The goal of the present paper is to defend against a certain line of attack the view that conscious experience of color is no more fine-grained that the repertoire of non- demonstrative concepts that a perceiver is able to bring to bear in perception. The line of attack in question is an alleged empirical argument - the Diachronic Indistinguishability Argument - based on pairs of colors so similar that they can be discriminated when simultaneously presented but not when presented across (...) a memory delay. My aim here is to show that this argument fails. (shrink)
Often, sensory input underdetermines perception. One such example is the perception of illusory contours. In illusory contour perception, the content of the percept includes the presence of a contour that is absent from the informational content of the sensation. (By “sensation” I mean merely information-bearing events at the transducer level. I intend no further commitment such as the identification of sensations with qualia.) I call instances of perception underdetermined by sensation “underdetermined perception.” The perception of illusory contours is just one (...) kind of underdetermined perception. The focus of this chapter is another kind of underdetermined perception: what I shall call "active perception". Active perception occurs in cases in which the percept, while underdetermined by sensation, is determined by a combination of sensation and action. The phenomenon of active perception has been used by several to argue against the positing of representations in explanations of sensory experience, either by arguing that no representations need be posited or that far fewer than previously thought need be posited. Such views include, but are not limited to those of Gibson (1966, 1986), Churchland. (shrink)
Among our conscious states are conscious thoughts. The question at the center of the recent growing literature on cognitive phenomenology is this: In consciously thinking P, is there thereby any phenomenology—is there something it’s like? One way of clarifying the question is to say that it concerns whether there is any proprietary phenomenology associated with conscious thought. Is there any phenomenology due to thinking, as opposed to phenomenology that is due to some co-occurring sensation or mental image? In this paper (...) we will present two arguments that a “yes” answer to this question of cognitive phenomenology can be obtained via appeal to the HOT theory of consciousness, especially the version articulated and defended by David Rosenthal. (shrink)
Over the past three decades, philosophy of science has grown increasingly “local.” Concerns have switched from general features of scientific practice to concepts, issues, and puzzles specific to particular disciplines. Philosophy of neuroscience is a natural result. This emerging area was also spurred by remarkable recent growth in the neurosciences. Cognitive and computational neuroscience continues to encroach upon issues traditionally addressed within the humanities, including the nature of consciousness, action, knowledge, and normativity. Empirical discoveries about brain structure and function suggest (...) ways that “naturalistic” programs might develop in detail, beyond the abstract philosophical considerations in their favor. -/- The literature distinguishes “philosophy of neuroscience” and “neurophilosophy.” The former concerns foundational issues within the neurosciences. The latter concerns application of neuroscientific concepts to traditional philosophical questions. Exploring various concepts of representation employed in neuroscientific theories is an example of the former. Examining implications of neurological syndromes for the concept of a unified self is an example of the latter. In this entry, we will assume this distinction and discuss examples of both. (shrink)
Control consciousness is the awareness or experience of seeming to be in control of one’s actions. One view, which I will be arguing against in the present paper, is that control consciousness is a form of sensory consciousness. In such a view, control consciousness is exhausted by sensory elements such as tactile and proprioceptive information. An opposing view, which I will be arguing for, is that sensory elements cannot be the whole story and must be supplemented by direct contributions of (...) nonsensory, motor elements. More specifically, I will be arguing for the view that the neural basis of control consciousness is constituted by states of recurrent activation in relatively intermediate levels of the motor hierarchy. (shrink)
Many so-called problems in contemporary philosophy of mind depend for their expression on a collection of inter-defined technical terms, a few of which are qualia, phenomenal property, and what-it’s-like-ness. I express my scepticism about Keith Frankish’s illusionism, the view that people are generally subject to a systematic illusion that any properties are phenomenal, and scout the relative merits of two alternatives to Frankish’s illusionism. The first is phenomenal meta-illusionism, the view that illusionists such as Frankish, in holding their view, are (...) themselves thereby under an illusion. The second is qualia quietism, the view that nothing worth saying is said by employing any of the aforementioned inter-defined technical terms. (shrink)
s Gibson (1982) correctly points out, despite Quine’s brief flirtation with a “mitigated phenomenalism” (Gibson’s phrase) in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Quine’s ontology of 1953 (“On Mental Entities”) and beyond left no room for non-physical sensory objects or qualities. Anyone familiar with the contemporary neo-dualist qualia-freak-fest might wonder why Quinean lessons were insufficiently transmitted to the current generation.
