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Profile: Ned Block (New York University)
  1. Readings in Philosophy of Psychology.Ned Block (ed.) - 1980 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    ... PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY is the study of conceptual issues in psychology. For the most part, these issues fall equally well in psychology as in..
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  2. On a Confusion About a Function of Consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
    Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on (...)
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  3. Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access.Ned Block - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.
    One of the most important issues concerning the foundations ofconscious perception centerson thequestion of whether perceptual consciousness is rich or sparse. The overflow argument uses a form of ‘iconic memory’ toarguethatperceptual consciousnessisricher (i.e.,has a higher capacity) than cognitive access: when observing a complex scene we are conscious of more than we can report or think about. Recently, the overflow argumenthas been challenged both empirically and conceptually. This paper reviews the controversy, arguing that proponents of sparse perception are committed to the (...)
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  4. Rich Conscious Perception Outside Focal Attention.Ned Block - 2014 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18 (9):445-447.
    Can we consciously see more items at once than can be held in visual working memory? This question has elud- ed resolution because the ultimate evidence is subjects’ reports in which phenomenal consciousness is filtered through working memory. However, a new technique makes use of the fact that unattended ‘ensemble prop- erties’ can be detected ‘for free’ without decreasing working memory capacity.
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  5. Conceptual Analysis, Dualism, and the Explanatory Gap.Ned Block & Robert Stalnaker - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (1):1-46.
    The explanatory gap . Consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account, even a highly speculative, hypothetical, and incomplete account of how a physical thing could have phenomenal states. Suppose that consciousness is identical to a property of the brain, say activity in the pyramidal cells of layer 5 of the cortex involving reverberatory circuits from cortical layer 6 to the thalamus and back to layers 4 and 6,as Crick and Koch have suggested for visual consciousness. .) (...)
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  6. Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh Between Psychology and Neuroscience.Ned Block - 2007 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5):481--548.
    How can we disentangle the neural basis of phenomenal consciousness from the neural machinery of the cognitive access that underlies reports of phenomenal consciousness? We can see the problem in stark form if we ask how we could tell whether representations inside a Fodorian module are phenomenally conscious. The methodology would seem straightforward: find the neural natural kinds that are the basis of phenomenal consciousness in clear cases when subjects are completely confident and we have no reason to doubt their (...)
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  7. Inverted Earth.Ned Block - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:53-79.
  8. The Higher Order Approach to Consciousness is Defunct.Ned Block - 2011 - Analysis 71 (3):419 - 431.
    The higher order approach to consciousness attempts to build a theory of consciousness from the insight that a conscious state is one that the subject is conscious of. There is a well-known objection1 to the higher order approach, a version of which is fatal. Proponents of the higher order approach have realized that the objection is significant. They have dealt with it via what David Rosenthal calls a “retreat” (2005b, p. 179) but that retreat fails to solve the problem.
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  9. What is Functionalism?Ned Block - 1996 - In Donald M. Borchert (ed.), [Book Chapter]. MacMillan.
    What is Functionalism? Functionalism is one of the major proposals that have been offered as solutions to the mind/body problem. Solutions to the mind/body problem usually try to answer questions such as: What is the ultimate nature of the mental? At the most general level, what makes a mental state mental? Or more specifically, What do thoughts have in common in virtue of which they are thoughts? That is, what makes a thought a thought? What makes a pain a pain? (...)
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  10. Troubles with Functionalism.Ned Block - 1978 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9:261-325.
    The functionalist view of the nature of the mind is now widely accepted. Like behaviorism and physicalism, functionalism seeks to answer the question "What are mental states?" I shall be concerned with identity thesis formulations of functionalism. They say, for example, that pain is a functional state, just as identity thesis formulations of physicalism say that pain is a physical state.
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  11. Attention and Mental Paint1.Ned Block - 2010 - Philosophical Issues 20 (1):23-63.
