Many bodily sensations are connected quite closely with specific actions: itches with scratching, for example, and hunger with eating. Indeed, these connections have the feel of conceptual connections. With the exception of D. M. Armstrong, philosophers have largely neglected this aspect of bodily sensations. In this paper, I propose a theory of bodily sensations that explains these connections. The theory ascribes intentional content to bodily sensations but not, strictly speaking, representational content. Rather, the content of these sensations is an imperative: (...) in the case of itches, 'Scratch!' The view avoids non-intentional qualia and hence accords with what could be called, generalizing Lycan slightly, the 'hegemony of intentionality'. (shrink)
The standard adaptationist explanation of the presence of a sensory mechanism in an organism--that it detects properties useful to the organism--cannot be given for color vision. This is because colors do not exist. After arguing for this latter claim, I consider, but reject, nonadaptationist explanations. I conclude by proposing an explanation of how color vision could have adaptive value even though it does not detect properties in the environment.
The standard adaptationist explanation of the presence of a sensory mechanism in an organism—that it detects properties useful to the organism—cannot be given for color vision. This is because colors do not exist. After arguing for this latter claim, I consider, but reject, nonadaptationist explanations. I conclude by proposing an explanation of how color vision could have adaptive value even though it does not detect properties in the environment.
Can the physicalist consistently hold that representational content is all there is to sensory experience and yet that two perceivers could have inverted phenomenal spectra? Yes, if he holds that the phenomenal properties the inverts experience are dummy properties, not instantiated in the physical objects being perceived nor in the perceivers.
Let us assume that some organisms, humans at least and the other higher animals, have internal states and behavioral states that represent things external to themselves. One of the questions that everyone would like answered about these states is: In virtue of what does such a representational state get the specific content that it has? An answer to this question that’s popular just now is: In virtue of its biological function. I believe there is a deep reason why such an (...) answer can’t work. I shall present that reason in this paper.First, we need to be clear about the notion of biological function that’s being appealed to here. In particular, we need to distinguish two fairly different ways of thinking about function. We could think of something’s function as what it contributes to the present functioning or output of some complex system of which it is a part. Roughly, this is Cummins’ view in (Cummins 1984). (shrink)
In virtue of what does a representational state have the content it does? Several philosophers have recently proposed that a representational state gets its content from its biological function. After explaining the sense of biological function used in these views, I criticise the proposal. I argue that biological function only determines representational content up to extensional equivalence. I maintain that this holds even if biological function is defined in terms of an intensional notion like Sober's "selection for".