A number of philosophers endorse, without argument, the view that there’s something it’s like consciously to think that p, which is distinct from what it’s like consciously to think that q. This thesis, if true, would have important consequences for philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In this paper I offer an argument for it, and attempt to induce examples of it in the reader. The argument claims it would be impossible introspectively to distinguish conscious thoughts with respect to their (...) content if there weren’t something it’s like to think them. This argument is defended against several objections. Then I use what I call “minimal pair” experiences—sentences read without and with understanding—to induce in the reader an experience of the kind I claim exists. Further objections are considered and rebutted. (shrink)
Some analytic philosophers have recently been defending the thesis that there’s “something it’s like” to consciously think a particular thought, which is qualitatively different from what it’s like to be in any other kind of conscious mental state and from what it’s like to think any other thought, and which constitutes the thought’s intentional content. (I call this the “intentional phenomenology thesis”). One objection to this thesis concerns the introspective availability of such content: If it is true that intentional phenomenology (...) is constitutive of intentional content, and that conscious phenomenology is always introspectively available, then it ought to be true that the content of any concept consciously entertained is always introspectively available. But it is not. For example, one can know introspectively that one is thinking that one knows that p without knowing introspectively what the content of the concept of knowledge is. Hence, it cannot be that intentional content is constituted by cognitive phenomenology. -/- I explore three responses to this objection. First, it is not clear that all of the contents of consciousness must be equally available to introspection. The capacities for conscious experience and introspective attention to it are distinct. It is not implausible that the resolving power of the latter might be insufficient to discern all of the fine-grained details of the former, or that its scope might be limited. Second, it is possible that in cases of incomplete accessibility one is entertaining only part of the concept the relevant term expresses in one’s language. In the knowledge case, for example, perhaps one is thinking only that one has justified true belief that p (one’s self-attribution of a thought about knowledge is in fact false). Finally, in such cases one might be consciously entertaining only part of the relevant concept, the rest remaining unconscious, and so unavailable to conscious introspection. I conclude that the objection is not decisive against the intentional phenomenology thesis. (shrink)
The notion of a "mental representation" is, arguably, in the first instance a theoretical construct of cognitive science. As such, it is a basic concept of the Computational Theory of Mind, according to which cognitive states and processes are constituted by the occurrence, transformation and storage (in the mind/brain) of information-bearing structures (representations) of one kind or another.
In the past few years, a number of philosophers ; Horgan and Tienson 2002; Pitt 2004) have maintained the following three theses: there is a distinctive sort of phenomenology characteristic of conscious thought, as opposed to other sorts of conscious mental states; different conscious thoughts have different phenomenologies; and thoughts with the same phenomenology have the same intentional content. The last of these three claims is open to at least two different interpretations. It might mean that the phenomenology of (...) a thought expresses its intentional content, where intentional content is understood as propositional, and propositions are understood as mind-and language-independent abstract entities. And it might mean that the phenomenology of a thought is its intentional content—that is, that the phenomenology of a thought, like the phenomenology of a sensation, constitutes its content. The second sort of view is a kind of psychologism. Psychologistic views hold that one or another sort of thing—numbers, sentences, propositions, etc.—that we can think or know about is in fact a kind of mental thing. Since Frege, psychologism has been in bad repute among analytic philosophers. It is widely held that Frege showed that such views are untenable, since, among other things, they subjectivize what is in fact objective, and, hence, relativize such things as consistency and truth to the peculiarities of human psychology. The purpose of this paper is to explore the consequences of the thesis that intentional mental content is phenomenological and to try to reach a conclusion about whether it yields a tenable view of mind, thought and meaning. I believe the thesis is not so obviously wrong as it will strike many philosophers of mind and language. In fact, it can be defended against the standard objections to psychologism, and it can provide the basis for a novel and interesting account of mentality. (shrink)
Since the publication of Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim's ground-breaking work "Studies in the Logic of Explanation," the theory of explanation has remained a major topic in the philosophy of science. This valuable collection provides readers with the opportunity to study some of the classic essays on the theory of explanation along with the best examples of the most recent work being done on the topic. In addition to the original Hempel and Oppenheim paper, the volume includes Scriven's critical reaction (...) to it, Wilfrid Sellars's discussion of the problem of theoretical explanation, and pieces by Salmon, Railton, van Fraassen, Friedman, Kitcher, and Achinstein in which they demonstrate the vitality of the subject by extending the scope of the inquiry. (shrink)
: What do appeals to case studies accomplish? Consider the dilemma: On the one hand, if the case is selected because it exemplifies the philosophical point, then it is not clear that the historical data hasn't been manipulated to fit the point. On the other hand, if one starts with a case study, it is not clear where to go from there—for it is unreasonable to generalize from one case or even two or three.
