Pain is the most prominent member of a class of sensations known as bodily sensations, which includes itches, tickles, tingles, orgasms, and so on. Bodily sensations are typically attributed to bodily locations and appear to have features such as volume, intensity, duration, and so on, that are ordinarily attributed to physical objects or quantities. Yet these sensations are often thought to be logically private, subjective, self-intimating, and the source of incorrigible knowledge for those who have them. Hence there appear to (...) be reasons both for thinking that pains (along with other similar bodily sensations) are physical objects or conditions that we perceive in body parts, and for thinking that they are not. This apparent paradox is one of the main reasons why philosophers are especially interested in pain. One increasingly popular but still controversial way to deal with this apparent paradox is to defend a perceptual or representational view of pain, according to which feeling pain is in principle no different from undergoing other standard perceptual processes like seeing, hearing, touching, etc. But there are many who think that pains are not amenable to such a treatment. Although it was the treatment of pain as a sensory-discriminative experience that had dominated the philosophical discussions throughout most of the twentieth century, attention to pains’ affective-motivational dimension has gained prominence in recent years. (shrink)
Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main contenders, critically (...) compare and contrast them. In particular, we want to examine how they handle the reason-giving power of affective states. We will look into two representationalist proposals (Evaluativism and Imperativism) and a functionalist proposal, and argue that, contrary to their own advertisements, the representationalist proposals don’t have good accounts of why and how sensory affect can motivate, rationalize, and justify subsequent behavior and intentional mental activity. We will show that our own functionalist proposal does a much better job in this regard, and that when the representationalist proposals are modified to do a better job, they fare better not because of their representationalist credentials but due to their functionalist ones. (shrink)
Since its inception some fifty years ago, cognitive science has seen a number of sea changes. Perhaps the best known is the development of connectionist models of cognition as an alternative to classical, symbol-based approaches. A more recent - and increasingly influential - trend is that of dynamical-systems-based, ecologically oriented models of the mind. Researchers suggest that a full understanding of the mind will require systematic study of the dynamics of interaction between mind, body, and world. Some argue that this (...) new orientation calls for a revolutionary new metaphysics of mind, according to which mental states and processes, and even persons, literally extend into the environment. This book is a guide to this movement in cognitive science. Each chapter tackles either a specific area of empirical research or specific sector of the conceptual foundation underlying this research. (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 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 in perceptual experience 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, 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)
[This is the penultimate version, please send me an email for the final version]. Some sensations are pleasant, some unpleasant, and some are neither. Furthermore, those that are pleasant or unpleasant are so to different degrees. In this essay, I want to explore what kind of a difference is the difference between these three kinds of sensations. I will develop a comprehensive three-level account of sensory pleasure that is simultaneously adverbialist, functionalist and is also a version of a satisfied experiential-desire (...) account. (shrink)
A lot of qualitatively very different sensations can be pleasant or unpleasant. The Felt-Quality Views that conceive of sensory affect as having an introspectively available common phenomenology or qualitative character face the “heterogeneity problem” of specifying what that qualitative common phenomenology is. In contrast, according to the Attitudinal Views, what is common to all pleasant or unpleasant sensations is that they are all “wanted” or “unwanted” in a certain sort of way. The commonality is explained not on the basis of (...) phenomenology but by a common mental, usually some sort of conative, attitude toward the sensation. Here I criticize both views and offer an alternative framework that combines what is right in both while avoiding their unintuitive commitments. The result is the reductive (psychofunctionalist) adverbial sensory modification view of pleasure and displeasure. (shrink)
[Penultimate draft] I present the perceptualist/representationalist theories of pain in broad outline and critically examine them in light of a competing view according to which awareness of pain is essentially introspective. I end the essay with a positive sketch of a naturalistic proposal according to which pain experiences are intentional but not fully representational. This proposal makes sense of locating pains in body parts as well as taking pains as subjective experiences.
Representationalism is the view that the phenomenal character of experiences is identical to their representational content of a certain sort. This view requires a strong transparency condition on phenomenally conscious experiences. We argue that affective qualities such as experienced pleasantness or unpleasantness are counter-examples to the transparency thesis and thus to the sort of representationalism that implies it.
