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Torin Alter [51]Torin Andrew Alter [3]
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Torin Alter
University of Alabama
  1. What is Russellian Monism?Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa - 2012 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):9-10.
    Russellian monism offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between the physical and the phenomenal. For example, on one version of the view, phenomenal properties are the categorical bases of fundamental physical properties, such as mass and charge, which are dispositional. Russellian monism has prominent supporters, such as Bertrand Russell, Grover Maxwell, Michael Lockwood, and David Chalmers. But its strengths and shortcomings are often misunderstood. In this paper we try to eliminate confusions about the view and defend it from criticisms. (...)
     
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  2. Phenomenal Knowledge Without Experience.Torin Alter - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The case for qualia. MIT Press. pp. 247.
  3. Social Externalism and the Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 2013 - Mind 122 (486):fzt072.
    According to social externalism, it is possible to possess a concept not solely in virtue of one’s intrinsic properties but also in virtue of relations to one’s linguistic community. Derek Ball (2009) argues, in effect, that (i) social externalism extends to our concepts of colour experience and (ii) this fact undermines both the knowledge argument against physicalism and the most popular physicalist response to it, known as the phenomenal concept strategy. I argue that Ball is mistaken about (ii) even granting (...)
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  4. Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism.Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    What is the nature of consciousness? How is consciousness related to brain processes? This volume collects thirteen new papers on these topics: twelve by leading and respected philosophers and one by a leading color-vision scientist. All focus on consciousness in the "phenomenal" sense: on what it's like to have an experience. Consciousness has long been regarded as the biggest stumbling block for physicalism, the view that the mind is physical. The controversy has gained focus over the last few decades, and (...)
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  5. The Structure and Dynamics Argument Against Materialism.Torin Alter - 2016 - Noûs 50 (4):794-815.
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  6. A Limited Defense of the Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 90 (1):35-56.
    Mary learns all the physical facts that one can learn by watching lectures on black-on-white television. According to Jackson, Mary learns new facts when she leaves the room and has color experiences, and that this undermines physicalism. Physicalists have responded by denying the new facts thesis; they argue, she acquires abilities, acquaintance knowledge, or new guises. I argue that the NFT is more plausible than any of the proposed alternatives. I also argue that the NFT does not undermine physicalism unless (...)
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  7. Does Synesthesia Undermine Representationalism?Torin Alter - 2006 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 12.
    Does synesthesia undermine representationalism? Gregg Rosenberg (2004) argues that it does. On his view, synesthesia illustrates how phenomenal properties can vary independently of representational properties. So, for example, he argues that sound/color synesthetic experiences show that visual experiences do not always represent spatial properties. I will argue that the representationalist can plausibly answer Rosenberg.
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  8. Know-How, Ability, and the Ability Hypothesis.Torin Alter - 2001 - Theoria 67 (3):229-39.
    David Lewis and Laurence Nemirow claim that knowing what an experience is like is knowing-how, not knowing-that. They identify this know-how with the abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize experiences, and Lewis labels their view ‘the Ability Hypothesis’. The Ability Hypothesis has intrinsic interest. But Lewis and Nemirow devised it specifically to block certain anti-physicalist arguments due to Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson . Does it?
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  9. Tye's New Take on the Puzzles of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Torin Alter - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):765-775.
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  10. Nagel on Imagination and Physicalism.Torin Alter - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:143-58.
    In "What is it Like to be a Bat?" Thomas Nagel argues that we cannot imagine what it is like to be a bat or presently understand how physicalism might be true. Both arguments have been seriously misunderstood. I defend them against various objections, point out a problem with the argument against physicalism, and show how the problem can be solved.
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  11. Does the Ignorance Hypothesis Undermine the Conceivability and Knowledge Arguments? [REVIEW]Torin Alter - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):756-765.
  12. The Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 1999 - A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.
    Frank Jackson first presented the Knowledge Argument in "Epiphenomenal Qualia" 1982). The KA is an argument against physicalism, the doctrine that everything is physical. The general thrust of the KA is that physicalism errs by misconstruing or denying the existence of the subjective features of experience. Physicalists have given numerous responses, and the debate continues about whether the KA ultimately succeeds in refuting any or all forms of physicalism. Jackson himself has recently.
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  13. Imagining Subjective Absence: Marcus on Zombies.Torin Alter - 2007 - Disputatio 2 (22):91-101.
    Many philosophers accept the conceivability of zombies: creatures that lack consciousness but are physically and functionally identical to conscious human beings. Many also believe that the conceivability of zombies supports their metaphysical possibility. And most agree that if zombies are metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false. So, the claim that zombies are conceivable may have considerable significance. 1.
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    On the Conditional Analysis of Phenomenal Concepts.Torin Alter - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 131 (3):777-778.
    Zombies make trouble for physicalism. Intuitively, they seem conceivable, and many take this to support their metaphysical possibility – a result that, most agree, would refute physicalism. John Hawthorne (2002) [Philosophical Studies 109, 17–52] and David Braddon-Mitchell (2003) [The Journal of Philosophy 100, 111–135] have developed a novel response to this argument: phenomenal concepts have a conditional structure – they refer to non-physical states if such states exist and otherwise to physical states – and this explains the zombie intuition. I (...)
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  15.  92
    On Two Alleged Conflicts Between Divine Attributes.Torin Alter - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (1):47-57.
    Some argue that God’s omnipotence and moral perfection prevent God from being afraid and having evil desires and thus from understanding such states—which contradicts God’s omniscience. But, I argue, God could acquire such understanding indirectly, either by (i) perceiving the mental states of imperfect creatures, (ii) imaginatively combining the components of mental states with which God could be acquainted, or (iii) having false memory traces of such states. (i)–(iii) are consistent with the principal divine attributes.
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  16. On the Conditional Analysis of Phenomenal Concepts.Torin Alter - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (2):235 - 253.
    Zombies make trouble for physicalism. Intuitively, they seem conceivable, and many take this to support their metaphysical possibility – a result that, most agree, would refute physicalism. John Hawthorne (2002) [Philosophical Studies 109, 17–52] and David Braddon-Mitchell (2003) [The Journal of Philosophy 100, 111–135] have developed a novel response to this argument: phenomenal concepts have a conditional structure – they refer to non-physical states if such states exist and otherwise to physical states – and this explains the zombie intuition. I (...)
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  17. The Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 2007 - In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell. pp. 396--405.
    The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the doctrine that the world is entirely physical. Physicalism is widely accepted in contemporary philosophy. But some doubt that phenomenal consciousness.
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  18. The Hard Problem of Consciousness.Torin Alter - forthcoming - In T. Bayne, A. Cleeremans & P. Wilken (eds.), Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    As I type these words, cognitive systems in my brain engage in visual and auditory information processing. This processing is accompanied by subjective states of consciousness, such as the auditory experience of hearing the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard and the visual experience of seeing the letters appear on the screen. How does the brain's activity generate such experiences? Why should it be accompanied by conscious experience in the first place? This is the hard problem of consciousness.
     
