Doxasticism about our awareness of normative (i.e. justifying) reasons – the view that we can recognise reasons for forming attitudes or performing actions only by means of normative judgements or beliefs – is incompatible with the following triad of claims: -/- (1) Being motivated (i.e. forming attitudes or performing actions for a motive) requires responding to and, hence, recognising a relevant reason. -/- (2) Infants are capable of being motivated. -/- (3) Infants are incapable of normative judgement or belief. -/- (...) It should be clear that (3) is true, given that infants lack the required reflective and conceptual capacities. So doxasticists have to reject either (1) or (2) (or both). But this forced choice may be understood as a dilemma for doxasticism. On the hand, doxasticists may adopt a Kantian approach and reject (2), precisely because they think that motivation presupposes the doxastic recognition of reasons, and because infants lack the capacity to doxastically recognise reasons. But this choice seems to wrongly reduce the responses of infants to mere reflexes or instinctive reactions. On the other hand, doxasticists may choose a Humean route and deny (1) by espousing a purely causal or teleological account of motivation. But this would mean detrimentally ignoring the normative nature of (some instances of) motivation. -/- One elegant way of avoiding this dilemma is to give up doxasticism and instead endorse experientialism – the view that we enjoy some experiential access to reasons, which is independent of, and perhaps more fundamental than, our capacity to form normative judgements and beliefs. In this talk, I would like to provide an argument for the existence of such a non-doxastic form of access to reasons. More specifically, I aim to defend the claim that our basic awareness of reasons is phenomenal in nature. What this means is that it forms part of our access from the inside to those of our mental episodes that provide us with access to reasons. In other words, when we introspectively attend to reason-giving mental episodes and what they are about, we have the impression of the presence of a reason for us. My defence of this experientialist alternative to doxasticism will primarily focus on perceptual reasons for first-order beliefs about the external world. (shrink)
I review recent work on Phenomenal Conservatism, the position introduced by Michael Huemer according to which if it seems that P to a subject S, in the absence of defeaters S has thereby some degree of justification for believing P.
During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, (...) on this proposal, involve unique cognitive mechanisms, but none that could not be fully physically implemented. David Chalmers has recently presented a Master Argument to show that the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – not just this or that version of it, but any version of it – fails. Chalmers argues that the phenomenal concepts posited by such theories are either not physicalistically explicable, or they cannot explain our epistemic situation with regard to qualia. I argue that it is his Master Argument that fails. My claim is his argument does not provide any new reasons to reject the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. I also argue that, although the Phenomenal Concept Strategy is successful in showing that the physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up physicalism in the light of the anti-physicalist arguments, the anti-physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up the anti-physicalist argument in the light of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy either. (shrink)
This paper compares tracking and phenomenal intentionality theories of intentionality with respect to the issue of naturalism. Tracking theories explicitly aim to naturalize intentionality, while phenomenal intentionality theories generally do not. It might seem that considerations of naturalism count in favor of tracking theories. We survey key considerations relevant to this claim, including some motivations for and objections to the two kinds of theories. We conclude by suggesting that naturalistic considerations may in fact support phenomenal intentionality theories (...) over tracking theories. (shrink)
Phenomenal intentionality is a kind of intentionality, or aboutness, that is grounded in phenomenal consciousness, the subjective, experiential feature of certain mental states. The phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), is a theory of intentionality according to which there is phenomenal intentionality, and all other kinds of intentionality at least partly derive from it. In recent years, PIT has increasingly been seen as one of the main approaches to intentionality.
