with the view that realism is untenable. Admitting the problem (and trying to offer a view on it) is tantamount to rejecting ordinary people’s implicit realist assumptions as naive. So what (...) exactly is the problem? We can approach it via one of the central arguments against realism – the argument from hallucination. The argument is intended as a proof that in ordinary, veridical cases of perception, perceivers do not have an unmediated perceptual access to the world. There are many versions of it; I propose the following1: 1. Hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from veridical perceptions are possible. 2. If two subjective states are indistinguishable, then they have a common nature. 3. The contents of hallucinations are mental images, not concrete external objects. 4. Therefore, the contents of veridical perceptions are mental images rather than concrete external objects. The key move is, I believe, from the fact that hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases of veridical perception are possible to an alleged common element, factor, or nature, in the form of a mental state, in the two cases – that is, premise 2. Disjunctivism, at its core, can be taken as simply denying this move, and arguing that all that follows from the premise stating the possibility of hallucinations that are subjectively indistinguishable from cases veridical perception is that there is a broader category, that of “experience as of...”, which encompasses both cases.. (shrink)
In this article, I undertake the tasks: (i) of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality; and (ii) of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, (...) the only probabilistically coherent candidates being ‘anomic danglers’ (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers’ (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental–physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favor of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject. (shrink)
Roy Sorensen’s adventure in Shadowland started with his prize-winning article, "Seeing Intersecting Eclipses" (published in The Journal of Philosophy, and chosen by the board of the Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best philosophy articles of 1999), which is the basis for the first two chapters in this book. The recipe adopted in that article is followed in most of the following thirteen chapters, five of them being based on Sorensen’s previous articles on the topic: start with an open (...) mind regarding the existence and causal efficacy of absences, shadows, i.e. absences of light, in our case, devise a riddle involving perception of such absences, and draw the consequences for the philosophy of perception and/or ontology. (shrink)
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to surface new and puzzling manifestations of the culture wars between liberals and conservatives, especially in the US. One such manifestation is the one centered around mask-wearing as a way to protect others from viral infection. In public spaces, mask-wearing has become a signal as to whether one is a liberal or a conservative. Liberals tend to wear the mask and condemn as immoral conservatives, who tend not to wear it. I argue that the liberal (...) attitude does not cohere with liberal theory. I use the issue of the permissibility of abortion and the liberal consensus about it as the benchmark for what a genuine liberal attitude toward mask-wearing should be. (shrink)
Tobias Hansson Wahlberg argues in a recent article (2009) that the truth of “Hesperus is Phosphorus” depends on the assumption that the endurance theory of persistence is true. The statement is not true (or at least can reasonably be doubted), he argues, if one assumes (a) the theory of persistence according to which objects are four-dimensional entities, persisting through perdurance, i.e. by having temporal parts that are numerically distinct, and (b) the thesis of unrestricted mereological composition (UMC), that is, that (...) any two things, however scattered in space or time, compose a sum. (shrink)
The exclusion problem for mental causation is one of the most discussed puzzles in the mind–body literature. There has been a general agreement among philosophers, especially because most of them are committed to some form of physicalism, that the dualist cannot escape the exclusion problem. I argue that a proper understanding of dualism – its form, commitments, and intuitions – makes the exclusion problem irrelevant from a dualist perspective. The paper proposes a dualist approach, based on a theory of event (...) causation, according to which events are medium-grained, namely parsed into mental and physical property components. A theory of contrastive mental causation is built upon this theory of events, for which the problem of exclusion does not arise. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a defense of a posteriori materialism.Problems with a posteriori identity materialism are identified,and a materialism based on composition, not identity, is proposed.The main task for such a proposal is to account for the relationbetween physical and phenomenal properties. Composition does notseem to be fit as a relation between properties, but I offer apeculiar way to understand property-composition, based on somerecent ideas in the literature on ontology. Finally, I propose amaterialist model for the mind-body relation that (...) is able to resistthe attack from conceivability arguments. (shrink)
I discuss a solution to the Yale shadow puzzle, due to Roy Sorensen, based on the actual process theory of causation, and argue that it does not work in the case of a new version of the puzzle, which I call "the Bilkent shadow puzzle". I offer a picture of the ontology of shadows that constitute the basis for a new solution that uniformly applies to both puzzles.
