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Alex Byrne
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1. Are women adult human females?Alex Byrne - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3783-3803.
    Are women (simply) adult human females? Dictionaries suggest that they are. However, philosophers who have explicitly considered the question invariably answer no. This paper argues that they are wrong. The orthodox view is that the category *woman* is a social category, like the categories *widow* and *police officer*, although exactly what this social category consists in is a matter of considerable disagreement. In any event, orthodoxy has it that *woman* is definitely not a biological category, like the categories *amphibian* or (...)
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  2. Intentionalism Defended.Alex Byrne - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):199-240.
    Traditionally, perceptual experiences—for example, the experience of seeing a cat—were thought to have two quite distinct components. When one sees a cat, one’s experience is “about” the cat: this is the representational or intentional component of the experience. One’s experience also has phenomenal character: this is the sensational component of the experience. Although the intentional and sensational components at least typically go together, in principle they might come apart: the intentional component could be present without the sensational component or vice (...)
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  3. Gender Muddle: Reply to Dembroff.Alex Byrne - 2021 - Journal of Controversial Ideas 1 (1).
    Dembroff’s “Escaping the natural attitude about gender” replies to my “Are women adult human females?”. This paper responds to Dembroff’s many criticisms of my arguments, as well as to the charge that “Are women...” “fundamentally is an unscholarly attempt to vindicate a political slogan that is currently being used to undermine civic rights and respect for trans persons”. I argue that Dembroff’s criticisms fail without exception, and explain why the claims about my motives are baseless.
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  4. Color Realism and Color Science.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):3-21.
    The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or "in (...)
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  5. Experience and Content.Alex Byrne - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236):429-451.
    The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the content view are (...)
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  6.  17
    Transparency and Self-Knowledge.Alex Byrne - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    You know what someone else is thinking and feeling by observing them. But how do you know what you are thinking and feeling? This is the problem of self-knowledge: Alex Byrne tries to solve it. The idea is that you know this not by taking a special kind of look at your own mind, but by an inference from a premise about your environment.
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  7. Rich or Thin?Susanna Siegel & Alex Byrne - 2017 - In Bence Nanay (ed.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Perception. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 59-80.
    Siegel and Byrne debate whether perceptual experiences present rich properties or exclusively thin properties.
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  8. Intentionalism Defended.Alex Byrne - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):199 - 240.
    Traditionally, perceptual experiences—for example, the experience of seeing a cat—were thought to have two quite distinct components. When one sees a cat, one’s experience is “about” the cat: this is the representational or intentional component of the experience. One’s experience also has phenomenal character: this is the sensational component of the experience. Although the intentional and sensational components at least typically go together, in principle they might come apart: the intentional component could be present without the sensational component or vice (...)
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  9. Introspection.Alex Byrne - 2005 - Philosophical Topics 33 (1):79-104.
    I know various contingent truths about my environment by perception. For example, by looking, I know that there is a computer before me; by hearing, I know that someone is talking in the corridor; by tasting, I know that the coffee has no sugar. I know these things because I have some built-in mechanisms specialized for detecting the state of my environment. One of these mechanisms, for instance, is presently transducing electromagnetic radiation (in a narrow band of wavelengths) coming from (...)
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  10. Transparency, Belief, Intention.Alex Byrne - 2011 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85:201-21.
    This paper elaborates and defends a familiar ‘transparent’ account of knowledge of one's own beliefs, inspired by some remarks of Gareth Evans, and makes a case that the account can be extended to mental states in general, in particular to knowledge of one's intentions.
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  11. Perception and Conceptual Content.Alex Byrne - 2005 - In Ernest Sosa & Matthias Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell. pp. 231--250.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences have (...)
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  12. Either / Or.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue - 2008 - In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 314-19.
    This essay surveys the varieties of disjunctivism about perceptual experience. Disjunctivism comes in two main flavours, metaphysical and epistemological.
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  13. Pronouns.Alex Byrne - forthcoming - In Luvell Anderson & Ernest Lepore (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Applied Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    An opinionated survey article on the social/ethical issues raised by English third person singular pronouns like "she", "he", "hers", and "his". Is it simply considerate to use "she" when speaking of a transgender woman, or is there more at stake? What about using "they" for a non-binary person? And is non-binary "they"—not to be confused with the long-established singular "they"—a good idea anyway? Is it feasible to follow the Swedes and add a sex-neutral (epicene) pronoun, or imitate Finnish and Hungarian (...)
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  14.  66
    Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness.Alex Byrne - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (4):594-597.
    This much-anticipated book is a detailed elaboration and defense of Levine’s influential claim that there is an “explanatory gap” between the mental and the physical.
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  15. Some Like It HOT: Consciousness and Higher-Order Thoughts.Alex Byrne - 1997 - Philosophical Studies 86 (2):103-29.
    Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt.
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  16. Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.) - 2009 - MIT Press.
    Classic texts that define the disjunctivist theory of perception.
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  17. Colors and Reflectances.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 1997 - In Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.), Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press.
    When we open our eyes, the world seems full of colored opaque objects, light sources, and transparent volumes. One historically popular view, _eliminativism_, is that the world is not in this respect as it appears to be: nothing has any color. Color _realism_, the denial of eliminativism, comes in three mutually exclusive varieties, which may be taken to exhaust the space of plausible realist theories. Acccording to _dispositionalism_, colors are _psychological_ dispositions: dispositions to produce certain kinds of visual experiences. According (...)
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  18. Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 1997 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
    "This admirable volume of readings is the first of a pair: the editors are to be applauded for placing the philosophy of color exactly where it should go, in ...
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  19. The Epistemic Significance of Experience.Alex Byrne - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173:947-67.
    According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended.
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  20. Concepts, Belief, and Perception.Alex Byrne - 2021 - In C. Demmerling & D. Schröder (eds.), Concepts in Thought, Action, and Emotion: New Essays.
    At least in one well-motivated sense of ‘concept’, all perception involves concepts, even perception as practiced by lizards and bees. That is because—the paper argues—all perception involves belief.
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  21. Perception and Probability.Alex Byrne - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:1-21.
    One very popular framework in contemporary epistemology is Bayesian. The central epistemic state is subjective confidence, or credence. Traditional epistemic states like belief and knowledge tend to be sidelined, or even dispensed with entirely. Credences are often introduced as familiar mental states, merely in need of a special label for the purposes of epistemology. But whether they are implicitly recognized by the folk or posits of a sophisticated scientific psychology, they do not appear to fit well with perception, as is (...)
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  22. Qualia Ain't in the Head.Alex Byrne & Michael Tye - 2006 - Noûs 40 (2):241-255.
    Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
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    Readings on Color I: The Philosophy of Color.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.) - 1997 - MIT Press.
    Edward Wilson Averill By the phrase 'anthropocentric account of color' I mean an account of color that makes an assumption of the following form: two ...
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  24. Recollection, Perception, Imagination.Alex Byrne - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148:15 - 26.
    Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. The paper addresses two questions: Q1. What are these similarities (and differences)? Q2. How does one tell that one is recalling (and so not perceiving or imagining)?
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  25. Color Primitivism.David R. Hilbert & Alex Byrne - 2006 - Erkenntnis 66 (1-2):73 - 105.
    The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available — if the colors are primitive sui generis properties — this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light (...)
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  26. Possibility and Imagination.Alex Byrne - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):125–144.
  27. Knowing What I See.Alex Byrne - 2012 - In Declan Smithies & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    How do I know that I see a cat? A curiously under-asked question. The paper tries to answer it.
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  28. Color and Similarity.Alex Byrne - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (3):641-65.
    Anything is similar to anything, provided the respects of similarity are allowed to be gerrymandered or gruesome, as Goodman observed.2 But similarity in non-gruesome or—as I shall say—genuine respects is much less ecumenical. Colors, it seems, provide a compelling illustration of the distinction as applied to similarities among properties.3 For instance, in innumerable gruesome respects, blue is more similar to yellow than to purple. But in a genuine respect, blue is more similar to purple than to yellow (genuinely more similar, (...)
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  29. Consciousness and Nonconceptual Content. [REVIEW]Alex Byrne - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (3):261-274.
    Consciousness, Color, and Content is a significant contribution to our understanding of consciousness, among other things. I have learned a lot from it, as well as Tye’s other writings. What’s more, I actually agree with much of it – fortunately for this symposium, not all of it. The book continues the defense of the “PANIC” theory of phenomenal consciousness that Tye began in Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995). A fair chunk of it, though, is largely independent of this theory: the (...)
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  30. Comment on Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne, Narrow Content.Alex Byrne - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (9):3017-3026.
    This comment mainly examines Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne’s preferred framework for examining whether narrow content is viable, arguing that their framework is not well-suited to the task; once a more traditional framework is adopted, Y&H’s case against internalism is strengthened.
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  31. Knowing What I Want.Alex Byrne - 2011 - In JeeLoo Liu & John Perry (eds.), Consciousness and the Self: New Essays. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    How do you know what you want? The question is neglected by epistemologists. This paper attempts an answer.
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  32. Introduction.Alex Byrne & Heather Logue - 2009 - In Alex Byrne & Heather Logue (eds.), Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings. MIT Press.
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  33. The Science of Color and Color Vision.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2021 - In Fiona Macpherson & Derek Brown (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour. London: Routledge.
    A survey of color science and color vision.
