Theories of Consciousness provides an introduction to a variety of approaches to consciousness, questions the nature of consciousness, and contributes to current debates about whether a scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. While discussing key figures including Descartes, Fodor, Dennett and Chalmers, the book incorporates identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism and new information-based theories.
The generation problem is to explain how material configurations or processes can produce conscious experience. David Chalmers urges that this is what makes the problem of consciousness really difficult. He proposes to side-step the generation problem by proposing that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental feature of the world. I am inclined to agree that the generation problem is real and believe that taking consciousness to be fundamental is promising. But I take issue with Chalmers about what it is to be (...) a fundamental feature of the world. In fact, I argue that taking the idea seriously ought to lead to some form of panpsychism. Powerful objections have been advanced against panpsychism, but I attempt to outline a form of the doctrine which can evade them. In the end, I suspect that we will face a choice between panpsychism and rethinking the legitimacy of the generation problem itself. (shrink)
Deferential Monadic Panpsychism is a view that accepts that physical science is capable of discovering the basic structure of reality. However, it denies that reality is fully and exhaustively de- scribed purely in terms of physical science. Consciousness is missing from the physical description and cannot be reduced to it. DMP explores the idea that the physically fundamental features of the world possess some intrinsic mental aspect. It thereby faces a se- vere problem of understanding how more complex mental states (...) emerge from the mental features of the fundamental features. Here I explore the idea that a new form of aggregative emergence, which I call 'combinatorial infusion', could shed light on this problem and bolster the prospects for this form of panpsychism. (shrink)
The most remarkable fact about the universe is that certain parts of it are conscious. Somehow nature has managed to pull the rabbit of experience out of a hat made of mere matter. Making its own contribution to the current, lively debate about the nature of consciousness, Theories of Consciousness introduces variety of approaches to consciousness and explores to what extent scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. Including discussion of key figures, such as Descartes, Foder, Dennett and Chalmers, the book (...) covers identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism, and the new information-based theories. (shrink)
Strawson’s case in favor of panpsychism is at heart an updated version of a venerable form of argument I’ll call the ‘intrinsic nature’ argument. It is an extremely interesting argument which deploys all sorts of high caliber metaphysical weaponry (despite the ‘down home’ appeals to common sense which Strawson frequently makes). The argument is also subtle and intricate. So let’s spend some time trying to articulate its general form.
1 Non-reductive physicalists deny that there is any explanation of mentality in purely physical terms, but do not deny that the mental is entirely determined by and constituted out of underlying physical structures. There are important issues about the stability of such a view which teeters on the edge of explanatory reductionism on the one side and dualism on the other (see Kim 1998). 2 Save perhaps for eliminative materialism (see Churchland 1981 for a classic exposition). In fact, however, while.
_Metaphysics of Consciousness_ opens with a development of the physicalist outlook that denies the need for any explanation of the mental. This "inexplicability" is demonstrated not to be sufficient as refutation of physicalism. However, the inescapable particularity of modes of consciousness appears to overpower this minimal physicalism. This book proposes that such an inference requires either a wholly new conception of how consciousness is physical or a deep and disturbing new kind of physical inexplicability.
