The prefrontal cortex has long been suspected to play an important role in cognitive control, in the ability to orchestrate thought and action in accordance with internal goals. Its neural basis, however, has remained a mystery. Here, we propose that cognitive control stems from the active maintenance of patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex that represent goals and the means to achieve them. They provide bias signals to other brain structures whose net effect is to guide the flow of (...) activity along neural pathways that establish the proper mappings between inputs, internal states, and outputs needed to perform a given task. We review neurophysiological, neurobiological, neuroimaging, and computational studies that support this theory and discuss its implications as well as further issues to be addressed. (shrink)
Color provides an instance of a general puzzle about how to reconcile the picture of the world given to us by our ordinary experience with the picture of the world given to us by our best theoretical accounts. The Red and the Real offers a new approach to such longstanding philosophical puzzles about what colors are and how they fit into nature. It is responsive to a broad range of constraints --- both the ordinary constraints of color experience and the (...) more theoretical constraints of color science, psychology, semantics, and ontology. (shrink)
Perhaps the most significant contemporary theory of lawhood is the Best System (/MRL) view on which laws are true generalizations that best systematize knowledge. Our question in this paper will be how best to formulate a theory of this kind. We’ll argue that an acceptable MRL should (i) avoid inter-system comparisons of simplicity, strength, and balance, (ii) make lawhood epistemically accessible, and (iii) allow for laws in the special sciences. Attention to these problems will bring into focus a useful menu (...) of novel MRL theories, some of which solve problems the original MRL theory could not. Hence we conceive of the paper as moving toward a better Best System theory of laws. (shrink)
One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the (...) way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action. (shrink)
Are colors relational or non-relational properties of their bearers? Is red a property that is instantiated by all and only the objects with a certain intrinsic (/non-relational) nature? Or does an object with a particular intrinsic (/non-relational) nature count as red only in virtue of standing in certain relations - for example, only when it looks a certain way to a certain perceiver, or only in certain circumstances of observation? In this paper I shall argue for the view that color (...) properties are relational (henceforth, relationalism), and against the view that colors are not relational (henceforth, anti- or non-relationalism). (shrink)
Significant variations in the way objects appear across different viewing conditions poses a challenge to our ability to communicate univocally about their colors. Doing so would seem to require that we break the symmetry between multiple appearances in favor of a single variant for reporting purposes. A wide range of philosophical and non-philosophical writers have held that the symmetry can be broken by appealing to daylight viewing conditions — that the appearances of objects in daylight have a stronger, and perhaps (...) unique, claim to reveal their true colors. In this note we argue that, whatever else its merits, this appeal to daylight is not a satisfactory answer to the problem posed by perceptual variation. (shrink)
Molyneux asked whether a newly sighted person could distinguish a sphere from a cube by sight alone, given that she was antecedently able to do so by touch. This, we contend, is a question about general ideas. To answer it, we must ask (a) whether spatial locations identified by touch can be identified also by sight, and (b) whether the integration of spatial locations into an idea of shape persists through changes of modality. Posed this way, Molyneux’s Question goes substantially (...) beyond question (a), about spatial locations, alone; for a positive answer to (a) leaves open whether a perceiver might cross-identify locations, but not be able to identify the shapes that collections of locations comprise. We further emphasize that MQ targets general ideas so as to distinguish it from corresponding questions about experiences of shape and about the property of tangible (vs. visual) shape. After proposing a generalized formulation of MQ, we extend earlier work (“Many Molyneux Questions,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2020) by showing that MQ does not admit a single answer across the board. Some integrative data-processes transfer across modalities; others do not. Seeing where and how such transfer succeeds and fails in individual cases has much to offer to our understanding of perception and its modalities. (shrink)
We propose that scientific representation is a special case of a more general notion of representation, and that the relatively well worked-out and plausible theories of the latter are directly applicable to thc scientific special case. Construing scientific representation in this way makes the so-called “problem of scientific representation” look much less interesting than it has seerned to many, and suggests that some of the debates in the literature are concerned with non-issues.
