Elements of Mind provides a unique introduction to the main problems and debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. Author Tim Crane opposes those currently popular conceptions of the mind that divide mental phenomena into two very different kinds (the intentional and the qualitative) and proposes instead a challenging and unified theory of all the phenomena of mind. In light of this theory, Crane engages students with the central problems of the philosophy of mind--the mind-body problem, the problem of intentionality (or (...) mental representation), the problem of consciousness, and the problem of perception--and attempts to find solutions to these problems. A fresh and engaging exploration of the main issues in the philosophy of mind, Elements of Mind is easily accessible to students with no background in the subject. (shrink)
Tim Crane addresses the ancient question of how it is possible to think about what does not exist. He argues that the representation of the non-existent is a pervasive feature of our thought about the world, and that to understand thought's representational power ('intentionality') we need to understand the representation of the non-existent.
Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but they all grant physical science (...) a unique ontological authority: the authority to tell us what there is. Physicalism is now almost orthodox in much philosophy, notably in much recent philosophy of mind. But although often invoked, it is rarely explicitly defined. It should be. The claim that everything is physical is not as clear as it seems. In this paper, we examine a number of proposed definitions of physicalism and reasons for being a physicalist. We will argue both that physicalism lacks a clear and credible definition, and that in no non-vacuous interpretation is it true. We are concerned here only with physicalism as a doctrine about the empirical world. In particular, it should not be confused with nominalism, the doctrine that there are no universals.2 Nominalism and physicalism are quite independent doctrines. Believers in universals may as consistently assert as deny that the only properties and relations are those studied by physical science. And nominalists may with equal consistency assert or deny that physical science could provide enough predicates to describe the world. That is the question which concerns physicalists, not whether physical predicates name real universals. (We will for brevity write as if they do, but we do not need that assumption.). (shrink)
P.F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as … an immediate consciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of the elms; I see the dappled deer (...) grazing in groups on the vivid green grass…’ (1979: 97). In other words, in describing experience, we tend to describe the objects of experience – the things which we experience – and the ways they are when we are experiencing them. Some go further. According to Heidegger. (shrink)
Elements of Mind (EM) has two themes, one major and one minor. The major theme is intentionality, the mind’s direction upon its objects; the other is the mind–body problem. I treat these themes separately: chapters 1, and 3–5 are concerned with intentionality, while chapter 2 is about the mind–body problem. In this summary I will first describe my view of the mind–body problem, and then describe the book’s main theme. Like many philosophers, I see the mind–body problem as containing two (...) sub–problems: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. I see these problems forming the two horns of a dilemma. Just as the problem of mental causation pushes us towards physicalism, so the problem of consciousness pushes us away from it. Each problem reveals the inadequacy of the solution to the other. Essentially the problem of mental causation is the conflict between (i) the apparent fact that mental states and events have effects in the physical world and (ii) a general principle about the causal nature of the physical world, which is sometimes called the ‘causal closure’ or the ‘causal completeness’ of the physical world. This principle says that all physical effects have physical causes which are enough to bring them about. The problem then is simple: how can a mental cause have a physical effect if that effect also has a physical cause which is enough to bring it about? Barring massive overdetermination of our actions by independent causes, it seems that the best answer is to identify the mental and the physical causes. And this is traditionally how physicalists have argued for their identity theory of mind and body. However, many physicalists reject the identity theory, and therefore they have to solve the mental causation problem in some other way. At present, there is no consensus among physicalists on which of the currently proposed solutions is correct. In chapter 2 of EM I propose an alternative, which I call ‘emergentism’. Inspired by the rejection of the identity theory, Emergentism is the idea that mental properties are genu.. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that perceptual experience is a form of intentionality, i.e., that it has representational content. Many philosophers take this to mean that like belief, experience has propositional content, that it can be true or false. I accept that perceptual experience has intentionality; but I dispute the claim that it has propositional content. This claim does not follow from the fact that experience is intentional, nor does it follow from the fact that experiences are accurate or inaccurate. I (...) end by considering the relationship between this question and the question of whether experience has non-conceptual content. (shrink)
Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. The (...) claim is not, of course, that the child’s experience is ‘empty’; but that, unlike the scientist, it does not see the tube as a cathode ray tube. One way of supporting this claim is to say that one cannot see something as an F unless one has the concept F. Since the child plainly lacks the concept of a cathode ray tube, it cannot see it as a cathode ray tube. Although Perceptual Relativism is hard to believe, this supporting suggestion is not so implausible. After all, when we see (and more generally, perceive) the world, the world is presented to us in a particular way; so how can we see it as being that way unless we have some idea or conception of the way it is presented? We need not be committed to a representative theory of perception to think that perceptions in some sense represent the world. We can express this by saying that perceptions have content. Now it is a commonplace that the contents of beliefs and the other propositional attitudes involve concepts. The belief that this thing is a cathode ray tube involves, in some sense, the concept cathode ray tube. So the line of thought behind Perceptual Relativism may be expressed thus: seeing an F as an F is a state with content. (shrink)
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
The central and defining characteristic of thoughts is that they have objects. The object of a thought is what the thought concerns, or what it is about. Since there cannot be thoughts which are not about anything, or which do not concern anything, there cannot be thoughts without objects. Mental states or events or processes which have objects in this sense are traditionally called ‘intentional,’ and ‘intentionality’ is for this reason the general term for this defining characteristic of thought. Under (...) the heading of ‘thought’ we can include many different kinds of mental apprehension of an object—including relatively temporary episodes of contemplating or scrutinising, as well as persisting states like beliefs and hopes which are not similarly episodic in character. These are all ways of thinking about an object. But even construing ‘thought’ in this broad way, it is clear that not all mental states and events are thoughts: sensations, emotions and perceptual experiences are not thoughts, but they are also paradigmatically mental. Do these mental states and events have objects too? Or are there mental states and events which have no objects? (shrink)
‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something would ipso facto cease to exist’.1 Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano’s: that intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano’s originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or in inventing the terminology, which (...) derives from scholastic discussions of concepts or intentiones.2 Rather, his originality consists in his claim that the concept of intentionality marks out the subject matter of psychology: the mental. His view was that intentionality ‘is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon manifests anything like it’.3 This is Brentano’s thesis that intentionality is the mark of the mental. Despite the centrality of the concept of intentionality in contemporary philosophy of mind, and despite the customary homage paid to Brentano as the one who revived the terminology and placed the concept at the centre of philosophy, Brentano’s thesis is widely rejected by contemporary philosophers of mind. What is more, its rejection is not something which is thought to require substantial philosophical argument. Rather, the falsity of the thesis is taken as a starting-point in many contemporary discussions of intentionality, something so obvious that it only needs to be stated to be recognised as true. Consider, for instance, these remarks from the opening pages of Searle’s Intentionality: Some, not all, mental states and events have Intentionality. Beliefs, fears, hopes and desires are Intentional; but there are forms of nervousness, elation and undirected anxiety that are not Intentional.... My beliefs and desires must always be about something. But my nervousness and undirected anxiety need not in that way be about anything.4 Searle takes this as obvious, so obvious that it is not in need of further argument or elucidation. (shrink)
Sense-perception—the awareness or apprehension of things by sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste—has long been a preoccupation of philosophers. One pervasive and traditional problem, sometimes called “the problem of perception”, is created by the phenomena of perceptual illusion and hallucination: if these kinds of error are possible, how can perception be what it intuitively seems to be, a direct and immediate access to reality? The present entry is about how these possibilities of error challenge the intelligibility of the phenomenon of (...) perception, and how the major theories of perception in the last century are best understood as responses to this challenge. (shrink)
A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
If you stare for a period of time at a scene which contains movement in one direction, and then turn your attention to an object in a scene which contains no movement, this object will appear to move in the opposite direction to that of the original movement. The effect can be easily achieved by attaching a piece of paper with a spiral drawn on it to the spinning turntable of a record player, and then turning the turntable off while (...) continuing to look at the spiral (see Frisby 1979, pp. 100-101 for a detailed descrip- tion of how to bring this about). But the illusion of movement can also occur when looking at a waterfall, for instance, and turning one's attention away from the waterfall to a stationary object such as a stone; hence its name - the 'Waterfall Illusion'. (shrink)
This paper is about a puzzle which lies at the heart of contemporary physicalist theories of mind. On the one hand, the original motivation for physicalism was the need to explain the place of mental causation in the physical world. On the other hand, physicalists have recently come to see the explanation of mental causation as one of their major problems. But how can this be? How can it be that physicalist theories still have a problem explaining something which their (...) physicalism was intended to explain in the first place? If physicalism is meant to be an explanation of mental causation, then why should it still face the problem of mental causation? (shrink)
This edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes a new chapter on consciousness and a new section on modularity. There are also guides for further reading, and a new glossary of terms such as mentalese, connectionism, and the homunculus fallacy.