One of the most vivid aspects of consciousness is the experience of emotion, yet this topic is given relatively little attention within consciousness studies. Emotions are crucial, for they provide quick and motivating assessments of value, without which action would be misdirected or absent. Emotions also involve linkages between phenomenal and intentional consciousness. This paper examines emotional consciousness from the standpoint of the representational theory of consciousness . Two interesting developments spring from this. The first is the need for the (...) representation of value, which is distinctive of emotional experience. The second is an extension of RTC’s theory of introspection to emotional states, revealing why emotional consciousness is so often introspective even though introspective abilities are not needed to experience emotions, and also explaining why introspection of emotional states is so much less reliable than that of other states of consciousness. (shrink)
Hacking argues against van Fraassen's constructive empiricism by appeal to features of microscopic imaging. Hacking relies on both our practices involving imaging instruments and the structure of the images produced by these micropractices. Van Fraassen's reply is formally correct yet fundamentally unsatisfying. I aim to strengthen van Fraassen's reply, but must then extend constructive empiricism, specifically the central notion of "theoretical immersion." I argue that immersion is more analogous to entering a virtual reality than to learning a language. This metaphor (...) assimilates instrument-based practice as well as theoretical debate and explanation, and can provide an anti-realist view of our micro-practices consonant with constructive empiricism. (shrink)
There are many possible forms of panpsychism. In this paper, I discuss a type of panpsychism in which the complex mental states of higher-level entities emerge from a system, or organization, of fundamental entities which possess extremely simple forms of mentality. I argue that this sort of panpsychism is surprisingly plausible, especially in light of the notorious difficulties raised by consciousness. Emergentist panpsychism faces a distinctive challenge, however. In so far as panpsychism embraces emergentism of the mental, a purely physicalist (...) emergence seems to be metaphysically more economical. I will argue that a basic analysis of emergence throws this claim into doubt. (shrink)
THIS ARTICLE ARGUES THAT WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS\nSUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO ESTABLISH A REASONABLE AND PLAUSIBLE\nMATERIALISM. SUPERVENIENCE IS A RELATION BETWEEN FAMILIES\nOF PROPERTIES, SUCH THAT, ROUGHLY SPEAKING, FAMILY A\nSUPERVENES ON FAMILY B IF ANY OBJECTS WHICH ARE\nINDISCERNIBLE WITH RESPECT TO B ARE THEREBY INDISCERNIBLE\nWITH RESPECT TO A. WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS SUPERVENIENCE\nRESTRICTED TO ONE POSSIBLE WORLD; STRONG SUPERVENIENCE IS A\n"NECESSARY" SUPERVENIENCE EXTENDING ACROSS SOME PRINCIPLED\nSET OF POSSIBLE WORLDS. THESE NOTIONS ARE MADE SOMEWHAT\nMORE RIGOROUS FOLLOWING JAEGWON KIM'S DEVELOPMENT OF THEM.\nKIM HAS ARGUED THAT ONLY (...) STRONG SUPERVENIENCE CAN GROUND A\n'ROBUST' MATERIALISM, SO THE ARTICLE BEGINS BY CRITICIZING\nHIS ARGUMENTS FOR THIS POSITION. IT ARGUES THAT ANY FORM OF\nSTRONG SUPERVENIENCE IS IN FACT TOO STRONG TO CHARACTERIZE\nMATERIALISM AS IT IS NORMALLY CONCEIVED, FOR MATERIALISM IS\nNEITHER LOGICALLY NOR PHYSICALLY NECESSARY. BUT THE DAY IS\nSAVED AS WEAK SUPERVENIENCE CAN BE SHOWN TO BE JUST\nSUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO GROUND MATERIALISM. IN PARTICULAR,\nIT IS SHOWN THAT SUPERVENIENCE CAN SUPPORT COUNTERFACTUALS\nWITHOUT REQUIRING ANY NOTION OF "NECESSARY"\nSUPERVENIENCE. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ: Fred Dretske a développé, à titre de composante de sa théorie de la conscience, une théorie de l'introspection. Celle-ci présente une plausibilité indépendante, elle résiste à des objections qui affectent nombre d'autres théories et elle suggère des liens très féconds dans plusieurs domaines de la science cognitive. La version qu'en donne Dretske est restreinte à la connaissance introspective des états perceptuels. Mon objectif ici est d'étendre la théorie à tous les états mentaux. Le mécanisme qui est fondamental dans cette (...) approche est celui de la «conscience déplacée», c'est-à-dire le fait d'en venir à connaître quelque chose via l'expérience consciente que nous avons de quelque chose d'autre. Nous atteignons la connaissance introspective par l'application à notre propre expérience consciente du monde de la connaissance que nous avons de ce qui est de l'ordre du mental. (shrink)
Naturalism is supposed to be a Good Thing. So good in fact that everybody wants to be a naturalist, no matter what their views might be1. Thus there is some confusion about what, exactly, naturalism is. In what follows, I am going to be pretty much, though not exclusively, concerned with the topics of intentionality and consciousness, which only deepens the confusion for these are two areas.