In this paper, I argue against the claim recently defended by Josh Weisberg that a certain version of the self-representational approach to phenomenal consciousness cannot avoid a set of problems that have plagued higher-order approaches. These problems arise specifically for theories that allow for higher-order misrepresentation or—in the domain of self-representational theories—self-misrepresentation. In response to Weisberg, I articulate a self-representational theory of phenomenal consciousness according to which it is contingently impossible for self-representations tokened in the context of a (...) conscious mental state to misrepresent their objects. This contingent infallibility allows the theory to both acknowledge the (logical) possibility of self-misrepresentation and avoid the problems of self-misrepresentation. Expanding further on Weisberg’s work, I consider and reveal the shortcomings of three other self-representational models—put forward by Kreigel, Van Gulick, and Gennaro—in order to show that each indicates the need for this sort of infallibility. I then argue that contingent infallibility is in principle acceptable on naturalistic grounds only if we attribute (1) a neo-Fregean kind of directly referring, indexical content to self-representational mental states and (2) a certain ontological structure to the complex conscious mental states of which these indexical self-representations are a part. In these sections I draw on ideas from the work of Perry and Kaplan to articulate the context-dependent semantic structure of inner-representational states. (shrink)
This paper replies to objections from perceptual distortion against the representationalist thesis that the phenomenal characters of experiences supervene on their intentional contents. It has been argued that some pairs of distorted and undistorted experiences share contents without sharing phenomenal characters, which is incompatible with the supervenience thesis. In reply, I suggest that such cases are not counterexamples to the representationalist thesis because the contents of distorted experiences are always impoverished in some way compared to those of normal (...) experiences. This can be shown by considering limit cases of perceptual distortion, for example, maximally blurry experiences, which manifestly lack details present in clear experiences. I argue that since there is no reasonable way to draw the line between distorted experiences that have degraded content and distorted experiences that do not, we should allow that an increase in distortion is always acc.. (shrink)
In this chapter, I argue for the thesis that phenomenal consciousness is the basis of epistemic justification. More precisely, I argue for the thesis of phenomenal mentalism, according to which epistemic facts about which doxastic attitudes one has justification to hold are determined by non-epistemic facts about one’s phenomenally individuated mental states. I begin by providing intuitive motivations for phenomenal mentalism and then proceed to sketch a more theoretical line of argument according to which phenomenal mentalism (...) provides the best explanation of the independently motivated thesis of access internalism. The result is a theory of epistemic justification that brings intuition and theory into reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
According to proponents of irreducible cognitive phenomenology some cognitive states put one in phenomenal states for which no wholly sensory states suffice. One of the main approaches to defending the view that there is irreducible cognitive phenomenology is to give a phenomenal contrast argument. In this paper I distinguish three kinds of phenomenal contrast argument: what I call pure—represented by Strawson's Jack/Jacques argument—hypothetical—represented by Kriegel's Zoe argument—and glossed—first developed here. I argue that pure and hypothetical phenomenal (...) contrast arguments face significant difficulties, but that there is a sound glossed phenomenal contrast argument for irreducible cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
This paper criticizes phenomenal conservatism––the influential view according to which a subject S’s seeming that P provides S with defeasible justification for believing P. I argue that phenomenal conservatism, if true at all, has a significant limitation: seeming-based justification is elusive because S can easily lose it by just reflecting on her seemings and speculating about their causes––I call this the problem of reflective awareness. Because of this limitation, phenomenal conservatism doesn’t have all the epistemic merits attributed (...) to it by its advocates. If true, phenomenal conservatism would constitute a unified theory of epistemic justification capable of giving everyday epistemic practices a rationale, but it wouldn’t afford us the means of an effective response to the sceptic. Furthermore, phenomenal conservatism couldn’t form the general basis for foundationalism. (shrink)
Imagism about Phenomenal Thought is (roughly) the view that there is some concept *Q* (for some sensory quality Q) that we can employ only while we experience the quality Q. I believe this view is theoretically significant, is or can be made intuitively appealing, and is explicitly or implicitly accepted by many contemporary philosophers However, there is no good reason to accept it. Or so I argue.