The nature of perception has long been a central question in philosophy. It is of crucial importance not just in the philosophy of mind, but also in epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of science. The essays in this 1992 volume not only offer fresh answers to some of the traditional problems of perception, but also examine the subject in light of contemporary research on mental content. A substantial introduction locates the essays within the recent history of the subject, and (...) demonstrates the links between them. The Contents of Experience brings together some prominent philosophers in the field, and offers a major statement on a problem central to current philosophical thinking. Notable contributors include Christopher Peacocke, Brian O'Shaughnessy and Michael Tye. (shrink)
The celebrated "Twin Earth" arguments of Hilary Putnam (1975) and Tyler Burge (1979) aim to establish that some intentional states logically depend on facts external to the subjects of those states. Ascriptions of states of these kinds to a thinker entail that the thinker's environment is a certain way. It is not possible that the thinker could be in those very intentional states unless the environment is that way...
Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle...
This paper is an attempt to understand the content of, and motivation for, a popular form of physicalism, which I call ‘non-reductive physicalism’. Non-reductive physicalism claims although the mind is physical (in some sense), mental properties are nonetheless not identical to (or reducible to) physical properties. This suggests that mental properties are, in earlier terminology, ‘emergent properties’ of physical entities. Yet many non-reductive physicalists have denied this. In what follows, I examine their denial, and I argue that on a plausible (...) understanding of what ‘emergent’ means, the denial is indefensible: non-reductive physicalism is committed to mental properties being emergent properties. It follows that the problems for emergentism—especially the problems of mental causation—are also problems for non-reductive physicalism, and they are problems for the same reason. (shrink)
We call our thoughts conscious, and we also say the same of our bodily sensations, perceptions and other sensory experiences. But thoughts and sensory experiences are very different phenomena, both from the point of view of their subject and in their functional or cognitive role. Does this mean, then, that there are very different kinds or varieties of consciousness? Philosophers do often talk about different kinds of consciousness: Christopher Hill, for example, claims that ‘it is customary to distinguish five forms (...) of consciousness’ (Hill 2009: 1). These are: agent consciousness, propositional consciousness, introspective consciousness, relational consciousness and phenomenal consciousness; to which Hill adds experiential consciousness, making six in total. (shrink)
In The Mind and the World Order, C.I. Lewis made a famous distinction between the immediate data ‘which are presented or given to the mind’ and the ‘construction or interpretation’ which the mind brings to those data (1929: 52). What the mind receives is the datum – literally, the given – and the interpretation is what happens when we being it ‘under some category or other, select from it, emphasise aspects of it, and relate it in particular and unavoidable ways’ (...) (1929: 52). So although any attempt to describe the given will inevitably be an interpretation of it, this should not give us reason to deny its existence: ‘no-one but a philosopher could for a moment deny this immediate presence in consciousness of that which no activity of thought can create or alter’ (1929: 53). Whatever those outside philosophy might think, Lewis was certainly right about what philosophers were prepared to deny. His conception of the ‘given’ is without question one of the targets of Wilfrid Sellars’s influential critique of the notion of the ‘whole framework of givenness’ (1957).1 One of the things Sellars was attacking was the idea that something that was merely given by the senses could put one in a position to be justified in making a judgement about the empirical world. The.. (shrink)
The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are (...) physical.2 One may avoid this dilemma by adopting an epiphenomenalist view of consciousness, of course; but there is little independent reason for believing such a view. Rejecting epiphenomenalism, then, leaves contemporary philosophers with their problem: mental causation inclines them towards physicalism, while consciousness inclines them towards dualism. (shrink)
