In this paper, I argue against the claim recently defended by Josh Weisberg that a certain version of the self-representational approach to phenomenalconsciousness cannot avoid a set of problems that have plagued higher-order approaches. These problems arise specifically for theories that allow for higher-order misrepresentation or—in the domain of self-representational theories—self-misrepresentation. In response to Weisberg, I articulate a self-representational theory of phenomenalconsciousness according to which it is contingently impossible for self-representations tokened in the context (...) of a conscious mental state to misrepresent their objects. This contingent infallibility allows the theory to both acknowledge the (logical) possibility of self-misrepresentation and avoid the problems of self-misrepresentation. Expanding further on Weisberg’s work, I consider and reveal the shortcomings of three other self-representational models—put forward by Kreigel, Van Gulick, and Gennaro—in order to show that each indicates the need for this sort of infallibility. I then argue that contingent infallibility is in principle acceptable on naturalistic grounds only if we attribute (1) a neo-Fregean kind of directly referring, indexical content to self-representational mental states and (2) a certain ontological structure to the complex conscious mental states of which these indexical self-representations are a part. In these sections I draw on ideas from the work of Perry and Kaplan to articulate the context-dependent semantic structure of inner-representational states. (shrink)
It would be a mistake to deny commonsense intuitions a role in developing a theory of consciousness. However, philosophers have traditionally failed to probe commonsense in a way that allows these commonsense intuitions to make a robust contribution to a theory of consciousness. In this paper, I report the results of two experiments on purportedly phenomenal states and I argue that many disputes over the philosophical notion of ‘phenomenalconsciousness’ are misguided—they fail to capture the (...) interesting connection between commonsense ascriptions of pain and emotion. With this data in hand, I argue that our capacity to distinguish between ‘mere things’ and ‘subjects of moral concern’ rests, to a significant extent, on the sorts of mental states that we take a system to have. (shrink)
Are corporations and other complex groups ever morally responsible in ways that do not reduce to the moral responsibility of their members? Christian List, Phillip Pettit, Kendy Hess, and David Copp have recently defended the idea that they can be. For them, complex groups (sometimes called collectives) can be irreducibly morally responsible because they satisfy the conditions for morally responsible agency; and this view is made more plausible by the claim (made by Theiner) that collectives can have minds. In this (...) paper I give a new argument against the idea that collectives can be irreducibly morally responsible in the ways that individuals can be. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of mind (what Uriah Kriegel calls "the phenomenal intentionality research program") and moral theory (David Shoemaker's tripartite theory of moral responsibility), I argue that for something to have a mind, it must be phenomenally conscious, and that the fact that collectives lack phenomenalconsciousness implies that they are incapable of accountability, an important form of moral responsibility. (shrink)
Two debates loom large in current discussions on phenomenalconsciousness. One debate concerns the relation between phenomenal character and representational content. Representationalism affirms, whereas “content separatism” denies, that phenomenal character is exhausted by representational content. Another debate concerns the relation between phenomenalconsciousness and cognitive access. “Access separatism” affirms, whereas, e.g., the global workspace model denies, that there are phenomenally conscious states that are not cognitively accessed. I will argue that the two separatist views (...) are related. Access separatism supports content separatism by undermining the most prominent sort of arguments in favor of representationalism, namely ones that appeal to the phenomenology of perceptual experiences. (shrink)
This article focuses on the methodological basis for the criticism of the computationalism and “computer metaphor” in the philosophy of cognitive sciences. We suppose that the computational paradigm is the direct consequence of the theoretical confusion of phenomenal and cognitive kinds of experience. Cognitive processes, considered as the forms of computational description, are available for computer modelling. That implies the strong position of the computer metaphor in the neuroscience. In our opinion the key problem is the vague ontological nature (...) of the symbols which form the computational operations in the cognitive procedures. Despite the successful development of neuroscience, it is still impossible to explain the meaning of the content of mental states. The article provides the detailed analysis of the critical approaches to the computational models of consciousness. The special attention is given to the comparison of data integration in the artificial intellectual systems with semantic aspects of the phenomenalconsciousness. In the first case the foundations of output are the hierarchy of classes, the rules protocols and applying heuristics and strategies. In the second case the knowledge is formed by qualia, metaphorical conceptualization and pragmatic level of communication. Natural principles of knowledge forming are unachievable for machine intellectual procedures. (shrink)