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  19. Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism.Torin Alter - 2005 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
     
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  20. Nothing Matters in Survival.Torin Alter & Stuart Rachels - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):311-330.
    Do I have a special reason to care about my future, as opposed to yours? We reject the common belief that I do. Putting our thesis paradoxically, we say that nothing matters in survival: nothing in our continued existence justifies any special self-concern. Such an "extreme" view is standardly tied to ideas about the metaphysics of persons, but not by us. After rejecting various arguments against our thesis, we conclude that simplicity decides in its favor. Throughout the essay we honor (...)
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  21. Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?Torin Alter - 2006 - In Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 65--76.
    The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the view that the world is entirely physical. The argument first establishes the existence of facts about consciousness that are not a priori deducible from the complete physical truth, and then infers the falsity of physicalism from this lack of deducibility. Frank Jackson gave the argument its classic formulation. But now he rejects the argument . On his view, it relies on a false conception of sensory experience, which should be replaced with representationalism (...)
     
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  22. Free Acts and Robot Cats.Russell Daw & Torin Alter - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 102 (3):345-57.
    ‘Free action’ is subject to the causal theory of reference and thus that The essential nature of free actions can be discovered only by empirical investigation, not by conceptual analysis. Heller ’s proposal, if true, would have significant philosophical implications. Consider the enduring issue we will call the Compatibility Issue : whether the thesis of determinism is logically compatible with the claim that.
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  23. A Defense of the Necessary Unity of Phenomenal Consciousness.Torin Alter - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (1):19-37.
    Some argue that split-brain cases undermine the thesis that phenomenal consciousness is necessarily unified. This paper defends the phenomenal unity thesis against Michael Tye's (2003 ) version of that argument. Two problems are identified. First, his argument relies on a questionable analysis of the split-brain data. Second, his analysis leads to the view that in experimental situations split-brain patients are not single subjects – a result that would render the analysis harmless to the phenomenal unity thesis.
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  24. Deviant Phenomenal Knowledge.Torin Alter - manuscript
  25. A Dialogue on Consciousness.Torin Andrew Alter - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    In recent years, the problem of consciousness has developed into one of the most important and hotly contested areas in the philosophy of mind. Many philosophers regard consciousness as an entirely physical phenomenon, yet it seems to elude scientific explanation. On the other hand, viewing consciousness as a nonphysical phenomenon brings up even larger issues. If consciousness is not physical, how can it be explained? Concise, up-to-date, and engaging, A Dialogue on Consciousness explores these issues in depth. It features two (...)
     