Franz Brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept of intentional inexistence is often cited as reintroducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the 20th century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.1 It is important to correct these misunderstandings if we are to come to a proper assessment of Brentano’s worth as a philosopher (...) and his position in the history of philosophy. Good corrections have been made in the recent analytic literature by David Bell (1990), Dermot Moran (1996), and Barry Smith (1994) among others. But there is also another, more purely philosophical lesson to be learned from the proper understanding of Brentano’s views on this matter. This is that Brentano’s struggles with the concept of intentionality reveal a fundamental division between different ways of thinking about intentionality, an division which Brentano himself does not make fully clear. Making the nature of this division explicit is the aim of this paper. (shrink)
Many philosophers want to say both that everything is determined by the physical and subject to physical laws and principles, and that certain mental entities cannot be identified with any physical entities. The problem of mental causation is to make these two assumptions compatible with the causal efficacy of the mental. The concern is that this physicalist picture of the world leaves no space for the causal efficacy of anything non-physical. The physical, as it is sometimes said, excludes anything non- (...) physical from doing causal work. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that being in an intentional state is a matter of being related to a sentence in a mental language-a 'Language of Thought' (see especially Fodor 1975, 1987 Appendix; Field 1978). According to this view-which I shall call 'the LT hypothesis'-when anyone has a belief or a desire or a hope with a certain content, they have a sentence of this language, with that content, 'written' in their heads. The claim is meant quite literally: the mental representations that (...) make up the items of this language have semantic and syntactic properties. This is why, according to this view, cognitive psychology does, and should, treat that part of the mind which deals with intentional states as a semantic and a syntactic 'engine'. (shrink)
What José Luis Bermúdez calls the paradox of self-consciousness is essentially the conflict between two claims: (1) The capacity to use first-personal referential devices like “I” must be explained in terms of the capacity to think first-person thoughts. (2) The only way to explain the capacity for having a certain kind of thought is by explaining the capacity for the canonical linguistic expression of thoughts of that kind. (Bermúdez calls this the “Thought-Language Principle”.) The conflict between (1) and (2) is (...) obvious enough. However, if a paradox is an unacceptable conclusion drawn from apparently valid reasoning from apparently true premises, then Bermúdez’s conflict is no paradox. It is rather a conflict between the view that thought must be explained in terms of language, and the view that first person linguistic reference must be explained in terms of first-person thought. Neither view is immediately obvious, and nor is it obvious that the arguments for either are equally compelling. What we have here is a difference of philosophical opinion, not a paradox. (shrink)
It is widely held that there is a problem of talking about or otherwise representing things that not exist. But what exactly is this problem? This paper presents a formulation of the problem in terms of the conflict between the fact that there are truths about non-existent things and the fact that truths must be answerable to reality, how things are. Given this, the problem of singular negative existential statements is no longer the central or most difficult aspect of the (...) problem of non-existence, despite what some philosophers say. (shrink)
What is the distinctively philosophical problem of perception? Here it is argued that it is the conflict between the nature of perceptual experience as it intuitively seems to us, and certain possibilities which are implicit in the very idea of experience: possibilities of illusion and to the world' which involves direct awareness of existing objects and their properties. But if one can have an experience of the same kind without the object being there -- a hallucination of an object -- (...) then it seems that perceptual experience cannot essentially be such a relation. This is the fundamentally philosophical problem of perception; the various philosophical theories of perception in the 20th and 21st centuries can be seen as responses to it. (shrink)
The term ‘psychologism’ is normally used for the doctrine that logical and mathematical truths must be explained in terms of psychological truths (see Kusch 1995 and 2011). As such, the term is typically pejorative: the widespread consensus is that psychologism in this sense is a paradigm of philosophical error, a gross mistake that was identified and conclusively refuted by Frege and Husserl.