In recent years, several philosophers have defended the idea of phenomenal intentionality : the intrinsic directedness of certain conscious mental events which is inseparable from these events’ phenomenal character. On this conception, phenomenology is usually conceived as narrow, that is, as supervening on the internal states of subjects, and hence phenomenal intentionality is a form of narrow intentionality. However, defenders of this idea usually maintain that there is another kind of, externalistic intentionality, which depends on factors external (...) to the subject. We may ask whether this concession to content externalism is obligatory. In this paper, I shall argue that it isn’t. I shall suggest that if one is convinced that narrow phenomenal intentionality is legitimate, there is nothing stopping one from claiming that all intentionality is narrow. (shrink)
This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenal consciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a special informational character and semantic structure (...) that closely tie them to the brain states realizing conscious qualitative experiences. We then develop an account of introspection which exploits this special nature of sensory concepts. The result is a new class of concepts, which, following recent terminology, we call phenomenal concepts: these concepts refer to phenomenal experience itself and are the vehicles used in introspection. On our account, the connection between sensory and phenomenal concepts is very tight: it consists in different semantic uses of the same cognitive structures underlying the sensory concepts, such as the concept of red. Contrary to widespread opinion, we show that information theory contains all the resources to satisfy internalist intuitions about phenomenal consciousness, while not offending externalist ones. A consequence of this account is that it explains and predicts the so-called conceivability arguments against physicalism on the basis of the special nature of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Thus we not only show why physicalism is not threatened by such arguments, but also demonstrate its strength in virtue of its ability to predict and explain away such arguments in a principled way. However, we take the main contribution of this work to be what it provides in addition to a response to those conceivability arguments, namely, a substantive account of the interface between sensory and conceptual systems and the mechanisms of introspection as based on the special nature of the information flow between them. (shrink)
One central brand of representationalism claims that the specific phenomenal character of an experience is fully determined by its content. A challenge for this view is that cognitive and perceptual experiences sometimes seem to have the same representational content while differing in phenomenal character. In particular, it might seem that one can have faint imagery experiences or conscious thoughts with the same contents as vivid perceptual experiences. This paper argues that such cases never arise, and that they are (...) probably metaphysically impossible. I also suggest a fully representational account of differences in vividness between phenomenal experiences. (shrink)
Michael Huemer has argued for the justification principle known as phenomenal conservativism by employing a transcendental argument that claims all attempts to reject phenomenal conservativism ultimately are doomed to self-defeat. My contribution presents two independent arguments against the self-defeat argument for phenomenal conservativism after briefly presenting Huemer’s account of phenomenal conservativism and the justification for the self-defeat argument. My first argument suggests some ways that philosophers may reject Huemer’s premise that all justified beliefs are formed on (...) the basis of seemings. In the second argument I contend that phenomenal conservativism is not a well-motivated account of internal justification, which is a further reason to reject the self-defeat argument. Consequently, the self-defeat argument fails to show that rejecting phenomenal conservativism inevitably leads one to a self-defeating position. (shrink)
Huemer defends phenomenal conservatism (PC) and also the further claim that belief in any rival theory is self-defeating (SD). Here I construct a dilemma for his position: either PC and SD are incompatible, or belief in PC is itself self-defeating. I take these considerations to suggest a better self-defeat argument for (belief in) PC and a strong form of internalism.
In “Compassionate Phenomenal Conservatism” (2007), “Phenomenal Conservatism and the Internalist Intuition” (2006), and Skepticism and the Veil of Perception (2001), Michael Huemer endorses the principle of phenomenal conservatism, according to which appearances or seemings constitute a fundamental source of (defeasible) justification for belief. He claims that those who deny phenomenal conservatism, including classical foundationalists, are in a self-defeating position, for their views cannot be both true and justified; that classical foundationalists have difficulty accommodating false introspective beliefs; (...) and that phenomenal conservatism is most faithful to the central internalist intuition. I argue that Huemer’s self-defeat argument fails, that classical foundationalism is able to accommodate fallible introspective beliefs, and that classical foundationalism captures a relatively clear internalist intuition. I also show that the motivation for phenomenal conservatism is less than clear. (shrink)