Students of perception have long known that perceptual constancy is an important aspect of our perceptual interaction with the world. Here is a simple example of the phenomenon concerning color perception: there is some ordinary sense in which an unpainted ceramic coffee cup made from a uniform material looks a uniform color when it is viewed under uneven illumination, even though the light reflected by the shaded regions to our eyes is quite different from the light reflected by the unshaded (...) regions to our eyes (see figure 1). Or consider this example concerning size perception: there is some ordinary sense in which two telephone poles look the same size when the first is viewed from 100 meters and when the second is viewed from 1 meter, even though the visual angle subtended by the two poles on our retinae is very different (see figure 2). Or consider this example concerning shape perception: there is some ordinary sense in which a penny looks round both when viewed head on and when viewed from an acute angle, even though the area projected by the penny onto our retinae under these two conditions is very different (see figure 3). Or, finally, consider this example concerning auditory volume perception (which I cannot depict graphically): there is some ordinary sense in which a speaker’s voice sounds the same volume when heard from across the room and when heard from a distance of 1 meter, even though the energy striking our ears under these two conditions is very different. (shrink)
An important obstacle to lawhood in the special sciences is the worry that such laws would require metaphysically extravagant conspiracies among fundamental particles. How, short of conspiracy, is this possible? In this paper we'll review a number of strategies that allow for the projectibility of special science generalizations without positing outlandish conspiracies: non-Humean pluralism, classical MRL theories of laws, and Albert and Loewer's theory. After arguing that none of the above fully succeed, we consider the conspiracy problem through the lens (...) of our preferred view of laws, an elaboration of the MRL view that we call the Better Best System (BBS) theory. BBS offers a picture on which, although all events supervene on a fundamental level, there is no one unique locus of projectibility; rather there are a large number of loci corresponding to the different areas (ecology, economics, solid-state chemistry, etc.) in which there are simple and strong generalizations to be made. While we expect that some amount of conspiracy-fear-inducing special science projectibility is inevitable given BBS, we'll argue that this is unobjectionable. It follows from BBS that the laws of any particular special or fundamental science amount to a proper subset of the laws. From this vantage point, the existence of projectible special science generalizations not guaranteed by the fundamental laws is not an occasion for conspiracy fantasies, but a predictable fact of life in a complex world. (shrink)
There is nothing in this World constant but Inconstancy. [Swift 1711: 258] In this paper I argue that two standard characterizations of colour constancy are inadequate to the phenomenon. This inadequacy matters, since, I contend, philosophical appeals to colour constancy as a way of motivating illumination-independent conceptions of colour turn crucially on the shortcomings of these characterizations. After critically reviewing the standard characterizations, I provide a novel counterfactualist understanding of colour constancy, argue that it avoids difficulties of its traditional rivals, (...) and defend it from objections. Finally, I show why, on this improved understanding, colour constancy does not have the philosophical consequences that have been claimed for it in the literature. (shrink)
Many have held that photographs give us a ﬁrmer epistemic connection to the world than do other depictive representations. To take just one example, Bazin famously claimed that “The objective nature of photography confers on it a quality of credibility absent from all other picture-making” ([Bazin, 1967], 14). Unfortunately, while the intuition in question is widely shared, it has remained poorly understood. In this paper we propose to explain the special epistemic status of photographs. We take as our starting place (...) (in §1) Kendall Walton’s startling proposal that photographs are special because they are “transparent” [Walton, 1984] — that is, that they are special because, unlike other depictive representations, they enable us literally to see their depicta.1 Walton’s proposal has not convinced many; however, it has proven surprisingly diﬃcult to say just what is wrong about the transparency thesis. In §§2–4 we’ll rise to this challenge and show why photographs are not transparent in Walton’s sense. Finally, in §§5–7 we’ll propose and defend a novel diagnosis of what is epistemically special about photographs. (shrink)
Molyneux's Question (MQ) concerns whether a newly sighted man would recognize/distinguish a sphere and a cube by vision, assuming he could previously do this by touch. We argue that (MQ) splits into questions about (a) shared representations of space in different perceptual systems, and about (b) shared ways of constructing higher dimensional spatiotemporal features from information about lower dimensional ones, most of the technical difficulty centring on (b). So understood, MQ resists any monolithic answer: everything depends on the constraints faced (...) by particular perceptual systems in extracting features of higher dimensionality from those of lower. Each individual question of this type is empirical and must be investigated separately. We present several variations on MQ based on different levels of dimensional integration—some of these are familiar, some novel adaptations of problems known elsewhere, and some completely novel. Organizing these cases in this way is useful because it unifies a set of disparate questions about intermodal transfer that have held philosophical and psychological interest, suggests a new range of questions of the same type, sheds light on similarities and differences between members of the family, and allows us to formulate a much-augmented set of principles and questions concerning the intermodal transfer of spatiotemporal organization. (shrink)
Answering machines and other types of recording devices present prima facie problems for traditional theories of the meaning of indexicals. The present essay explores a range of semantic and pragmatic responses to these issues. Careful attention to the difficulties posed by recordings promises to help enlighten the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics more broadly.