    Much of recent philosophy of perception is oriented towards accounting for the phenomenal character of perception—what it is like to perceive—in a non-mentalistic way—that is, without appealing to mental objects or mental qualities. In opposition to such views, I claim that the phenomenal character of perception of a red round object cannot be explained by or reduced to direct awareness of the object, its redness and roundness—or representation of such objects and qualities. Qualities of perception that are not captured by (...)
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  12.  21
    Evidence Against Epiphenomenalism.Ned Block - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):670-672.
  13. Seeing‐As in the Light of Vision Science.Ned Block - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):560-572.
  14. Consciousness and Accessibility.Ned Block - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):596-598.
    This is my first publication of the distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness, though not using quite those terms. It ends with this: "The upshot is this: If Searle is using the access sense of "consciousness," his argument doesn't get to first base. If, as is more likely, he intends the what-it-is-like sense, his argument depends on assumptions about issues that the cognitivist is bound to regard as deeply unsettled empirical questions." Searle replies: "He refers to what he calls (...)
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  15. Le fonctionnalisme face au problème Des qualia.Ned Block - 1992 - Les Etudes Philosophiques (3):337-369.
  16. Consciousness and Cognitive Access.Ned Block - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3):289-317.
    This article concerns the interplay between two issues that involve both philosophy and neuroscience: whether the content of phenomenal consciousness is 'rich' or 'sparse', whether phenomenal consciousness goes beyond cognitive access, and how it would be possible for there to be evidence one way or the other.
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  17. The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates.Ned Block, Owen J. Flanagan & Guven Guzeldere (eds.) - 1997 - MIT Press.
    " -- "New Scientist" Intended for anyone attempting to find their way through the large and confusingly interwoven philosophical literature on consciousness, ..
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  18. Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology.Ned Block - 1986 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10 (1):615-78.
  19. The Grain of Vision and the Grain of Attention.Ned Block - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):170-184.
    Often when there is no attention to an object, there is no conscious perception of it either, leading some to conclude that conscious perception is an attentional phenomenon. There is a well-known perceptual phenomenon—visuo-spatial crowding, in which objects are too closely packed for attention to single out one of them. This article argues that there is a variant of crowding—what I call ‘‘identity-crowding’’—in which one can consciously see a thing despite failure of attention to it. This conclusion, together with new (...)
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  20. Do Causal Powers Drain Away.Ned Block - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):133-150.
    In this note, I will discuss one issue concerning the main argument of Mind in a Physical World (Kim, 1998), the Causal Exclusion Argument. The issue is whether it is a consequence of the Causal Exclusion Argument that all macro level causation (that is, causation above the level of fundamental physics) is an illusion, with all of the apparent causal powers of mental and other macro properties draining into the bottom level of physics. I will argue that such a consequence (...)
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  21. Mental Paint.Ned Block - 2003 - In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. MIT Press. pp. 165--200.
    The greatest chasm in the philosophy of mind--maybe even all of philosophy-- divides two perspectives on consciousness. The two perspectives differ on whether there is anything in the phenomenal character of conscious experience that goes beyond the intentional, the cognitive and the functional. A convenient terminological handle on the dispute is whether there are.
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  22. Psychologism and Behaviorism.Ned Block - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (1):5-43.
    Let psychologism be the doctrine that whether behavior is intelligent behavior depends on the character of the internal information processing that produces it. More specifically, I mean psychologism to involve the doctrine that two systems could have actual and potential behavior _typical_ of familiar intelligent beings, that the two systems could be exactly alike in their actual and potential behavior, and in their behavioral dispositions and capacities and counterfactual behavioral properties (i.e., what behaviors, behavioral dispositions, and behavioral capacities they would (...)
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  23. Imagery.Ned Block (ed.) - 1981 - MIT Press.
     
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  24. Comparing the Major Theories of Consciousness.Ned Block - 2009 - In Michael Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences IV. pp. 1111-1123.
