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Torin Alter [58]Torin Andrew Alter [6]
  1. What is Russellian Monism?Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa - 2012 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):67–95.
    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.  30
    The Matter of Consciousness: From the Knowledge Argument to Russellian Monism.Torin Andrew Alter - 2023 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
    This book defends Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument against physicalism. According to physicalism, consciousness is a physical phenomenon. The knowledge argument stars Mary, who learns all objective, physical information through black-and-white media and yet acquires new information when she first sees colors for herself: information about what it is like to see in color. Based partly on that case, Jackson concludes that not all information is physical. The book argues that the knowledge argument succeeds in refuting all standard versions of physicalism: (...)
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  3. Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism.Torin Andrew Alter & Sven Walter (eds.) - 2006 - New York, US: 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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  4. Russellian monism and mental causation.Torin Alter & Sam Coleman - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):409-425.
    According to Russellian monism, consciousness is constituted at least partly by quiddities: intrinsic properties that categorically ground dispositional properties described by fundamental physics. If the theory is true, then consciousness and such dispositional properties are closely connected. But how closely? The contingency thesis says that the connection is contingent. For example, on this thesis the dispositional property associated with negative charge might have been categorically grounded by a quiddity that is distinct from the one that actually grounds it. Some argue (...)
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  5. The Structure and Dynamics Argument against Materialism.Torin Alter - 2015 - Noûs 50 (4):794-815.
  6.  71
    Consciousness in the Physical World: Perspectives on Russellian Monism.Torin Andrew Alter & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.) - 2015 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Consciousness in the Physical World collects historical selections, recent classics, and new pieces on Russellian monism, a unique alternative to the physicalist and dualist approaches to the problem of consciousness.
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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. Russellian Monism and Structuralism About Physics.Torin Alter & Derk Pereboom - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (4):1409-1428.
    It is often claimed that Russellian monism carries a commitment to a structuralist conception of physics, on which physics describes the world only in terms of its spatiotemporal structure and dynamics. We argue that this claim is mistaken. On Russellian monism, there is more to consciousness, and to the rest of concrete reality, than spatiotemporal structure and dynamics. But the latter claim supports only a conditional claim about physics: _if_ structuralism about physics is true, then there is more to consciousness (...)
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  10. Physicalism Without Fundamentality.Torin Alter - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (4):1975-1986.
    Physicalism should be characterized in a way that makes it compatible with the possibility that the physical world is infinitely decomposable. Some have proposed solving this problem by replacing a widely accepted No Fundamental Mentality requirement on physicalism with a more general No Low-Level Mentality requirement. The latter states that physicalism could be true if there is a level of decomposition beneath which nothing is mental, whereas physicalism is false otherwise. Brown argues that this solution does not work. He devises (...)
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  11. 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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  12. Does representationalism undermine the knowledge argument?Torin Alter - 2006 - In Torin Andrew 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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  13. Phenomenal knowledge without experience.Torin Alter - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The case for qualia. MIT Press. pp. 247.
    : Phenomenal knowledge usually comes from experience. But it need not. For example, one could know what it’s like to see red without seeing red—indeed, without having any color experiences. Daniel Dennett (2007) and Pete Mandik (forthcoming) argue that this and related considerations undermine the knowledge argument against physicalism. If they are right, then this is not only a problem for anti‐physicalists. Their argument threatens to undermine any version of phenomenal realism— the view that there are phenomenal properties, or qualia, (...)
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  14. Physicalism, Infinite Decomposition, and Constitution.Torin Alter, Sam Coleman & Robert J. Howell - 2022 - Erkenntnis (4):1735-1744.
    How could physicalism be true of a world in which there are no fundamental physical phenomena? A familiar answer, due to Barbara Gail Montero and others, is that physicalism could be true of such a world if that world does not contain an infinite descent of mentality. Christopher Devlin Brown has produced a counterexample to that solution. We show how to modify the solution to accommodate Brown’s example: physicalism could be true of a world without fundamental physical phenomena if that (...)
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  15. Russellian physicalism and protophenomenal properties.Torin Alter & Sam Coleman - 2020 - Analysis 80 (3):409-417.
    According to Russellian monism, phenomenal consciousness is constituted by inscrutables: intrinsic properties that categorically ground dispositional properties described by fundamental physics. On Russellian physicalism, those inscrutables are construed as protophenomenal properties: non-structural properties that both categorically ground dispositional properties and, perhaps when appropriately structured, collectively constitute phenomenal properties. Morris and Brown argue that protophenomenal properties cannot serve this purpose, given assumptions Russellian monists typically make about the modal profile of such properties. Those assumptions, it is argued, entail that protophenomenal properties (...)