The author presents an autobiographical story of serious peripheral motor nerve damage resulting from chemotoxicity induced as a side effect of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment. The first-person, phenomenological account of the condition naturally leads to philosophical questions about consciousness, felt presence of oneself all over and within one’s body, and the felt constitutiveness of peripheral processes to one’s mental life. The first-person data only fit well with a philosophical approach to the mind that takes peripheral, bodily events and states at their (...) face value, and not as a body-in-the-brain, which has been popular with most neuroscientists. Thus the philosophical tradition that comes closest to the idea of the peripheral mind is Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s bodily phenomenology. (shrink)
If everything exists, then it looks, prima facie, as if talking about nothing is equivalent to not talking about anything. However, we appear as talking or thinking about particular nothings, that is, about particular items that are not among the existents. How to explain this phenomenon? One way is to deny that everything exists, and consequently to be ontologically committed to nonexistent “objects”. Another way is to deny that the process of thinking about such nonexistents is a genuine singular thought. (...) The first strategy we may call “the Meinongian tradition” (championed by authors like Alexius Meinong, Ernst Mally, Terence Parsons, Richard Routley, and Ed Zalta), while the second could be dubbed “the de re tradition” (connected to work by Gareth Evans, John McDowell, and Tyler Burge). Finally, the third way to solve the above puzzle, and probably the majority view in contemporary philosophy, is due to Bertrand Russell and W.V.O. Quine, who deny the particularity of the apparent nonexistent object and the singularity of the corresponding thought via the view that any statement about apparently particular nonexistents can be paraphrased into a quantified expression containing no genuinely referring terms. Jody Azzouni’s book is an attempt to argue for and develop a fourth view, based on the hitherto unrecognised notion of an “empty singular thought”, which Azzouni takes to have a place in logical space. Concomitant to developing the view, Azzouni applies it to three typical cases of talk about nonexistents: numbers, hallucinations, and fictions. As the name suggests, empty singular thought is devised as having three essential characteristics: (1) it is genuine thought, no different from any other, (2) it is singular, that is, its content is partly determined by particular non-conceptualised states of affairs, and (3) nevertheless it is genuinely empty, unlike Meinongian thought, that is, its object “does not exist in any sense”, to use Azzouni’s own formulation. Azzouni undertakes some challenging acrobatics when trying to persuade the reader that his view is substantive and it does not end up being the same as any of the previous three views about apparent talk about nonexistents.. (shrink)
The dictionary tells you that a shadow is a dark area or volume caused by an opaque object blocking some light. The definition is correct, but we need to clarify a couple of its elements: darkness and blocking. The clarification leads to the view that to see a shadow is a degree of failing to see a surface. I will also argue that seeing a silhouette (i.e. a backlit object) is a particular way of failing to see an object. Thus (...) visual discriminability is not sufficient for seeing. Finally, I argue that comparative empirical research on shadows' contribution to amodal completion in apes and humans supports the view that humans, unlike apes, perceive shadows as shadows rather than as black objects, thus lending indirect support for my view that to see a shadow is a way and degree of failing to see a surface. (shrink)
Recent discussion, both in the academia-related popular media and in some professional academic venues, about the current state and role of mainstream Anglo-American analytic philosophy among the humanities, has revealed a certain uneasiness expressed by both champions of this approach and traditional adversaries of it regarding its perceived isolation from the other fields of humanities. The fiercer critics go as far as to claim that the image of this type of philosophizing in the contemporary world is one of a discipline (...) that is disconnected from reality, a veritable inbreeding academic cottage industry of empty scholasticism. Though I am unsympathetic to the critics who would question the very essence of how this kind of philosophy is pursued, myself being a representative of it, I nevertheless present some admittedly sketchy but, in my opinion, interesting and revealing statistical data on the evolution of several top journals of analytic philosophy over the last hundred years in terms of the style of papers that get published, which might also justify to some extent the above mentioned complaint against analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Leibniz notoriously insisted that no two individuals differ solo numero, that is, by being primitively distinct, without differing in some property. The details of Leibniz’s own way of understanding and defending the principle –known as the principle of identity of indiscernibles (henceforth ‘the Principle’)—is a matter of much debate. However, in contemporary metaphysics an equally notorious and discussed issue relates to a case put forward by Max Black (1952) as a counter-example to any necessary and non-trivial version of the principle. (...) Black asks us to imagine, via one of the fictional characters of his dialogue, a world consisting solely of two completely resembling spheres, in a relational space. The supporter of the principle is then forced to admit that although there are ex hypothesi two objects in that universe, there is no property (except trivial ones), not even relational ones, to distinguish them, and hence the necessary version of the principle is falsified. In this essay I will argue that Black’s possible world, together with the dialectic between the potential friends and foes of the Principle as expounded by Black himself.. (shrink)
The paper is an addition to the intensionalist approach to decision theory, with emphasis on game theoretic modelling. Extensionality in games is an a priori requirement that players exhibit the same behavior in all algebraically equivalent games on pain of irrationality. Intensionalism denies that it is always irrational to play differently in differently represented but algebraically equivalent versions of a game. I offer a framework to integrate game non-extensionality with the more familiar idea of linguistic non-extensionality from philosophy of language, (...) followed by applications of it based on toy examples of well-known game models. I argue that the notion of what I call “Intensional Nash Equilibrium” is, in effect, very useful in understanding human decision-making. (shrink)
The “brain in a vat” thought experiment is presented and refuted by appeal to the intuitiveness of what the author informally calls “the eye for an eye principle”, namely: Conscious mental states typically involved in sensory processes can conceivably successfully be brought about by direct stimulation of the brain, and in all such cases the utilized stimulus field will be in the relevant sense equivalent to the actual PNS or part of it thereof. In the second section, four classic problems (...) of Functionalism are given novel solutions based on the inclusion of peripheral nervous processes as constituents of mental states: The mad pain problem, the problem of pseudo-normal vision, the China-brain problem, and the triviality problem. (shrink)
First, I argue that there is no agreement within non-classical cognitive science as to whether one should eliminate representations, hence, it is not clear that Brette's appeal to it is going to solve the problems with coding. Second, I argue that Brette's criticism of predictive coding as being intellectualistic is not justified, as predictive coding is compatible with embodied cognition.