Reductive representationalism is the view that the qualitative properties associated with conscious experience are properties of the objects of the experience, and not of the experience itself. A prima facie problem for this view arises from dreams and hallucinations, in which qualitative properties are experienced but not instantiated in external objects of perception. I argue that representationalist attempts to solve it by appeal to actually uninstantiated properties are guilty of an absurdity akin to that which Ryle accused Descartes of in (...) the latter’s doctrine of immaterial substance. (shrink)
Call a thought whose expression involves the utterance of an indexical an indexical thought. Thus, my thoughts that I’m annoyed, that now is not the right time, that this is not acceptable, are all indexical thoughts. Such thoughts present a prima facie problem for the thesis that thought contents are phenomenally individuated -- i.e., that each distinct thought type has a proprietarily cognitive phenomenology such that its having that phenomenology makes it the thought that it is -- given the assumption (...) that phenomenology is intrinsically determined. My concern in this paper is to blunt standard intuitions concerning the external individuation of indexical thought contents, and to defend a conception of indexical thought content that is entirely phenomenal and internalist. (shrink)
The arguments of Fodor, Garret, Walker and Parkes [(1980) Against definitions, Cognition, 8, 263-367] are the source of widespread skepticism in cognitive science about lexical semantic structure. Whereas the thesis that lexical items, and the concepts they express, have decompositional structure (i.e. have significant constituents) was at one time "one of those ideas that hardly anybody [in the cognitive sciences] ever considers giving up" (p. 264), most researchers now believe that "[a]ll the evidence suggests that the classical [(decompositional)] view is (...) wrong as a general theory of concepts" [Smith, Medin & Rips (1984) A psychological approach to concepts: comments on Rey, Cognition, 17, 272], and cite Fodor et al. (1980) as "sounding the death knell for decompositional theories" [MacNamara & Miller (1989) Attributes of theories of meaning, Psychological Bulletin, 106, 360]. I argue that the prevailing skepticism is unmotivated by the arguments in Fodor et al. Fodor et al. misrepresent the form, function and scope of the decompositional hypothesis, and the procedures they employ to test for the psychological reality of definitions are flawed. I argue, further, that decompositional explanations of the phenomena they consider are preferable to their primitivist alternatives, and, hence, that there is prima facie reason to accept them as evidence for the existence of decompositional structure. Cognitive scientists would, therefore, do well to revert to their former commitment to the decompositional hypothesis. (shrink)
Failure of substitutivity of coreferential terms, one of the hallmarks of referential opacity, is standardly explained in terms of the presence of an expression (such as a verb of propositional attitude, a modal adverb or quotation marks) with opacity-inducing properties. It is thus assumed that any term in a complex expression for which substitutivity fails will be within the scope of an expression of one of these types, and that where there is an expression of one of these types there (...) will be failure of substitutivity for terms within its scope. I shall discuss a series of examples that have been thought to challenge this explanation by exhibiting failure of substitutivity of coreferential terms for positions not within the scope of any of the standard opacity-inducing expressions. If these examples are genuine, then the usual explanations of opacity are either incomplete – because there are sources of opacity other than those standardly identified, or completely mistaken – because the standardly identified expressions are not causes of opacity. I will argue, however, that the examples only exhibit failure of substitutivity of non-coreferential terms, and, hence, do not present a challenge to standard explanations of opacity. (shrink)
Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal's attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one's race in the way it might be to change one's sex. Considerations that support transgenderism (...) seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes. (shrink)
People implicitly associate different emotions with different locations in left-right space. Which aspects of emotion do they spatialize, and why? Across many studies people spatialize emotional valence, mapping positive emotions onto their dominant side of space and negative emotions onto their non-dominant side, consistent with theories of metaphorical mental representation. Yet other results suggest a conflicting mapping of emotional intensity, according to which people associate more intense emotions with the right and less intense emotions with the left — regardless of (...) their valence; this pattern has been interpreted as support for a domain-general system for representing magnitudes. To resolve the apparent contradiction between these mappings, we first tested whether people implicitly map either valence or intensity onto left-right space, depending on which dimension of emotion they attend to. When asked to judge emotional valence, participants showed the predicted valence mapping. However, when asked to judge emotional intensity, participants showed no systematic intensity mapping. We then tested an alternative explanation of findings previously interpreted as evidence for an intensity mapping. These results suggest that previous findings may reflect a left-right mapping of spatial magnitude rather than emotion. People implicitly spatialize emotional valence, but, at present, there is no clear evidence for an implicit lateral mapping of emotional intensity. These findings support metaphor theory and challenge the proposal that mental magnitudes are represented by a domain-general metric that extends to the domain of emotion. (shrink)