    This article compares the three frameworks for theories of consciousness that are taken most seriously by neuroscientists, the view that consciousness is a biological state of the brain, the global workspace perspective and an account in terms of higher order states. The comparison features the “explanatory gap” (Nagel, 1974; Levine, 1983) the fact that we have no idea why the neural basis of an experience is the neural basis of that experience rather than another experience or no experience at all. (...)
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  25. Seeing and Windows of Integration.Ned Block - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (4).
  26. Some Concepts of Consciousness.Ned Block - 2002 - In D. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. pp. 206-219.
    Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses". Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state.
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  27. Consciousness.Ned Block - 2004 - In R. L. Gregory (ed.), R. Gregory Oxford Companion to the Mind, Second Edition 2004. Oxford University Press.
    There are two broad classes of empirical theories of consciousness, which I will call the biological and the functional. The biological approach is based on empirical correlations between experience and the brain. For example, there is a great deal of evidence that the neural correlate of visual experience is activity in a set of occipetotemporal pathways, with special emphasis on the infero-temporal cortex. The functionalist approach is a successor of behaviorism, the view that mentality can be seen as tendencies to (...)
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  28. The Harder Problem of Consciousness.Ned Block - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (8):391-425.
    consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.
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  29. Review of Alva Noe, Action in Perception[REVIEW]Ned Block - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102:259-272.
    This is a charming and engaging book that combines careful attention to the phenomenology of experience with an appreciation of the psychology and neuroscience of perception. In some of its aimsfor example, to show problems with a rigid version of a view of visual perception as an inverse optics process of constructing a static 3-D representation from static 2-D information on the retina--it succeeds admirably. As No points out, vision is a process that depends on interactions between the perceiver and (...)
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  30.  29
    Overflow, Access, and Attention.Ned Block - 2007 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5-6):530-548.
    In this response to 32 commentators, I start by clarifying the overflow argument. I explain why the distinction between generic and specific phenomenology is important and why we are justified in acknowledging specific phenomenology in the overflow experiments. Other issues discussed are the relations among report, cognitive access, and attention; panpsychic disaster; the mesh between psychology and neuroscience; and whether consciousness exists.
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  31. What Psychological States Are Not.Ned Block & Jerry A. Fodor - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (April):159-81.
  32. Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers, Volume.Ned Block - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    The first of a planned two-volume collection of Ned Block's writings on philosophy of mind; this volume treats consciousness, functionalism, and representation ...
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  33. Mental Paint and Mental Latex.Ned Block - 1996 - Philosophical Issues 7:19-49.
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  34. Conceptual Role Semantics.Ned Block - 1998 - In Edward Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 242-256.
    According to Conceptual Role Semantics, the meaning of a representation is the role of that representation in the cognitive life of the agent, e.g. in perception, thought and decision-making. It is an extension of the well known "use" theory of meaning, according to which the meaning of a word is its use in communication and more generally, in social interaction. CRS supplements external use by including the role of a symbol inside a computer or a brain. The uses appealed to (...)
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  35. Review of Julian Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. [REVIEW]Ned Block - 1977 - Boston Globe.
    Review of Julian Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind from the Boston Globe, March 6, 1977, p. A17.
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  36. Are Absent Qualia Impossible?Ned Block - 1980 - Philosophical Review 89 (2):257-74.
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    Begging the Question Against Phenomenal Consciousness.Ned Block - 1992 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (2):205-206.
  38. Consciousness, Big Science and Conceptual Clarity.Ned Block - 2014 - In Gary Marcus & Jeremy Freeman (eds.), in The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists. Princeton University Press. pp. 161-176.
  39. Functionalism.Ned Block - 1980 - In Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology.
    What is Functionalism? Functionalism is one of the major proposals that have been offered as solutions to the mind/body problem. Solutions to the mind/body problem usually try to answer questions such as: What is the ultimate nature of the mental? At the most general level, what makes a mental state mental? Or more specifically, What do thoughts have in common in virtue of which they are thoughts? That is, what makes a thought a thought? What makes a pain a pain? (...)