According to the increasingly popular perceptual/representational accounts of pain (and other bodily sensations such as itches, tickles, orgasms, etc.), feeling pain in a body region is perceiving a non-mental property or some objective condition of that region, typically equated with some sort of (actual or potential) tissue damage. In what follows I argue that given a natural understanding of what sensory perception requires and how it is integrated with (dedicated) conceptual systems, these accounts are mistaken. I will also examine the (...) relationship between perceptual views and two (weak and strong) forms of representationalism about experience. I will argue that pains pose very serious problems for strong representationalism as well. (shrink)
A comprehensive introduction to the Language of Though Hypothesis (LOTH) accessible to general audiences. LOTH is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has a syntactic (constituent) structure with an appropriate semantics. Thinking thus consists in (...) syntactic operations defined over representations. Most of the arguments for LOTH derive their strength from their ability to explain certain empirical phenomena like productivity, systematicity of thought and thinking. (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)
What does feeling a sharp pain in one's hand have in common with seeing a red apple on the table? Some say not much, apart from the fact that they are both conscious experiences. To see an object is to perceive an extramental reality -- in this case, a red apple. To feel a pain, by contrast, is to undergo a conscious experience that doesn't necessarily relate the subject to an objective reality. Perceptualists, however, dispute this. They say that both (...) experiences are forms of perception of an objective reality. Feeling a pain in one's hand, according to this view, is perceiving an objective condition of one's hand. Who is closer to truth? Because of such metaphysical issues, the subjectivity of pains combined with their clinical urgency raises methodological problems for pain scientists. How can a subjective phenomenon be studied objectively? What is the role of the first-person method in science? Some suggest that the subjectivity of pains is due to their metaphysical irreducibility to purely physical processes in the nervous system. Can this be true? The study of pain and its puzzles offers opportunities for understanding such larger issues as the place of consciousness in the natural order and the methodology of psychological research. In this book, leading philosophers and scientists offer a wide range of views on how to conceptualize and study pain. The essays include discussions of perceptual and representationalist accounts of pain; the affective-motivational dimension of pain; whether animals feel pain, and how this question can be investigated; how social pain relates to physical pain; whether first-person methods of gathering data can be integrated with standard third-person methods; and other methodological and theoretical issues in the science and philosophy of pain. (shrink)
The official definition of ‘pain’ by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) hasn’t seen much revision since its publication in 1979. There have been various criticisms of the definition in the literature from different quarters: that the definition implies a dubious metaphysical dualism, that it requires a strong form of consciousness as well as linguistic abilities, that it excludes many vulnerable groups that are otherwise perfectly capable of experiencing pain, that it has therefore unacceptable practical as well (...) as ethical consequences, that it is unhelpful to the health-care professional as an operational definition, that it is too narrow, and many others. In my view, most of these criticisms depend on misunderstandings or on uncharitable interpretations. My aim is to go over the definition, clarify some potential ambiguities, and argue that these criticisms don’t cut much ice. At the end, I will present a few slightly reworded versions of the definition that I claim are more felicitous and capture the original intended meaning by the members of the taxonomic committee in a much better and transparent way that avoids all the major extant criticisms in the literature. (Written for interdisciplinary audiences.). (shrink)
Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought" (LOT). Some connectionists like Smolensky took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that were supposed to be non-classical. At the core of these attempts lies the claim that connectionist models can provide a representational system with a combinatorial syntax and processes sensitive to syntactic structure. They are not (...) implementation models because, it is claimed, the way they obtain syntax and structure sensitivity is not "concatenative," hence "radically different" from the way classicists handle them. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what it is to physically satisfy/realize a formal system. In this context, I examine the minimal truth-conditions of LOT Hypothesis. From my analysis it will follow that concatenative realization of formal systems is irrelevant to LOTH since the very notion of LOT is indifferent to such an implementation level issue as concatenation. I will conclude that to the extent to which they can explain the law-like cognitive regularities, a certain class of connectionist models proposed as radical alternatives to the classical LOT paradigm will in fact turn out to be LOT models, even though new and potentially very exciting ones. (shrink)
