[What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] Summary: The book is both a survey of the contemporary debate and a defense of a distinctive position. Most philosophers nowadays assume that the focus of the philosophy of consciousness, its shared explanandum, is a certain property of experience variously called “phenomenal character,” “qualitative character,” “qualia” or “phenomenology,” understood in terms of what it is like to undergo the experience in question. Consciousness as defined in (...) terms of its phenomenal aspect is often called “phenomenal consciousness.” The major issue that occupies most thinkers is whether this phenomenal character happens to be a physical property, or whether it is rather sui generis. Those who believe the former are materialists; those who conclude the latter are dualists. As the currently dominant metaphysic is materialism – also sometimes called physicalism – the challenge appears to be to slot phenomenal properties among the physical properties that ultimately make up the world. David Chalmers argued powerfully that we can go very far in situating many mental properties in the physical world – namely, the properties that can be understood in functional terms – but that phenomenal properties resist such a treatment. Chalmers calls this “the hard problem” of consciousness. But there are also some quite powerful positive arguments for dualism. The two most influential ones are the modal argument, also offered by Chalmers, and the knowledge argument invented by Frank Jackson. Chalmers invites us to conceive of creatures that are exactly like human beings – physically, functionally, behaviorally – only bereft of phenomenal consciousness. If such creatures are conceivable, says Chalmers, they are metaphysically possible. And if they are metaphysically possible, materialism is false. Jackson, for his part, suggests we imagine Mary who has spent her entire life inside a black-and-white room and has seen the world through a black-and-white TV screen. But she also happens to know everything there is to know about the physics of color. And yet, Jackson suggests that once Mary is finally released from her room and sees a lawn outside, she learns something new: that this is what it is like to experience green color. The current work on consciousness is by and large characterized by attempts to answer these two dualistic arguments. I try to make sense of the positions within the domain of philosophy of consciousness by means of two major distinctions that mutually intersect. First, there is a distinction between dualism and materialism. An apparent third alternative currently on offer, the so-called Russellian monism, is unstable, collapsing into either dualism (panpsychism) or materialism (Russellian physicalism). Materialism comes in two main flavors: either the a posteriori physicalism, which detects an epistemic gap between phenomenal and physical truths, hence denying that the former could be derived from the latter; or the a priori physicalism, which does not acknowledge any such obstacle. The second major distinction is between phenomenism and representationalism. It’s true that Ned Block, who introduced this contrast, meant to distinguish between two kinds of materialism. But I believe that the distinction actually intersects the one between materialism and dualism. We thus arrive at a table with six slots, representing six main positions in the philosophy of consciousness: (1) dualist phenomenism (Chalmers, the early Jackson, and Tyler Burge); (2) dualist representationalism (René Descartes); (3) aposteriori materialist phenomenism (Block); (4) a posteriori materialist representationalism (Michael Tye, Fred Dretske, David Rosenthal); (5) a priori materialist phenomenism (David Lewis); and (6) a priori materialist representationalism (Daniel Dennett, Derk Pereboom). However, this scheme is in fact somewhat misleading. It is true that Dennett is usually classified as an apriori materialist (or, more precisely an apriori materialist representationalist), but I believe that needs to be corrected. In order to understand why, I first analyze varieties of materialist representationalism in detail, in particular various construals of phenomenal character in terms of representation, or intentionality, which includes a discussion of the identity of its content (the issue of externalism). By contrast, Dennett rejects the concept of phenomenal character. Consciousness has no intrinsic, publicly inaccessible properties. On that ground, Dennett builds an empirical, fully functionalist theory of consciousness, which he also tries to integrate within a general Darwinian framework. From that point of view, one can contrast Dennettian and representationalist views on the issue of animal consciousness. In addition to his rejection of phenomenal character, Dennett also abstains from the regular metaphysical departure