Theories of Consciousness provides an introduction to a variety of approaches to consciousness, questions the nature of consciousness, and contributes to current debates about whether a scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. While discussing key figures including Descartes, Fodor, Dennett and Chalmers, the book incorporates identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism and new information-based theories.
This book sets the standard, and a very high one at that, for the ongoing discussion of emergence in philosophy and science.1 1 Engaging but rigorous in argumentation, comprehensive but attentive to detail, it is a model of philosophical writing.
Deferential Monadic Panpsychism is a view that accepts that physical science is capable of discovering the basic structure of reality. However, it denies that reality is fully and exhaustively de- scribed purely in terms of physical science. Consciousness is missing from the physical description and cannot be reduced to it. DMP explores the idea that the physically fundamental features of the world possess some intrinsic mental aspect. It thereby faces a se- vere problem of understanding how more complex mental states (...) emerge from the mental features of the fundamental features. Here I explore the idea that a new form of aggregative emergence, which I call 'combinatorial infusion', could shed light on this problem and bolster the prospects for this form of panpsychism. (shrink)
The generation problem is to explain how material configurations or processes can produce conscious experience. David Chalmers urges that this is what makes the problem of consciousness really difficult. He proposes to side-step the generation problem by proposing that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental feature of the world. I am inclined to agree that the generation problem is real and believe that taking consciousness to be fundamental is promising. But I take issue with Chalmers about what it is to be (...) a fundamental feature of the world. In fact, I argue that taking the idea seriously ought to lead to some form of panpsychism. Powerful objections have been advanced against panpsychism, but I attempt to outline a form of the doctrine which can evade them. In the end, I suspect that we will face a choice between panpsychism and rethinking the legitimacy of the generation problem itself. (shrink)
Strawson’s case in favor of panpsychism is at heart an updated version of a venerable form of argument I’ll call the ‘intrinsic nature’ argument. It is an extremely interesting argument which deploys all sorts of high caliber metaphysical weaponry (despite the ‘down home’ appeals to common sense which Strawson frequently makes). The argument is also subtle and intricate. So let’s spend some time trying to articulate its general form.
One of the most vivid aspects of consciousness is the experience of emotion, yet this topic is given relatively little attention within consciousness studies. Emotions are crucial, for they provide quick and motivating assessments of value, without which action would be misdirected or absent. Emotions also involve linkages between phenomenal and intentional consciousness. This paper examines emotional consciousness from the standpoint of the representational theory of consciousness . Two interesting developments spring from this. The first is the need for the (...) representation of value, which is distinctive of emotional experience. The second is an extension of RTC’s theory of introspection to emotional states, revealing why emotional consciousness is so often introspective even though introspective abilities are not needed to experience emotions, and also explaining why introspection of emotional states is so much less reliable than that of other states of consciousness. (shrink)
Brook and Raymont do not assert that self-representing representations are sufficient to generate consciousness, but they do assert that they are necessary, at least in the sense that self-representation provides the most plausible mechanism for generating conscious mental states. I argue that a first-order approach to consciousness is equally capable of accounting for the putative features of consciousness which are supposed to favor the self-representational account. If nothing is gained the simplicity of the first-order theory counts in its favor. I (...) also advance a speculative proposal that we are never aware of any distinctively mental attributes of our own states of consciousness except via an independent act of reflective conceptualization, although this goes rather farther than the first-order theory strictly requires. (shrink)
Hacking argues against van Fraassen's constructive empiricism by appeal to features of microscopic imaging. Hacking relies on both our practices involving imaging instruments and the structure of the images produced by these micropractices. Van Fraassen's reply is formally correct yet fundamentally unsatisfying. I aim to strengthen van Fraassen's reply, but must then extend constructive empiricism, specifically the central notion of "theoretical immersion." I argue that immersion is more analogous to entering a virtual reality than to learning a language. This metaphor (...) assimilates instrument-based practice as well as theoretical debate and explanation, and can provide an anti-realist view of our micro-practices consonant with constructive empiricism. (shrink)
Rosenberg’s general argumentative strategy in favour of panpsychism is an extension of a traditional pattern. Although his argument is complex and intricate, I think a model that is historically significant and fundamentally similar to the position Rosenberg advances might help us understand the case for panpsychism. Thus I want to begin by considering a Leibnizian argument for panpsychism.
