Chalmers (The character of consciousness, 2010) argues for an acquaintance theory of the justification of direct phenomenalbeliefs. A central part of this defense is the claim that direct phenomenalbeliefs are cognitively significant. I argue against this. Direct phenomenalbeliefs are justified within the specious present, and yet the resources available with the present ‘now’ are so impoverished that it barely constrains the content of a direct phenomenal belief. I argue that Chalmers’s (...) account does not have the resources for explaining how direct phenomenalbeliefs support the inference from ‘this E is R’ to ‘that was R.’. (shrink)
Phenomenal intentionality and the evidential role of perceptual experience: comments on Jack Lyons, Perception and Basic Beliefs Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9604-2 Authors Terry Horgan, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Phenomenalbeliefs are beliefs about the phenomenal properties of one's concurrent conscious states. It is an article of common sense that such beliefs tend to be justified. Philosophers have been less convinced. It is sometimes claimed that phenomenalbeliefs are not on the whole justified, on the grounds that they are typically based on introspection and introspection is often unreliable. Here we argue that such reasoning must guard against a potential conflation between two (...) distinct introspective phenomena, which we call fact-introspection and thing -introspection; arguments for the unreliability of introspection typically target only the former, leaving the reliability of the latter untouched. In addition, we propose a theoretical framework for understanding thing -introspection that may have a surprising consequence: thing -introspection is not only reliable, but outright infallible. This points at a potential line of defense of phenomenal-belief justification, which here we only sketch very roughly. (shrink)
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)
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)
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 (...) class='Hi'>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)
Experiences and beliefs are different sorts of mental states, and are often taken to belong to very different domains. Experiences are paradigmatically phenomenal, characterized by what it is like to have them. Beliefs are paradigmatically intentional, characterized by their propositional content. But there are a number of crucial points where these domains intersect. One central locus of intersection arises from the existence of phenomenalbeliefs: beliefs that are about experiences.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
We all have an intuitive grasp of the concept of evidence. Evidence makes beliefs reasonable, justifies jury verdicts, and helps resolve our disagreements. Yet getting clear about what evidence is is surprisingly difficult. Among other possibilities, evidence might consist in physical objects like a candlestick found at the crime scene, propositions like ‘a candlestick was found at the crime scene,’ or experiences like the experience of witnessing a candlestick at the crime scene. This dissertation is a defense of the (...) latter view. Evidence, we will argue, consists in experiences or mental states called ‘seeming states.’ We begin with a look at why the logical positivists came to abandon the experiential or “phenomenal” conception of evidence and adopted what I call “the courtroom conception.” Despite its appeal, we argue that this latter view is too objective; it has trouble playing the role of subjective reasons-provider. Being more subjective, the phenomenal conception deserves another look. However, many have thought that the phenomenal conception itself is unable to fulfill other important roles of evidence. In chapter two we dispute this, arguing that the phenomenal conception can play all four of the chief roles of evidence. Examining the religious epistemology of Alvin Plantinga in chapter three we come to see that the phenomenal conception, while attractive, is in danger of being too subjective. If the phenomenal conception of evidence is to be tenable, it must be offered in conjunction with a conservative epistemic principle which tethers together experiences with the beliefs they evidence in an epistemically appropriate manner. Hence in chapter four we consider a number of conservative epistemic principles and argue for the superiority of one in particular. But these principles have themselves been subject to criticism. For this reason, in chapter five we close by responding to a recent and pressing challenge to conservative principles in epistemology (Michael Bergmann’s dilemma for internalism) which might prevent their deployment alongside the phenomenal conception. If our arguments are correct, the phenomenal conception of evidence is still an attractive account of evidence today. (shrink)
Barry Dainton presents a fascinating new account of the self, the key to which is experiential or phenomenal continuity. Provided our mental life continues we can easily imagine ourselves surviving the most dramatic physical alterations, or even moving from one body to another. It was this fact that led John Locke to conclude that a credible account of our persistence conditions - an account which reflects how we actually conceive of ourselves - should be framed in terms of mental (...) rather than material continuity. But mental continuity comes in different forms. Most of Locke's contemporary followers agree that our continued existence is secured by psychological continuity, which they take to be made up of memories, beliefs, intentions, personality traits, and the like. Dainton argues that that a better and more believable account can be framed in terms of the sort of continuity