In this wide-ranging study, Levine explores both sides of the mind-body dilemma, presenting the first book-length treatment of his highly influential ideas on the How does one explain the physical nature of an experience? This puzzle, the "explanatory gap" between mind and body, is the focus of this work by an influential scholar in the field.
In this paper I propose a model of demonstrative thought. I distinguish token-demonstratives, that pick out individuals, from type-demonstratives, that pick out kinds, or properties, and provide a similar treatment for both. I argue that it follows from my model of demonstrative thought, as well as from independent considerations, that demonstration, as a mental act, operates directly on mental representations, not external objects. That is, though the relation between a demonstrative and the object or property demonstrated is semantically direct, the (...) mechanism by which a demonstrative acquires its referent involves mediation by a perceptual representation. Finally, I argue that so-called 'demonstrative concepts'—which I treat as type-demonstratives—cannot perform the various philosophical functions that have been assigned to them. (shrink)
Materialism in the philosophy of mind is the thesis that the ultimate nature of the mind is physical; there is no sharp discontinuity in nature between the mental and the non-mental. Anti-materialists asser t that, on the contrary, mental phenomena are different in kind from physical phenomena. Among the weapons in the arsenal of anti-materialists, one of the most potent has been the conceivability argument. When I conceive of the mental, it seems utterly unlike the physical. Anti-materialists insist that from (...) this intuitive difference we can infer a genuine meta-physical difference. Materialists retor t that the nature of reality, including the ultimate natures of its constituents, is a matter for discovery; an objective fact that cannot be discerned a priori. In this paper I under take to provide an explicit analysis of the dialectic that surrounds the conceivability argument. My principal conclusion is that the materialist is right in resisting the reasoning that star ts from considerations of what is conceivable and ends with genuine metaphysical conclusions. However my approach is much more sympathetic to the anti-materialist position than is the standard materialist line, and I will provide a limited defense of some crucial aspects of the anti-materialist position. Materialism will emerge from this fight intact, but shaken. (shrink)
Kirk’s aim in this book is to bridge what he calls “the intelligibility gap,” expressed in the question, “How could complex patterns of neural firing amount to this?”. He defends a position that he describes as “broadly functionalist,” which consists of several theses. I will briefly review them.
In this paper I argue that color is a relational feature of the distal objects of perception, a way of appearing. I begin by outlining three constraints any theory of color should satisfy: physicalism about the non‐mental world, consistency with what is known from color science, and transparency about color experience. Traditional positions on the ontological status of color, such as physicalist reduction of color to spectral reflectance, subjectivism, dispositionalism, and primitivism, fail, I claim, to meet all three constraints. By (...) treating color as a relational property, a way of appearing, the three constraints can be met. However, serious problems for this view emerge when considering the relation between illusory color experiences and veridical color experiences. I do not propose a solution to these problems. (shrink)
Type-B materialists (to use David Chalmers's jargon) claim that though zombies are conceivable, they are not metaphysically possible. This article calls this position regarding the relation between metaphysical and epistemic modality “modal autonomism,” as opposed to the “modal rationalism” endorsed by David Chalmers and Frank Jackson, who insist on a deep link between the two forms of modality. This article argues that the defense of modal rationalism presented in Chalmers and Jackson (2001) begs the question against the type-B materialist/modal autonomist. (...) The argument proceeds as follows. Modal rationalists claim that for all nonphenomenal macro properties, the appropriate supervenience conditional is both necessary and a priori. Hence, type-B materialists must engage in special pleading when they claim that the relevant supervenience conditional for phenomenal properties, expressing the supervenience of the phenomenal on the physical, is necessary but not a priori. However, what Chalmers and Jackson demonstrate, if anything, is that the conditional that includes all the microphysical plus the phenomenal in the antecedent, and nonphenomenal macro facts (such as facts about water and other natural kinds, among other things) in the consequent, is a priori. The question arises why, since facts about water and the like do not metaphysically supervene on the phenomenal facts, is it appropriate to include the phenomenal facts in the antecedent of the relevant supervenience conditional. This article argues for the following claims: First, that it's crucial to the general semantic framework Chalmers and Jackson defend that they do include the phenomenal facts in the supervenience conditional; without them, the conditional would not be a priori. Second, that the only way to argue from the a priori character of these conditionals to the applicability of modal rationalism to the nonphenomenal cases is to rely either on modal rationalism itself or on the denial of type-B materialism. Obviously, in the context of this argument, either way would beg the question. (shrink)
I explore the implications of recognizing two forms of access that might be constitutively related to phenomenal consciousness. I argue, in support of Block, that we don't have good reason to think that the link to reporting mechanisms is the kind of access that distinguishes an experience from a mere state.
This paper surveys current theories on the nature of conscious experience, from traditional central state identity theories and functionalism, to more recent higher-order and representationalist theories. It is concluded that no current theory really solves the fundamental problem of how to incorporate conscious experience into the physical world, though much progress has been made.
Basically agreeing with Block regarding the need for a distinction between P- and A-consciousness, I characterize the problem somewhat diflerently, relating it more directly to the explanatory gap. I also speculate on the relation between the two forms of consciousness, arguing that some notion of access is essentially involved in phenomenal experience.
This paper discusses the debate between atomists and molecularists regarding the nature of mental content. A molecularist believes that some, but not all, of a mental symbol's inferential connections to other mental symbols, are at least partly constitutive of that symbol's intentional content. An atomist believes that none of the symbol's inferential connections play such a constitutive role. The paper is divided into two principal parts. First, attempts by Michael Devitt and Georges Rey to defend molecularism against traditional Quinean arguments (...) are evaluated. The conclusion is that their attempts fall short of providing an adequate defense. Second, the prospects for an atomistic theory are investigated, building on the various remarks of Fodor and LePore in their book. Holism: A Shopper's Guide. It is argued that the prospects are better than at first they appear. (shrink)
Phenomenal consciousness comprises both qualitative character and subjectivity. The former provides the proprietary contents of conscious experiences – determining what they are like – and the latter is that feature that renders those contents “for the subject”, so there is something it is like at all. I have developed a theory of consciousness as “acquaintance” which I dub the “Cartesian Theater” model, on which there is a fundamental psycho-physical law that takes the output of cognitive and perceptual systems as input (...) and yields overall conscious experience as output. This model entails epiphenomenalism regarding phenomenal properties, which, I argue, presents a specific problem regarding our epistemic position with respect to this very theory. I develop a line of thought that seeks to disarm this challenge, relying to a large extent on a certain way of understanding both subjectivity itself and also cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
Recently philosophers have appealed to the notion of a “demonstrative concept” to solve various puzzles. McDowell employs it to support his view that perceptual experience is conceptual, and Loar and others use it to provide an account of phenomenal concepts. The idea is that some concepts acquire their contents through demonstrations. I argue that there is no legitimate notion of demonstrative concept that can do this job.