(From the book cover in 2007) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness is the most thorough and comprehensive survey of contemporary scientific research and philosophical thought on consciousness currently available. Its 55 newly commissioned, peer-reviewed chapters combine state-of-the-art surveys with cutting edge research. Taken as a whole, these essays by leading lights in the philosophy and science of consciousness create an engaging dialog and unparalleled source of information regarding this most fascinating and mysterious subject.
Most answers to the mind-body problem are claims about the nature of mental properties and substances. But advocates of non-reductive physicalism have generally neglected the topic of the nature of substance, quickly nodding to the view that all substances are physical, while focusing their intellectual energy on understanding how mental properties relate to physical ones. Let us call the view that all substances are physical or are exhaustively composed of physical substances substance physicalism (SP). Herein, I argue that non-reductive physicalism (...) (NRP) cannot uphold substance physicalism and is thereby false. For NRP faces a mind problem: its commitment to property irreducibility prevents that which bears the mental properties—the mind, or on some views, the self or person—from being a physical thing. (shrink)
In this essay I defend a theory of psychological explanation that is based on the joint commitment to direct reference and computationalism. I offer a new solution to the problem of Frege Cases. Frege Cases involve agents who are unaware that certain expressions corefer (e.g. that 'Cicero' and 'Tully' corefer), where such knowledge is relevant to the success of their behavior, leading to cases in which the agents fail to behave as the intentional laws predict. It is generally agreed that (...) Frege Cases are a major problem, if not the major problem, that this sort of theory faces. In this essay, I hope to show that the theory can surmount the Frege Cases. (shrink)
Recently, proponents of Humean Supervenience have challenged the plausibility of the intuition that the laws of nature ‘govern’, or guide, the evolution of events in the universe. Certain influential thought experiments authored by John Carroll, Michael Tooley, and others, rely strongly on such intuitions. These thought experiments are generally regarded as playing a central role in the lawhood debate, suggesting that the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view of the laws of nature, and the related doctrine of the Humean Supervenience of laws, are false. (...) In this paper, I take on these recent challenges, arguing that the intuition that the laws govern should be taken seriously. Still, I find the recent discussions insightful, in certain ways. Employing some ideas from one of the critics, I draw some non-standard conclusions about the significance of the thought experiments to the lawhood debate. (shrink)
The core of the language of thought program is the claim that thinking is the manipulation of symbols according to rules. Yet LOT has said little about symbol natures, and existing accounts are highly controversial. This is a major flaw at the heart of the LOT program: LOT requires an account of symbol natures to naturalize intentionality, to determine whether the brain even engages in symbol manipulations, and to understand how symbols relate to lower-level neurocomputational states. This paper provides the (...) much-needed theory of symbols, and in doing so, alters the LOT program in significant respects. (shrink)
One of the most influential philosophical voices in the consciousness studies community is that of Daniel Dennett. Outside of consciousness studies, Dennett is well-known for his work on numerous topics, such as intentionality, artificial intelligence, free will, evolutionary theory, and the basis of religious experience. (Dennett, 1984, 1987, 1995c, 2005) In 1991, just as researchers and philosophers were beginning to turn more attention to the nature of consciousness, Dennett authored his Consciousness Explained. Consciousness Explained aimed to develop both a theory (...) of consciousness and a powerful critique of the then mainstream view of the nature of consciousness, which Dennett called,. (shrink)
In The Mind Doesn’t Work that Way, Jerry Fodor argues that mental representations have context sensitive features relevant to cognition, and that, therefore, the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) is mistaken. We call this the Globality Argument. This is an in principle argument against CTM. We argue that it is self-defeating. We consider an alternative argument constructed from materials in the discussion, which avoids the pitfalls of the official argument. We argue that it is also unsound and that, while (...) it is an empirical issue whether context sensitive features of mental representations are relevant to cognition, it is empirically implausible. (shrink)