we find in our streams of consciousness from moment to moment. Why? Simply because provided this continuity is not lost - provided our streams of consciousness flow on - we can easily imagine ourselves surviving the most dramatic psychological alterations. Phenomenal continuity seems to provide a more reliable guide to our persistence than any form of continuity. The Phenomenal Self is a full-scale defence and elaboration of this premise. The first task is arriving at an adequate understanding of phenomenal unity and continuity. This achieved, Dainton turns to the most pressing problem facing any experience-based approach: losses of consciousness. How can we survive them? He shows how the problem can be solved in a satisfactory manner by construing ourselves as systems of experiential capacities. He then moves on to explore a range of further issues. How simple can a self be? How are we related to our bodies? Is our persistence an all-or-nothing affair? Do our minds consist of parts which could enjoy an independent existence? Is it metaphysically intelligible to construe ourselves as systems of capacities? The book concludes with a novel treatment of fission and fusion. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They (...) can deny that their view forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
Some contemporary discussion about the explanation of consciousness substantially recapitulates a decisive debate about reference, knowledge and justification from an earlier stage of the analytic tradition. In particular, I argue that proponents of a recently popular strategy for accounting for an explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal facts – the so-called “phenomenal concept strategy” – face a problem that was originally fiercely debated by Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath. The question that is common to both the older and the (...) contemporary discussion is that of how the presence or presentation of phenomenal experiences can play a role in justifying beliefs or judgments about them. This problem is, moreover, the same as what was classically discussed as the problem of acquaintance. Interestingly, both physicalist and non-physicalist proponents of the phenomenal concept strategy today face this problem. I consider briefly some recent attempts to solve it and conclude that, although it is prima facie very plausible that acquaintance exists, we have, as yet, no good account of it. (shrink)
Phenomenal Conservatism Phenomenal Conservatism is a theory in epistemology that seeks, roughly, to ground justified beliefs in the way things “appear” or “seem” to the subject who holds a belief. The theory fits with an internalistic form of foundationalism—that is, the view that some beliefs are justified non-inferentially (not on the basis of other beliefs), and that […].
As an important view in the epistemology of perception, dogmatism proposes that for any experience, if it has a distinctive kind of phenomenal character, then it thereby provides us with immediate justification for beliefs about the external world. This paper rejects dogmatism by looking into the epistemology of imagining. In particular, this paper first appeals to some empirical studies on perceptual experiences and imaginings to show that it is possible for imaginings to have the distinctive phenomenal character (...) dogmatists have in mind. Then this paper argues that some of these imaginings fail to provide us with immediate justification for beliefs about the external world at least partly due to their inappropriate etiology. Such imaginings constitute counterexamples to dogmatism. (shrink)
A prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind is that zombies are logically possible. I argue, via a thought experiment, that if this prevailing view is correct, then I could be transformed into a zombie. If I could be transformed into a zombie, then surprisingly, I am not certain that I am conscious. Regrettably, this is not just an idiosyncratic fact about my psychology; I think you are in the same position. This means that we must revise or replace some (...) important positions in the philosophy of mind. We could embrace radical skepticism about our own consciousness, or maintain the complete and total infallibility of our beliefs about our own phenomenal experiences. I argue that we should actually reject the logical possibility of zombies. (shrink)
This paper argues for a completely universal scepticism, according to which no beliefs at all are justified to the least degree. The argument starts with a version of the Agrippan trilemma, according to which, if we accept that a belief is justified, we must choose between foundationalism, coherentism of a particular sort, and an infinite regress of justified beliefs. Each of these theories is given a careful specification in terms of the relationship of “justifiedness in p depending on (...) justifiedness in q”. It is then argued that no beliefs – not even beliefs about phenomenal experiences – are foundational in the required way. Both coherentism and infinitism are untenable, since, since they face various objections, most significantly the objection that acceptance of either would commit one to allowing that all beliefs were justified. Because the three possible accounts of justificational structure all fail radically, it is concluded that no beliefs are justified. (shrink)
One-level accounts of consciousness have become increasingly popular (Dretske 1995, Tye 1995, Siewert 1998, Thomasson 2000 and 2005, Lurz 2006, McGinn, this volume). By a ‘onelevel’ account I mean an account according to which consciousness is fundamentally a matter of awareness of a world —and does not require awareness of our own minds, mental states, or the phenomenal character of these. As Fred Dretske puts it “Experiences and beliefs are conscious, not because you are conscious of them, but (...) because, so to speak, you are conscious with them”. (shrink)