According to representionalists, qualia-the introspectible properties of sensory experience-are exhausted by the representational contents of experience. Representationalists typically advocate an informational psychosemantics whereby a brain state represents one of its causal antecedents in evolutionarily determined optimal circumstances. I argue that such a psychosemantics may not apply to certain aspects of our experience, namely, our experience of space in vision, hearing, and touch. I offer that these cases can be handled by supplementing informational psychosemantics with a procedural psychosemantics whereby a representation (...) is about its effects instead of its causes. I discuss conceptual and empirical points that favor a procedural representationalism for our experience of space. (shrink)
Many have urged that the biggest obstacles to a physicalistic understanding of consciousness are the problems raised in connection with the subjectivity of consciousness. These problems are most acutely expressed in consideration of the knowledge argument against physicalism. I develop a novel account of the subjectivity of consciousness by explicating the ways in which mental representations may be perspectival. Crucial features of my account involve analogies between the representations involved in sensory experience and the ways in which pictorial representations exhibit (...) perspectives or points of view. I argue that the resultant account of subjectivity provides a basis for the strongest response physicalists can give to the knowledge argument. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper I embrace what Brian Keeley calls in “Of Conspiracy Theories” the absurdist horn of the dilemma for philosophers who criticize such theories. I thus defend the view that there is indeed something deeply epistemically wrong with conspiracy theorizing. My complaint is that conspiracy theories apply intentional explanations to situations that give rise to special problems concerning the elimination of competing intentional explanations.
In this paper, we discuss the thesis of selective representing — the idea that the contents of the mental representations had by organisms are highly constrained by the biological niches within which the organisms evolved. While such a thesis has been defended by several authors elsewhere, our primary concern here is to take up the issue of the compatibility of selective representing and realism. In this paper we hope to show three things. First, that the notion of selective representing is (...) fully consistent with the realist idea of a mind-independent world. Second, that not only are these two consistent, but that the latter provides the most powerful perspective from which to motivate and understand the differing perceptual and cog- nitive proﬁles themselves. And third, that the sense in which organism and environment may together constitute an integrated system of scientiﬁc interest poses no additional threat to the realist conception. (shrink)
Deviant phenomenal knowledge is knowing what it's like to have experiences of, e. g., red without actually having had experiences of red. Such a knower is a deviant. Some physicalists have argued and some anti-physicalists have denied that the possibility of deviants undermines anti-physicalism and the Knowledge Argument. The current paper presents new arguments defending the deviant-based attacks on anti-physicalism. Central to my arguments are considerations concerning the psychosemantic underpinnings of deviant phenomenal knowledge. I argue that physicalists are in a (...) superior position to account for the conditions in virtue of which states of deviants constitute representations of phenomenal facts. (shrink)
Higher-Order Representational theories of consciousness — HORs — primarily seek to explain a mental state’s being conscious in terms of the mental state’s being represented by another mental state. First-Order Representational theories of consciousness — FORs — primarily seek to explain a property’s being phenomenal in terms of the property being represented in experience. Despite differences in both explanans and explananda, HORs and FORs share a reliance on there being such a property as being represented. In this paper I develop (...) an argument — the Unicorn Argument — against both HORs and FORs. The core of the Unicorn is that since there are mental rep- resentations of things that do not exist, there cannot be any such prop- erty as being represented, and thus no such property with which to identify either being conscious or being phenomenal. (shrink)
This article tackles problems concerning the reduction of phenomenal consciousness to brain processes that arise in consideration of specifically epistemological properties that have been attributed to conscious experiences. In particular, various defenders of dualism and epiphenomenalism have argued for their positions by assuming special epistemic access to phenomenal consciousness. Many physicalists have reacted to such arguments by denying the epistemological premises. My aim in this paper is to take a different approach in opposing dualism and argue that when we correctly (...) examine both the phenomenology and neural correlates of phenomenal consciousness we will see that granting the epistemological premises of special access are the best hope for a scientific study of consciousness. I argue that essential features of consciousness involve both their knowability by the subject of experience as well as their egocentricity, that is, their knowability by the subject as belonging to the subject. I articulate a neuroscientifically informed theory of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
We explicate representational content by addressing how representations that ex- plain intelligent behavior might be acquired through processes of Darwinian evo- lution. We present the results of computer simulations of evolved neural network controllers and discuss the similarity of the simulations to real-world examples of neural network control of animal behavior. We argue that focusing on the simplest cases of evolved intelligent behavior, in both simulated and real organisms, reveals that evolved representations must carry information about the creature’s environ- ments (...) and further can do so only if their neural states are appropriately isomor- phic to environmental states. Further, these informational and isomorphism rela- tions are what are tracked by content attributions in folk-psychological and cognitive scientific explanations of these intelligent behaviors. (shrink)
