William S. Robinson has for many years written insightfully about the mind-body problem. In Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness he focuses on sensory experience and perception qualities such as colours, sounds and odours to present a dualistic view of the mind, called Qualitative Event Realism, that goes against the dominant materialist views. This theory is relevant to the development of a science of consciousness which is now being pursued not only by philosophers but by researchers in psychology and the brain sciences. This (...) provocative book will interest students and professionals who work in the philosophy of mind and will also have cross-disciplinary appeal in cognitive psychology and the brain sciences. (shrink)
This commentary begins by explaining how Mangan's important work leads to a question about the relation between non-sensory experiences and perception. Reflection on affect then suggests an addition to Mangan's view that may be helpful on this and perhaps some other questions. Finally, it is argued that acceptance of non-sensory experiences is fully compatible with epiphenomenalism.
Contemporaries often reject epiphenomenalism out of hand, while Russellian Monism is regarded as worthy of further development. It is argued here that this difference of attitudes is indefensible, because the easy rejection of EPI is due to its violating a certain Causal Intuition, and RM implicitly violates that same intuition. An enriched version of RM mitigates the violation, but the same mitigation results if we make a parallel enrichment of EPI. If RM and EPI are approached on a level playing (...) field, it is not obvious which will prove to be the better view. (shrink)
Silent thinking is often accompanied by subvocal sayings to ourselves, imagery, emotional feelings, and non-sensory experiences such as familiarity, rightness, and confidence that we can go on in certain ways. Phenomenological materials of these kinds, along with our dispositions to give explanations or draw inferences, provide resources that are sufficient to account for our knowledge of what we think, desire, and so on. We do not need to suppose that there is a distinctive, non-imagistic 'what it is like' to think (...) that p, and a different non-imagistic 'what it is like' to think that q. Nor need we suppose that there is a proprietary 'what it is like' to have one propositional attitude type rather than another. (shrink)
. An attempt is made to identify a concept of ‘downward causation’ that will fit the claims of some recent writers and apply to interesting cases in biology and cognitive theory, but not to trivial cases. After noting some difficulties in achieving this task, it is proposed that in interesting cases commonly used to illustrate ‘downward causation’, (a) regularities hold between multiply realizable properties and (b) the explanation of the parallel regularity at the level of the realizing properties is non-trivial. (...) It is argued that the relation between a realizable property and the property that realizes its effect in a particular case is not usefully regarded as a species of causation and that use of the concept of downward causation deflects our attention from our central explanatory tasks. (shrink)
Some philosophers have regarded the connection between hues and certain arousal or affective qualities as so intimate as to make them inseparable, and this “necessary concomitance view” has been invoked to defend functionalism against arguments based on inverted spectra. Support for the necessary concomitance view has sometimes been thought to accrue from experiments in psychology. This paper examines three experiments, two of which apparently offer support for the view. It argues that careful consideration of these experiments undermines this appearance of (...) support. General lessons are drawn concerning the problem that individual differences present for functionalism, and the difficulty of supporting strong conclusions about concomitance by using the methods of experimental psychology. (shrink)
Gilbert Harman (1990) seeks to defend psychophysical functionalism by articulating a representationalist view of the qualities of experience. The negative side of the present paper argues that the resources of this representationalist view are insufficient to ground the evident distinction between perception and (mere) thought. This failure makes the view unable to support the uses to which Harman wishes to put it. Several rescuing moves by other representationalists are considered, but none is found successful. Part of the difficulty in Harman's (...) (...) work is that he does not adequately specify the view he rejects. The positive aim of the present paper is to provide a robust intrinsic quality account of experience that offers advantages in comparison with Harman's view, and that plainly does not fall to any of the arguments he advances. (shrink)
This paper begins with a summary of an argument for epiphenomenalism and a review of the author's previous work on the self-stultification objection to that view. The heart of the paper considers an objection to this previous work and provides a new response to it. Questions for this new response are considered and a view is developed in which knowledge of our own mentality is seen to differ from our knowledge of external things.