I argue that an experience’s sensuous elements play an ineliminable role in our being intentionally directed upon an entity through perception. More specifically, I argue that whenever we appreciate a sensuous element in experience, we appreciate an intrinsic and irreducibly phenomenal aspect of experience that I call phenomenal presence – an aspect of experience that I show is central to its presentational character – and that the appreciation of phenomenal presence is necessary for perceptual intentionality. If an (...) experience is to possess intentionality, the experience itself must make an entity available as an object of perceptually-based singular beliefs and the experiencing subject, by virtue of undergoing the experience, must in some sense be able to appreciate that it has done so. Phenomenal presence is necessary for perceptual intentionality because it plays an ineliminable role in making an entity available to its subject in this way. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize Michael Huemer's phenomenal conservatism, the theory of justification according to which 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. Specifically, I argue that beliefs and hunches provide counterexamples to phenomenal conservatism. I then defend a version of restricted phenomenal conservatism, the view that some but not all appearances confer prima facie justification on their (...) propositional contents. Specifically, I defend the view that S has defeasible justification for believing that p if and only if it seems to S that p and it seems to S that she is acquainted with the fact that makes p true. Finally, I criticize Huemer's self-defeat argument for phenomenal conservatism. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss a variant of the knowledge argument which is based upon Frank Jackson's Mary thought experiment. Using this argument, Jackson tries to support the thesis that a purely physical â or, put generally: an objectively scientific â perspective upon the world excludes the important domain of `phenomenal' facts, which are only accessible introspectively. Martine Nida-RÃ¼melinhas formulated the epistemological challenge behind the case of Mary especially clearly. I take her formulation of the problem as a starting-point (...) and present a solution which is based solely on the concepts of capability and of metalinguistic beliefs. References to epiphenomenal facts, phenomenal knowledge etc. will be avoided completely. I specify my proposal against the backdrop of Burge's critical reflections about metalinguistic reinterpretation of expressions of belief and the externalist thesis held by Burge, Putnam and others that meanings and mental states are dependent upon the environment. My solution is then compared with Lewis' and Nemirow's ability objection. Finally I argue that the much discussed ``knowing what it is like'' has in its ordinary meaning nothing much to do with `phenomenal knowledge' or knowledge of `epiphenomenal' facts. (shrink)
Perceptions guide our actions and provide us with evidence of the world around us. Illusions and hallucinations can mislead us: they may prompt as to act in ways that do not mesh with the world around us and they may lead us to form false beliefs about that world. The capacity view provides an account of evidence that does justice to these two facts. It shows in virtue of what illusions and hallucinations mislead us and prompt us to act. (...) Moreover, it shows in virtue of what we are in a better epistemic position when we perceive than when we hallucination. In this paper, I develop the capacity view, that is, the view that perceptual experience has epistemic force in virtue of the epistemic and metaphysical primacy of the perceptual capacities employed in perception. By grounding the epistemic force of experience in facts about the metaphysical structure of experience, the capacity view is not only an externalist view, but moreover a naturalistic view of the epistemology of perceptual experience. So it is an externalist and naturalistic alternative to reliabilism. I discuss the repercussions of this view for the justification of beliefs and the epistemic transparency of mental states, as well as, familiar problem cases. (shrink)
The Extended Mind Hypothesis (EMH) needs a defence of phenomenal externalism in order to be consistent with an indispensable condition for attributing extended beliefs, concerning the conscious past endorsement of information. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to envisage such a defence. Proponents ofthe EMH are thus confronted with a difficult dilemma: they either accept absurd attributions of belief, and thus deflate EMH, or incorporate, for compatibility reasons, the conscious past endorsement condition for extended belief attribution, implying (...) a seemingly unavailable defence of phenomenal externalism, and thus risk inconsistency within EMH. Either way, EMH is threatened. (shrink)
Optimal decision-making requires us to accurately pinpoint the basis of our thoughts, e.g. whether they originate from our memory or our imagination. This paper argues that the phenomenal qualities of our subjective experience provide permissible evidence to revise beliefs, particularly as it pertains to memory. I look to the source monitoring literature to reconcile circumstances where mnemic beliefs and mnemic qualia conflict. By separating the experience of remembering from biological facts of memory, unusual cases make sense, such (...) as memory qualia without memory or a failure to have memory qualia with memory. I argue that a pragmatic, probabilistic approach to belief revision is a way to rationally incorporate information from conscious experience, whilst acknowledging its inherent difficulties as an epistemic source. I conclude with a Bayesian defense of source monitoring based on C.I. Lewis’ coherence argument for memorial knowledge. (shrink)