This paper argues for a Husserlian account of phenomenal intentionality. Experience is intentional insofar as it presents a mind-independent, objective world. Its doing so is a matter of the way it hangs together, its having a certain structure. But in order for the intentionality in question to be properly understood as phenomenal intentionality, this structure must inhere in experience as a phenomenal feature. Husserl’s concept of horizon designates this intentionality-bestowing experiential structure, while his concept of motivation designates (...) the unique phenomenal character of this structure as it is experientially lived through. The way experience hangs together is itself a phenomenal feature of experience. (shrink)
Some experiments in perceptual psychology measure perceivers’ phenomenal experiences of objects versus their cognitive assessments of object properties. Analyzing such experiments, this article responds to Pizlo’s claim that much work on shape constancy before 1985 confused problems of shape ambiguity with problems of shape constancy. Pizlo fails to grasp the logic of experimental designs directed toward phenomenal aspects of shape constancy. In the domain of size perception, Granrud’s studies of size constancy in children and adults distinguish phenomenal (...) from cognitive factors. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that Michael Huemer’s phenomenal conservatism—the internalist view according to which our beliefs are prima facie justified if based on how things seems or appears to us to be—doesn’t fall afoul of Michael Bergmann’s dilemma for epistemological internalism. We start by showing that the thought experiment that Bergmann adduces to conclude that is vulnerable to his dilemma misses its target. After that, we distinguish between two ways in which a mental state can contribute to the (...) justification of a belief: the direct way and the indirect way. We identify a straightforward reason for claiming that the justification contributed indirectly is subject to Bergmann’s dilemma. Then we show that the same reason doesn’t extend to the claim that the justification contributed directly is subject to Bergmann’s dilemma. As is the view that seemings or appearances contribute justification directly, we infer that Bergmann’s contention that his dilemma applies to is unmotivated. In the final part, we suggest that our line of response to Bergmann can be used to shield other types of internalist justification from Bergmann’s objection. We also propose that seeming-grounded justification can be combined with justification of one of these types to form the basis of a promising version of internalist foundationalism. (shrink)
It would be a mistake to deny commonsense intuitions a role in developing a theory of consciousness. However, philosophers have traditionally failed to probe commonsense in a way that allows these commonsense intuitions to make a robust contribution to a theory of consciousness. In this paper, I report the results of two experiments on purportedly phenomenal states and I argue that many disputes over the philosophical notion of ‘phenomenal consciousness’ are misguided—they fail to capture the interesting connection between (...) commonsense ascriptions of pain and emotion. With this data in hand, I argue that our capacity to distinguish between ‘mere things’ and ‘subjects of moral concern’ rests, to a significant extent, on the sorts of mental states that we take a system to have. (shrink)
We discuss at some length evidence from the cognitive science suggesting that the representations of objects based on spatiotemporal information and featural information retrieved bottomup from a visual scene precede representations of objects that include conceptual information. We argue that a distinction can be drawn between representations with conceptual and nonconceptual content. The distinction is based on perceptual mechanisms that retrieve information in conceptually unmediated ways. The representational contents of the states induced by these mechanisms that are available to a (...) type of awareness called phenomenal awareness constitute the phenomenal content of experience. The phenomenal content of perception contains the existence of objects as separate things that persist in time and time, spatiotemporal information, and information regarding relative spatial relations, motion, surface properties, shape, size, orientation, color, and their functional properties. (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to (...) justified religious belief. A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
Consider two deeply appealing thoughts: first, that we experience external particulars, and second, that what it’s like to have an experience – the phenomenal character of an experience – is somehow independent of external particulars. The first thought is readily captured by phenomenal particularism, the view that external particulars are sometimes part of the phenomenal character of experience. The second thought is readily captured by phenomenal generalism, the view that external particulars are never part of (...) class='Hi'>phenomenal character. -/- Here I show that a novel version of phenomenal generalism can capture both thoughts in a satisfying fashion. Along the way, I reveal severe problems facing phenomenal particularism and also shed light on the mental kinds under which experiences fall. (shrink)