A timely volume that uses science fiction as a springboard to meaningful philosophical discussions, especially at points of contact between science fiction and new scientific developments. Raises questions and examines timely themes concerning the nature of the mind, time travel, artificial intelligence, neural enhancement, free will, the nature of persons, transhumanism, virtual reality, and neuroethics Draws on a broad range of books, films and television series, including _The Matrix, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Frankenstein, Brave New World, The Time Machine,_ and (...) _Back to the Future_ Considers the classic philosophical puzzles that appeal to the general reader, while also exploring new topics of interest to the more seasoned academic. (shrink)
The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way is an expose of certain theoretical problems in cognitive science, and in particular, problems that concern the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). The problems that Fodor worries plague CTM divide into two kinds, and both purport to show that the success of cognitive science will likely be limited to the modules. The first sort of problem concerns what Fodor has called “global properties”; features that a mental sentence has which depend on how the (...) sentence interacts with a larger plan (i.e., set of sentences), rather than the type identity of the sentence alone. The second problem concerns what many have called, “The Relevance Problem”: the problem of whether and how humans determine what is relevant in a computational manner. However, I argue that the problem that Fodor believes global properties pose for CTM is a non-problem, and that further, while the relevance problem is a serious research issue, it does not justify the grim view that cognitive science, and CTM in particular, will likely fail to explain cognition. (shrink)
Suppose it is 2025 and being a technophile, you purchase brain enhancements as they become readily available. First, you add a mobile internet connection to your retina, then, you enhance your working memory by adding neural circuitry. You are now officially a cyborg. Now skip ahead to 2040. Through nanotechnological therapies and enhancements you are able to extend your lifespan, and as the years progress, you continue to accumulate more far-reaching enhancements. By 2060, after several small but cumulatively profound alterations, (...) you are a “posthuman.” To quote philosopher Nick Bostrom, posthumans are possible future beings, “whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards” (Bostrom 2003c). At this point, your intelligence is enhanced not just in terms of speed of mental processing; you are now able to make rich connections that you were not able to make before. Unenhanced humans, or “naturals,” seem to you to be intellectually disabled—you have little in common with them—but as a transhumanist, you are supportive of their right to not enhance (Bostrom 2003c; Garreau 2005; Kurzweil 2005). (shrink)
According to the language of thought (LOT) approach and the related computational theory of mind (CTM), thinking is the processing of symbols in an inner mental language that is distinct from any public language. Herein, I explore a deep problem at the heart of the LOT/CTM program—it has yet to provide a plausible conception of a mental symbol.
This chapter discusses the two general kinds of uploading scenarios and given our response to Chalmers' objections, let us summarize where things stand. First, there is considerable reason to be pessimistic about instantaneous destructive uploading's ability to preserve identity or to produce continuations of the original person. Second, there is also good reason to be pessimistic about gradual destructive uploading's ability to preserve identity or produce continuations, since exactly the same issues arise in the context of gradual uploading. The chapter (...) introduces issues from the field of metaphysics that are key to determining whether you could survive uploading. The author argues that it is plausible, given these background metaphysical issues, that you will not survive uploading. The chapter considers David Chalmers' objections to our position, as stated in a recent paper of his. (shrink)
events all seem to have something in common, metaphysically speaking, and some philosophers have inquired into what this common nature is. The main aim of a theory of events is to propose and defend an identity condition on events; that is, a condition under which two events are identical. For example, if Brutus kills Caesar by stabbing him, are there two events, the stabbing and the killing, or only one event? Each of the leading theories of events is surveyed in (...) this article. According to Jaegwon Kim, events are basically property instantiations. In contrast, Donald Davidson attempts to individuate events by their causes and effects. However, Davidson eventually rejects this view and, together with W.V.O. Quine, individuates events with respect to their location in spacetime. According to David Lewis, an event is a property of a spatiotemporal region. (shrink)
Armstrong's combinatorialism, in his own words, is the following project: "My central metaphysical hypothesis is that all there is is the world of space and time. It is this world which is to supply the actual elements for the totality of combinations. So what is proposed is a Naturalistic form of a combinatorial theory."2 Armstrong calls his central hypothesis "Naturalism." He intends his well−known theory of universals to satisfy this thesis. He now attempts to give a naturalistic theory of modality.