Questions about the ontology of color matter because colors matter. Colors are extremely pervasive and salient features of the world. Moreover, people care about the distribution of these features: they expend money and eﬀort to paint their houses, cars, and other possessions, and their clear preference for polychromatic over monochromatic televisions and computer monitors have consigned monochromatic models to the status of rare antiques. The apparent ubiquity of colors and their importance to our lives makes them a ripe target for (...) ontological questions such as the following: " • What is the nature of colors? " • Are they, as they seem to be, properties of objects? (shrink)
(Tye 2006) presents us with the following scenario: John and Jane are both stan- dard human visual perceivers (according to the Ishihara test or the Farnsworth test, for example) viewing the same surface of Munsell chip 527 in standard conditions of visual observation. The surface of the chip looks “true blue” to John (i.e., it looks blue not tinged with any other colour to John), and blue tinged with green to Jane.1 Tye then in eﬀect poses a multiple choice question.
We propose that scientific representation is a special case of a more general notion of representation, and that the relatively well worked-out and plausible theories of the latter are directly applicable to the scientific special case.
We offer a novel theory of information that differs from traditional accounts in two respects: (i) it explains information in terms of counterfactuals rather than conditional probabilities, and (ii) it does not make essential reference to doxastic states of subjects, and consequently allows for the sort of objective, reductive explanations of various notions in epistemology and philosophy of mind that many have wanted from an account of information.
Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations to perceiving subjects. Among its explanatory virtues, relation- alism provides a satisfying treatment of cases of perceptual variation. But it can seem that relationalists lack resources for saying that a representa- tion of x’s color is erroneous. Surely, though, a theory of color that makes errors of color perception impossible cannot be correct. In this paper I’ll argue that, initial appearances notwithstanding, relationalism contains the resources to account (...) for errors of color perception. I’ll conclude that worries about making room for error are worries the relationalist can meet. (shrink)
In Clark (2000), Austen Clark argues convincingly that a widespread view of perception as a complicated kind of feature-extraction is incomplete. He argues that perception has another crucial representational ingredient: it must also involve the representation of "sensory individuals" that exemplify sensorily extracted features. Moreover, he contends, the best way of understanding sensory individuals takes them to be places in space surrounding the perceiver. In this paper, I'll agree with Clark's case for sensory individuals (.
Color relationalism is the view that colors are constituted in terms of relations between subjects and objects. The most historically important form of color relationalism is the classic dispositionalist view according to which, for example red is the disposition to look red to standard observers in standard conditions (mutatis mutandis for other colors).1 However, it has become increasingly apparent in recent years that a commitment to the relationality of colors bears interest that goes beyond dispositionalism (Cohen, 2004; Matthen, 1999, 2001, (...) 2005; Thompson, 1995). Accordingly, it is an important project for those interested in the metaphysics of color to sort through and assess different forms of color relationalism. There is, however, a powerful and general cluster of objections that has been thought by many to amount to a decisive refutation of any and all forms of color relationalism. Although this idea has been developed in a number of ways, the basic thought is that relationalism — qua theory of color — is at odds with the manifest evidence of color phenomenology, and that this clash between theory and data should be resolved by giving up the theory. (shrink)
Photographs furnish evidence. This is true in both formal and informal contexts. The use of photographs as legal evidence goes back to the very earliest days of photography, and they have been used in American trials since around the time of the Civil War. Photographs may also serve as historical evidence (for example, about the Civil War). And they serve in informal contexts as evidence about all sorts of things, such as what we and our loved ones looked like in (...) the past. (shrink)
What is the relationship between sounds and time? More specifically, is there something essentially or distinctively temporal about sounds that distinguishes them from, say, colors, shapes, odors, tastes, or other sensible qualities? And just what might this distinctive relation to time consist in? Apart from their independent interest, these issues have a number of important philosophical repercussions. First, if sounds are temporal in a way that other sensible qualities are not, then this would mean that standard lists of paradigm secondary (...) qualities offered by Locke, Galileo, and other modern philosophers — lists which include colors, odors and sounds without any significant distinctions — overlook significant metaphysical differences. This, in turn, would threaten to undermine the coherence of the modern understanding of secondary qualities itself. Moreover, a number of authors have recently urged that the essential temporality of sounds makes it impossible to understand sounds as properties (except on a trope theory of properties; see note 3). If true, and given the more or less universal view that colors are properties, this last conclusion would make potentially inapplicable to sounds much of the comparatively well-developed philosophical taxonomy and apparatus that has arisen in philosophical disputes over the status of colors (for presentations of this taxonomy and apparatus see, for example, Byrne and Hilbert (2003); Cohen (2008b)).1 Therefore, the conclusion that sounds are distinctively temporal would be a serious blow to hopes for a theoretically unified treatment of the sensory qualities.2 For all these reasons, quite a lot seems to hang on the question of the temporality of sounds. (shrink)
Students of perception have long puzzled over a range of cases in which perception seems to tell us distinct, and in some sense conflicting, things about the world. In the cases at issue, the perceptual system is capable of responding to a single stimulus — say, as manifested in the ways in which subjects sort that stimulus — in different ways. This paper is about these puzzling cases, and about how they should be characterized and accounted for within a general (...) theory of perception. After rehearsing the sort of case at issue (§1), I’ll examine critically some of the strategies by which philosophers and perceptual psychologists have attempted to account for them (§2). Finally, I’ll present an alternative computational account of the puzzle cases, argue that this view is superior to its competitors, and examine some of its implications (§3). (shrink)
Primary quality theories of color claim that colors are intrinsic, objective, mind-independent properties of external objects — that colors, like size and shape, are examples of the sort of properties moderns such as Boyle and Locke called primary qualities of body.1 Primary quality theories have long been seen as one of the main philosophical options for understanding the nature of color.