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  34. Bad Intensions.Alex Byrne & James Pryor - 2006 - In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Maci (eds.), Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications. Oxford University Press. pp. 38--54.
    _the a priori role_ (for word T). For instance, perhaps anyone who understands the word _water_ is able to know, without appeal to any further a posteriori information, that _water_ refers to the clear, drinkable natural kind whose instances are predominant in our oceans and lakes (if _water_ refers at all.
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  35.  16
    Some Like It Hot: Consciousness and Higher-Order Thoughts.Alex Byrne - 1997 - Philosophical Studies 86 (2):103-129.
  36. Knowing That I Am Thinking.Alex Byrne - 2008 - In Anthony E. Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    Soc. …I speak of what I scarcely understand; but the soul when thinking appears to me to be just talking—asking questions of herself and answering them, affirming and denying. And when she has arrived at a decision, either gradually or by a sudden impulse, and has at last agreed, and does not doubt, this is called her opinion. I say, then, that to form an opinion is to speak, and opinion is a word spoken,—I mean, to oneself and in silence, (...)
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  37. Objectivist Reductionism.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2021 - In Fiona Macpherson & Derek Brown (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour. London: Routledge.
    A survey of arguments for and against the view that colors are physical properties.
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  38. Truth in Fiction: The Story Continued.Alex Byrne - 1993 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):24 – 35.
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  39.  52
    Readings on Color, Volume 2: The Science of Color.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (eds.) - 1997 - MIT Press.
    These volumes will serve as useful resources for anyone interested in philosophy of color perception or color science.
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  40. How Hard Are the Sceptical Paradoxes?Alex Byrne - 2004 - Noûs 38 (2):299–325.
    The sceptic about the external world presents us with a paradox: an apparently acceptable argument for an apparently unacceptable conclusion—that we do not know anything about the external world. Some paradoxes, for instance the liar and the sorites, are very hard. The defense of a purported solution to either of these two inevitably deploys the latest in high-tech philosophical weaponry. On the other hand, some paradoxes are not at all hard, and may be resolved without much fuss. They do not (...)
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  41. Subjectivity is No Barrier.Alex Byrne - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):949-950.
    Palmer's subjectivity barrier seems to be erected on a popular but highly suspect conception of visual experience, and his color room argument is invalid.
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  42. Is Sex Binary?Alex Byrne - 2018 - Arc Digital (nov 1).
    Response to Anne Fausto-Sterling's New York Times Op-Ed, in which she purports to explain why sex isn't binary.
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  43. Do Colours Look Like Dispositions? Reply to Langsam and Others.Alex Byrne - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):238-245.
    Dispositional theories of colour have been attacked by McGinn and others on the ground that ‘Colours do not look like dispositions’. Langsam has argued that on the contrary they do, in ‘Why Colours Do Look Like Dispositions’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 50 , pp. 68–75. I make three claims. First, neither side has made its case. Secondly, it is true, at least on one interpretation, that colours do not look like dispositions. Thirdly, this does not show that dispositionalism about colours is (...)
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  44. Color and the Mind‐Body Problem.Alex Byrne - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (2):223-44.
    b>: there is no “mind-body problem”, or “hard problem of consciousness”; if there is a hard problem of something, it is the problem of reconciling the manifest and scientific images.
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  45. What Phenomenal Consciousness is Like.Alex Byrne - 2004 - In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. John Benjamins.
    The terminology surrounding the dispute between higher-order and first-order theories of consciousness is piled so high that it sometimes obscures the view. When the debris is cleared away, there is a real prospect.
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  46. Interpretivism.Alex Byrne - 1998 - European Review of Philosophy 3 (Response-Dependence):199-223.
    In the writings of Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson we find something like the following bold conjecture: it is an a priori truth that there is no gap between our best judgements of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Under ideal conditions a subject's belief-box and desire-box become transparent.
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  47. Cosmic Hermeneutics.Alex Byrne - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13:347--84.
  48. Color Relationalism and Relativism.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2017 - Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (1):172-192.
    This paper critically examines color relationalism and color relativism, two theories of color that are allegedly supported by variation in normal human color vision. We mostly discuss color relationalism, defended at length in Jonathan Cohen's The Red and the Real, and argue that the theory has insuperable problems.
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  49. What is Gender Identity?Alex Byrne - 2019 - Arc Digital (jan 9).
    The often poorly explained notion of gender identity, and the attendant cisgender/transgender distinction, are critically examined.
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  50. Perception and Ordinary Objects.Alex Byrne - 2019 - In Javier Cumpa & Bill Brewer (eds.), The Nature of Ordinary Objects. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    The paper argues -- against the standard view in metaphysics -- that the existence of ordinary objects like tomatoes is (near-enough) established by the fact that such things are apparently encountered in perception.
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