I take up the issue of whether pleasure is a kind of sensation or not. This issue was much discussed by philosophers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and apparently no resolution was reached. There were mainly two camps in the discussion: those who argued for a dispositional account, and those who favored an episodic feeling view of pleasure. Here, relying on some recent scientific research I offer an account of pleasure which neither dispositionalizes nor sensationalizes pleasure. As is usual in (...) the tradition, I compare pleasure with pain, and try to see its similarities and differences. I argue that pain and pleasure experiences have typically a complex phenomenology normally not so obvious in introspection. After distinguishing between affective and sensory components of these experiences, I argue that although pain experiences normally consist of both components proper to them, pleasure, in contradistinction to pain, is only the affective component of a total experience that may involve many sensations proper and cognitions. Moreover, I hold that although the so-called “physical” pleasure is itself not a sensation proper, it is nevertheless an episodic affective reaction to sensations proper. (shrink)
The current IASP definition of pain has come under renewed criticisms recently. There is a new momentum for its revision as reflected by the fact that IASP has now a Presidential Task Force dedicated to look into whether there is enough warrant to update the definition. I critically review all the major criticisms of the current definition in detail, and raise new difficulties rarely discussed before. I show that none of the major criticisms has enough warrant to force us to (...) substantially revise the current definition. Combined with the discussion of the new difficulties, there is nonetheless a need to restate the definition using slightly different terminology that will make the original intent of the current definition clearer and more precise. A restatement of the definition is proposed and its potential is discussed in light of some empirical questions that remain. [The IASP Council has now approved a revised definition and published its rationale here: Pain 2020 Sep 1; 161(9), pp. 1976–1982. The new definition follows (most of) my recommendations.]. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. Fodor characterizes concepts as consisting of two dimensions: one is content, which is purely denotational/broad, the other the Mentalese vehicle bearing that content, which Fodor calls the Mode of Presentation (MOP), understood "syntactically." I argue that, so understood, concepts are not interpersonally sharable; so Fodor's own account violates what he calls the Publicity Constraint in his (1998) book. Furthermore, I argue that Fodor's non-semantic, or "syntactic," solution to Frege cases succumbs to the problem of providing interpersonally applicable functional roles (...) for MOPs. This is a serious problem because Fodor himself has argued extensively that if Fregean senses or meanings are understood as functional/conceptual roles, then they can't be public, since, according to Fodor, there are no interpersonally applicable functional roles in the relevant senses. I elaborate on these relevant senses in the paper. (shrink)
According to the Computational/Representational Theory of Thought (CRTT ? Language of Thought Hypothesis, or LOTH), propositional attitudes, such as belief, desire, and the like, are triadic relations among subjects, propositions, and internal mental representations. These representations form a representational _system_ physically realized in the brain of sufficiently sophisticated cognitive organisms. Further, this system of representations has a combinatorial syntax and semantics, but the processes that operate on the representations are causally sensitive only to their syntax, not to their semantics. On (...) this approach, a first pass account of propositional attitudes is the following (cf. Field 1978: 37 and Fodor 1987: 17). (shrink)
This piece criticizes Fodor's argument (in The Elm and the Expert, 1994) for the claim that Frege cases should be treated as exceptions to (broad) psychological generalizations rather than as counterexamples.
The IASP definition of 'pain' defines pain as a subjective experience. The Note accompanying the definition emphasizes that as such pains are not to be identified with objective conditions of body parts (such as actual or potential tissue damage). Nevertheless, it goes on to state that a pain "is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body, but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience." This generates a puzzle that philosophers have been well (...) familiar with: how to understand our utterances and judgments attributing pain to body parts. (The puzzle is of course general extending to all sensations routinely located in body parts.) The present work tackles this puzzle. I go over various options specifying the truth-conditions for pain attributing judgments, and at the end make my own recommendation which is an adverbialist, qualia-friendly proposal with completely naturalistic credentials that is also compatible with forms of weak intentionalism. The results are generalizable to other bodily sensations and can be used to illustrate, quite generally, the viability of a qualia-friendly adverbialist (but naturalist and weakly intentionalist) account of perception. (shrink)
Understanding the nature of pain depends, at least partly, on recognizing its subjectivity (thus, its first-person epistemology). This in turn requires using a first-person experiential method in addition to third-person experimental approaches to study it. This paper is an attempt to spell out what the former approach is and how it can be integrated with the latter. We start our discussion by examining some foundational issues raised by the use of introspection. We argue that such a first-person method in the (...) scientific study of pain (as in the study of any experience) is in fact indispensable by demonstrating that it has in fact been consistently used in conjunction with conventional third-person methodologies, and this for good reasons. We show that, contrary to what appears to be a widespread opinion, there is absolutely no reason to think that the use of such a first-person approach is scientifically and methodologically suspect. We distinguish between two uses of introspective methods in scientific experiments: one draws on the subjects’ introspective reports where any investigator has equal and objective access. The other is where the investigator becomes a subject of his own study and draws on the introspection of his own experiences. We give examples using and/or approximating both strategies that include studies of second pain summation and its relationship to neural activities, and brain imaging- psychophysical studies wherein sensory and affective qualities of pain are correlated with cerebral cortical activity. We explain what we call the experiential or phenomenological approach that has its origins in the work of Price and Barrell (1980). This approach capitalizes on the scientific prospects and benefits of using the introspection of the investigator. We distinguish between its vertical and horizontal applications. Finally, we conclude that integrating such an approach to standard third-person methodologies can only help us in having a fuller understanding of pain and of conscious experience in general. (shrink)
In his latest book, The Elm and the Expert (1994), Fodor notoriously rejects the notion of narrow content as superfluous. He envisions a scientific intentional psychology that adverts only to broad content properties in its explanations. I argue that Fodor's change in view is only apparent and that his previous position (1985-1991) is extensionally equivalent to his "new" position (1994). I show that, despite what he says narrow content is for in his (1994), Fodor himself has previously never appealed to (...) the notion of narrow content in explaining Frege cases and cases involving the so-called deferential concepts. And for good reason: his notion of narrow content (1985-91) couldn't explain them. The only apparent change concerns his treatment of Twin Earth cases. However, I argue that the notion of broad content that his purely informational semantics delivers is, in some interesting sense, equivalent to the mapping notion of narrow content he officially gave up. For his pure informational semantics fails to avoid assigning disjunctive content to twins, since nomic covariations take care not only actual but also counterfactual contexts into account. I show that none of the attempts made by Fodor to block this consequence of his theory works. The present notion of broad content he now operates with is therefore in a position to take over all the important jobs that his previous notion of narrow content could do. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to spell out what makes the scientific study of pain so distinctive from a philosophical perspective. Using the IASP definition of ‘pain’ as our guide, we raise a number of questions about the philosophical assumptions underlying the scientific study of pain. We argue that unlike the study of ordinary perception, the study of pain focuses from the very start on the experience itself and its qualities, without making deep assumptions about whether pain experiences are perceptual. (...) This in turn puts scientific explanation in a curious position due to pain’s inherently subjective epistemic nature. The reason for this focus on the experience itself and its qualities, we argue, has to do with pain’s complex phenomenology involving an affective/motivational dimension. We argue for the scientific legitimacy of first‐person phenomenological studies and attempts to correlate phenomenology with neural events. We argue that this methodological procedure is inevitable and has no anti‐physicalist ontological implications when properly understood. We end the paper by commenting on a discussion between two prominent pain scientists in the field, Don Price and Howard Fields, about the need to distinguish more dimensions in the phenomenology of pain and how to classify them vis‐à‐vis the recent scientific findings. Our interest in this discussion is not only to introduce some clarifications but also to show how “neurophenomenology” has already been shaping the scientific research and to back our claim about why this methodology is inevitable with an example. (shrink)
Consider the following two sentences: " I see a dark discoloration in the back of my hand. I feel a jabbing pain in the back of my hand. " They seem to have the same surface grammar, and thus prima facie invite the same kind of semantic treatment. Even though a reading of ‘see’ in where the verb is not treated as a success verb is not out of the question, it is not the ordinary and natural reading. Note that (...) if I am hallucinating a dark discoloration in the back of my hand, then is simply false. For to be true, therefore, I have to stand in the seeing relation to a dark discoloration in the back of my hand, i.e., to a certain surface region in the back of my hand marked by a darker shade of the usual color of my skin, a certain region that can be seen by others possibly in the same way in which I see it. Also note that although the truth of doesn’t require the possession of any concept by me expressed by the words making up the sentence, my uttering of to make a report typically does — if we take such utterances as expressions of one’s thoughts. So my seeing would typically induce me to identify something in the back of my hand as a dark discoloration. This is a typical case of categorization of something under a concept induced by perception. Of course, my uttering of does more than attributing a physical property to a bodily region, it also reports that I am seeing it. (shrink)
This paper examines pain states (and other intransitive bodily sensations) from the perspective of the problems they pose for pure informational/representational approaches to naturalizing qualia. I start with a comprehensive critical and quasi-historical discussion of so-called Perceptual Theories of Pain (e.g., Armstrong, Pitcher), as these were the natural predecessors of the more modern direct realist views. I describe the theoretical backdrop (indirect realism, sense-data theories) against which the perceptual theories were developed. The conclusion drawn is that pure representationalism about pain (...) in the tradition of direct realist perceptual theories (e.g., Dretske, Tye) leaves out something crucial about the phenomenology of pain experiences, namely, their affective character. I touch upon the role that introspection plays in such representationalist views, and indicate how it contributes to the source of their trouble vis-à-vis bodily sensations. The paper ends by briefly commenting on the relation between the affective/evaluative component of pain and the hedonic valence of emotions. (shrink)