Corruption in business is as old as business itself. Corruption exists to some extent in all cultures, under all market systems and in all countries. The objectives of this paper are not to stand in judgement or to consider moral issues. This article considers the findings of a study concerning managerial attitudes towards corruption in business. The methodology involves a number of scenarios which could be construed as being deviant or dishonest. These are presented to respondents. Respondents are then asked (...) questions regarding each situation. The findings were interesting. While the sample in general condemned corruption and corruptive practices, the perceived participation by the peer group was higher than one would have expected. The findings of a more comprehensive study of a similar nature should be meaningful to corporate policy in this regard, not only in respect of corruption, but also when decisions have to be made regarding the receipt of gifts. (shrink)
Externalism is the view that the intentional content of a mental state supervenes on its relations to objects in the extramental world. Nativism is the view that some of the innate states of the mind/brain have intentional content. I consider both “causal” and “nomic” versions of externalism, and argue that both are incompatible with nativism. I consider likely candidates for a compatibilist position – a nativism of “narrow” representational states, and a nativism of the contentless formal “vehicles” of representational states. (...) I argue that “narrow nativism” is either too implausible to appeal to the nativist – because it entails that innate representational states are lost as the mind becomes more experienced, or too costly to appeal to the externalist – because a reasonable version of it requires the analytic-synthetic distinction. Finally, I argue that “syntactic nativism” is indistinguishable from classical anti-nativist empiricism, given the latter’s broad tolerance for innate implementation of psychological principles and mechanisms. (shrink)
Tim Crane maintains that beliefs cannot be conscious because they persist in the absence of consciousness. Conscious judgments can share their contents with beliefs, and their occurrence can be evidence for what one believes; but they cannot be beliefs, because they don’t persist. I challenge Crane’s premise that belief attributions to the temporarily unconscious are literally true. To say of an unconscious agent that she believes that p is like saying that she sings well. To say she sings well is (...) to say that when she sings, her singing is good. To say that she believes that p is to say that when she consciously considers the content that p she consciously affirms it. I also argue that the phenomenal view of intentional content Crane appears to endorse prima facie commits him to the view, at least controversial, perhaps incoherent, that there is unconscious phenomenology. Keywords : Belief; Consciousness; Unconscious; Intentional Content; Judgment. Credenze coscienti Riassunto: Tim Crane sostiene che le credenze non possano essere coscienti, dal momento che perdurano anche in assenza di coscienza. I giudizi formulati consapevolmente possono condividere i loro contenuti con le credenze e il loro verificarsi può essere una forma di evidenza a supporto di quanto uno crede. E tuttavia essi non possono essere credenze, dal momento che non perdurano. Nel commento metto in discussione la premessa di Crane secondo cui porre l’attribuzione di credenze su un piano temporaneamente inconscio sia vero in senso letterale. Dire di un agente non cosciente che esso creda che p è come dire che canti bene. Dire che canti bene è dire che quando canta, il suo canto è buono. Dire che crede che p è dire che quando considera consapevolmente il contenuto p costui lo afferma consapevolmente. Inoltre intendo affermare che la visione fenomenica del contenuto intenzionale che Crane sembra abbracciare lo impegni prima facie nei confronti della prospettiva, quantomeno controversa e probabilmente incoerente, secondo cui esisterebbe una dimensione fenomenica inconscia. Parole chiave: Credenza; Coscienza; Inconscio; Contenuto intenzionale; Giudizio. (shrink)
It is argued that the question “Can we trust technology?” is unanswerable because it is open-ended. Only questions about specific issues that can have specific answers should be entertained. It is further argued that the reason the question cannot be answered is that there is no such thing as Technology simpliciter. Fundamentally, the question comes down to trusting people and even then, the question has to be specific about trusting a person to do this or that.