_Metaphysics of Consciousness_ opens with a development of the physicalist outlook that denies the need for any explanation of the mental. This "inexplicability" is demonstrated not to be sufficient as refutation of physicalism. However, the inescapable particularity of modes of consciousness appears to overpower this minimal physicalism. This book proposes that such an inference requires either a wholly new conception of how consciousness is physical or a deep and disturbing new kind of physical inexplicability.
1 Non-reductive physicalists deny that there is any explanation of mentality in purely physical terms, but do not deny that the mental is entirely determined by and constituted out of underlying physical structures. There are important issues about the stability of such a view which teeters on the edge of explanatory reductionism on the one side and dualism on the other (see Kim 1998). 2 Save perhaps for eliminative materialism (see Churchland 1981 for a classic exposition). In fact, however, while.
There are many possible forms of panpsychism. In this paper, I discuss a type of panpsychism in which the complex mental states of higher-level entities emerge from a system, or organization, of fundamental entities which possess extremely simple forms of mentality. I argue that this sort of panpsychism is surprisingly plausible, especially in light of the notorious difficulties raised by consciousness. Emergentist panpsychism faces a distinctive challenge, however. In so far as panpsychism embraces emergentism of the mental, a purely physicalist (...) emergence seems to be metaphysically more economical. I will argue that a basic analysis of emergence throws this claim into doubt. (shrink)
Roger Penrose is justly famous for his work in physics and mathematics but he is _notorious_ for his endorsement of the Gödel argument (see his 1989, 1994, 1997). This argument, first advanced by J. R. Lucas (in 1961), attempts to show that Gödel’s (first) incompleteness theorem can be seen to reveal that the human mind transcends all algorithmic models of it1. Penrose's version of the argument has been seen to fall victim to the original objections raised against Lucas (see Boolos (...) (1990) and for a particularly intemperate review, Putnam (1994)). Yet I believe that more can and should be said about the argument. Only a brief review is necessary here although I wish to present the argument in a somewhat peculiar form. (shrink)
It has been argued that Psychological Externalism is irrelevant to psychology. The grounds for this are that PE fails to individuate intentional states in accord with causal power, and that psychology is primarily interested in the causal roles of psychological states. It is also claimed that one can individuate psychological states via their syntactic structure in some internal "language of thought". This syntactic structure is an internal feature of psychological states and thus provides a key to their causal powers. I (...) argue that in fact any syntactic structure deserving the name will require an external individuation no less than the semantic features of psychological states. (shrink)
Naturalism is supposed to be a Good Thing. So good in fact that everybody wants to be a naturalist, no matter what their views might be1. Thus there is some confusion about what, exactly, naturalism is. In what follows, I am going to be pretty much, though not exclusively, concerned with the topics of intentionality and consciousness, which only deepens the confusion for these are two areas.
A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the _physical_ laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo within (...) its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical. (shrink)
THIS ARTICLE ARGUES THAT WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS\nSUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO ESTABLISH A REASONABLE AND PLAUSIBLE\nMATERIALISM. SUPERVENIENCE IS A RELATION BETWEEN FAMILIES\nOF PROPERTIES, SUCH THAT, ROUGHLY SPEAKING, FAMILY A\nSUPERVENES ON FAMILY B IF ANY OBJECTS WHICH ARE\nINDISCERNIBLE WITH RESPECT TO B ARE THEREBY INDISCERNIBLE\nWITH RESPECT TO A. WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS SUPERVENIENCE\nRESTRICTED TO ONE POSSIBLE WORLD; STRONG SUPERVENIENCE IS A\n"NECESSARY" SUPERVENIENCE EXTENDING ACROSS SOME PRINCIPLED\nSET OF POSSIBLE WORLDS. THESE NOTIONS ARE MADE SOMEWHAT\nMORE RIGOROUS FOLLOWING JAEGWON KIM'S DEVELOPMENT OF THEM.\nKIM HAS ARGUED THAT ONLY (...) STRONG SUPERVENIENCE CAN GROUND A\n'ROBUST' MATERIALISM, SO THE ARTICLE BEGINS BY CRITICIZING\nHIS ARGUMENTS FOR THIS POSITION. IT ARGUES THAT ANY FORM OF\nSTRONG SUPERVENIENCE IS IN FACT TOO STRONG TO CHARACTERIZE\nMATERIALISM AS IT IS NORMALLY CONCEIVED, FOR MATERIALISM IS\nNEITHER LOGICALLY NOR PHYSICALLY NECESSARY. BUT THE DAY IS\nSAVED AS WEAK SUPERVENIENCE CAN BE SHOWN TO BE JUST\nSUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO GROUND MATERIALISM. IN PARTICULAR,\nIT IS SHOWN THAT SUPERVENIENCE CAN SUPPORT COUNTERFACTUALS\nWITHOUT REQUIRING ANY NOTION OF "NECESSARY"\nSUPERVENIENCE. (shrink)