Epiphenomenalism is the view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but have no effects upon any physical events. Behavior is caused by muscles that contract upon receiving neural impulses, and neural impulses are generated by input from other neurons or from sense organs. On the epiphenomenalist view, mental events play no causal role in this process. Huxley (1874), who held the view, compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of (...) a locomotive. James (1879), who rejected the view, characterized epiphenomenalists' mental events as not affecting the brain activity that produces them "any more than a shadow reacts upon the steps of the traveller whom it accompanies". (shrink)
This paper offers an account of why the Hard Problem cannot be solved within our present conceptual framework. The reason is that some property of each conscious experience lacks structure, while explanations of the kind that would overcome the Hard Problem require structure in the occurrences that are to be explained. This account is apt to seem incorrect for reasons that trace to relational theories of consciousness. I thus review a highly developed representative version of relational theory and explain why (...) I do not find it acceptable. This rejection requires a nonrelational alternative, which I describe and defend against a certain further objection. Finally, I discuss implications of the foregoing for the views of McGinn and Chalmers. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars has proposed a materialist account of sensation which relies in part on the postulation of special kinds of individuals. This postulational strategy appears to be analogous to the one that introduces such entities as electrons. After setting out Sellars' account, I focus on his application of the postulational strategy. I argue that this application requires the discovery of new effects for familiar properties; that this kind of discovery is disanalogous to what postulation usually does; and that this kind (...) of discovery cannot really be arrived at by postulation. I conclude that Sellars has not provided a successful, materialist account of sensation. (shrink)
The liking of a sensation, e.g., a taste, is a conscious occurrent but does not consist in having the liked sensation accompanied by a "pleasure sensation" - for there is no such sensation. Several alternative accounts of liking, including Aydede's "feeling episode" theory and Schroeder's representationalist theory are considered. The proposal that liking a sensation is having the non-sensory experience of liking directed upon it is explained and defended. The pleasure provided by thoughts, conversations, walks, etc., is analyzed and brought (...) into relation to the account of liking one's sensations. (shrink)
In a series of works, Peter Carruthers has argued for the denial of the title proposition. Here, I defend that proposition by offering direct support drawn from relevant sciences and by undercutting Carruthers argument. In doing the latter, I distinguish an intrinsic theory of consciousness from Carruthers relational theory of consciousness. This relational theory has two readings, one of which makes essential appeal to evolutionary theory. I argue that neither reading offers a successful view.
Computationalist theories of mind require brain symbols, that is, neural events that represent kinds or instances of kinds. Standard models of computation require multiple inscriptions of symbols with the same representational content. The satisfaction of two conditions makes it easy to see how this requirement is met in computers, but we have no reason to think that these conditions are satisfied in the brain. Thus, if we wish to give computationalist explanations of human cognition, without committing ourselvesa priori to a (...) strong and unsupported claim in neuroscience, we must first either explain how we can provide multiple brain symbols with the same content, or explain how we can abandon standard models of computation. It is argued that both of these alternatives require us to explain the execution of complex tasks that have a cognition-like structure. Circularity or regress are thus threatened, unless noncomputationalist principles can provide the required explanations. But in the latter case, we do not know that noncomputationalist principles might not bear most of the weight of explaining cognition. Four possible types of computationalist theory are discussed; none appears to provide a promising solution to the problem. Thus, despite known difficulties in noncomputationalist investigations, we have every reason to pursue the search for noncomputationalist principles in cognitive theory. (shrink)
Frank Jackson has abandoned his famous knowledge argument, and has explained why in a brief "Postscript on Qualia" . This explanation consists of a direct argument, and an attempt to explain away the intuition that lies at the heart of the knowledge argument. The direct argument is clarified and found to be subtly question-begging. The attempt to explain away the key intuition is reviewed and found to be inadequate. False memory traces, which Jackson mentions at the beginning of the direct (...) argument, are discussed and found not to materially affect the force of the knowledge argument. (shrink)
Silent thinking is often accompanied by subvocal sayings to ourselves, imagery, emotional feelings, and non-sensory experiences such as familiarity, rightness, and confidence that we can go on in certain ways. Phenomenological materials of these kinds, along with our dispositions to give explanations or draw inferences, provide resources that are sufficient to account for our knowledge of what we think, desire, and so on. We do not need to suppose that there is a distinctive, non-imagistic ‘what it is like’ to think (...) that p, and a different non-imagistic ‘what it is like’ to think that q. Nor need we suppose that there is a proprietary ‘what it is like’ to have one propositional attitude type rather than another. (shrink)
As part of a defense of a physicalist view of experiences, David Papineau has offered an explanation for the intuition that properties found in experiences are distinct from neural properties. After providing some necessary background, I argue that Papineau’s explanation is not the best explanation of the distinctness intuition. An alternative explanation that is compatible with dualism is offered. Unlike Papineau’s explanation, this alternative does not require us to suppose that the distinctness intuition rests on fallacious reasoning. Relations of the (...) alternative explanation to representationalism and to cases of genuine property identity are discussed. (shrink)