The principle of informed consent obligates physicians to explain possible side effects when prescribing medications. This disclosure may itself induce adverse effects through expectancy mechanisms known as nocebo effects, contradicting the principle of nonmaleficence. Rigorous research suggests that providing patients with a detailed enumeration of every possible adverse event?especially subjective self-appraised symptoms?can actually increase side effects. Describing one version of what might happen may actually create outcomes that are different from what would have happened without this information. This essay argues (...) that the perceived tension between balancing informed consent with nonmaleficence might be resolved by recognizing that adverse effects have no clear black or white?truth.? This essay suggests a pragmatic approach for providers to minimize nocebo responses while still maintaining patient autonomy through?contextualized informed consent,? which takes into account possible side effects, the patient being treated, and the particular diagnosis involved. (shrink)
The question is how do Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) give us access to the nano world? The images these instruments produce, I argue, do not allow us to see atoms in the same way that we see trees. To the extent that SEMs and STMs allow us to see the occupants of the nano world it is by way of metaphorical extension of the concept of “seeing”. The more general claim is that changes in scientific instrumentation effect changes in the (...) concepts central to our understanding of scientific results. (shrink)
Arguments about the discursive shaping of our inner lives explain the shaping powers of normalising forces on individual and collective social action, but, I argue here, do not adequately account for the actions of those who choose to follow alternative ways of being. Meta- Reality brings into this picture those aspects of being that are ‘beyond language’, and theorises human consciousness as stratified. I argue that it provides a fuller theoretical explanation for the motivations of five contemporary British visual artists. (...) Drawing on a discourse analysis, I explore why these artists go against the current stream of consumerist and work norms in order to find the time to make art. I summarise and compare Rose’s theory of a multiple interior self formed through our active participation in specific social processes with Bhaskar’s theory of individual uniqueness at a level of consciousness that also connects us to all others. (shrink)
Phase 1 healthy volunteer clinical trials—which financially compensate subjects in tests of drug toxicity levels and side effects—appear to place pressure on each joint of the moral framework justifying research. In this article, we review concerns about phase 1 trials as they have been framed in the bioethics literature, including undue inducement and coercion, unjust exploitation, and worries about compromised data validity. We then revisit these concerns in light of the lived experiences of serial participants who are income-dependent on phase (...) 1 trials. We show how participant experiences shift attention from discrete exchanges, behaviors, and events in the research enterprise to the ongoing and dynamic patterns of serial participation in which individual decision-making is embedded in collective social and economic conditions and shaped by institutional policies. We argue in particular for the ethical significance of structurally diminished voluntariness, routine powerlessness in setting the terms of exchange, and incentive structures that may promote pharmaceutical interests but encourage phase 1 healthy volunteers to skirt important rules. (shrink)
Applying Snyder and Feldman's 1984 consolidation?transition model to moral judgement development has enabled further understanding of how moral judgement translates to moral functioning. In this study, 178 college students were identified as being in consolidated versus transitional phases of moral judgement development using Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT). Participant moral functioning was inferred through an honest decision?making index along with Attitudes Towards Human Rights Inventory (ATHRI) and Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) scores. Multivariate Analyses of Variance revealed that the consolidated group (...) was significantly more honest than the transitional group. No differences attributable to moral judgement phase were seen for ATHRI and VFI scores. Findings support the claim that consolidated phases improve the explanatory power of moral judgement for certain moral functional outcomes?particularly those involving ambiguity and minimal time for decision?making. (shrink)
Open-mindedness is widely valued as an important intellectual virtue. Definitional debates about open-mindedness have focused on whether open-minded believers must possess a particular first-order attitude toward their beliefs or a second-order attitude toward themselves as believers, taking it for granted that open-mindedness is motivated by the pursuit of propositional knowledge. In this article, Rebecca Taylor develops an alternative to knowledge-centered accounts of open-mindedness. Drawing on recent work in epistemology that reclaims understanding as a primary epistemic good, Taylor argues for (...) an expanded account of open-mindedness as an intellectual virtue motivated by the pursuit of both knowledge and understanding. Incorporating understanding allows for a more robust account of open-mindedness that better accommodates common usage, avoids common criticisms, and better explains the widespread acceptance of open-mindedness as an important intellectual virtue. Taylor also identifies the connections between open-mindedness and several other intellectual virtues, including intellectual humility, intellectual courage, and intellectual diligence. (shrink)
I explore how gender can shape the pragmatics of speech. In some circumstances, when a woman deploys standard discursive conventions in order to produce a speech act with a specific performative force, her utterance can turn out, in virtue of its uptake, to have a quite different force—a less empowering force—than it would have if performed by a man. When members of a disadvantaged group face a systematic inability to produce a specific kind of speech act that they are entitled (...) to perform—and in particular when their attempts result in their actually producing a different kind of speech act that further compromises their social position and agency—then they are victims of what I call discursive injustice. I examine three examples of discursive injustice. I contrast my account with Langton and Hornsby's account of illocutionary silencing. I argue that lack of complete control over the performative force of our speech acts is universal, and not a special marker of social disadvantage. However, women and other relatively disempowered speakers are sometimes subject to a distinctive distortion of the path from speaking to uptake, which undercuts their social agency in ways that track and enhance existing social disadvantages. (shrink)
Scientific explanations are widely recognized to have instrumental value by helping scientists make predictions and control their environment. In this paper I raise, and provide a first analysis of, the question whether explanatory proofs in mathematics have analogous instrumental value. I first identify an important goal in mathematical practice: reusing resources from existing proofs to solve new problems. I then consider the more specific question: do explanatory proofs have instrumental value by promoting reuse of the resources they contain? In general, (...) I argue that the answer to this question is “no” and demonstrate this in detail for the theory of mathematical explanation developed by Marc Lange. (shrink)