point of regular materialism. He does not so much ask how an enigmatic property of consciousness fits an antecedently characterized world, but rather how far we can investigate all aspects of the world, including consciousness, using the scientific method. He is thus a methodological naturalist, rather than a metaphysical materialist. While this approach removes obstacles to the science of consciousness, it does not solve what might be called “the hardest problem” – of intentionality, not phenomenal consciousness. The hardest problem consists in the fact that our intentional discourse involves conflicting commitments that prevent a coherent metaphysic of representational states. However, it does not follow that we should give up on this discourse as a theoretical means of reduction as well as a practical tool of explanation. But it might be that intentional discourse is a somewhat pseudo one. (shrink)
The chapter discusses the rejuvenation of an interest in Mach in the recent metaphysics and philosophy of mind. In the early twentieth century, Mach had been interpreted as a phenomenalist, but phenomenalism fell out of favor in the 1950s. In the later decades, he received praise for his naturalism, but his contributions to metaphysics or philosophy of mind were regarded as misbegotten or irrelevant. With the search for a monistic alternative to both materialism and dualism in the recent philosophy of (...) consciousness, however, Mach attracts a fresh attention. For example, the contemporary philosopher Sam Coleman develops a version of a monistic metaphysic called “panqualityism,” which resembles Mach’s view to a large extent. Like most contemporary monists, however, Coleman works much more closely from Russell’s The Analysis of Matter, than Mach’s The Analysis of Sensations. The chapter details the circumstances that have led to the recent rise of monism; the varieties of Russellian monism; Coleman’s panqualityism; and the similarities and differerences between panqualityism and Machian monism. (shrink)
[For an Ethics without Theology] This study is a critical reflection on Marek Vácha's article on the ethics of euthanasia. In the first part the author offers a short consideration of the reasons for the moribund state of ethics in Czech philosophy, after which, in the second part, he presents a critique of Vácha's article. The article in question is, above all, lacking in a philosophical approach to the problem of euthanasia, and we find in it not so much arguments (...) as rhetoric. The only line of argument that is detectable in the article is founded on natural theology, something that Vácha elsewhere repudiates, and it offers the reader a false dilemma between accepting theistic ethics on the one hand or total subjectivism on the other. In reality, of course, there is a wide range of kinds of objective secular ethics. In the third part, one of these forms is summarised--a system of "everyday morality" which is founded on the concept of harm, and which treats conduct as immoral primarily when it causes unjustifiable harm to others. This form of ethics does not presuppose any controversial theory of value, and it constitutes the viewpoint from which the author then defends physician-assisted suicide. A doctor who helps a patient die--or who causes the patient's death on his own request--does not cause that individual harm if she has only a period of life filled with pain left. In conclusion the author indentifies certain points of contact between secular and theistic ethics. (shrink)
[The Metaphysics of Anti-Individualism] A detailed exploration of the implications of psychological externalism -- in particular Tyler Burge's variety, or what he calls "anti-individualism" -- for the mind-body problem. Based on his anti-individualism, Burge famously rejected materialism, but the ramifications of this argument were not properly examined. I show how he rejects the identity, supervenience, and realization forms of materialism, but that he leaves out the possibility of constitution. In fact, this is not the only option that he admits -- (...) others include eliminativism; a non-metaphysical view which I dub "explanatory pluralism;" and a certain version of dualism. I explore these options and find each of them lacking. However, I eventually consider a possibility that, given anti-individualism, our intentional discourse is ultimately incoherent (I take a clue here from Kripke's "A Puzzle about Belief"). Hence, there might be no satisfactory metaphysic of the mind. (shrink)
[Darwinian Metaethics] A critical analysis of the recent theories of metaethics that take the Darwinian picture of our origin seriously. The contents: 1. Evolution of altruism; 2. Biology in ethics; 3. Moore and a critique of naturalism; 4. Darwinian non-cognitivism; 5. Darwinian cognitivist realism and constructivism; 6. Darwinian cognitivist anti-realism; 7. Darwinian fictionalism.