Whitehead’s philosophy is of perennial scholarly interest as one of the relatively few really serious attempts at a systematic metaphysics. But unlike almost all major ‘philosophical systems’ it is not merely an historical curiosity, but retains contemporary supporters actively deploying Whitehead’s viewpoint in discussion of a variety of live philosophical problems. Furthermore, Whitehead’s metaphysics is the sole example of a comprehensive philosophical system which aims to take into account the radical transformation of science which occurred at the beginning of the (...) twentieth century with the development of relativity and quantum mechanics, developments with which Whitehead was, as a first rate mathematician, highly familiar. (shrink)
Causation can be regarded from either an explanatory/epistemic or an ontological viewpoint. From the former, emergent features enter into a host of causal relationships which form a hierarchical structure subject to scientific investigation. From the latter, the paramount issue is whether emergent features provide any novel causal powers, or whether the 'go' of the world is exhausted by the fundamental physical features which underlie emergent phenomena. I argue here that the 'Scientific Picture of the World' (SPW) strongly supports the claim (...) that ontological causation is exhausted in the elementary physical features of the world. A method is developed for distinguishing 'emergent ontological causation' from the epistemological emergent explanatory patterns sanctioned by the SPW, and it is argued that the SPW implies that all emergence is mere epistemological emergence. However, this leads to a paradox when applied to consciousness itself, which turns out to be both epiphenomenal and viewpoint dependent. (shrink)
Donald Davidson espouses two fundamental theses about the individuation of mental events. The thesis of causal individuation asserts that sameness of cause and effect is sufficient and necessary for event identity. The thesis of content individuation gives only a sufficient condition for difference of mental events: if e and f have different contents then they are different mental events. I argue that given these theses, psychological externalism--the view that mental content is determined by factors external to the subject of the (...) relevant mental events--entails that the token identity theory is false. (shrink)
The metaphysical relation of supervenience has seen most of its service in the fields of the philosophy of mind and ethics. Although not repaying all of the hopes some initially invested in it – the mind-body problem remains stubbornly unsolved, ethics not satisfactorily naturalized – the use of the notion of supervenience has certainly clarified the nature and the commitments of so- called non-reductive materialism, especially with regard to the questions of whether explanations of supervenience relations are required and whether (...) such explanations must amount to a kind of reduction. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor has recently proposed a new entry into the list of information based approaches to semantic content aimed at explicating the general notion of representation for both mental states and linguistic tokens. The basic idea is that a token means what causes its production. The burden of the theory is to select the proper cause from the sea of causal influences which aid in generating any token while at the same time avoiding the absurdity of everything's being literally meaningful (...) (since everything has a cause). I argue that a detailed examination of the theory reveals that neither burden can be successfully shouldered. (shrink)
A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the physical laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo within (...) its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical1, a zombie's behaviour, as well as its underlying physical state, should be indistinguishable from the behaviour and physical state of a genuine human being. (shrink)
Reception of the Bohm-Hiley interpretation of quantum mechanics has a curiously Janus faced quality. On the one hand, it is frequently derided as a conservative throwback to outdated classical patterns of thought. On the other hand, it is equally often taken to task for encouraging a wild quantum mysticism, often regarded as anti-scientific. I will argue that there are reasons for this reception, but that a proper appreciation of the dual scientific and philosophical aspects of the view reveals a powerful (...) and extremely interesting metaphysical view of the world. This view is akin to that of Russellian Monism, in which the empirical world studied by science is restricted to relational features that stand in need of some background intrinsic properties to ground their reality. This allows for a theory that can embrace a world which exhibits a reasonable and plausible sort of emergence (especially of domains that fall under classical concepts) while also making room for distinctive and scientifically intransigent properties such as consciousness. (shrink)