This article is about the special, subjective concepts we apply to experience, called “phenomenal concepts”. They are of special interest in a number of ways. First, they refer to phenomenal experiences, and the qualitative character of those experiences whose metaphysical status is hotly debated. Conscious experience strike many philosophers as philosophically problematic and difficult to accommodate within a physicalistic metaphysics. Second, PCs are widely thought to be special and unique among concepts. The sense that there is something special (...) about PCs is very closely tied up with features of the epistemic access they afford to qualia. When we deploy phenomenal concepts introspectively to some phenomenally conscious experience as it occurs, we are said to be acquainted with our own conscious experiences. Accounts of PCs either have to explain the acquaintance relation, or acquaintance with our phenomenal experiences has to be denied. PCs have received much attention in recent philosophy of mind mainly because they figure in arguments for dualism and in physicalist responses to these arguments. The main topic of this paper is to explore different accounts of phenomenal concepts and their role in recent debates over the metaphysical status of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
This metatheoretical paper develops a list of new research targets by exploring particularly promising interdisciplinary contact points between empirical dream research and philosophy of mind. The central example is the MPS-problem. It is constituted by the epistemic goal of conceptually isolating and empirically grounding the phenomenal property of “minimal phenomenal selfhood,” which refers to the simplest form of self-consciousness. In order to precisely describe MPS, one must focus on those conditions that are not only causally enabling, but strictly (...) necessary to bring it into existence. This contribution argues that research on bodiless dreams, asomatic out-of-body experiences, and full-body illusions has the potential to make decisive future contributions. Further items on the proposed list of novel research targets include differentiating the concept of a “first-person perspective” on the subcognitive level; investigating relevant phenomenological and neurofunctional commonalities between mind-wandering and dreaming; comparing the functional depth of embodiment across dream and wake states; and demonstrating that the conceptual consequences of cognitive corruption and systematic rationality deficits in the dream state are much more serious for philosophical epistemology (and, perhaps, the methodology of dream research itself) than commonly assumed. The paper closes by specifying a list of potentially innovative research goals that could serve to establish a stronger connection between dream research and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Phenomenal Conservatism (PC) is not superior to alternative theories of basic propositional justification insofar as those theories that reject PC are self-defeating. I show that self-defeat arguments similar to Michael Huemer’s Self-Defeat Argument for PC can be constructed for other theories of basic propositional justification as well. If this is correct, then there is nothing special about PC in that respect. In other words, if self-defeat arguments can be advanced in support of alternatives (...) to PC, then Huemer’s Self-Defeat argument doesn’t uniquely motivate PC. (shrink)
Phenomenal concepts are the concepts that we deploy when – but arguably not only when – we introspectively examine, focus on, or take notice of the phenomenal character of our experiences. They refer to phenomenal properties (or qualities) and they do so in a subjective (first-personal) and direct (non-relational) manner. It is through the use of such concepts that the phenomenal character of our experiences is made salient to us. Discourse about the nature of phenomenal (...) concepts plays an important role in the philosophy of mind. For one, phenomenal concepts have been used to explain the epistemological relation that holds between a subject and her conscious mental states. Most prominently, however, discussions of phenomenal concepts figure in the on-going and multifaceted debate concerning the metaphysical status of consciousness. Even though some theorists have utilized phenomenal concepts in arguments purporting to show that consciousness is ontologically distinct from physical entities and processes, most accounts of phenomenal concepts are advanced having the opposite objective in mind: a proper articulation of the nature of phenomenal concepts, it is held, can defend the view that consciousness is physical against epistemic arguments to the contrary. The present entry focuses on the nature of phenomenal concepts as this is articulated and developed in attempts to defend the contention that conscious states are identical to (realized by, metaphysically necessitated by, or supervenient upon) physical states. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal intentionality research program, a state’s intentional content is fixed by its phenomenal character. Defenders of this view have little to say about just how this grounding is accomplished. I argue that without a robust account of representation, the research program promises too little. Unfortunately, most of the well-developed accounts of representation – asymmetric dependence, teleosemantics, and the like – ground representation in external relations such as causation. Such accounts are inconsistent with the core of (...) the phenomenal intentionality program. I argue that, however counter-intuitive it may seem, the best prospect for explaining how phenomenal character represents appeals to resemblance. (shrink)