I develop an argument that believing in the survivability of a mind uploading procedure conveys value to its believers that is assessable independently of assessing the truth of the belief. Regardless of whether the first-order metaphysical belief is true, believing it conveys a kind of Darwinian fitness to the believer. Of course, a further question remains of whether having that Darwinian property can be a basis—in a rational sense of being a basis—for one’s holding the belief. I’ll also make some (...) remarks in the present article toward answering that latter question. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss one of the key issuesin the philosophy of neuroscience:neurosemantics. The project of neurosemanticsinvolves explaining what it means for states ofneurons and neural systems to haverepresentational contents. Neurosemantics thusinvolves issues of common concern between thephilosophy of neuroscience and philosophy ofmind. I discuss a problem that arises foraccounts of representational content that Icall ``the economy problem'': the problem ofshowing that a candidate theory of mentalrepresentation can bear the work requiredwithin in the causal economy of a mind and (...) anorganism. My approach in the current paper isto explore this and other key themes inneurosemantics through the use of computermodels of neural networks embodied and evolvedin virtual organisms. The models allow for thelaying bare of the causal economies of entireyet simple artificial organisms so that therelations between the neural bases of, forinstance, representation in perception andmemory can be regarded in the context of anentire organism. On the basis of thesesimulations, I argue for an account ofneurosemantics adequate for the solution of theeconomy problem. (shrink)
Cognitive Science is a major new guide to the central theories and problems in the study of the mind and brain. The authors clearly explain how and why cognitive science aims to understand the brain as a computational system that manipulates representations. They identify the roots of cognitive science in Descartes - who argued that all knowledge of the external world is filtered through some sort of representation - and examine the present-day role of Artificial Intelligence, computing, psychology, linguistics and (...) neuroscience. Throughout, the key building blocks of cognitive science are clearly illustrated: perception, memory, attention, emotion, language, control of movement, learning, understanding and other important mental phenomena. Cognitive Science: presents a clear, collaborative introduction to the subject is the first textbook to bring together all the different strands of this new science in a unified approach includes illustrations and exercises to aid the student. (shrink)
The philosophical technical term "supervenience" is frequently used in the philosophy of mind as a concise way of characterizing the core idea of physicalism in a manner that is neutral with respect to debates between reductive physicalists and nonreductive physicalists. I argue against this alleged neutrality and side with reductive physicalists. I am especially interested here in debates between psychoneural reductionists and nonreductive functionalist physicalists. Central to my arguments will be considerations concerning how best to articulate the spirit of the (...) idea of supervenience. I argue for a version of supervenience, "fine-grained supervenience," which is the claim that if, at a given time, a single entity instantiates two distinct mental properties, it must do so in virtue of instantiating two distinct physical properties. I argue further that despite initial appearances to the contrary, such a construal of supervenience can be embraced only by reductive physicalists. (shrink)
The neurophilosophy of consciousness brings neuroscience to bear on philosophical issues concerning phenomenal consciousness, especially issues concerning what makes mental states conscious, what it is that we are conscious of, and the nature of the phenomenal character of conscious states. Here attention is given largely to phenomenal consciousness as it arises in vision. The relevant neuroscience concerns not only neurophysiological and neuroanatomical data, but also computational models of neural networks. The neurophilosophical theories that bring such data to bear on the (...) core philosophical issues of phenomenal conscious construe consciousness largely in terms of representations in neural networks associated with certain processes of attention and memory. (shrink)
In this reply we claim that, contra Dreyfus, the kinds of skillful performances Dreyfus discusses _are_ representational. We explain this proposal, and then defend it against an objection to the effect that the representational notion we invoke is a weak one countenancing only some global state of an organism as a representation. According to this objection, such a representation is not a robust, projectible property of an organism, and hence will gain no explana- tory leverage in cognitive scientific explanations. We (...) argue on conceptual and empirical grounds that the representations we have identified are not weak unprojectible global states of organisms, but instead genuinely explanatory representational parts of persons. (shrink)
The so-called subjectivity of conscious experience is central to much recent work in the philosophy of mind. Subjectivity is the alleged property of consciousness whereby one can know what it is like to have certain conscious states only if one has undergone such states oneself. I review neurophilosophical work on consciousness and concepts pertinent to this claim and argue that subjectivity eliminativism is at least as well supported, if not more supported, than subjectivity reductionism.