Philip Pettit has advocated a “looks as powers” theory as an alternative to theories that rely on instances of qualia in their account of looking red. Andy Clark has offered a similar view. If these accounts are successful, the Hard Problem is moribund. This paper asks how red comes into cases of something’s looking red to someone. A likely suggestion leads to a conundrum for LAPT: the physical complexity that it attributes to the property red is not evident in experience, (...) yet the view requires manifestness of that very property. Attempts to avoid this difficulty only lead to other problems. LAPT thus fails to provide a solution to the HP. (shrink)
Daniel Dennett (1991) has advanced a mild realism in which beliefs are described as patterns “discernible in agents' (observable) behavior” (p. 30). I clarify the conflict between this otherwise attractive theory and the strong realist view that beliefs are internal states that cause actions. Support for strong realism is sometimes derived from the assumption that the everyday psychology of the folk is committed to it. My main thesis here is that we have sufficient reason neither for strong realism nor for (...) the supporting assumption about the commitments of folk psychology. Several generally implicit arguments in support of the latter assumption are considered. Explicit arguments for it by Ramsey et al. (1990) and Wellman (1990) are examined and judged unsuccessful. An explicit argument for strong realism by Cummins (in conversation) is also found inadequate. Consideration of this latter argument helps to explain why we cannot be satisfied with Dennett's own very brief discussion of causation by beliefs. (shrink)
Hidden nature physicalists hold that an experiential quality and its hidden nature are the same property – even though they agree that our experiences are of experiential qualities but are not, in the same sense, experiences of their hidden natures. This paper argues that physicalists must be committed to ultimately giving accounts that involve no non-extensional relations, and that this commitment leads to an inability to explain how our experiences could be of experiential qualities, but not of their hidden natures.
A thought experiment focuses attention on the kinds of commonalities and differences to be found in two small parts of visual cortical areas during responses to stimuli that are either identical in quality, but different in location, or identical in location and different only in the one visible property of colour. Reflection on this thought experiment leads to the view that patterns of neural activation are the best candidates for causes of qualitatively conscious events . This view faces a strong (...) objection, namely, that patterns can be realized in many media, and thus candidates for patterns that cause qualia might be realized in ways that would not plausibly result in consciousness. It is argued that this objection can be overcome if qualia-causing patterns of events must be realized within small spatial and temporal regions. Much more importantly, it is argued that this restriction on region size need not be ad hoc. The key concept needed to establish this important point is ‘natural salience’, i.e., distinction from background noise that does not depend on application of a criterion of selection. It is explained how natural salience could figure in an empirically-based theory that would entail size restrictions for qualia-causing neural activation patterns. The question is then raised as to how the resulting view diverges from Chalmers’ account, which relies on the Principle of Organizational Invariance. A second thought experiment envisages replacement of neurons by computer chips with synaptic interfaces. Reflection on this thought experiment enables us to conceptually, and possibly empirically, separate the two views. An argument for preferring the patterns- as-causes , or PACQ, view is given. Because natural salience does not plausibly produce strictly discontinuous boundaries between pattern and noise, questions naturally arise as to the relation of the PACQ view to panpsychism and to ‘emergence’. The PACQ view is distinguished from panpsychism, and it is explained how the former avoids what Seager calls ‘the combination problem', and is thus preferable to panpsychism. The relation of the PACQ view to ‘emergence’ is explained. The conclusion of the paper is that the PACQ view is a philosophically defensible and potentially scientifically fruitful view that offers qualia realists the best hypothesis concerning the neural causes of qualia. (shrink)
Défendant le point de vue physicaliste de l’expérience, David Papineau propose une explication à l’intuition que les propriétés contenues dans les expériences se distinguent des propriétés nerveuses. Après avoir présenté quelques éléments de contexte, je soutiens que l’hypothèse de Papineau n’est pas la meilleure pour expliquer l’intuition de la distinction. Il existe une explication alternative, compatible avec le dualisme. A la différence de celle de Papineau, cette explication ne demande pas de supposer que l’intuition de la distinction soit fondée sur (...) un raisonnement fallacieux. Le débat porte sur les rapports de cette explication alternative avec le représentationalisme et les cas de l’identité des propriétés innées. (shrink)
Peter Carruthers offers a model that embraces first order representations and higher order representations or higher order thoughts . His model stipulates certain features of FORs and HOTs. Carruthers agrees with qualia realists that the FORs of his model are not adequate for phenomenal consciousness, and invokes HOTs to supply the required addition. It is argued that Carruthers' HOTs fail to provide anything that will enable him to account for phenomenal consciousness, i.e., that his model fails to include phenomenal consciousness (...) and thus provides no help in understanding human consciousness, animal consciousness, or the "hard problem". In "Natural Theories of Consciousness" Peter Carruthers describes a model that he claims will show the "hard problem" to be not so hard after all. To evaluate this claim, we should begin with the model, which contains the following elements and stipulations. (shrink)