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  26. Mary's New Perspective.Torin Alter - 1995 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73 (4):585-84.
    I wish to consider an objection to Frank Jackson's knowledge argument recently made by Derk Pereboom.
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  27. Qualia.Torin Alter - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
    Introduction Qualia and causation Do qualia exist? Qualia and cognitive science Qualia and other mental phenomena Knowledge of qualia Are qualia irreducible?
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  28. Garrett on Causal Essentialism and Zombies.Torin Alter - manuscript
  29.  2
    Does the Ignorance Hypothesis Undermine the Conceivability and Knowledge Arguments?Torin Alter - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):756-765.
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  30.  67
    Symbolic Meaning and the Confederate Battle Flag.Torin Alter - 2000 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 7 (2/3):1-4.
    The Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is in the news again. On January 16th, 2000, 46,000 people came to Columbia, South Carolina, to protest its display over the state’s capital dome. On July 1st, the CBF was removed. But on the same day, it was raised in front of the Statehouse steps. The controversy has received a great deal of media coverage and was a factor in the 2000 presidential primaries. CBF displays raise a philosophical question I wish to address: What (...)
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  31. Epistemicism and the Combined Spectrum.Alter Torin & Rachels Stuart - 2004 - Ratio 17 (3):241-255.
    Derek Parfit's combined-spectrum argument seems to conflict with epistemicism, a viable theory of vagueness. While Parfit argues for the indeterminacy of personhood, epistemicism denies indeterminacy. But, we argue, the linguistically based determinacy that epistemicism supports lacks the sort of normative or ontological significance that concerns Parfit. Thus, we reformulate his argument to make it consistent with epistemicism. We also dispute Roy Sorensen's suggestion that Parfit's argument relies on an assumption that fuels resistance to epistemicism, namely, that 'the magnitude of a (...)
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    Vague Names and Vague Objects.Torin Alter - 2001 - Dialogue 40 (3):435-.
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  33.  40
    On Racist Symbols and Reparations.Torin Alter - 2000 - Social Theory and Practice 26 (1):153-171.
  34. What Do Split-Brain Cases Show About the Unity of Consciousness?Torin Alter - manuscript
    The startling empirical data that concern us here are well known. Severing the corpus callosum produces a kind of mental bifurcation (Sperry 1968). In one experiment, a garlic smell is presented to a patient.
     
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  35.  36
    The Nature of Consciousness—Mark Rowlands.Torin Alter - 2007 - International Philosophical Quarterly 47 (3):373-375.
  36.  3
    Review of P. Ludlow, Y. Nagasawa & D. Stoljar , There's Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument. [REVIEW]Torin Alter - 2005 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 11.
    The titular ‘Mary’ refers to Jackson’s famous protagonist. Her story takes place in the future, when all physical facts have been discovered. This includes “everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles” . Mary learns all this by watching lectures on a monochromatic television monitor. But she spends her life in a black-and-white room and has no color experiences. Then she (...)
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    Strongde Re Belief.Torin Alter - 2001 - Philosophia 28 (1-4):223-232.
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    Nagel on Imagination and Physicalism.Torin Alter - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:143-158.
    In “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Thomas Nagel argues that we cannot imagine what it is like to be a bat or presently understand how physicalism might be true. Both arguments have been seriously misunderstood. I defend them against various objections, point out a problem with the argument against physicalism, and show how the problem can be solved.
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  39.  3
    The Nature of Consciousness—Mark Rowlands. [REVIEW]Torin Alter - 2007 - International Philosophical Quarterly 47 (3):373-375.
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  40. Introduction to Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism (OUP, 2007).Torin Alter - unknown
    This volume presents thirteen new essays on phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: twelve by philosophers and one by a scientist. In this introduction, we provide some background and summarize the essays.
     