One popular materialist response to the explanatory gap identifies phenomenal concepts with type-demonstrative concepts. This kind of response, however, faces a serious challenge: that our phenomenal concepts seem to provide a richer characterization of their referents than just the demonstrative characterization of 'that quality'. In this paper, I develop a materialist account that beefs up the contents of phenomenal concepts while retaining the idea that these contents contain demonstrative elements. I illustrate this account by focusing on our (...)phenomenal concepts of phenomenal colour. The phenomenal colours stand in a similarity space relative to one another in virtue of being complex qualities—qualities that contain saturation, lightness, and various aspects of hue as component elements. Our phenomenal concepts, in turn, provide a demonstrative characterization of each of these component elements as well as a description of how much of that element is present in a given phenomenal colour. The result is an account where phenomenal concepts contain demonstrative elements and yet provide a significantly richer characterization of the intrinsic nature of their referents than just 'that quality'. (shrink)
The empirical literature on phenomenal causality (i.e., the notion that causality can be perceived) is reviewed. In Part I of this two-part series, different potential types of phenomenal causality (launching, triggering, reaction, tool, entraining, traction, braking, enforced disintegration and bursting, coordinated movement, penetration, expulsion) are described. Stimulus variables (temporal gap, spatial gap, spatial overlap, direction, absolute velocity, velocity ratio, trajectory length, radius of action, size, motion type, modality, animacy) and observer variables (attention, eye movements and fixation, prior experience, (...) intelligence, age, culture, psychopathology) that influence phenomenal causality are reviewed. This provides the necessary background for consideration in Part II (Hubbard, in press) of broader questions regarding properties of phenomenal causality, empirical and theoretical connections of phenomenal causality to other perceptual or cognitive phenomena or processes, and potential mechanisms and models of phenomenal causality. (shrink)
The Phenomenal Concept Strategy offers the physicalist perhaps the most promising means of explaining why the connection between mental facts and physical facts appears to be contingent even though it is not. In this article, we show that the large body of evidence suggesting that our concepts are often embodied and grounded in sensorimotor systems speaks against standard forms of the PCS. We argue, nevertheless, that it is possible to formulate a novel version of the PCS that is thoroughly (...) in keeping with embodied cognition, focuses on features of physical concepts, and succeeds in explaining the appearance of contingency. (shrink)
Recently there has been a good deal of interest in the relationship between common sense epistemology and Skeptical Theism. Much of the debate has focused on Phenomenal Conservatism and any tension that there might be between it and Skeptical Theism. In this paper I further defend the claim that there is no tension between Phenomenal Conservatism and Skeptical Theism. I show the compatibility of these two views by coupling them with an account of defeat – one that is (...) friendly to both Phenomenal Conservatism and Skeptical Theism. In addition, I argue that this account of defeat can give the Skeptical Theist what she wants – namely a response to the evidential argument from evil that can leave one of its premises unmotivated. In giving this account I also respond to several objections from Trent Dougherty (2011) and Chris Tucker (this volume) as well as to an additional worry coming from the epistemology of disagreement. (shrink)
Aron Gurwitsch made two main contributions to phenomenology. He showed how to import Gestalt theoretical ideas into Husserl’s framework of constitutive phenomenology. And he explored the light this move sheds on both the overall structure of experience and on particular kinds of experience, especially perceptual experiences and conscious shifts in attention. The primary focus of this paper is the overall structure of experience. I show how Gurwitsch’s Gestalt theoretically informed phenomenological investigations provide a basis for defending what I will call (...)Phenomenal Holism, the view that all the parts of a total phenomenal state metaphysically depend on it. To illustrate how the ideas developed along the way can be used in advancing work on the phenomenology of particular kinds of experience, I draw on them in defending Husserl’s view that we can be aware of abstract objects against a phenomenological objection. (shrink)
The phenomenal concept strategy (PCS) is widely regarded as the most promising physicalist defence against the so-called epistemic arguments—the anti-physicalist arguments that establish an ontological gap between physical and phenomenal facts on the basis of the occurrence of epistemic gaps in our descriptions of these facts. The PCS tries to undercut the force of the epistemic arguments by attributing the occurrence of the epistemic gaps to the special character of phenomenal concepts—the concepts by means of which we (...) think about our phenomenal experiences. In this essay, the author examines David Chalmers' master argument against the PCS and the objections raised against this argument by Peter Carruthers, Bénédicte Veillet and Katalin Balog in defending the PCS. While the author finds these objections to be successful defences of the PCS, the author shares Balog's belief that in this regard, the debate between the physicalists and anti-physicalists is a stalemate. (shrink)