The paper critically examines C.A.J. Coady's analysis of testimony, concentrating on his interpretation of the views of David Hume. The author tries to show that not only is Coady's interpretation of Hume inadequate, but that Hume's conception of testimony is in fact superior to that of Coady. Coady sees Hume as the originator of the individualistic, first-person, view of testimony, according to which the reports of other people must be confirmed on the basis of an individualistically interpreted perception. Coady argues (...) against the first-person view that it undermines the very possibility of communication. Drawing on the ideas of Davidson and Wittgenstein, he argues that a good many beliefs must be true for the communication to be possible. The author provides evidence that Hume was a third-person theorist himself, even if he did not think that the truth of the majority of beliefs must be presupposed. Moreover, Wittgenstein and perhaps Davidson are also Humean in their belief that it suffices for beliefs to be generally correct rather than true. (shrink)
This paper starts from the familiar premise that psychological anti-individualism is incompatible with materialism. It attempts to state more clearly what this incompatibility consists in, and — rather than arguing in detail for any particular resolution — to inquire whether this incompatibility admits any resolution. However, the paper does offer a conditional argument concerning the possibility that the incompatibility is genuine and cannot be resolved. Provided that anti-individualism and materialism cannot be squared, and anti-individualism is correct, it follows that materialism (...) has to be abandoned. If so, the situation is not as disastrous as it might at first seem. We need not, in consequence of our inability to construe a coherent metaphysics of mind, give up on intentional vocabulary any more than we must stop, in consequence of our inability to make sense of induction, anticipating the future. (shrink)
[Charles Darwin, Philosopher for the 21st Century] This is, by and large, a review paper which discusses the current situation and future prospects of a philosophy based on the Darwinian view of life. The first section reflects on Wittgenstein's aversion to Darwinism, which was a symptom of his construal of philosophy as conceptual analysis free from empirical inquiry. The contemporary turn to Darwinian considerations in philosophy is a consequence of the Quinean rejection of conceptual analysis in favour of a continuity (...) between philosophy and empirical science. The second section synthesizes some recent views on the character of Darwin's theory -- the structure of his argument and the evidence for his premises. The third section moves on to a Darwinian epistemology, where the main contention concerns the possibility of deriving epistemic norms from evolutionary history. Appeals to evolution in an attempt to account for the possibility of misrepresentation and the debate over original versus derived intentionality both play a central role in philosophy of mind, explored in the fourth section. Finally, the fifth section turns to ethics, in particular a recent research into the evolutionary origins of moral behaviour. (shrink)
A review of the Czech translation of Nelson Goodman's Languages of Art. I emphasize Goodman's move away from the issue of the definition of art, and the fruitfulness of the autographic/allographic distinction.
[The Perils of Naturalism] The paper attempts a simultaneous assessment of both Rorty's philosophy, and some of its recent interpretations by Czech philosophers. Four of such interpretations are assessed and challenged: Rorty as, in turn, an idealist, a subjectivist, an eliminative materialist, and a non-metaphysical realist and naturalist. According to the author, Rorty should be, rather than is, a non-metaphysical realist, but he vacillates, due to his renunciation of representationalist conceptual apparatus, between transcendentalism idealism, on the one hand, and eliminative (...) materialism, on the other. According to the author, Rorty's wholesale rejection of representationalist notions is not well substantiated. (shrink)
[Socialism, essentialism and externalism] The paper defends two assumptions in Burge's externalist argument against materialism. One assumption is that the content of a belief is determined by the rules that govern its expression in a shared language. Hence, I call this principle "linguistic socialism." According to the other assumption, a belief survives as long as it keepds its content. Content is regarded hee as essential to a belief, so I call this principle "semantic essentialism." The critics of socialism such as (...) Davidson and Bilgrami reject it in favor of "individualism," claiming that the mental cotnent is idependent of conventionally fixed meaning. The opponents of essentialism such as Gibbons prefer "accidentalism," arguing that content is inessential to a belief. I argue that individualism and accidentalism contradict empirical facts and modal intuitions about belief ascriptions, respectively. (shrink)