Data about perceptual variation motivate the ecumenicist view that distinct color representations are mutually compatible. On the other hand, data about agreement and disagreement motivate making distinct color representations mutually incompatible. Prima facie, these desiderata appear to conflict. I’ll lay out and assess two strategies for managing the conflict—color relationalism, and the self-locating property theory of color—with the aim of deciding how best to have your cake and eat it, too.
An adequate ontology of color must face the empirical facts about per- ceptual variation. In this paper I begin by reviewing a range of data about perceptual variation, and showing how they tell against color physicalism and motivate color relationalism. Next I consider a series of objections to the argument from perceptual variation, and argue that they are un- persuasive. My conclusion will be that the argument remains a powerful obstacle for color physicalism, and a powerful reason to believe in (...) color relationalism instead. (shrink)
In this paper I reply to two sets of criticisms—a first from Joshua Gert, and a second from Keith Allen—of the relationalist view of color developed and defended in my book, The Red and the Real: An Essay on Color Ontology.
It can happen that a single surface S, viewed in normal conditions, looks pure blue (“true blue”) to observer John but looks blue tinged with green to a second observer, Jane, even though both are normal in the sense that they pass the standard psychophysical tests for color vision. Tye (2006a) ﬁnds this situation prima facie puzzling, and then oﬀers two diﬀerent “solutions” to the puzzle.1 The ﬁrst is that at least one observer misrepresents S’s color because, though normal in (...) the sense explained, she is not a Normal color observer: her color detection system is not operating in the current condition in the way that Mother Nature intended it to operate. His second solution involves the idea that Mother Nature designed our color detection systems to be reliable with respect to the detection of coarse-grained colors (e.g., blue, green, yellow, orange), but our capacity to represent the ﬁne-grained colors (e.g., true blue, blue tinged with green) is an undesigned spandrel. On this second solution, it is consistent with the variation between John and Jane that both represent the color of S in a way that complies with Mother Nature’s intentions: both represent S as exemplifying the coarse-grained color blue, and since (we may assume) S is in fact blue, both represent it veridically. Of course, they also represent ﬁne-grained colors of S, and, according to Tye, at most one of these representations is veridical (Tye says that only God knows which). But at the level of representation for which Mother Nature designed our color detection systems, both John and Jane (qua Normal observers) are reliable detectors. (shrink)
In recent years, a pair of intriguing phenomena has caused researchers working on vision and visual attention to reevaluate many of their assumptions. These phenomena, which have come to be called change blindness (CB) and inattentional blindness (IB), have led many to the conclusion that ordinary perceivers labor under a ``grand illusion'' concerning perception - an illusion that is..
In many cases of variation in color vision, there is no non-arbitrary way of choosing between variants. Byrne and Hilbert insist that there is an unknown standard for choosing, while eliminativists claim that all the variants are erroneous. A better response relativizes colors to perceivers, thereby providing a color realism that avoids the need to choose between variants.
According to many philosophers, psychological explanation canlegitimately be given in terms of belief and desire, but not in termsof knowledge. To explain why someone does what they do (so the common wisdom holds) you can appeal to what they think or what they want, but not what they know. Timothy Williamson has recently argued against this view. Knowledge, Williamson insists, plays an essential role in ordinary psychological explanation.Williamson's argument works on two fronts.First, he argues against the claim that, unlike knowledge, (...) belief is``composite'' (representable as a conjunction of a narrow and a broadcondition). Belief's failure to be composite, Williamson thinks, undermines the usual motivations for psychological explanation in terms of belief rather than knowledge.Unfortunately, we claim, the motivations Williamson argues against donot depend on the claim that belief is composite, so what he saysleaves the case for a psychology of belief unscathed.Second, Williamson argues that knowledge can sometimes provide abetter explanation of action than belief can.We argue that, in the cases considered, explanations that cite beliefs(but not knowledge) are no less successful than explanations that citeknowledge. Thus, we conclude that Williamson's arguments fail both coming andgoing: they fail to undermine a psychology of belief, and they fail tomotivate a psychology of knowledge. (shrink)