I argue against a class of philosophical views of color perception, especially insofar as such views posit the existence of color sensations. I argue against the need to posit such nonconceptual mental intermediaries between the stimulus and the eventual conceptualized perceptual judgment. Central to my arguments are considerations of certain color illusions. Such illusions are best explained by reference to high-level, conceptualized knowledge concerning, for example, object identity, likely lighting conditions, and material composition of the distal stimulus. Such explanations obviate (...) the need to appeal to nonconceputal mental links in the causal chains eventuating in conceptualized color discriminations. (shrink)
Is the Introspection Thesis true? It certainly isn’t obvious. Introspection is the faculty by which each of us has access to his or her own mental states. Even if we were to suppose that mental states are identical to brain states, it doesn’t follow immediately from this supposition that we can introspect our mental states as brain states. This point is analogous to the following. It doesn’t follow immediately from the mere fact that some distant object is identical to a (...) horse that we can perceive it as a horse. Further, it isn’t obvious that any amount of education would suffice to make some distant speck on the horizon seem like a horse. It may very well be the case that no matter how well we know that some distant speck is a horse; as long as we are sufficiently distant from it we will only be able to see it as a speck. Analogously then, it may very well be the case that no matter how well we know that our mental states are brain states, we will only be able to introspect them as irreducibly mental. (shrink)
Computation and philosophy intersect three times in this essay. Computation is considered as an object, as a method, and as a model used in a certain line of philosophical inquiry concerning the relation of mind to matter. As object, the question considered is whether computation and related notions of mental representation constitute the best ways to conceive of how physical systems give rise to mental properties. As method and model, the computational techniques of artificial life and embodied evolutionary connectionism are (...) used to conduct prosthetically enhanced thought experiments concerning the evolvability of mental representations. Central to this essay is a discussion of the computer simulation and evolution of three-dimensional synthetic animals with neural network controllers. The minimally cognitive behavior of finding food by exhibit- ing positive chemotaxis is simulated with swimming and walking creatures. These simulations form the basis of a discussion of the evolutionary and neurocomputa- tional bases of the incremental emergence of more complex forms of cognition. Other related work has been used to attack computational and representational theories of cognition. In contrast, I argue that the proper understanding of the evolutionary emergence of minimally cognitive behaviors is computational and representational through and through. (shrink)
A movement dedicated to applying neuroscience to traditional philosophical problems and using philosophical methods to illuminate issues in neuroscience began about twenty-five years ago. Results in neuroscience have affected how we see traditional areas of philosophical concern such as perception, belief-formation, and consciousness. There is an interesting interaction between some of the distinctive features of neuroscience and important general issues in the philosophy of science. And recent neuroscience has thrown up a few conceptual issues that philosophers are perhaps best trained (...) to deal with. After sketching the history of the movement, we explore the relationships between neuroscience and philosophy and introduce some of the specific issues that have arisen. (shrink)
I respond to the separate commentaries by Jacob Berger, Charlie Pelling, and David Pereplyotchik on my paper, “Color-Consciousness Conceptualism.” I resist Berger’s suggestion that mental colors ever enter consciousness without accompaniment by deployments of concepts of their extra-mental counterparts. I express concerns about Pelling’s proposal that a more uniform conceptualist treatment of phenomenal sorites can be gained by a simple appeal to the partial overlap of the extensions of some concepts. I question the relevance to perceptual consciousness of the arguments (...) for demonstrative concepts that Pereplyotchik attacks. (shrink)
I propose and defend the Allocentric-Egocentric Interface Theory of Con- sciousness. Mental processes form a hierarchy of mental representations with maxi- mally egocentric (self-centered) representations at the bottom and maximally allocentric (other-centered) representations at the top. Phenomenally conscious states are states that are relatively intermediate in this hierarchy. More speci.
00192001 Philosophy of science is primarily concernedto provide accounts of the principles and processes of scientific explanation. Early in the twentieth century, philosophers of science focusedon the logical structure of scientific thought, whereas in the later part of the century logic was de-emphasized in favour of other frameworks for conceptualizing scientific reasoning andexplanation, andan emphasis on historical andsociological factors that shape scientific thinking. While tracing through the landmarks of this history we note many points of contact between the philosophy of (...) science and the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
Though the following problem is not explicitly raised by her, it seems sufficiently similar to an issue of pertinence to Akins's "Black and White and Color" (this volume) to merit the moniker, Akins's Problem : Can there be a visual experience devoid of both color phenomenology and black-and-white phenomenology? The point of the present paper is to draw from Akins's paper the materials needed to sketch a case for a positive answer to Akins's Problem. I am unsure about how much (...) of what follows Akins will want to endorse, but I hope this helps move us forward in our collective pursuit of a theory of visual consciousness. (shrink)
The most promising approaches to understanding phenomenal consciousness are what I’ll call cognitive approaches, the most notable exemplars of which are the theories of consciousness articulated by David Rosenthal and Daniel Dennett. The aim of the present contribution is to review the core similarities and differences of these exemplars, as well as to outline the main strengths and remaining challenges to this general sort of approach.