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  41.  8
    E.O. Wilson on the Foundations of Ethics.Torin Alter - 2000 - Philosophy Now 27:30-31.
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  42. Racist Symbols: Reply to George Schedler.Torin Alter - unknown
    A symbol might have racist connotations in the sense that a substantial portion of the relevant population associates it with racist values or institutions. A governmental symbol display might therefore carry racist connotations that the government doesn’t intend, including connotations that haven’t always been attached to the symbol. So I claimed recently in the pages of this journal (Alter 2000b). I also explained how those claims create problems for some of George Schedler’s (1998) main views about governmental displays of the (...)
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  43. Access Disunity Without Phenomenal Disunity: Tye on Split-Brain Cases.Torin Alter - unknown
    Consider the conscious states of a single subject at a time. Arguably, split-brain cases show that such states need not be jointly accessible. It is less clear that these cases also show that such states need not be jointly experienced. Michael Tye (2004) argues split-brain cases do have that implication, and Timothy Bayne and David Chalmers (2003) argue that they do not. I will develop two objections to Tye’s arguments. First, an analogy to blindsight on which he relies is questionable. (...)
     
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  44. Reply to Sawyer 2005 Central Division Apa.Torin Alter - unknown
    Sawyer characterizes the zombie intuition as the claim that zombies are metaphysically possible. That’s not what I mean by the phrase. On my usage, ‘the zombie intuition’ refers to a conceivability claim: the claim that there’s no a priori incoherence in the hypothesis of a minimal physical/functional duplicate of the actual world but without consciousness, i.e., that PT&~Q is conceivable. The claim is the first step of a two-step argument, the second step of which is to infer the corresponding metaphysical (...)
     
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  45. Comments on John Kulvicki's “What is What It's Like?” (2003 Eastern Div. Apa).Torin Alter - unknown
    Kulvicki’s goal is to give a representationalist account of what it’s like to see a property that is “fully externalist about perceptual representation” (p. 1) and yet accommodates a certain “internalist intuition” (p. 4), which he describes as follows: “something about what it is like to see a property is internally determined, dependent only on the way one is built from the skin in” (p. 3). He illustrates this intuition with an inverted spectrum case and the manifest-image problem. On his (...)
     
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  46. Review of Mark Rowlands' the Nature of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Torin Alter - manuscript
    In The Nature of Consciousness, Mark Rowlands argues that phenomenal properties, which constitute what it is like to have a conscious experience, are “transcendental”: that they are properties by which we are conscious of the nonphenomenal world, but they are not objects of conscious awareness or even linguistic reference. He uses that conclusion to support a mysterian position on the explanatory-gap problem: that it is impossible to understand how phenomenal consciousness arises from physical systems such as the brain.
     
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  47. A Dialogue on Consciousness.Torin Alter & Robert J. Howell - 2009 - Oup Usa.
    A Dialogue on Consciousness introduces readers to the debate about consciousness and physicalism, starting with its origins in Descartes, through a lively and entertaining dialogue between unemployed graduate students, who, secretly living in a university library, discuss major theories and quote passages from classic and contemporary texts in search of an answer.
     
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  48. Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem: A Reader.Alter Torin & J. Howell Robert - 2011 - Oup Usa.
    Ideal for courses in consciousness and the philosophy of mind, Consciousness and The Mind-Body Problem: A Reader presents thirty-three classic and contemporary readings, organized into five sections that cover the major issues in this debate: the challenge for physicalism, physicalist responses, alternative responses, the significance of ignorance, and mental causation. Edited by Torin Alter and Robert J. Howell, the volume features work from such leading figures as Karen Bennett, Ned Block, David J. Chalmers, Frank Jackson, Colin McGinn, David Papineau, and (...)
     
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  49. The God Dialogues: A Philosophical Journey.Torin Andrew Alter - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    The God Dialogues is an intriguing and extensive philosophical debate about the existence of God. Engaging and accessible, it covers all the main arguments for and against God's existence, from traditional philosophical "proofs" to arguments that involve the latest developments in biology and physics.
     
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  50. The God Dialogues.Torin Alter & Robert J. Howell - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.
    The God Dialogues is an intriguing and extensive philosophical debate about the existence of God. Engaging and accessible, it covers all the main arguments for and against God's existence, from traditional philosophical "proofs" to arguments that involve the latest developments in biology and physics. Three main characters represent the principal views: Theodore Logan, the theist; Eva Lucien, the atheist; and Gene Sesquois, the agnostic. Their debate takes place during a post-college cross-country road trip during which Gene expresses dismay over his (...)
     
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