Donald Davidson and John Searle famously differ, among other things, on the issue of animal thoughts. Davidson seems to be a latter-day Cartesian, denying any propositional thought to subhuman animals, while Searle seems to follow Hume in claiming that if we have thoughts, then animals do, too. Davidson’s argument centers on the idea that language is necessary for thought, which Searle rejects. The paper argues two things. Firstly, Searle eventually argues that much of a more complex thought does depend on (...) language, which reduces a distance between himself and Davidson. Secondly, some of Davidson’s suggestions are promising – in particular the idea that we may lack a vocabulary to capture the contents of animal thoughts. Based on this insight, one might, pace Davidson, grant thoughts to animals. However, this does not mean, pace Searle, that it should be possible to construe even the simplest of such thoughts as propositional. Perhaps we need to move beyond Davidson and Searle by developing a theory of nonpropositional thought for animals. (shrink)
[Davidson on Externalism] This is a critical analysis of Davidson's version of psychological externalism. The author argues that Davidson offers two different types of the theory, which do not coincide, however, with the usual distinction between physical and social externalism. On the one hand, Davidson argues that the mental states of an individual are determined by her causal history (what could be called "historical externalism"); on the other hand, he argues that each individual's mental states are determined by her interactions (...) with other people (or what might be dubbed "interactionist externalism"). The author contends that these two externalisms are mutually not quite consistent, and that Davidson's arguments for them are inconclusive. (shrink)
[A Czech Greenberg? Mukařovský and Aesthetic Formalism] This article revisits Tomáš Pospiszyl’s discussion of the split between the North American and the Czechoslovak postwar modernism as a difference between the views of two critics who dominated the American and the Czechoslovak art scene, respectively--Clement Greenberg and Jindřich Chalupecký. Pospiszyl convincingly traces the evolution of American art to what has been called Greenberg’s “formalism,” and the developments on the Czechoslovak scene to Chalupecký’s ideas about art as part of social social interactions. (...) Though the author of the article agrees with this analysis of Czechoslovak modernism as anti-formalist, he seeks to draw attention to the writings of the Czech literary theorist Jan Mukařovský, which were contemporaneous with Chalupecký’s and Greenberg’s--in particular Mukařovský’s 1944 lecture “The Essence of the Visual Arts.” The author provides a comparative analysis of Mukařovský and Greenberg, suggesting that the former was quite close to the latter’s “formalism.” This might seem incorrect, given that Mukařovský is considered to be a precursor of the semiotic theory of art, which is generally understood as antithetical to formalism. The solution, he argues, is to realize that Greenberg is subtler, hence not so "formalist” after all. At any rate, it turns out that in addition to Chalupecký’s “social” theory of art, Mukařovský had a more “formalist” alternative which – for well-known historical reasons – had no effect on the subsequent development of Czechoslovak modernism. (shrink)
[The Ethics of Human Enhancement and Liberal Eugenics] The paper deals with the ethics of biotechnological enhancement of human qualities such as intelligence, health and lifespan. In contemporary bioethics three views have emerged concerning the moral permissibility of such a biotechnological enhancement of humans. While bioconservatives reject it as morally impermissible and dangerous, bioradicals welcome it as permissible and desirable. Between these two extremes we find bioliberals who admit some types of enhancement, under certain conditions. These debates are still overshadowed (...) by fear of eugenics, but this discredited term needs to be rehabilitated because it turns out that there are both desirable and undesirable forms of eugenics. (shrink)