What is the relationship between unconscious and conscious intentionality? Contemporary philosophy of mind treats the contents of conscious 10 intentional mental states as the same kind of thing as the contents of un- conscious mental states. According to the standard view that beliefs and desires are propositional attitudes, for example, the contents of these states are propositions, whether or not the states are conscious or unconscious. I dispute this way of thinking of conscious and unconscious content, and propose an alternative, (...) which helps to explain why the various mental things that are called unconscious deserve that label. (shrink)
An important theme running through D.H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (...) (the series of ‘dates’) is real. The A-series is something which is a product of our representation of the world, but not a feature of reality itself. And in other, less central, areas of his work, this kind of theme has been repeated: ‘Objective decision making’ (1980) argues that the right way to understand decision theory is as a theory of what is the objectively correct decision, the one that will actually as a matter of fact achieve your intended goal, rather than the one that is justified purely in terms of what you believe, regardless of whether the belief is true or false. ‘I and now’ (1989) argues against a substantial subjective conception of the self, using analogies between subjective and objective ways of thinking about time and subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self. And in the paper which shall be the focus of my attention here, ‘Nothing like experience’ (1992), Mellor contests arguments which try and derive anti-physicalist conclusions from reflections on the subjective character of experience. A common injunction is detectable: when doing metaphysics, keep the subjective where it belongs: inside the subject’s representation of the world. (shrink)
Dispositions are essential to our understanding of the world. Dispositions: A Debate is an extended dialogue between three distinguished philosophers - D.M. Armstrong, C.B. Martin and U.T. Place - on the many problems associated with dispositions, which reveals their own distinctive accounts of the nature of dispositions. These are then linked to other issues such as the nature of mind, matter, universals, existence, laws of nature and causation.
Michael Tye’s book has two main themes: (i) the rejection of the ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ as a solution to the problems of consciousness for physicalism, and (ii) a new proposed solution to these problems which appeals to Russell’s (1910–11) distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. Interweaved between these two main themes are a number of radical new claims about perceptual consciousness, including a defence of a sort of disjunctivism about perceptual content and an interesting account of the (...) phenomena of change blindness and inattentional blindness. Tye’s book shows all his usual philosophical virtues: it is bold, clear, inventive, and demonstrates his admirable willingness to scrutinise critically his earlier views. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued recently that introspective evidence provides direct support for an intentionalist theory of visual experience. An intentionalist theory of visual experience treats experience as an intentional state, a state with an intentional content. (I shall use the word ’state’ in a general way, for any kind of mental phenomenon, and here I shall not distinguish states proper from events, though the distinction is important.) Intentionalist theories characteristically say that the phenomenal character of an experience, what it is (...) like to have the experience, is exhausted by its intentional content. Visual experience, and on some views sense-experience generally, does not involve the awareness of ’qualia’, intrinsic, non-intentional features of the experience. According to Gilbert Harman and Michael Tye, support for this view comes from introspecting on experience. Tye describes his ’argument from introspection’ as follows: Standing on the beach in Santa Barbara a couple of summers ago on a bright sunny day, I found myself transfixed by the intense blue of the Pacific Ocean. Was I not here delighting in the phenomenal aspects of my visual experience? And if I was, doesn’t this show that there are visual qualia? I am not convinced. It seems to me that what I found so pleasing in the above instance, what I was focusing on, as it were, were a certain shade and intensity of the colour blue. I experienced blue as a property of the ocean not as a property of my experience. My experience itself certainly wasn’t blue. Rather, it was an experience which represented the ocean as blue. What I was really delighting in, then, were specific aspects of the content of the experience. Tye goes on to suggest that this might have been the sort of thing Moore meant when he said that the sensation of blue is ’diaphanous’, and glosses this as follows: When one tries to focus on it in introspection one cannot help but see right through it so that what one actually ends up attending to is the real colour blue. 1An early version of this paper was presented at the conference, Mental Phenomena III in Dubrovnik, Croatia.. (shrink)
Aspects of Psychologism is a penetrating look into fundamental philosophical questions of consciousness, perception, and the experience we have of our mental lives. Psychologism, in Tim Crane’s formulation, presents the mind as a single subject-matter to be investigated not only empirically and conceptually but also phenomenologically: through the systematic examination of consciousness and thought from the subject’s point of view.
Cognitive neuroscientists frequently talk about the brain representing the world. Some philosophers claim that this is a confusion. This paper argues that there is no confusion, and outlines one thing that might mean, using the notion of a model derived from the philosophy of science. This description is then extended to make apply to propositional attitude attributions. A number of problems about propositional attitude attributions can be solved or dissolved by treating propositional attitudes as models.