This paper contrasts an interactionist account of delusional misidentification with more traditional one- and two-stage models. Unlike the unidirectional nature of these more traditional models, in which the aetiology of the disorder is said to progress from a neurological disruption via an anomalous experience to a delusional belief, the interactionist account posits the interaction of top-down and bottom-up processes to better explain the maintenance of the delusional belief. In addition, it places a greater emphasis on the patient’s underlying phenomenal (...) experience in accounting for the specificity of the delusional content. The role played by patient phenomenology is examined in light of Ratcliffe’s recent phenomenological account. Similarities and differences are discussed. The paper concludes that a purely phenomenological account is unable to differentiate between non-delusional patient groups, who have what appear to be equivalent phenomenal experiences to patients suffering from delusional misidentification but without the delusional belief, and delusional groups, something the interactionist model is able to do. (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism (PC) is the internalist view according to which the non-inferential justification of our beliefs rests on our seemings or appearances. Advocates of PC have recently argued that seemings of a special type are also required to explain the inferential justification of our beliefs. The most developed view to this effect is Huemer (2016)’s theory of inferential seemings (ToIS). Moretti (2017) has shown that PC is affected by the so-called problem of reflective awareness, which makes PC (...) open to sceptical challenges. In this paper I argue that ToIS is afflicted by a variant of this problem, which makes it vulnerable to inferential scepticism. I conclude that the prospects for a satisfactory internalist account of inferential justification that appeals to seemings are quite dim. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind typically group experiential states together and distinguish these from intentional states on the basis of their purportedly obvious phenomenal character. Sytsma and Machery (Phil Stud 151(2): 299–327, 2010) challenge this dichotomy by presenting evidence that non-philosophers do not classify subjective experiences relative to a state’s phenomenological character, but rather by its valence. However we argue that S&M’s results do not speak to folk beliefs about the nature of experiential states, but rather to folk beliefs (...) about the entity to which those experiential states are attributed. In two experiments, we demonstrate that ordinary attributions of subjective experiences (of smell and felt emotions) to a simple robot are not sensitive to valence, but instead respond to functional assumptions about the entity to which the states are (or are not) attributed. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the relationship between consciousness and knowledge, and in particular on the role perceptual consciousness might play in justifying beliefs about the external world. We outline a version of phenomenal dogmatism according to which perceptual experiences immediately, prima facie justify certain select parts of their content, and do so in virtue of their having a distinctive phenomenology with respect to those contents. Along the way we take up various issues in connection with this core theme, (...) including the possibility of immediate justification, the dispute between representational and relational views of perception, the epistemic significance of cognitive penetration, the question of whether perceptual experiences are composed of more basic sensations and seemings, and questions about the existence and epistemic significance of high-level content. In a concluding section we briefly consider how some of the topics pursued here might generalize beyond perception. (shrink)
It’s not implausible to think that whenever I have a justified noninferential belief that p, it is caused by a seeming that p. It’s also tempting to think that something contributes to the justification of my belief only if I hold my belief because of that thing. Thus, given that many of our noninferential beliefs are justified and that we hold them because of seemings, one might be inclined to hold a view like Phenomenal Conservatism, according to which (...) seemings play a crucial role—perhaps the only crucial role—in the justification of our noninferential beliefs. But Phenomenal Conservatism seems to conflict, in a number of ways, with externalist accounts of justification. As a result, the attractiveness of the intuitions appealed to in support of views like Phenomenal Conservatism present something of a challenge to externalism. The purpose of this paper is to deal with that challenge by developing and defending an externalist-friendly account of the role of seemings in the formation and justification of our noninferential beliefs—an account that incorporates what is attractive in views like Phenomenal Conservatism. Because this externalist-friendly account is compatible with both externalist accounts of justification and the plausible elements of views like Phenomenal Conservatism, the challenge to externalism inspired by such views is thereby undermined. (shrink)