[Empiricism, Naturalism, and Ideas] The author analyses the modern reception of key themes in Hume’s philosophy during the past century. The first part presents Hume’s version of three such themes – empiricism, naturalism and the theory of ideas. The following three parts give an exposition of modern forms of each of these themes, with the choice of modern reception being directed to those contemporary authors who not only developed Hume’s motifs in the most original way, but who also explicitly traced (...) the origin of their modern theory to Hume. For this reason, in the second part, which deals with the reception of empiricism in logical positivism, Hans Reichenbach and his treatment of Hume’s problem of inductive knowledge is discussed. In the third part, dealing with naturalism, the obvious choice is the most influential version of this doctrine in the work of W. V. O. Quine. The fourth part deals with the modern reception of Hume’s theory of ideas in a recent monograph by Jerry Fodor. The author considers Hume’s naturalism as the most live part of Hume’s legacy. Empirismus has, after all, been considerably transformed in content, or has even been rejected by later philosophers; while Fodor’s updating of the theory of ideas does not offer an adequate answer to the question of the place of thinking and intentionality in the material world. (shrink)
[Filip Tvrdý on Naturalizing Philosophy] The paper distinguishes several versions of contemporary naturalism: revisionary, constructive, and non-representational. Revisionary naturalism pleads substituting the traditional philosophical inquiry into the nature of things by a genetic inquiry into the origin of our – often faulty – beliefs about the nature of things. Constructive naturalism accepts the program of traditional philosophy, yet hoping that its questions could be answered by broadly scientific methods. Non-representational naturalism is an extension of metaethical expressivism, claiming that philosophical claims (...) should not be understood as descriptive in nature. These distinctions can help us classify the most self-consciously naturalistic project in the recent Czech philosophy, Filip Tvrdý’s TROUBLES OF INTROSPECTION (2015). Tvrdý is officially pursuing a genetic, revisionary project, which does not coincide with nonrepresentational naturalism. However, there are also traces of constructive naturalism in Tvrdý’s book. (shrink)
[Are We Necessarily Embodied?] The author concentrates on the relation between person and body in phenomenology and analytical philosophy. Both of these traditions are, in their own way, critical towards the Cartesian dualism. While phenomenology tries to overcome this dualism through the description of the experience of our corporeality from the first person point of view, analytic philosophy examines the metaphysical problem of the relation between person and body from the third person perspective and usually proposes a materialist answer in (...) the sense of an identity of person and body. The central part of the paper is a detailed analysis of Kripke's challenge to contemporary materialism. The author argues that it is possible to accept Kripke's modal and temporal arguments in favour of the dualism of person and body without being forced to accept the idea of dualism itself. It is the metaphysics of constitution that represents an alternative: the person is constituted by her body, but she is not identical with it. Surprisingly, it is the idea of the living body that is rediscovered in thsi solution -- the idea which, in a sense, is a part of the phenomenological heritage, even though it is devoid of phenomenological anti-scientism and idealism. (shrink)
[On the Ethics of Euthanasia Again: A Reply to Critics] The article is a reply to three critics of a previous piece on the ethics of euthanasia in which I defended physician-assisted suicide. According to Ingrid Strobachová it is necessary to give a greater attention to the significance of pain, which, she claims, may benefit from a phenomenological description. According to Marta Vlasáková my argument is not valid because two principles on which it is founded – i.e. the conception of (...) life as of fundamental value and the autonomy of the patient – are not in mutual harmony. Jakub Jirsa criticises the very concept of assisted suicide and the moral legitimacy and need for the legalisation of assisted suicide. To Dr Strobachová I reply that phenomenological description is as acceptable a method as any other – as long, that is, as it is not only a verbal game, but constitutes a real source of knowledge. To Dr. Vlasáková I argue that a more charitable reading of my argument is possible. The arguments of Dr. Jirsa against assisted suicide are beset with various inconsistencies, including the fact that he himself allows that doctors should tolerate suicide by the refusal of food and drink. Such an act does not, however, differ in any relevant way from doctor-assisted suicide. (shrink)
The most prominent Czech philosopher, Karel Kosík, makes a few hints to the Vienna Circle, Otto Neurath and "positivism" in his important book, DIALECTICS OF THE CONCRETE (1963). I mine these few remarks for a better understanding of the conflicts, as well as connections, between the social progressivism of the Vienna Circle and the later Marxist humanism.