I argue that Stich's Syntactic Theory of Mind (STM) and a naturalistic narrow content functionalism run on a Language of Though story have the same exact structure. I elaborate on the argument that narrow content functionalism is either irremediably holistic in a rather destructive sense, or else doesn't have the resources for individuating contents interpersonally. So I show that, contrary to his own advertisement, Stich's STM has exactly the same problems (like holism, vagueness, observer-relativity, etc.) that he claims plague content-based (...) psychologies. So STM can't be any better than the Representational Theory of Mind (RTM) in its prospects for forming the foundations of a scientifically respectable psychology, whether or not RTM has the problems that Stich claims it does. (shrink)
[This is an earlier, much longer and more detailed version of my entry on LOTH in the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_] The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has (...) a syntactic (constituent) structure with an appropriate semantics. Thinking thus consists in syntactic operations defined over representations. Most of the arguments for LOTH derive their strength from their ability to explain certain empirical phenomena like productivity, systematicity of thought and thinking. (shrink)
The relation between computational and intentional psychology has always been a vexing issue. The worry is that if mental processes are computational, then these processes, which are defined over symbols, are sensitive solely to the non-semantic properties of symbols. If so, perhaps psychology could dispense with adverting in its laws to intentional/semantic properties of symbols. Stich, as is well-known, has made a great deal out of this tension and argued for a purely "syntactic" psychology by driving a wedge between a (...) semantic individuation of symbol tokens and their narrow functional individuation. If the latter can be carried out, he claimed, we do not need semantic typing. I argue that since a narrow functional individuation cannot type-identify symbol tokens across organisms, a semantic account of typing must be the only option given that interpersonal physical individuation of tokens is not to be taken seriously. (shrink)
According to the standard and largely traditional interpretation, Aristotle’s conception of nous, at least as it occurs in the Posterior Analytics, is geared against a certain set of skeptical worries about the possibility of scientific knowledge, and ultimately of the knowledge of Aristotelian first principles. On this view, Aristotle introduces nous as an intuitive faculty that grasps the first principles once and for all as true in such a way that it does not leave any room for the skeptic to (...) press his skeptical point any further. Thus the tradi- tional interpretation views Aristotelian nous as having an internalist justificatory role in Aristotelian epistemology. In contrast, a minority (empiricist) view that has emerged recently holds the same internalist justificatory view of nous but rejects its internally certifiable infallibility by stressing the connection between nous and Aristotelian induction. I argue that both approaches are flawed in that Aristotle’s project in the Posterior Analytics is not to answer the skeptic on internalist justificatory grounds, but rather lay out a largely externalist explication of scientific knowledge, i.e. what scientific knowledge consists in, without worrying as to whether we can ever show the skeptic to his satisfaction that we do ever possess knowledge so defined. (shrink)
This is the text of an invited talk exploring the connections between two apparently distinct notions of affect, sensory versus core affect. It is basically a progress report. It is exploratory and tentative. It starts from a mild puzzle about the apparent mismatch between the notion of affect that affective neuroscientists generally deploy and the notion of affect that emotion psychologists deploy. The notion favored by psychologists is the notion of core affect. The phenomenon studied by affective neuroscientists is usually (...) the notion of sensory affect. It's not clear how these two notions are related to each other. I'll present the main outlines of both notions, make some critical observations, and raise a few questions at the end. (shrink)
[Working Draft — Comments are welcome! — Dec 2022] Reductive strong representationalists accept the Common Kind thesis about subjectively indistinguishable sensory hallucinations, illusions, and veridical experiences. I show that this doesn’t jibe well with their declared phenomenal externalism and argue that there is no sense in which the phenomenal character of sensory experiences is constituted by the sensible properties represented by these experiences, as representationalists claim. First, I argue that, given general representationalist principles, no *instances* of a sensible property constitute (...) the phenomenal character of the sensory experience that represents them. Second, I argue that, with two very plausible assumptions in place, no sensible property qua *universal* can constitute the phenomenal character of experiences either. At the end I offer an alternative picture. (shrink)
Fodor and Pylyshyn's (F&P) critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought'' (LOT). Some connectionists declined to meet the challenge on the basis that the alleged regularities are somehow spurious. Some, like Smolensky, however, took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that are supposed to be non-classical.
[DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000765] Amanda Williams and Kenneth Craig, in a recent article in the IASP official journal _Pain_ (DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000613), have argued that it is time to revise the IASP's well-entrenched definition of 'pain'. They propose an alternative definition. We critically discuss their proposed revision and argue that it admits clear counterexamples as both sufficient and necessary conditions. We further discuss the wisdom of replacing 'unpleasant' in the IASP definition with 'distress' as Williams and Craig propose. [Craig and Williams respond to (...) our criticism in DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000766]. (shrink)
The ordinary conception of pain has two major threads that are in tension with each other. It is this tension that generates various puzzles in our philosophical understanding of pain. This is a short encyclopedia entry surveying some of the major philosophical puzzles about pain.
This is a Letter to Editor of _Pain_ recommending revision of a pain term ('nociplastic pain') recently added to the IASP Pain Terms. (With a response from the Taxonomy Committee, Eva Kosek et al. PAIN: June 2018 - Volume 159 - Issue 6 - p 1177–1178.
We argue that Block's charge of fallacy remains ungrounded so long as the existence of P-consciousness, as Block construes it, is independently established. This, in turn, depends on establishing the existence of “phenomenal properties” that are essentially not representational, cognitive, or functional. We argue that Block leaves this fundamental thesis unsubstantiated. We conclude by suggesting that phenomenal consciousness can be accounted for in terms of a hybrid set of representational and functional properties.
I argue that if we have a rich enough description of perceptual experiences from an information-theoretic viewpoint, it becomes surprisingly difficult (to put it mildly) to positively conceive philosophical zombies (as complete physical/functional duplicates that lack phenomenal consciousness). Hence, it is at best an open question whether zombies are positively conceivable. My argument requires paying close attention to the direct relation between phenomenology and information.
This is a Letter to Editor responding to another Letter by Dr. LR Bernstein (PAIN Reports 5, 2020, e814) reacting to my previous article on the IASP definition of pain that appeared in PAIN Reports 4(2019)e777.
The influence of historical-causal theories of reference developed in the late sixties and early seventies by Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam and Devitt has been so strong that any semantic theory that has the consequence of assigning disjunctive representational content to the mental states of twins (e.g. [H2O or XYZ]) has been thereby taken to refute itself. Similarly, despite the strength of pre-theoretical intuitions that exact physical replicas like Davidson's Swampman have representational mental states, people have routinely denied that they have any (...) intentional/representational states. I want to focus on a particular brand of causal theory that is not historical, the so-called pure informational or nomic covariance theories, and examine how they propose to handle twin cases and replicas like Swampman. In particular, I will take up Fodor. (shrink)
It turns out that Rolls’s answer to Nagel’s (1974) question, "What is it like to be a bat?" is brusque: there is nothing it is like to be a bat . . . provided that bats don’t have a linguistically structured internal representational system that enables them to think about their first-order thoughts which are also linguistically structured. For phenomenal consciousness, a properly functioning system of higher-order linguistic thought (HOLT) is necessary (Rolls 1998, p. 262). By this criterion, not only (...) bats, but also a great portion of the animal kingdom, perhaps all animal species except humans, turn out to lack phenomenal consciousness. Indeed, even human babies, and perhaps infants before the early stages of acquiring their first language, are likely to lack such consciousness, if one considers the level of conceptual sophistication required by the HOLT hypothesis. In order to have a higher-order thought, one needs to have the concept of a. (shrink)
This is a Letter to Editor responding to the reaction by Ken Craig, Amanda Williams, KJS Anand, to my previous article on the IASP definition of pain that appeared in PAIN Reports 4(2019)e777. The reaction is also in the form of a Letter to Editor in PAIN Reports 5(2020)e811.