A new theory of the neuropsychological underpinnings of phenomenalconsciousness, “asynchronous introspection theory,” is proposed that emphasizes asynchrony between different neurocognitive processes. We provide a detailed explanation of how a mind might arrive at a cognitive structure isomorphic to the cognitive structure that would emerge from experiential qualia. The theory suggests that a temporal illusion is created because of the mismatch between the real physical timeline and the neurally constructed timeline composed inside a person’s brain. This temporal illusion (...) leads to the origination of a thought that one has had a certain experience wherein the thought and the feeling seem synchronous to the person but, in fact, are not. This leads to the thought, “I had a feeling.” The theory is elaborated via a metaphorical “robot supervisor model” and is shown to explain many current problems of phenomenalconsciousness. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to show that we can extract an elaborate account of phe- nomenal consciousness from Leibniz’s (1646-1716) writings. Against a prevalent view, which attributes a higher-order reflection account of phenomenalconsciousness to Leibniz, it is argued that we should understand Leibniz as holding a first-order concep- tion of it. In this conception, the consciousness aspect of phenomenalconsciousness is explained in terms of a specific type of attention. This (...) type of attention, in turn, is accounted for in terms of cognitive appetites aiming at knowledge about a repre- sented object by means of initiating cognitive operations on representational content. Furthermore, against the view that Leibniz holds a reifying account, it is argued that Leibniz accepts an epistemic account of phenomenal character. According to this view, the phenomenal character of phenomenally conscious states rests on the con- fusing effect of imperfect acts of attention directed towards representational contents. Holding this view, Leibniz finds fruitful middle ground between contemporary stan- dard positions like higher-order theories, representationalist conceptions, and qualia accounts of phenomenalconsciousness. His position possesses resources to meet sev- eral objections these standard accounts are confronted with. (shrink)
Consciousness ties together knowledge and feeling, or sapience and sentience. The connection between these two constitutive aspects — the informational and the phenomenal — is deep, but how are we to make sense of it? One influential approach maintains that sentience ultimately reduces to sapience, namely, that phenomenalconsciousness is a function of representational relations between mental states which, barring these relations, would not, and could not, be conscious. In this paper I take issue with this (...) line of thought, arguing that neither of these salient aspects of consciousness reduces to the other. Instead, I offer an explanatory framework which takes both sentience and sapience as ontological fundamentals and explore how they co-evolve. In particular, I argue that while epistemic access cannot generate experience from scratch it does play a crucial role in constituting an important form of higher-order experience, namely, the capacity to experience a sense of ownership over one’s experiential domain. (shrink)
Phenomenalconsciousness or the subjective experience of feeling sensory stimuli is fundamental to human existence. Because of the ubiquity of their subjective experiences, humans seem to readily accept the anthropomorphic extension of these mental states to other animals. Humans will typically extrapolate feelings of pain to animals if they respond physiologically and behaviourally to noxious stimuli. The alternative view that fish instead respond to noxious stimuli reflexly and with a limited behavioural repertoire is defended within the context of (...) our current understanding of the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of mental states. Consequently, a set of fundamental properties of neural tissue necessary for feeling pain or experiencing affective states in vertebrates is proposed. While mammals and birds possess the prerequisite neural architecture for phenomenalconsciousness, it is concluded that fish lack these essential characteristics and hence do not feel pain. (shrink)
A book symposium on Peter, Carruthers. PhenomenalConsciousness: A Naturalistic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. -/- Contents: Author's précis Colin Allen, Evolving PhenomenalConsciousness - Carruthers's reply. José Luis Bermúdez, Commentary - Carruthers's reply - Reply to Carruthers: Properties, first-order representationalism and reinforcement. Joseph Levine, Commentary - Carruthers's reply. William Seager, Dispositions and Consciousness - Carruthers's reply.