Focusing on Machery's claim that concepts play entirely different roles in philosophy and psychology, I explain how one well-known philosophical theory of concepts, Conceptual Atomism (CA), when properly understood, takes into account both kinds of roles.
The Language of Thought program has a suicidal edge. Jerry Fodor, of all people, has argued that although LOT will likely succeed in explaining modular processes, it will fail to explain the central system, a subsystem in the brain in which information from the different sense modalities is integrated, conscious deliberation occurs, and behavior is planned. A fundamental characteristic of the central system is that it is “informationally unencapsulated” -- its operations can draw from information from any cognitive domain. The (...) domain general nature of the central system is key to human reasoning; our ability to connect apparently unrelated concepts enables the creativity and flexibility of human thought, as does our ability to integrate material across sensory divides. The central system is the holy grail of cognitive science: understanding higher cognitive function is crucial to grasping how humans reach their highest intellectual achievements. But according to Fodor, the founding father of the LOT program and the related Computational Theory of Mind (CTM), the holy grail is out of reach: the central system is likely to be non-computational (Fodor 1983, 2000, 2008). Cognitive scientists working on higher cognitive function should abandon their efforts. Research should be limited to the modules, which for Fodor rest at the sensory periphery (2000).1 Cognitive scientists who work in the symbol processing tradition outside of philosophy would reject this pessimism, but ironically, within philosophy itself, this pessimistic streak has been very influential, most likely because it comes from the most well-known proponent of LOT and CTM. Indeed, pessimism about centrality has become assimilated into the mainstream conception of LOT. (Herein, I refer to a LOT that appeals to pessimism about centrality as the “standard LOT”). I imagine this makes the standard LOT unattractive to those philosophers with a more optimistic approach to what cognitive science can achieve.. (shrink)
Genetic testing has familial implications. Counsellors find themselves in (moral) conflict between medical confidentiality (towards the patient) and a potential right or even duty to warn at-risk relatives. Legal regulations vary between countries. English literature about German law is scarce. We reviewed the literature of relevant legal cases, focussing on German law, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. This article aims to familiarise counsellors with their responsibilities, compare the situation between countries and point out (...) legally unresolved areas.According to the German Genetic Diagnostics Act (Gendiagnostikgesetz) in case of an ‘avoidable or treatable’ genetic disorder, geneticists ought to confine themselves to the obligated advice to the patient. Whether a breach of the duty of confidentiality can be justified in exceptional cases by ‘necessity as justification’ for actively informing relatives at risk remains legally unclear. In case of a ‘neither avoidable nor treatable’ genetic disease, geneticists should also refrain from actively informing relatives as the justifiable state of emergency does not permit to break the duty of confidentiality. (shrink)
This chapter first explains why it is likely that the alien civilizations we encounter will be forms of superintelligent artificial intelligence (SAI). Next, it turns to the question of whether superintelligent aliens can be conscious – whether it feels a certain way to be an alien, despite their non‐biological nature. The chapter draws from the literature in philosophy of AI, and urges that although we cannot be certain that superintelligent aliens can be conscious, it is likely that they would be. (...) It then turns to the difficult question of how such creatures might think, and attempts to identify some goals and cognitive capacities likely to be possessed by superintelligent beings. The chapter discusses Nick Bostrom's recent book on superintelligence, which focuses on the genesis of SAI on Earth. Finally, it isolates a specific type of superintelligence that is of particular import in the context of alien superintelligence, biologically‐inspired superintelligences (BISAs). (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between neural enhancement, uploading, and personal identity. Building on our earlier work, it argues that the aspects of cognitive functioning that are central to the preservation of personal identity are those surrounding consciousness. Neural enhancements that do not preserve consciousness do not preserve personal identity. Examining in particular the influential arguments of Clark, Clowes, Gärtner, and others regarding the extended mind, we argue for a pessimistic view of the ability for mind extension technologies that are (...) currently available to provide a feasible path to transcend human biology while still preserving our personal identity. (shrink)