Abstract I provide an account of the nature of seemings that explains why they are necessary for justification. The account grows out of a picture of cognition that explains what is required for epistemic agency. According to this account, epistemic agency requires (1) possessing the epistemic aims of forming true beliefs and avoiding errors, and (2) having some means of forming beliefs in order to satisfy those aims. I then argue that seeming are motives for belief characterized by (...) their role of providing us with doxastic instructions guided by our epistemic aims. Understanding the nature of seemings allows us to underwrite recent epistemological work by Michael Huemer, and shows why he was right to claim that seemings are the source of all justification. I then look at some objections both to my arguments regarding the connection between seemings and justification, and to Huemer’s related “Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism”. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-21 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9830-2 Authors Matthew Skene, Syracuse University, 8330 E. Quincy Ave., I-307, Denver, CO 80237, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
According to Phenomenal Conservatism (PC), if it seems to a subject S that P, S thereby has some degree of (defeasible) justification for believing P. But what is it for P to seem true? Answering this question is vital for assessing what role (if any) such states can play. Many have appeared to adopt a kind of non-reductionism that construes seemings as intentional states which cannot be reduced to more familiar mental states like beliefs or sensations. In this (...) paper I aim to show that reductive accounts need to be taken more seriously by illustrating the plausibility of identifying seemings and conscious inclinations to form a belief. I briefly close the paper by considering the implications such an analysis might have for views such as PC. (shrink)
According to phenomenal conservatism, seemings can provide prima facie justification for beliefs. In order to fully assess phenomenal conservatism, it is important to understand the nature of seemings. Two views are that (SG) seemings are a sui generis propositional attitude, and that (D2B) seemings are nothing over and above dispositions to believe. Proponents of (SG) reject (D2B) in large part by providing four distinct objections against (D2B). First, seemings have a distinctive phenomenology, but dispositions to believe do (...) not. Second, seemings can provide a non-trivial explanation for dispositions to believe, which wouldn’t be possible if seemings were dispositions to believe. Third, there are some dispositions to believe that are not seemings. Fourth, there are instances of seemings which are not dispositions to believe. I consider and reject each of these objections. The first and third objections rely on a misunderstanding of (D2B). The second objection fails because there are contexts in which an appeal to a previously unknown identity can provide an interesting explanation. The fourth objection overlooks the possibility of finkish and masked dispositions, phenomena which are widely accepted in the dispositions literature. I conclude that (D2B) escapes these common objections unscathed. (shrink)
In studying folk psychology, cognitive and developmental psychologists have mainly focused on how people conceive of non-experiential states such as beliefs and desires. As a result, we know very little about how non-philosophers (or the folk) understand the mental states that philosophers typically classify as being phenomenally conscious. In particular, it is not known whether the folk even tend to classify mental states in terms of their being or not being phenomenally conscious in the first place. Things have changed (...) dramatically in the last few years, however, with a flurry of ground-breaking research by psychologists and experimental philosophers. In this article I will review this work, carefully distinguishing between two questions: First, are the ascriptions that the folk make with regard to the mental states that philosophers classify as phenomenally conscious related to their decisions about whether morally right or wrong action has been done to an entity? Second, do the folk tend to classify mental states in the way that philosophers do, distinguishing between mental states that are phenomenally conscious and mental states that are not phenomenally conscious? (shrink)
In previous work, I have suggested a doxastic account of perceptual experience according to which experiences form a kind of belief: Beliefs with what I have called “phenomenal” or “looks-content”. I have argued that this account can not only accommodate the intuitive reason providing role of experience, but also its justificatory role. I have also argued that, in general, construing experience and perceptual beliefs, i.e. the beliefs most directly based on experience, as having different contents best (...) accounts for the defeasibility of experiential reasons. In this paper, I shall have a closer look at the evidential or inferential relation between looks-propositions and the contents of perceptual beliefs and argue for a form of what I shall call “Pollockianism” about experiential reasons: such reasons are good unless defeated. Questions to be investigated include: Does the resulting picture of perceptual justification contain an externalist element? Is it compatible with Bayesianism? And how does it do with respect to problems that have been raised for other forms of Pollockianism such as dogmatism or phenomenal conservatism? (shrink)