In the Logical Investigations, Ideas I and many other texts, Husserl maintains that perceptual consciousness involves the intentional “animation” or interpretation of sensory data or hyle, e.g., “color-data,” “tone-data,” and algedonic data. These data are not intrinsically representational nor are they normally themselves objects of representation, though we can attend to them in reflection. These data are “immanent” in consciousness; they survive the phenomenological reduction. They partly ground the intuitive or “in-the-flesh” aspect of perception, and they have a (...) determinacy of character that we do not create but can only discover. This determinate, non-representational stratum of perceptual consciousness also serves as a bridge between consciousness and the world beyond it. I articulate and defend this conception of perceptual consciousness. I locate the view in the space of contemporary positions on phenomenal character and argue for its superiority. I close by briefly arguing that the Husserlian account is perfectly compatible with physicalism (this involves disarming the Grain Problem). (shrink)
Introduction -- Phenomenalconsciousness -- Phenomenalconsciousness and self-representation -- The connection between phenomenalconsciousness and creature consciousness -- Consciousness of things -- Real world puzzle cases -- Why consciousness cannot be physical and why it must be -- What is the thesis of physicalism? -- Why consciousness cannot be physical -- Why consciousness must be physical -- Physicalism and the appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Some terminological points (...) -- Why physicalists appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Various accounts of phenomenal concepts -- My own earlier view on phenomenal concepts -- Are there any phenomenal concepts? -- Phenomenal concepts and burgean intuitions -- Consequences for a priori physicalism -- The admissible contents of visual experience : the existential thesis -- The singular (when filled) thesis -- Kaplanianism -- The multiple contents thesis -- The existential thesis revisited -- Still more on existential contents -- Consciousness, seeing and knowing -- Knowing things and knowing facts -- Nonconceptual content -- Why the phenomenal character of an experience is not one of its nonrepresentational properties -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part I -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part II -- Phenomenal character and our knowledge of it -- Solving the puzzles -- Mary, Mary, how does your knowledge grow? -- The explanatory gap -- The hard problem -- The possibility of zombies -- Change blindness and the refrigerator light illusion -- A closer look at the change blindness hypotheses -- The no-seeum view -- Sperling and the refrigerator light -- Phenomenology and cognitive accessibility -- A further change blindness experiment -- Another brick in the wall -- Privileged access, phenomenal character, and externalism -- The threat to privileged access -- A Burgean thought experiment -- Social externalism for phenomenal character? -- A closer look at privileged access and incorrigibility -- How do I know that I am not a zombie? -- Phenomenal externalism. (shrink)
It is a common conviction among philosophers who hold that phenomenal properties, qualia, are distinct from any cognitive, intentional, or functional properties, that it is possible to trace the neural correlates of these properties. The main purpose of this paper is to present a challenge to this view, and to show that if “non-cognitive” phenomenal properties exist at all, they lie beyond the reach of neuroscience. In the final section it will be suggested that they also lie beyond (...) the reach of psychology, so that they may be said to lie beyond the reach of science. (shrink)
Given the recent interest in the subjective or phenomenal dimension of consciousness it is no wonder that many authors have once more started to speak of the need for pheno- menological considerations. Often however the term ‘phenomenology’ is being used simply as a synonym for ‘folk psychology', and in our article we argue that it would be far more fruitful to turn to the argumentation to be found within the continental tradition inaugurated by Husserl. In order to exemplify (...) this claim, we criticize Rosenthal's higher-order thought theory as well as Strawson's recent contribution in this journal, and argue that a phenomenological analysis of the nature of self-awareness can provide us with a more sophisticated and accurate model for understanding both phenomenalconsciousness and the notion of self. (shrink)
One popular approach to theorizing about phenomenalconsciousness has been to connect it to representations of a certain kind. Representational theories of consciousness can be further sub-divided into first-order and higher-order theories. Higher-order theories are often interpreted as invoking a special relation between the first-order state and the higher-order state. However there is another way to interpret higher-order theories that rejects this relational requirement. On this alternative view phenomenalconsciousness consists in having suitable higher-order representations. (...) I call this ‘HOROR’ (‘Higher-Order Representation Of a Representation’) theory to distinguish it from relational versions of higher- order theory. In this paper I make the case that HOROR theory is a plausible account of the real nature of phenomenalconsciousness whatever one’s views are about whether it is physical/reducible or not. I first clarify HOROR theory and compare it to the more traditional same-order and higher-order thought theories. Afterwards I move to presenting some considerations in favor of HOROR theory. (shrink)