[Materialism and Hylomorphism] The author disputes the view, expressed recently by Tomáš Machula a David Peroutka, that materialism, dominant in contemporary philosophy of mind, should be substituted by Thomist hylomorphism. The critique focuses on two aspects of Machula and Peroutka’s argument. Firstly, on their assumption that the contemporary preference for materialism is the result of chance (ignorance of the fact that in addition to materialism and dualism the position of hylomorphism is also available). This assumption fails to take into account (...) the fact that dualism was already the subject of criticism in the 17th century, but materialism only became properly established in the mid-twentieth century. Secondly, the author argues that Thomist hylomorphism can be updated in a more fruitful way than that proposed by Machula and Peroutka. This updating requires us, however, to sacrifice certain metaphysically unsustainable ideas – in particular the idea that the soul is a non-material substance independent of the body. (shrink)
While the Vienna Circle had virtually no impact on the Czech-speaking philosophical community during the 1930s, one can find a curious meeting point in the field of theory of architecture. There is now a growing literature on Otto Neurath as a theorist of architecture and urbanism, who emphasized the social aspects of modern building and approached architecture from his idiosyncratic viewpoint of Marxism interpreted as a physicalistic social science. It is less well known that a young Czech architecture critic and (...) theorist, Karel Teige, cultivated strikingly similar views during the same period—from 1920s to 1930s—albeit without any knowledge of Neurath’s thought in particular, or for that matter the Vienna Circle in general. The chapter reveals similarities as well as differences between Neurath and Teige on Marxism, science and architecture, and the Bauhaus, as well as a discussion of the relations of both to the contemporaries, most importantly Adolf Loos, Josef Frank and Hannes Meyer. (shrink)
A review of the new Czech-language textbook of medical ethics. I point out its multiple flaws, especially the insufficient grounding in normative theory and a bias towards the Catholic moral teachings.
[Do Animals Have Consciousness?] The study analyses the arguments of contemporary philosophers of mind concerning the subject of animal consciousness. The first part reminds the reader of the Cartesian starting point of the contemporary discussion and points to the concept of phenomenal consciousness as the main point of contention concerning the instantiation of consciousness in non-human animals. The second part of the study analyses various forms of representationalism which make up the mainstream of contemporary debate. In the third part the (...) philosophy of mind of Daniel Dennett is discussed, together with its implications for the question of animal consciousness. In contrast with critics who treat Dennett’s theory as the result of conceptual confusions, the author argues that we should look upon the theory as the rejection of the assumptions of the mainstream and an attempt to think anew the question of consciousness, including animal consciousness. (shrink)
[A Defence of Assisted Death: Philosophical Arguments for Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide] Kniha Tomáše Hříbka je první monografií v českém jazyce, jež nabízí filozofickou obhajobu eutanazie a sebeusmrcení za asistence lékaře. Autor vysvětluje zdroje současné diskuse, definuje základní pojmy a analyzuje argumenty pro asistované sebeusmrcení a eutanazii i proti nim. Odpovídá mimo jiné na tyto zásadní otázky: Co je smrt, a jak poznáme, že nastala? Je smrt vždy újmou, nebo může i prospět? Může být rozhodnutí zabít se rozumné i morální? (...) Je apel k morální autonomii pacienta přesvědčivý? Má utrpení na konci života smysl? Pokud jsou eticky přijatelné nezahájení nebo ukončení léčby či paliativní péče, tak proč ne i eutanazie a asistovaná smrt? Lze ospravedlnit eutanazii pacientů, kteří s ní nemohou vyslovit souhlas? Je možné eutanazii a asistované sebeusmrcení odmítnout s odkazem na etiku medicíny nebo svědomí lékařů? Neocitneme se legalizací eutanazie na kluzkém svahu, po němž sklouzneme k nemorální praxi? A jsou podobné metody asistované smrti morálně přijatelné jen za předpokladu, že zůstanou výjimečné? (shrink)
[From Euthanasia to Infanticide] The paper revisits the recent controversy over Dr. Mitlőhner’s defense of infanticide, published in this journal. In section 1, I point out the weaknesses of Mitlőhner’s paper. In sections 2 and 3 I turn to the most sophisticated defense of infanticide on offer today, that of Peter Singer’s. Section 2 sums up Singer’s description of the medical practice as already having abandoned the traditional ethic of equal value of all human lives, which motivates ethical revisionism. However, (...) an explicit justification of a revision is necessary. This is the job of Singer’s Replacement Argument, examined in section 3. I argue that this justification of infanticide in completely impersonal terms fails. In section 4, I reject it in favor of Ronald Dworkin’s distinction between experiential interests, possessed by infants, and critical interests that develop later. Hence, neonatal euthanasia can sometimes be justified in terms of a newborn‘s own interests (presumably, to relieve its suffering), not in impersonal terms. The only exception is those infants that lack any capacity for cognitive activity whatsoever, and who thus lack even experiential interests. It is an open question whether their “life” differs from death, and whether by killing them we perform infanticide. (shrink)
[From Heidegger to Cognitive Science] A review of Andy Clark book's Being There. I argue that, while it is informative about the advances in robotics and related fields, it is philosophically rather imprecise. For example, Clark cannot seem to be able to decide between intentional realism and instrumentalism.