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  40. Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back.Ned Block - 1997 - Noûs 31 (s11):107-132.
    For nearly thirty years, there has been a consensus (at least in English-speaking countries) that reductionism is a mistake and that there are autonomous special sciences. This consensus has been based on an argument from multiple realizability. But Jaegwon Kim has argued persuasively that the multiple realizability argument is flawed.1 I will sketch the recent history of the debate, arguing that much --but not all--of the anti-reductionist consensus survives Kim's critique. This paper was originally titled "Anti-Reductionism Strikes Back", but in (...)
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  41. Attention and Perceptual Adaptation.Ned Block & Susanna Siegel - 2013 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (4):205-206.
  42.  67
    The Anna Karenina Principle and Skepticism About Unconscious Perception.Ned Block - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):452-459.
  43.  37
    Readings In Philosophy Of Psychology, V.Ned Block (ed.) - 1981 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and ... V. Influence of imaged pictures and sounds on detection of visual and auditory signals. ...
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  44. The Canberra Plan Neglects Ground.Ned Block - 2015 - In Terence Horgan, Marcelo Sabates & David Sosa (eds.), Qualia and Mental Causation in a Physical World: Themes from the Philosophy of Jaegwon Kim,. Cambridge University Press. pp. 105-133.
    This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...)
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  45. Wittgenstein and Qualia.Ned Block - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
    endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected. The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are contents of experiential states which cannot be fully captured in natural language. I will pinpoint the difference between the innocuous (...)
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  46. The Mind as the Software of the Brain.Ned Block - 1995 - In Daniel N. Osherson, Lila Gleitman, Stephen M. Kosslyn, S. Smith & Saadya Sternberg (eds.), An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Second Edition, Volume 3. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. pp. 377-425.
    In this section, we will start with an influential attempt to define `intelligence', and then we will move to a consideration of how human intelligence is to be investigated on the machine model. The last part of the section will discuss the relation between the mental and the biological.
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  47. Sexism, Racism, Ageism and the Nature of Consciousness.Ned Block - 2000 - In Richard Moran, Alan Sidelle & Jennifer E. Whiting (eds.), Philosophical Topics. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 71--88.
    Everyone would agree that the American flag is red, white and blue. Everyone should also agree that it looks red, white and blue to people with normal color vision in appropriate circumstances. If a philosophical theory led to the conclusion that the red stripes cannot look red to both men and women, both blacks and whites, both young and old, we would be reluctant (to say the least) to accept that philosophical theory. But there is a widespread philosophical view about (...)
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  48. Philosophical Issues About Consciousness.Ned Block - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
    There are a number of different matters that come under the heading of ‘consciousness’. One of them is phenomenality, the feeling of say a sensation of red or a pain, that is what it is like to have such a sensation or other experience. Another is reflection on phenomenality. Imagine two infants, both of which have pain, but only one of which has a thought about that pain. Both would have phenomenal states, but only the latter would have a state (...)
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  49. The Anna Karenina Theory of the Unconscious.Ned Block - 2011 - Neuropsychoanalysis 13 (1):34-37.
    The Anna Karenina Theory says: all conscious states are alike; each unconscious state is unconscious in its own way. This note argues that many components have to function properly to produce consciousness, but failure in any one of many different ones can yield an unconscious state in different ways. In that sense the Anna Karenina theory is true. But in another respect it is false: kinds of unconsciousness depend on kinds of consciousness.
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  50. The Defective Armchair: A Reply to Tye.Ned Block - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):159-165.
    Michael Tye's response to my “Grain” (Block ) and “Windows” (Block ) raises general metaphilosophical issues about the value of intuitions and judgments about one's perceptions and the relations of those intuitions and judgments to empirical research, as well as specific philosophical issues about the relation between seeing, attention and de re thought. I will argue that Tye's appeal to what is (§. 2) “intuitively obvious, once we reflect upon these cases” (“intuition”) is problematic. I will also argue that first (...)
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