This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenalconsciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a special informational character and semantic (...) structure that closely tie them to the brain states realizing conscious qualitative experiences. We then develop an account of introspection which exploits this special nature of sensory concepts. The result is a new class of concepts, which, following recent terminology, we call phenomenal concepts: these concepts refer to phenomenal experience itself and are the vehicles used in introspection. On our account, the connection between sensory and phenomenal concepts is very tight: it consists in different semantic uses of the same cognitive structures underlying the sensory concepts, such as the concept of red. Contrary to widespread opinion, we show that information theory contains all the resources to satisfy internalist intuitions about phenomenalconsciousness, while not offending externalist ones. A consequence of this account is that it explains and predicts the so-called conceivability arguments against physicalism on the basis of the special nature of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Thus we not only show why physicalism is not threatened by such arguments, but also demonstrate its strength in virtue of its ability to predict and explain away such arguments in a principled way. However, we take the main contribution of this work to be what it provides in addition to a response to those conceivability arguments, namely, a substantive account of the interface between sensory and conceptual systems and the mechanisms of introspection as based on the special nature of the information flow between them. (shrink)
Michael Tye has recently argued that the phenomenal character of conscious experiences is "one and the same as" (1) Poised (2) Abstract (3) Non-conceptual (4) Intentional Content (PANIC). Tye argues extensively that PANIC Theory accounts for differences in phenomenal character in representational terms. But another task of a theory of phenomenalconsciousness is to account for the difference between those mental states that have phenomenal character at all and those that do not. By going through (...) each of the four qualifiers of PANIC, we argue that PANIC Theory fails to account for this difference in genuinely representational terms. We suggest, furthermore, that the reasons it fails are likely to be endemic to all representational theories of phenomenalconsciousness. (shrink)
Recent work in neuroimaging suggests that some patients diagnosed as being in the persistent vegetative state are actually conscious. In this paper, we critically examine this new evidence. We argue that though it remains open to alternative interpretations, it strongly suggests the presence of consciousness in some patients. However, we argue that its ethical significance is less than many people seem to think. There are several different kinds of consciousness, and though all kinds of consciousness have some (...) ethical significance, different kinds underwrite different kinds of moral value. Demonstrating that patients have phenomenalconsciousness — conscious states with some kind of qualitative feel to them — shows that they are moral patients, whose welfare must be taken into consideration. But only if they are subjects of a sophisticated kind of access consciousness — where access consciousness entails global availability of information to cognitive systems — are they persons, in the technical sense of the word employed by philosophers. In this sense, being a person is having the full moral status of ordinary human beings. We call for further research which might settle whether patients who manifest signs of consciousness possess the sophisticated kind of access consciousness required for personhood. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there are problems with the foundations of the current version of physicalism about color. In some sources laying the foundations of physicalism, types of surface reflectance corresponding to (veridical) color perceptions are characterized by making reference to properties of the observer. This means that these surface attributes are not objective (i.e. observer-independent). This problem casts doubt on the possibility of identifying colors with types of surface reflectance. If this identification cannot be maintained, that in (...) turn threatens representationalist theories of phenomenalconsciousness: there remains no objective, observer-independent property that color experiences represent - hence no representational content, in terms of semantic externalism, can be attributed to color experiences. I offer an alternative account of color and conclude that further empirical study is required to do justice to the basic claims of color physicalism. (shrink)