The doctrine of physicalism can be roughly spelled out simply as the claim that the physical state of the world determines the total state of the world. However, since there are many forms of determination, a somewhat more precise characterization is needed. One obvious problem with the simple formulation is that the traditional doctrine of epiphenomenalism holds that the mental is determined by the physical (and epiphenomenalists need not assert that there are any properties except mental and physical ones, so (...) one can freely add to epiphenomenalism the claim that everything is determined by the physical state of the world). However, the orthodox view, which seems obviously correct, is that physicalists would and should balk at the claim that epiphenomenalism is a form of physicalism. The philosophical zombie thought experiment vividly reveals exactly why epiphenomenalism is not a version of physicalism. According to traditional epiphenomenalism the determination relation in question is causation, and causal relations do not hold with full necessity. They hold with at most nomological necessity. Thus there is a possible world, w, in which the causal laws (or, if one prefers a more Humean approach, where the cosmic regularities) are different in such a way that the physical states which in the actual world cause mental states either cause no mental states at all in w (the zombie option) or cause aberrant mental states (the inverted spectrum option). Why should the physicalist care about this ‘mere possibility’? Because it shows that the mental can vary independently of the physical and there can be no better demonstration of ontological distinctness 1 than independent variation. Therefore, physicalism requires that the sort of determination at issue must exhibit maximum modal force; it must be absolutely impossible for the mental to vary without attendant, determining physical variation (let us label this relation ‘logical determination’). I think the best way to state physicalism which meets this constraint is in terms of what are called minimal physical duplicates (MPDs) of possible worlds (an approach pioneered by David Lewis, see Lewis (1983b); see also Jackson (1998) and Chalmers and Jackson (2001)).. (shrink)
I want to show that a common and plausible interpretation of what science tells us about the fundamental structure of the world – the ‘scientific picture of the world’ or SPW for short – leads to what I’ll call ‘generalized epiphenomenalism’, which is the view that the only features of the world that possess causal efficacy are fundamental physical features. I think that generalized epiphenomenalism follows pretty straightforwardly from the SPW as I’ll present it, but it might seem that, once (...) granted, generalized epiphenomenalism is fairly innocuous, since its threat is too diffuse to provoke traditional worries about the epiphenomenal nature of mental states. If mental states are epiphenomenal only in the same sense that the putative powers of hurricanes, psyche- delic drugs or hydrogen bombs are epiphenomenal, then probably there is not much to worry about in the epiphenomenalism of the mental. I agree that the epiphenomenalism of hurricanes and the like is manageable, but it will turn out that ensuring manageability requires that mental states have an ontological status fundamentally different from that of hurricanes, drugs and bombs, a status that is in fact inconsistent with the SPW. So I’ll argue that generalized epiphenomenalism does have some seriously worrying consequences after all. (shrink)
The most remarkable fact about the universe is that certain parts of it are conscious. Somehow nature has managed to pull the rabbit of experience out of a hat made of mere matter. Making its own contribution to the current, lively debate about the nature of consciousness, Theories of Consciousness introduces variety of approaches to consciousness and explores to what extent scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. Including discussion of key figures, such as Descartes, Foder, Dennett and Chalmers, the book (...) covers identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism, and the new information-based theories. (shrink)
The apparent 'flow' of time is one of its most mysterious features, and one which discomforts both scientists and philosophers. One of the most striking assaults upon it is McTaggart's argument that the idea of temporal flow is demonstratively incoherent. In this paper I first urge that the idea of temporal flow is an important part of our intuitive understanding of time, underpinning several of our notions about rationality and time. Second, I try to undercut McTaggart's argument by showing that (...) it is not temporal flow which is illusory but rather the vicious regress McTaggart saw in that idea. A steadfast clinging to the notion of now, along with an analysis of McTaggart's argument reveals that the regress halts after but two steps. (shrink)