This is Philosophy. In keeping with the mission of the series, This is Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind will be both accessible to the average student and technology oriented, integrating with supplemental online material. Also, while the proposed book will cover all of the topics one would expect in a traditional philosophy of mind course, it will be up to date and cover recent advances that are sadly missing from many competitor volumes. My proposed volume will not be limited to what (...) has become a very oldfashioned approach to teaching philosophy of mind, which is to focus solely on the mindbody problem via Cartesian substance dualism and the twentieth-century reactions to it (behaviorism, identity theory, functionalism, and eliminativism). In recent decades philosophers of mind have made exciting progress toward, for example, explanations of consciousness, and explications of the nature of perception and emotion. It is increasingly clear that the progress made is now part of canonical philosophy of mind. (shrink)
The present paper has three aims. The first and foremost aim is to introduce into philosophy of mind and related areas (philosophy of language, etc) a discussion of Slow Earth, an analogue to the classic Twin Earth scenario that features a difference from aboriginal Earth that hinges on time instead of the distribution of natural kinds. The second aim is to use Slow Earth to call into question the central lessons often alleged to flow from consideration of Twin Earth, lessons (...) having to do with relations of minds to spatially definable boundaries of bodies such as skin or skull. The third aim is to suggest a puzzle for adherents of cognitive content externalism having to do with the metaphysical requirements on slow-switching, a hypothetical process whereby changes in the relations between subjects and their environments are followed by gradual changes in cognitive contents. (shrink)
I develop advice to the reductionist about consciousness in the form of a transcendental argument that depends crucially on the sorts of knowledge claims concerning consciousness that, as crucial elements in the anti-reductionists’ epistemicgap arguments, the anti-reductionist will readily concede. The argument that I develop goes as follows. P1. If I know that I am not a zombie, then phenomenal character is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content. P2. I know that I am not a zombie. P3. Phenomenal character (...) is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content. P4. Fixing my physical properties fixes my conceptualized egocentric contents. C. Fixing my physical properties fixes my phenomenal properties. (shrink)
Of all the enigmatic remarks running through Wittgensteinís Tractatus, none are a greater source of puzzlement to this reader than the endorsement of solipsism in 5.6-5.641. Wittgenstein writes ìI am my worldî, but, even though ìwhat solipsism means, is quite correct...it cannot be said, but it shows itselfî (5.63; 5.62). More intriguing still, he writes.
The majority of contemporary philosophers of mind are physicalists. The majority of physicalists, however, are non-reductive physicalists. As nonreductive physicalists, these philosophers hold that a system's mental properties are different from a system's physical properties, that is, they hold that the sum total of mental facts about some system is a different set of facts than the sum total of physical facts about the same system. As physicalists, however, these nonreductivists hold that mental facts are nonetheless determined by physical facts, (...) that is, they subscribe to the supervenience thesis, i.e., the thesis that no mental differences can obtain without physical differences obtaining. In this paper I take up the issue of how best to understand the notion of supervenience, especially in the light of recent advances in the neurosciences. (shrink)
I argue for the superiority of non-gappy physicalism over gappy physicalism. While physicalists are united in denying an ontological gap between the phenomenal and the physical, the gappy affirm and the non-gappy deny a relevant epistemological gap. Central to my arguments will be contemplation of Swamp Mary, a being physically intrinsically similar to post-release Mary (a physically omniscient being who has experienced red) but has not herself (the Swamp being) experienced red. Swamp Mary has phenomenal knowledge of a phenomenal character (...) not instantiated by any of her past or current mental states. I issue a challenge to gappy physicalists to account for how it is that Swamp Mary can satisfy the psychosemantic requirements on phenomenal knowledge while non-Swamp pre-release Mary cannot. I argue that gappy physicalists cannot meet this psychosemantic challenge. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the question of how artificial life might be used to get a handle on philosophical issues concerning the mind-body problem. I focus on questions concerning what the physical precursors were to the earliest evolved versions of intelligent life. I discuss how cellular automata might constitute an experimental platform for the exploration of such issues, since cellular automata offer a unified framework for the modeling of physical, biological, and psychological processes. I discuss what it would take (...) to implement in a cellular automaton the evolutionary emergence of cognition from non-cognitive artificial organisms. I review work on the artificial evolution of minimally cognitive organisms and discuss how such projects might be translated into cellular automata simulations. (shrink)
Many philosophical issues concern questions of objectivity and subjectivity. Of these questions, there are two kinds. The first considers whether something is objective or subjective; the second what it _means_ for something to be objective or subjective.