In this paper I consider recent discussions within the representationalist theories of phenomenalconsciousness, in particular, the discussions between first order representationalism (FOR) and higher order representationalism (HOR). I aim to show that either there is only a terminological dispute between them or, if the discussion is not simply terminological, then HOR is based on a misunderstanding of the phenomena that a theory of phenomenalconsciousness should explain. First, I argue that we can defend first order (...) representationalism from Carruthers' attacks and ignore higher order thoughts in our account of phenomenalconsciousness. Then I offer a diagnostic of Carruthers' misunderstanding. In the last section I consider further reasons to include mindreading abilities in an explanation of phenomenalconsciousness. (shrink)
This article re-examines Ned Block‘s ( 1997 , 2007 ) conceptual distinction between phenomenalconsciousness and access consciousness. His argument that we can have phenomenally conscious representations without being able to cognitively access them is criticized as not being supported by evidence. Instead, an alternative interpretation of the relevant empirical data is offered which leaves the link between phenomenology and accessibility intact. Moreover, it is shown that Block’s claim that phenomenology and accessibility have different neural substrates is (...) highly problematic in light of empirical evidence. Finally, his claim that there can be phenomenology without cognitive accessibility is at odds with his endorsement of the 'same-order-theory' of consciousness. (shrink)
This paper develops a proposal about phenomenalconsciousness that is (somewhat) eliminativist in two respects. First, regarded in the light of some common ways of conceiving of consciousness, the proposal is "deflationary". Second, it opens up space for a development in which what we now naturally think about as consciousness turns out to be many different things.
Arguments about the evolutionary function of phenomenalconsciousness are beset by the problem of epiphenomenalism. For if it is not clear whether phenomenalconsciousness has a causal role, then it is difficult to begin an argument for the evolutionary role of phenomenalconsciousness. We argue that complexity arguments offer a way around this problem. According to evolutionary biology, the structural complexity of a given organ can provide evidence that the organ is an adaptation, even (...) if nothing is known about the causal role of the organ. Evidence from cognitive neuropsychology suggests that phenomenalconsciousness is structurally complex in the relevant way, and this provides prima facie evidence that phenomenalconsciousness is an adaptation. Furthermore, we argue that the complexity of phenomenalconsciousness might also provide clues about the causal role of phenomenalconsciousness. (shrink)
El libro E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of PhenomenalConsciousness presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de laconciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experiencia subjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real,y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
Any physical explanation of consciousness seems to leave unresolved the ‘explanatory gap': Isn't it conceivable that all the elements in that explanation could occur, with the same information processing outcomes as in a conscious process, but in the absence of consciousness? E.g. any digital computational process could occur in the absence of consciousness. To resolve this dilemma, we propose a biological-process-oriented physiological- phenomenological characterization of consciousness that addresses three ‘paradoxical’ qualities seemingly incompatible with the empirical realm: (...) The dual location of phenomenal properties ‘out there’ yet ‘in here’ in consciousness; the mysterious ‘thickness’ of the specious present; the feeling of ‘free agency', that we can voluntarily direct our actions, including the act of conscious attention, while at the same time attention and the emotions that direct it seem responsive to physiological substrates with physical causes. These paradoxes are then resolved by relating three elements of consciousness: organismically interested anticipation; sensory and proprioceptive imagery generated by the interested anticipation rather than by sensory input; resonating of these activities with activity stimulated by sensory data, where the interested anticipation precedes the processing of the input. Each of these elements is bridged to physiological processes such that, if they occur in a certain relation to each other, we can understand why they would inevitably be accompanied by the corresponding elements of conscious experience. (shrink)
When it comes to applying computational theory to the problem of phenomenalconsciousness, cognitive scientists appear to face a dilemma. The only strategy that seems to be available is one that explains consciousness in terms of special kinds of computational processes. But such theories, while they dominate the field, have counter-intuitive consequences; in particular, they force one to accept that phenomenal experience is composed of information processing effects. For cognitive scientists, therefore, it seems to come down (...) to a choice between a counter-intuitive theory or no theory at all. We offer a way out of this dilemma. We argue that the computational theory of mind doesn't force cognitive scientists to explain consciousness in terms of computational processes, as there is an alternative strategy available: one that focuses on the representational vehicles that encode information in the brain. This alternative approach to consciousness allows us to do justice to the standard intuitions about phenomenal experience, yet remain within the confines of cognitive science. (shrink)