Recently, Michael Huemer has defended the Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism: If it seems to S that p, then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some degree of justification for believing that p. This principle has potentially far-reaching implications. Huemer uses it to argue against skepticism and to defend a version of ethical intuitionism. I employ a reductio to show that PC is false. If PC is true, beliefs can yield justification for believing their contents in (...) cases where, intuitively, they should not be able to do so. I argue that there are cases where a belief that p can behave like an appearance that p and thereby make it seem to one that p. (shrink)
Introduction -- Phenomenal consciousness -- Phenomenal consciousness and self-representation -- The connection between phenomenal consciousness and creature consciousness -- Consciousness of things -- Real world puzzle cases -- Why consciousness cannot be physical and why it must be -- What is the thesis of physicalism? -- Why consciousness cannot be physical -- Why consciousness must be physical -- Physicalism and the appeal to phenomenal concepts -- Some terminological points -- Why physicalists appeal to phenomenal concepts (...) -- Various accounts of phenomenal concepts -- My own earlier view on phenomenal concepts -- Are there any phenomenal concepts? -- Phenomenal concepts and burgean intuitions -- Consequences for a priori physicalism -- The admissible contents of visual experience : the existential thesis -- The singular (when filled) thesis -- Kaplanianism -- The multiple contents thesis -- The existential thesis revisited -- Still more on existential contents -- Consciousness, seeing and knowing -- Knowing things and knowing facts -- Nonconceptual content -- Why the phenomenal character of an experience is not one of its nonrepresentational properties -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part I -- Phenomenal character and representational content, part II -- Phenomenal character and our knowledge of it -- Solving the puzzles -- Mary, Mary, how does your knowledge grow? -- The explanatory gap -- The hard problem -- The possibility of zombies -- Change blindness and the refrigerator light illusion -- A closer look at the change blindness hypotheses -- The no-seeum view -- Sperling and the refrigerator light -- Phenomenology and cognitive accessibility -- A further change blindness experiment -- Another brick in the wall -- Privileged access, phenomenal character, and externalism -- The threat to privileged access -- A Burgean thought experiment -- Social externalism for phenomenal character? -- A closer look at privileged access and incorrigibility -- How do I know that I am not a zombie? -- Phenomenal externalism. (shrink)
Proponents of phenomenal intentionality share a commitment that, for at least some paradigmatically intentional states, phenomenal character constitutively determines narrow intentional content. If this is correct, then any two states with the same phenomenal character will have the same narrow intentional content. Using a twin-earth style case, I argue that two different people can be in intrinsically identical phenomenological states without sharing narrow intentional contents. After describing and defending the case, I conclude by considering a few objections (...) that help to further illustrate the problem. (shrink)
In a series of papers and lectures, Sydney Shoemaker has developed a sophisticated Russellian theory of phenomenal content. It has as its central motivation two considerations. One is the possibility of spectrum - inversion without illusion. The other is the transparency of experience.
The empirical literature on phenomenal causality (the notion that causality can be perceived) is reviewed. Different potential types of phenomenal causality and variables that influence phenomenal causality were considered in Part I (Hubbard 2012b) of this two-part series. In Part II, broader questions regarding properties of phenomenal causality and connections of phenomenal causality to other perceptual or cognitive phenomena (different types of phenomenal causality, effects of spatial and temporal variance, phenomenal causality in infancy, (...) effects of object properties, naïve physics, spatial localization, other illusions, amodal completion, Gestalt principles of perceptual grouping, effects of context, differences between physical and social causality, effects of learning and experience, individual differences, effects of predictability, asymmetry in phenomenal causality, differences between perceived causality and perceived force, phenomenal causality in nonhuman animals) are considered. Potential mechanisms of phenomenal causality (inference from contiguity, a priori understanding, ampliation, perceptual learning, stimulus activity, beliefs regarding kinematics, haptic experience, beliefs regarding impetus, postdiction, innateness, modularity, specific neural structures) are also considered. (shrink)
This paper examines the origins and legacy of Titchener’s notion of stimulus error in the experimental study of sensory experience. It places Titchener’s introspective methods into the intellectual world of early experimental psychology. It follows the subsequent development of perceptual experimentation primarily in the American literature, with notice to British and German studies as needed. Subsequent investigators transformed the specific notion of a “stimulus error” into experimental questions in which subjects’ attitudes toward their perceptual tasks became independent variables to be (...) manipulated experimentally. Ultimately, these manipulations support a distinction between accessing phenomenal as opposed to cognitive aspects of subjects’ responses to perceived objects. (shrink)
Against Hanna on Phenomenal Conservatism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0148-2 Authors Kevin McCain, Department of Philosophy, University of Rochester, Box 270078, Rochester, NY 14627-0078, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150.
Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. In recent years, a consensus has emerged that the credibility of this and other well-known anti-physicalist arguments can be undermined by allowing that we possess a special category of concepts of experiences, phenomenal concepts, which are conceptually independent from physical/functional concepts. It is held by a large number of philosophers that since the conceptual independence of (...)phenomenal concepts does not imply the metaphysical independence of phenomenal properties, physicalism is safe. This paper distinguishes between two versions of this novel physicalist strategy –Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) – depending on how it cashes out “conceptual independence,” and argues that neither helps the physicalist cause. A dilemma for PCS arises: cashing out “conceptual independence” in a way compatible with physicalism requires abandoning some manifest phenomenological intuitions, and cashing it out in a way compatible with those intuitions requires dropping physicalism. The upshot is that contra Brian Loar and others, one cannot “have it both ways.”. (shrink)
Knowledge of what it’s like to have perceptual experiences, e.g. of what it’s like to see red or taste Turkish coffee, is phenomenal knowledge; and it is knowledge the substantial or significant nature of which is widely assumed to pose a challenge for physicalism. Call this the New Challenge to physicalism. The goal of this paper is to take a closer look at the New Challenge. I show, first, that it is surprisingly difficult to spell out clearly and neutrally (...) what the New Challenge is in fact urging the physicalist to explain. What initially look like plausible or promising ways of making sense of it turn out to be either question begging or insufficient to generate a challenge to physicalism at all. I go on to suggest that what the New Challenge may be asking the physicalist to explain may be the fact that we come to token certain higher-order judgments about the significance of phenomenal knowledge. I end with a discussion of the implications of this interpretation of the New Challenge—which turns out to be as much a challenge for the anti-physicalist as it is for the physicalist. (shrink)
We present a cognitive-physicalist account of phenomenal consciousness. We argue that phenomenal concepts do not differ from other types of concepts. When explaining the peculiarities of conscious experience, the right place to look at is sensory/ perceptual representations and their interaction with general conceptual structures. We utilize Jerry Fodor’s psycho- semantic theory to formulate our view. We compare and contrast our view with that of Murat Aydede and Güven Güzeldere, who, using Dretskean psychosemantic theory, arrived at a solution (...) different from ours in some ways. We have suggested that the representational atomism of certain sensory experiences plays a central role in reconstructing the epistemic gap associated with conscious experience, still, atomism is not the whole story. It needs to be supple- mented by some additional principles. We also add an account of introspection, and suggest some cognitive features that might distinguish representational atoms with phenomenal character from those without it. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to show that phenomenal properties are contentless modes of appearances of representational properties. The essay initiates with examination of the first-person perspective of the conscious observer according to which a “reference to I” with respect to the observation of experience is determined. A distinction is then drawn between the conscious observer and experience as observed, according to which, three distinct modifications of experience are delineated. These modifications are then analyzed with respect to the (...) content of experience and from this the ground of the distinction between phenomenal and representational properties is identified. (shrink)
I distinguish between two claims of transparency of experiences. One claim is weaker and supported by phenomenological evidence. This I call the Transparency Datum. Introspection of standard perceptual experiences as well as bodily sensations is consistent with, indeed supported by, the Transparency Datum. I formulate a stronger transparency thesis that is entailed by (strong) representationalism about experiential phenomenology. I point out some empirical consequences of strong transparency in the context of representationalism. I argue that pain experiences, as well as some (...) other similar experiences like itches, tickles, orgasms, hedonic valence, etc., are not transparent in this strong sense. Hence they constitute empirical counterexamples to representationalism. Given that representationalism is a general metaphysical doctrine about all experiential phenomenology for good reasons, I conclude that representationalism about phenomenal consciousness is false. Then, I outline a general framework about how the introspection of phenomenal qualities works in light of the Transparency Datum, but consistent with the rejection of strong transparency. The result is a form of qualia realism that is naturalist and intentionalist (weak representationalist), and has close affinities to the adverbialist views developed in the latter part of the last century. I then apply this framework to pain experiences and their bodily locations. (shrink)
John DePoe has criticized the self-defeat argument for Phenomenal Conservatism. He argues that acquaintance, rather than appearance, may form the basis for non-inferentially justified beliefs, and that Phenomenal Conservatism conflicts with a central motivation for internalism. I explain how Phenomenal Conservatism and the self-defeat argument may survive these challenges.