I argue that there can be no such thing as a borderline case of the predicate ‘phenomenally conscious’: for any given creature at any given time, it cannot be vague whether that creature is phenomenally conscious at that time. I first defend the Positive Characterization Thesis, which says that for any borderline case of any predicate there is a positive characterization of that case that can show any sufficiently competent speaker what makes it a borderline case. I then appeal to (...) the familiar claim that zombies are conceivable, and I argue that this claim entails that there can be no positive characterizations of borderline cases of ‘phenomenally conscious’. By the Positive Characterization Thesis, it follows that ‘phenomenally conscious’ can not have any borderline cases. (shrink)
The paradox of pain is that pain is in some ways like a bodily state and in other ways like a mental state. You can have a pain in your shin, but there is no denying that you are in pain if it feels like you are. How can a state be both in your shin and in your mind? Evaluativism is a promising answer. According to evaluativism, an experience of pain in your shin represents that there is a disturbance (...) in your shin, and that it is bad that this disturbance is there. Thus, the experience brings you to tend to your shin by telling you something about the state of your shin. But the paradox of pain still confronts evaluativism in the form of the killing the messenger objection: The evaluativist has a nice story about our body‐directed responses to pain, like tending to wounds, but this story does not explain responses to pain, like taking painkillers, that seem to be experience‐directed. Evaluativists have offered accounts of experience‐directed responses to pain, but I will argue that these accounts conflict with the Transparency thesis—the claim that we can only access our experiences inferentially. Evaluativism and Transparency are natural bedfellows, so this is a problem for evaluativists. Having argued as much, I will go on to develop a new evaluativist account of taking painkillers, which does not conflict with Transparency. I call it naïve evaluativism. According to naïve evaluativism, we experience painkillers as making tissue damage or disruption less bad, and absent further reflection, that is, why we take them. (shrink)
Can we solve the Problem of the Many, and give a general account of the indeterminacy in definite descriptions that give rise to it, by appealing to metaphysically indeterminate entities? I argue that we cannot. I identify a feature common to the relevant class of definite descriptions, and derive a contradiction from the claim that each such description is satisfied by a metaphysically indeterminate entity.