As far as an adequate understanding of phenomenalconsciousness is concerned, representationalist theories of mind which are modelled on the information processing paradigm, are, as much as corresponding neurobiological or functionalist theories, confronted with a series of arguments based on inverted or absent qualia considerations. These considerations display the following pattern: assuming we had complete knowledge about the neural and functional states which subserve the occurrence of phenomenalconsciousness, would it not still be conceivable that these (...) neural states (or states with the same causal r. (shrink)
commentary on Dainton, B. (2000). Stream of Consciousness: Unity and Continuity in Conscious Experience. London: Routledge. ABSTRACT: Stream of Consciousness is a detailed and insightful analysis of the nature of phenomenalconsciousness, especially its unity at a time and continuity over stretches of time. I find Dainton's approach to phenomenalconsciousness in many ways sound but I also point out one major source of disgreement between us. Dainton believes that to explain phenomenal unity (...) and continuity, no reference to anything outside experience is required. Thus, he postulates a fundamental experiential relation called co-consciousness which is supposed to do all the explanatory work. On the contrary, I hold that to truly explain features of consciousness such as phenomenal unity and continuity, reference to mechanisms outside the phenomenal realm are necessary. (shrink)
The assumption that the concept of phenomenalconsciousness is pretheoretical is often found in the philosophical debates on consciousness. Unfortunately, this assumption has not received the kind of empirical attention that it deserves. We suspect that this is in part due to difficulties that arise in attempting to test folk intuitions about consciousness. In this article we elucidate and defend a key methodological principle for this work. We draw this principle out by considering recent experimental work (...) on the topic by Joshua Knobe and Jesse Prinz (2008). We charge that their studies do not establish that the folk have a concept of phenomenalconsciousness in part because they compare group agents to individuals . The problem is that group agents and individuals differ in some significant ways in terms of functional organization and behavior. We propose that future experiments should establish that ordinary people are disposed to ascribe different mental states to entities that are given behaviorally and functionally equivalent descriptions. (shrink)
This work advances a theory in the metaphysics of phenomenalconsciousness, which the author labels “e-physicalism”. Firstly, he endorses a realist stance towards consciousness and physicalist metaphysics. Secondly, he criticises Strong AI and functionalist views, and claims that consciousness has an internal character. Thirdly, he discusses HOT theories, the unity of consciousness, and holds that the “explanatory gap” is not ontological but epistemological. Fourthly, he argues that consciousness is not a supervenient but an emergent (...) property, not reducible and endowed with original causal powers, with respect to the micro-constituents of the conscious entity. Fifthly, he addresses the “zombie argument” and the “supervenience argument” within the e-physicalism framework. Finally, he elaborates on the claim that phenomenal properties are physical and discusses the “knowledge argument”. (shrink)
How can phenomenalconsciousness exist as an integral part of a physical universe? How can the technicolour phenomenology of our inner lives be created out of the complex neural activities of our brains? Many have despaired of finding answers to these questions; and many have claimed that human consciousness is inherently mysterious. Peter Carruthers argues, on the contrary, that the subjective feel of our experience is fully explicable in naturalistic terms. Drawing on a variety of interdisciplinary resources, (...) he develops and defends a novel account in terms of higher-order thought. He shows that this can explain away some of the more extravagant claims made about phenomenalconsciousness, while substantively explaining the key subjectivity of our experience. Written with characteristic clarity and directness, and surveying a wide range of extant theories, this book is essential reading for all those within philosophy and psychology interested in the problem of consciousness. (shrink)
In God and PhenomenalConsciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides objections to them. He then presents a parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenalconsciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel (...) objections to Jackson's and Nagel's arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls 'non-theoretical physicalism'. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences. (shrink)
William S. Robinson has for many years written insightfully about the mind-body problem. In Understanding PhenomenalConsciousness he focuses on sensory experience and perception qualities such as colours, sounds and odours to present a dualistic view of the mind, called Qualitative Event Realism, that goes against the dominant materialist views. This theory is relevant to the development of a science of consciousness which is now being pursued not only by philosophers but by researchers in psychology and the (...) brain sciences. This provocative book will interest students and professionals who work in the philosophy of mind and will also have cross-disciplinary appeal in cognitive psychology and the brain sciences. (shrink)
Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Insofar as they locate experiences anywhere, enactive models locate conscious (...) phenomenology in the dynamic interaction of organisms with the external world, and in some versions, they reduce conscious phenomenology to such interactions, in the hope that this will resolve the hard problem of consciousness. The reflexive model accepts that experiences of the world result from dynamic organism–environment interactions, but argues that such interactions are preconscious. While the resulting phenomenal world is a consequence of such interactions, it cannot be reduced to them. The reflexive model is externalist in its claim that this external phenomenal world, which we normally think of as the “physical world,” is literally outside the brain. Furthermore, there are no added conscious experiences of the external world inside the brain. In the present paper I present the case for the enactive and reflexive alternatives to more classical views and evaluate their consequences. I argue that, in closing the gap between the phenomenal world and what we normally think of as the physical world, the reflexive model resolves one facet of the hard problem of consciousness. Conversely, while enactive models have useful things to say about percept formation and representation, they fail to address the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
We have reason to believe that phenomenal properties are nothing over and above certain physical properties. However, doubt is cast on this by the apparent epistemic gap that arises for attempts to account for phenomenal properties in physical terms. I argue that the epistemic gap should be divided into two more fundamental conceptual gaps. The first of these pertains to the distinctive subjectivity of phenomenal states, and the second pertains to the intrinsicality of phenomenal qualities. Stoljars (...) ignorance hypothesis (IH) attempts to undermine the epistemic gap by arguing that the apparent inexplicability of the phenomenal is merely a symptom of our limited conception of the non-experiential world. I establish some obstacles to IH, and argue that the correct analysis of the epistemic gap means these obstacles can only partially be overcome. I propose, nonetheless, that IH can still be put to good use as half of a hybrid account of phenomenalconsciousness. The proposal combines a self-representationalist account of the subjectivity of phenomenal states with a Russellian version of IH that accommodates the qualitative character of those states. This neo-Russellian ignorance hypothesis (NRIH) credibly undermines the appearance of an epistemic gap between the physical and the phenomenal. (shrink)
Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the 'mantle of science,' it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to naturalise consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It is possible, however, to develop a natural, nonreductive, reflexive model of how consciousness (...) relates to the brain and the physical world. This paper introduces such a model and how it construes the nature of conscious experience. Within this model the physical world as perceived is viewed as part of conscious experience not apart from it. While in everyday life we treat this phenomenal world as if it is the "physical world", it is really just one biologically useful representation of what the world is like that may differ in many respects from the world described by physics. How the world as perceived relates to the world as described by physics can be investigated by normal science . This model of consciousness appears to be consistent with both third-person evidence of how the brain works and with first-person evidence of what it is like to have a given experience. According to the reflexive model, conscious experiences are really how they seem. (shrink)
In this article, I perform an aesthetic analysis of the intuition of phenomenalconsciousness, redescribing this intuition as the result of a creative activity affirming of the uniqueness and value of human engagements with the world rather than the result of an activity of self-knowing through which phenomenal awareness becomes aware of itself. During this analysis, I analogize the construction of the intuition of phenomenalconsciousness to the construction of religious intuitions for sophisticated believers and (...) the construction of aesthetic intuitions for sophisticated aesthetes. I find accounts of the 'mistake' of the intuition of phenomenalconsciousness by authors such as Dennett are overly reductive and simplistic, even though I agree that phenomenalconsciousness is a created illusion rather than a natural kind. The intuition of phenomenalconsciousness is a sophisticated formation which testifies to the commitment of certain naturalistically inclined theorists to the inestimable value of private experience. (shrink)