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  16.  34
    Physicalism, supervenience, and monism.Torin Alter & Robert J. Howell - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-19.
    Physicalism is standardly construed as a form of monism, on which all concrete phenomena fall under one fundamental type. It is natural to think that monism, and therefore physicalism, is committed to a supervenience claim. Monism is true only if all phenomena supervene on a certain fundamental type of phenomena. Physicalism, as a form of monism, specifies that these fundamental phenomena are physical. But some argue that physicalism might be true even if the world is disorderly, i.e., not ordered by (...)
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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19.  43
    A Dialogue on Consciousness.Torin Alter & Robert J. Howell - 2009 - New York: Oup Usa. Edited by Robert Howell.
    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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  20. 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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  21.  27
    Précis of The Matter of Consciousness: From the Knowledge Argument to Russellian Monism.Torin Alter - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-8.
    In The Matter of Consciousness (TMOC), I defend Frank Jackson’s (1982, 1986, 1995) knowledge argument, which poses a significant challenge to physicalism. I also argue that the knowledge argument leads to Russellian monism.
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  22.  63
    A defense of the supervenience requirement on physicalism.Torin Alter - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):264-274.
    The supervenience requirement on physicalism says roughly that if physicalism is true then mental properties supervene on fundamental physical properties. After explaining the basis of the requirement, I defend it against objections presented by Lei Zhong (“Physicalism without supervenience,” Philosophical Studies 178 (5), 2021: 1529–44), Barbara Gail Montero (“Must physicalism imply supervenience of the mental on the physical?” Journal of Philosophy 110, 2013: 93–110), and Montero and Christopher Devlin Brown (“Making room for a this-worldly physicalism,” Topoi 37 (3), 2018: 523–32).
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  23.  28
    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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  24. 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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  25. On the conditional analysis of phenomenal concepts.Torin Alter - 2006 - 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30.  14
    Physicalism and the Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 2017 - In Susan Schneider & Max Velmans (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Chichester, UK: Wiley. pp. 404–414.
    This chapter explains how the knowledge argument works and describes various physicalist responses to the knowledge argument. Frank Jackson first presented the knowledge argument in his 1982 paper, “Epiphenomenal Qualia”. “Qualia” refers to phenomenal properties: properties such as those Mary is said to understand only after leaving the room. Not everyone shares Jackson's opinion that epiphenomenalism is the best option for knowledge argument proponents. And some argue that there are versions of physicalism that the knowledge argument does not rule out. (...)
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  31. 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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  32.  34
    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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  33. Deviant phenomenal knowledge.Torin Alter - manuscript
  34.  5
    Replies to Howell, Jackson, Kind, and Montero.Torin Alter - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-11.
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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. 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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  38. Knowledge argument against physicalism.Torin Alter - 2005 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
     
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  39.  59
    On Racist Symbols and Reparations.Torin Alter - 2000 - Social Theory and Practice 26 (1):153-171.
  40. 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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  41.  87
    Vague Names and Vague Objects.Torin Alter - 2001 - Dialogue 40 (3):435-442.
    RÉSUMÉMichael Tye soutient que certains noms sont vagues parce qu'ils réfèrent à des objets vagues. Tye, cependant, ne distingue pas entre référer à un objet vague et référer vaguement. Je suggère, à partir de certaines suppositions, que les noms vagues doivent référer vaguement. Et si les noms vagues doivent référer vaguement, alors l'argument de Tye échoue, puisque des noms qui réfèrent à des objets vagues n'ont pas besoin de référer vaguement. Néanmoins, l'indétermination dans la méta-sémantique de la relation d'être porteur (...)
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  42. Epistemicism and the combined spectrum.Torin Alter & Stuart Rachels - 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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  43. Garrett on causal essentialism and zombies.Torin Alter - 2003
  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. Are there brute facts about consciousness?Torin Alter - 2018 - In Elly Vintiadis & Constantinos Mekios (eds.), Brute Facts. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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  47.  19
    Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem: A Reader.Torin Alter & Robert J. Howell - 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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  48. 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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  49.  20
    E.O. Wilson on the Foundations of Ethics.Torin Alter - 2000 - Philosophy Now 27:30-31.
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  50. Introduction to phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: New essays on consciousness and physicalism (oup, 2007).Torin Alter - 2007 - In Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge.
    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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