One of the most influential philosophical voices in the consciousness studies community is that of Daniel Dennett. Dennett's Consciousness Explained aimed to develop both a theory of consciousness and a powerful critique of the then mainstream view of the nature of consciousness, which Dennett called “The Cartesian Theater View”. This chapter focuses on Dennett's influential critique of the Cartesian Theater View, as well as his positive view on the nature of consciousness, called the “Multiple Drafts Model”. It also discusses Dennett's (...) views on the hard problem of consciousness. Dennett's contributions to consciousness studies are quite extensive. In addition to offering a critique of Cartesian Materialism and the Multiple Drafts Model, Dennett has attacked certain thought experiments, problems, and arguments that are commonly thought to lend support to the idea that consciousness is an irreducible feature of the world, going beyond the physical realm that science investigates. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on one historically important approach to computationalism about thought. According to "the classical computational theory of mind" (CTM), thinking involves the algorithmic manipulation of mental symbols. The chapter reviews CTM and the related language of thought (LOT) position, urging that the orthodox position, associated with the groundbreaking work of Jerry Fodor, has failed to specify a key component: the notion of a mental symbol. It clarifies the notion of a LOT symbol and explores an approach different from (...) the orthodox, Fodorian LOT/CTM. The LOT position is a leading approach to the computational nature of thought. A key feature of LOT is that its mental representations have a combinatorial syntax. A representational system has a combinatorial syntax when it employs a finite store of atomic representations, which can be combined to form compound representations, which can then be combined to form further compound representations. (shrink)
Thought experiments are windows into the fundamental nature of things. They can demonstrate a point, entertain, illustrate a puzzle, lay bare a contradiction in thought, and move us to provide further clarification. Some of the best science fiction tales are in fact long versions of philosophical thought experiments. From Arthur C. Clark's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which explored the twin ideas of intelligent design and artificial intelligence gone awry, to the Matrix films, which were partly inspired by Plato's Cave, (...) philosophy and science fiction are converging upon a set of shared themes and questions. Indeed, there is almost no end to the list of issues in science fiction that are philosophically intriguing. The chapter also provides an outline of the content available in other chapters of the book. (shrink)
Transhumanists share the belief that an outcome in which humans have radically advanced intelligence, near immortality, deep friendships with AI creatures, and elective body characteristics is a very desirable end, both for one's own personal development and for the development of our species as a whole. This chapter employs science fiction thought experiments to discuss the most important philosophical element of the transhumanist picture ‐ its unique perspective on the nature and development of persons. Examining the enhancement issue from the (...) vantage point of the metaphysical problem of personal identity presents a serious challenge to transhumanism. The reduplication problem suggests that sameness of pattern is not sufficient for sameness of person. Perhaps one should react to the reduplication case in the following way: one's pattern is essential to one's self despite not being sufficient for a complete account of one's identity. (shrink)
(From the Publisher 2017) Featuring many important updates and revisions, the highly-anticipated second edition of The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness offers a collection of readings that together represent the most thorough and comprehensive survey of the nature of consciousness available today. Chapters delve deeply into the wide variety of scientific and philosophical problems that arise from the study of consciousness—as well as the philosophical, cognitive, neuroscientific, and phenomenological approaches to solving them. -/- Along with updates to existing scientific readings reflecting (...) the latest research data, this edition features 18 entirely new theoretical, empirical and methodological chapters covering such areas as integrated information theory, the resurgence in panpsychism, the renewed interest in more sophisticated first-person methodologies for the investigation of conscious phenomenology, and many others. Featuring contributions by leading experts in the study of consciousness, from across a variety of academic disciplines, the 54-chapter collection reasserts its role as the most thorough, authoritative, and up-to-date survey of the subject available today. Illuminating and thought-provoking, The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, Second Edition is an indispensable resource for those wishing to gain insights into the latest contemporary thinking on consciousness. (shrink)