This paper examines the possibility of finding evidence that phenomenalconsciousness is independent of access. The suggestion reviewed is that we should look for isomorphisms between phenomenal and neural activation spaces. It is argued that the fact that phenomenal spaces are mapped via verbal report is no problem for this methodology. The fact that activation and phenomenal space are mapped via different means does not mean that they cannot be identified. The paper finishes by examining (...) how data addressing this theoretical question could be obtained. (shrink)
The following two questions are addressed: to what extent and in what sense are concepts of consciousness subject to plasticity? And what is the relation between brain plasticity and phenomenalconsciousness in particular? To answer these questions I discuss the extension thesis of the mind and also take advantage of a number of results from experimental brain science that demonstrate the brain's plasticity with respect to the processing of sensory information and associated qualitative expression. Interpretations of these (...) results in the hands of some researchers within the field of 'embodied cognition' are drawn upon. (shrink)
This thesis introduces the Problem of Consciousness as an antinomy between Physicalism and Primitivism about the phenomenal. I argue that Primitivism is implausible, but is supported by two conceptual gaps. The ‘–tivity gap’ holds that physical states are objective and phenomenal states are subjective, and that there is no entailment from the objective to the subjective. The ‘–trinsicality gap’ holds that physical properties are extrinsic and phenomenal qualities are intrinsic, and that there is no entailment from (...) the extrinsic to the intrinsic. Stoljar’s Epistemic View (EV) suggests that we have a limited conception of the physical world, and that the apparent inexplicability of consciousness is merely a symptom of our ignorance. I argue that EV must satisfy two conditions which require it to specify the content of our ignorance. EV’s best hope is a Russellian appeal to our ignorance of intrinsic physical properties. After arguing in favour of this ignorance claim, I show how it undermines the –trinsicality gap. However, I suggest that the –tivity gap cannot be dealt with by the Russellian ignorance hypothesis, nor by any other version of EV. However, I then argue that the Russellian ignorance hypothesis can still be deployed as half of a hybrid account of the phenomenal. Representationalist theories of consciousness have difficulty with the –trinsicality gap, but show promise with the –tivity gap. Specifically, Kriegel’s Self-Representationalism indicates that there can indeed be an entailment from objective physical states to subjective phenomenal states. This paves the way for my hybrid account of consciousness: the subjectivity of a phenomenal state is the product of its self-representational structure, and the qualitative character of a phenomenal state is the product of the epistemically inaccessible intrinsic physical properties involved in its implementation. (shrink)
Charles Siewert's _The Significance of Consciousness_ contends that most philosophers and psychologists who have written about "consciousness" have neglected a crucial type or aspect that Siewert calls "phenomenalconsciousness" and tries carefully to define. The present article argues that some philosophers, at least, have not neglected phenomenalconsciousness and have offered tenable theories of it.
We evaluate the role of embodiment in ordinary mental state ascriptions. Presented are five experiments on phenomenal state ascriptions to disembodied entities such as ghosts and spirits. Results suggest that biological embodiment is not a central principle of folk psychology guiding ascriptions of phenomenalconsciousness. By contrast, results continue to support the important role of functional considerations in theory of mind judgments.
Inference-to-best-explanation from psychological evidence supports the view that phenomenalconsciousness in perceptual exposures occurs before limited aspects of that consciousness are retained in working memory. Independently of specific neurological theory, psychological considerations indicate that machinery producing phenomenalconsciousness is independent of machinery producing working memory, hence independent of access to higher cognitive capacities.
A hypothesis on the physiological conditions for the occurrence of phenomenal states is presented. It is suggested that the presence of phenomenal states depends on the rate at which neural assemblies are formed. Unconsciousness and various disturbances of phenomenalconsciousness occur if the assembly formation rate is below a certain threshold level; if this level is surpassed, phenomenal states necessarily result. A critical production rate of neural assemblies is the necessary and sufficient condition for the (...) occurrence of phenomenal states. (shrink)
In this commentary I criticize David Rosenthal’s higher order thought theory of consciousness . This is one of the best articulated philosophical accounts of consciousness available. The theory is, roughly, that a mental state is conscious in virtue of there being another mental state, namely, a thought to the effect that one is in the first state. I argue that this account is open to the objection that it makes “HOT-zombies” possible, i.e., creatures that token higher order mental (...) states, but not the states that the higher order states are about. I discuss why none of the ways to accommodate this problem within HOT leads to viable positions. (shrink)