The currently standard philosophical conception of existence makes a connection between three things: certain ways of talking about existence and being in natural language; certain natural language idioms of quantification; and the formal representation of these in logical languages. Thus a claim like ‘Prime numbers exist’ is treated as equivalent to ‘There is at least one prime number’ and this is in turn equivalent to ‘Some thing is a prime number’. The verb ‘exist’, the verb phrase ‘there is’ and the (...) quantifier ‘some’ are treated as all playing similar roles, and these roles are made explicit in the standard common formalization of all three sentences by a single formula of first-order logic: ‘(∃ x )[P( x ) & N( x )]’, where ‘P( x )’ abbreviates ‘ x is prime’ and ‘N( x )’ abbreviates ‘ x is a number’. The logical quantifier ‘∃’ accordingly symbolizes in context the role played by the English words ‘exists’, ‘some’ and ‘there is’. (shrink)
Joseph Levine is generally credited with the invention of the term ‘explanatory gap’ to describe our ignorance about the relationship between consciousness and the physical structures which sustain it.¹ Levine’s account of the problem of the FN:1 explanatory gap in his book Purple Haze (2001) may be summarized in terms of three theses, which I will describe and name as follows...
The Problems of Mental Causation. Functionalism in the philosophy of mind identifies mental states with their dispositional connections with other mental states, perceptions and actions. Many theories of the mind have sailed under the Functionalist flag. But what I take to be essential to Functionalism is that mental states are individuated causally: the reality of mental states depends essentially on their causal efficacy.
This paper presents a puzzle or antinomy about the role of properties in causation. In theories of properties, a distinction is often made between determinable properties, like red, and their determinates, like scarlet (see Armstrong 1978, volume II). Sometimes determinable properties are cited in causal explanations, as when we say that someone stopped at the traffic light because it was red. If we accept that properties can be among the relata of causation, then it can be argued that there are (...) good reasons for allowing that some of these are determinable properties. On the other hand, there are strong arguments in the metaphysics of properties to treat properties as sparse in David Lewis’s (1983) sense. But then it seems that we only need to believe in the most determinate properties: particular shades of colour, specific masses, lengths and so on. And if we also agree with Lewis that sparse properties are ‘the ones relevant to causal powers’ (1983: 13) it seems we must conclude that if properties are relevant to causation at all, then all of these are determinate properties. I call this ‘the antinomy of determinable causation’. On the one hand, we have a good argument for the claim that determinable properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Thesis. But on the other hand, we have a good argument for the claim that only the most determinate properties can be causes, if any properties are. I call this the Antithesis. Clearly, we need to reject either the Thesis or the.. (shrink)
David Papineau's question, 'Why Supervenience?' , is a good one. The thesis that the mental supervenes on the physi- cal is widespread, but has rarely been defended by detailed argument. Believers in supervenience should be grateful to Papineau for coming to their aid; but I think they will be disappointed in the argument he gives. In what follows, I shall show that Papineau's argument for supervenience relies on a premiss that is either trivial or as contentious as supervenience itself.
It will be obvious to anyone with a slight knowledge of twentieth-century analytic philosophy that one of the central themes of this kind of philosophy is the nature of perception: the awareness of the world through the five senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. Yet it can seem puzzling, from our twenty-first-century perspective, why there is a distinctively philosophical problem of perception at all. For when philosophers ask ‘what is the nature of perception?’, the question can be confused (...) with other, purely empirical, questions. For example: how do our sense-organs actually work? What are the mechanisms of smell and taste? How do vision and touch actually provide us with information about the world around us? There is much general agreement, in its broad outlines, about how to answer such questions empirically; but it is not clear what role, if any, philosophy has to play in answering these empirical questions. So if these were the only questions about the nature of perception, then it would not be clear exactly what the philosophy of perception is supposed to be about. (shrink)
Brentano’s account of what he called intentionale Inexistenz — what we now call intentionality — is without question one of the most important parts of his philosophy, and one of the most influential ideas in late 19th-century philosophy. Here I will explain how this idea figures in Brentano’s central text, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (Brentano 1995a). I will then briefly explain how Brentano’s ideas about intentionality evolved after the first publication of this work in 1874, and how they were (...) then misinterpreted by some influential analytic philosophers. (shrink)
A Commonplace of recent philosophy of mind is that intentional states are relations between thinkers and propositions. This thesis-call it the 'Relational Thesis'-does not depend on any specific theory of propositions. One can hold it whether one believes that propositions are Fregean Thoughts, ordered n-tuples of objects and properties or sets of possible worlds. An assumption that all these theories of propositions share is that propositions are abstract objects, without location in space or time...