Human subjects seem to have a type of introspective access to their mental states that allows them to immediately judge the types and intensities of their occurrent emotions, as well as what those emotions are about or “directed at”. Such judgments manifest what I call “emotion-direction beliefs”, which, if reliably produced, may constitute emotion-direction knowledge. Many psychologists have argued that the “directed emotions” such beliefs represent have a componential structure, one that includes feelings of emotional responses and related (...) but independent representations of what those feelings are about. I argue that such componentiality may help to explain how emotion-direction knowledge is achievable. I begin by developing a hybrid view of introspection that combines David Chalmers’ phenomenal realism with Alvin Goldman’s “partial redeployment” account of meta-belief content. I then provide a process-reliabilist account of introspectively gained emotion-direction knowledge that outlines the minimum conditions of reliably forming emotion-direction beliefs, and specifies several ways in which the warrant of such beliefs could be defeated by relevant counterfactual alternatives. The overall account suggests how distinct introspective processes might be epistemically synergistic. (shrink)
In recent philosophy of mind, epiphenomenalism—that strain of dualism according to which the mind is caused by the body but does not cause the body in turn—has undergone something of a renaissance. Contemporary epiphenomenalists bear only partial resemblance to their more extravagantly metaphysical ancestors, however. Traditional epiphenomenalists thought that (at least) two sorts of mental properties were epiphenomenal—intentional properties such as the meaning or representational content of the propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires and so on); and conscious properties such as (...) awareness and the qualitative nature of experience. Contemporary epiphenomenalists, on the other hand, are largely sanguine about the prospects for intentionality to be brought within the purview of a physicalist worldview; what forces their dualism is one particular feature of consciousness—what irks them are qualia, the.. (shrink)
Palmer's “isomorphism constraint” may be interpreted as a claim about (1) what can be known with certainty, or (2) what can be detected, or (3) what beliefs can be justified on the basis of a certain kind of scientific knowledge. I argue that his claim is valid if interpreted in one of the first two ways, but invalid if interpreted in the third way.
In this paper I argue that it's possible that the contents of some visual experiences are influenced by the subject's prior beliefs, hopes, suspicions, desires, fears or other mental states, and that this possibility places constraints on the theory of perceptual justification that 'dogmatism' or 'phenomenal conservativism' cannot respect.
Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one's cognitive system, for example, one's thoughts or beliefs? If one thinks that this can happen then one thinks that there can be cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitively impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case of cognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can typically use to explain away alleged cases. (...) The case is one in which it seems subjects' beliefs about the typical colour of objects affects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generally sympathetic to the idea of cognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation of this plausible mechanism. (shrink)
Delusions are a common symptom of schizophrenia and dementia. Though most English dictionaries define a delusion as a false opinion or belief, there is currently a lively debate about whether delusions are really beliefs and indeed, whether they are even irrational. The book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of delusions. It brings together the psychological literature on the aetiology and the behavioural manifestations of delusions, and the philosophical literature on belief ascription and rationality. The thesis of the (...) book is that delusions are continuous with ordinary beliefs, a thesis that could have important theoretical and practical implications for psychiatric classification and the clinical treatment of subjects with delusions. By bringing together recent work in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology and psychiatry, the book offers a comprehensive review of the philosophical issues raised by the psychology of normal and abnormal cognition, defends the doxastic conception of delusions, and develops a theory about the role of judgements of rationality and of attributions of self-knowledge in belief ascription. Presenting a highly original analysis of the debate on the nature of delusions, this book will interest philosophers of mind, epistemologists, philosophers of science, cognitive scientists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals. (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)
In the philosophical literature on mental states, the paradigmatic examples of mental states are beliefs, desires, intentions, and phenomenal states such as being in pain. The corresponding list in the psychological literature on mental state attribution includes one further member: the state of knowledge. This article examines the reasons why developmental, comparative and social psychologists have classified knowledge as a mental state, while most recent philosophers--with the notable exception of Timothy Williamson-- have not. The disagreement is traced back (...) to a difference in how each side understands the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and belief, concepts which are understood in both disciplines to be closely linked. Psychologists and philosophers other than Williamson have generally have disagreed about which of the pair is prior and which is derivative. The rival claims of priority are examined both in the light of philosophical arguments by Williamson and others, and in the light of empirical work on mental state attribution. (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)