[Replies to My Friends] This is an answer to the critics of my book WHAT IT'S LIKE, OR WHAT IT'S ABOUT? THE PLACE OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (2017). I proceed from the least to the most serious objections. I start with Jakub Mihálik’s defense of Russellian Monism against my claim that it is not a genuine alternative to standard dualism and materialism. In reply, I claim this is a side issue to the central aim of my book, which (...) is to undermine the concept of phenomenal consciousness assumed by Russellian Monism as much as by every other standard theory. One of these standard theories is reductive materialism, pursued by Michal Polák and Tomáš Marvan. Both Polák and Marvan are worried by Dennett’s alleged eliminativism, even though their arguments somewhat differ. Polák believes in a deflationary concept of consciousness, which I am afraid lacks a definite content. Marvan offers an “innocent” concept of consciousness, on which there is supposed to be a general consensus, but I think he just assumes that the concept of phenomenal property is part of the definition of consciousness. Curiously, while Polák and Marvan take me as to be a Dennettian, Stefanie Dach argues that I misinterpret Dennett. Conversely, I believe that she overlooks weak points in Dennett’s theory. (shrink)
[How is Irrationality Possible? Davidson and the Split Mind] The paper deals witht Davidson's response to the challenge posed to his theory of mind by the phenomena of irrationality. This challenge is especially acute for Davidson, since he famously argued that it is a necessary condition on intentional agency that the agent be largely rational. The author begins by defending Davidson against some recent critics of perfect rationality. The middle part of the paper is an explication of Davidson's own theory (...) of irrationality, usually ignored by his critics. Somewhat similar to Freud, Davidson posits a split within the mind -- though not between conscious and subconscious parts, but rather between the mental states that are related to others as reasons and those that are mere causes. The final part of the paper critiques this proposal. (shrink)
[The Concept of Animal Mind] A critical analysis and assessment of the current philosophical theories of animal cognition and consciousness. The contents: 1. The concept of mind; 2. Other minds; 3. Can animals think?; 4. Do animals have concsiousness?; 5. Conclusion.
[Précis of What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] The paper provides a summary of my recent Czech-language book, WHAT IT'S LIKE, OR WHAT IT'S ABOUT? THE PLACE OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (2017). As suggested by the subtitle, the topic of the book is philosophy of consciousness. In the contemporary literature, most participants have in mind the so-called phenomenal characters, and the main issue debated between dualists and materialists is whether (...) these characters are material properties. Even the Russellian monists, who otherwise present themselves as an alternative to both dualism and materialism, accept the concept of phenomenal character. I express doubts about this concept in chapter six of my book; accordingly, I allot most space in the paper to the material from this chapter. Despite the majority opinion, I believe that no agreement has in fact been reached concerning the content of this concept. Similarly to Daniel Dennett, I recommend trying to develop a philosophy of consciousness without the concept of phenomenal character. As is well known, Dennett – to some extent similarly to the aforementioned materialists – proposes a reduction of consciousness in terms of representation. However, I wound up rather more skeptical than Dennett, since following up on my previous book, THE METAPHYSICS OF ANTI-INDIVIDUALISMU (2008), I claim that a naturalistic theory of representation is incoherent. (shrink)