I can agree with much of what D.H. Mellor says in his response to my paper ('Crane's Waterfall Illusion'). I can agree that perception in some sense 'aims' at truth, that its function 'is to tell us how the world truly is'...
Jerry Fodor, by common agreement, is one of the world’s leading philosophers. At the forefront of the cognitive revolution since the 1960s, his work has determined much of the research agenda in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology for well over 40 years. This special issue dedicated to his work is intended both as a tribute to Fodor and as a contribution to the fruitful debates that his work has generated. One philosophical thesis that has dominated Fodor’s (...) work since the 1960s is realism about the mental. Are there really mental states, events and processes? From his first book, Psychological Explanation (1968), onwards, Fodor has always answered this question with a resolute yes. From his early rejection of Wittgensteinian and behaviourist conceptions of the mind, to his later disputes with philosophers of mind of the elminativist ilk, he has always been opposed to views that try to explain away mental phenomena. On his view, there are minds, and minds can change the world. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is sometimes said to have particularly close connections to logic and to science, and no particularly interesting or close relation to its own history. It is argued here that although the connections to logic and science have been important in the development of analytic philosophy, these connections do not come close to characterizing the nature of analytic philosophy, either as a body of doctrines or as a philosophical method. We will do better to understand analytic philosophy—and its relationship (...) to continental philosophy—if we see it as a historically constructed collection of texts, which define its key problems and concerns. It is true, however, that analytic philosophy has paid little attention to the history of the subject. This is both its strength—since it allows for a distinctive kind of creativity—and its weakness—since ignoring history can encourage a philosophical variety of “normal science.”. (shrink)
Over the past decade or so, David Papineau has given an account of the content and motivation of a physicalist conception of the world with more thoroughness and argumentative defence than many physicalists have thought necessary. In doing this, he has substantially advanced the debate on physicalism, and physicalists and non-physicalists alike should be grateful to him.1 At the heart of Papineau’s defence of physicalism in his recent book (2002) is his theory of phenomenal concepts. Like many physicalists, Papineau diagnoses (...) the apparent threats to physicalism posed by the phenomena of consciousness by locating the source of anti-physicalist intuitions in features of our thinking rather than in non-physical features of reality. But what is new in Thinking About Consciousness is his detailed account of which features of our thinking it is that generate these supposedly confused anti-physicalist arguments. Hence the bulk of the book is an attempt to show that the most famous ‘consciousness-based’ anti-physicalist arguments—the knowledge argument, the zombie argument and the explanatory gap argument—rest on a mistaken understanding of certain kinds of concepts: phenomenal concepts. I agree with Papineau that physicalism (properly understood) should not be troubled by the knowledge argument and the explanatory gap argument, and that some other anti-physicalist arguments seem to move from assumptions about ways of thinking to conclusions about reality. But I doubt whether his theory of phenomenal concepts can help his defence of physicalism and his diagnosis of the errors of dualism. My reason for saying this is that I do not think there are any such concepts. In saying this I do not mean to deny that there is a useful distinction to be made between scientific concepts, the mastery of which requires knowledge of a certain amount of theory, and concepts which are acquired on the basis of experience, which can be called ‘phenomenal’ concepts. (shrink)
In the beginning God created the elementary particles. Bosons, electrons, protons, quarks and the rest he created them. And they were without form and void, so God created the fundamental laws of physics - the laws of mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and the rest - and assigned values to the fundamental physical constants: the gravitational constant, the speed of light, Planck's constant and the rest. God then set the Universe in motion. And God looked at what he had done, and saw (...) that it was physicalistically acceptable. (shrink)