Donald Davidson espouses two fundamental theses about the individuation of mental events. The thesis of causal individuation asserts that sameness of cause and effect is sufficient and necessary for event identity. The thesis of content individuation gives only a sufficient condition for difference of mental events: if e and f have different contents then they are different mental events. I argue that given these theses, psychological externalism--the view that mental content is determined by factors external to the subject of the (...) relevant mental events--entails that the token identity theory is false. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen has presented a most vigorous argument in support of an anti-realist interpretation of science. In defence of his view he revives the seemingly moribund 'observable-unobservable' distinction, and employs it in the attempt to show that science provides no grounds for accepting, as real, entities which it itself classifies as unobservable. Traditional arguments against the observable-unobservable distinction can be reinterpreted as arguments for the reality of what is unobservable to humans. The argument is quite straightforward. We could create (...) intelligent creatures with a perceptual range of observation superior to that of humans. Granted that they are intelligent, we would accept them into the epistemic community. Once accepted their pronouncements should become belief-worthy for us. The aim of the paper is to defend this argument against van Fraassen 's seemingly plausible charge that, roughly, it fallaciously assumes that we ought to admit merely possible evidence rather than actual evidence in the formation of our beliefs. (shrink)
Charles Siewert presents a series of thought experiment based arguments against a wide range of current theories of phenomenal consciousness which I believe achieves a considerable measure of success. One topic which I think gets insufficient attention is the discussion of functionalism and I address this here. Before that I consider the intriguing issue, which is seldom considered but figures prominently at the close of Siewert's book, of the value of consciousness. In particular, I broach the question of whether the (...) value of consciousness has any impact on our theoretical understanding of consciousness. (shrink)
Rosenberg’s general argumentative strategy in favour of panpsychism is an extension of a traditional pattern. Although his argument is complex and intricate, I think a model that is historically significant and fundamentally similar to the position Rosenberg advances might help us understand the case for panpsychism. Thus I want to begin by considering a Leibnizian argument for panpsychism.
The metaphysical relation of supervenience has seen most of its service in the fields of the philosophy of mind and ethics. Although not repaying all of the hopes some initially invested in it – the mind-body problem remains stubbornly unsolved, ethics not satisfactorily naturalized – the use of the notion of supervenience has certainly clarified the nature and the commitments of so- called non-reductive materialism, especially with regard to the questions of whether explanations of supervenience relations are required and whether (...) such explanations must amount to a kind of reduction. (shrink)
It would be hard to deny that the experience of emotion is one of the most significant aspects of consciousness. While it is possible to imagine a being who enjoyed some forms of consciousness while lacking any awareness of its emotional states, such a being’s conscious life would be radically different from human consciousness. Yet, I believe that in fact we are surrounded by such beings and, most of the time, we ourselves are such. This is not to say that (...) such beings lack emotions, or that they lack consciousness, or even that they lack a specific sort of emotional consciousness. But to be conscious of one’s own emotional state is much more complex than any of that, and much more rare. The framework within which I want to explore emotional consciousness is that of the representational theory of consciousness (RTC). One of the most exciting and fruitful advances in recent philosophical research in consciousness, there is now a plethora of distinct versions of RTC (see for example Carruthers 2000, Dretske 1995, Gennaro 1999, Lycan 1996, Rosenthal 1985, 1993a, 1993b, Tye 1995). Although I think the ultimate mystery of how or why the brain generates conscious experience remains unresolved by RTC, the theory nonetheless offers many insights into the nature of consciousness, and provides a theoretical viewpoint which addresses many of the philosophical problems of consciousness. In this paper, I want to extend the RTC so as to provide a theory of emotional consciousness and emotional introspection. The RTC postulates that if a cognitive system is conscious then it represents. More, consciousness is a kind of representation. Obviously, not every system that represents is conscious and not every representation generated by a conscious system is a conscious representation. Unfortunately, it is not yet very well understood what are the exact criteria for a representation’s being a conscious representation. Very abstractly, RTC posits that representations which play a certain ‘appropriate’ role within a cognitive system of ‘sufficient’ complexity are conscious representations.. (shrink)
Reception of the Bohm-Hiley interpretation of quantum mechanics has a curiously Janus faced quality. On the one hand, it is frequently derided as a conservative throwback to outdated classical patterns of thought. On the other hand, it is equally often taken to task for encouraging a wild quantum mysticism, often regarded as anti-scientific. I will argue that there are reasons for this reception, but that a proper appreciation of the dual scientific and philosophical aspects of the view reveals a powerful (...) and extremely interesting metaphysical view of the world. This view is akin to that of Russellian Monism, in which the empirical world studied by science is restricted to relational features that stand in need of some background intrinsic properties to ground their reality. This allows for a theory that can embrace a world which exhibits a reasonable and plausible sort of emergence (especially of domains that fall under classical concepts) while also making room for distinctive and scientifically intransigent properties such as consciousness. (shrink)
Leibniz argumentiert in der Monadologie, daß das Bewußtsein nicht auf rein mechanische und materielle Prozesse reduziert werden kann. Diesem wohlbekannten Argument wird bisweilen ein elementarer Trugschluß der Zusammensetzung vorgeworfen. Meiner Meinung nach hingegen weist dieses Argument eher auf ein grundlegendes Problem in unserem physikalischen Verständnis des menschlichen Geistes hin, einem Verständnis, das auch heute noch akzeptiert wird. Ich zeige jedoch weiterhin, daß Leibniz nicht erkannt hat, daß sein Argument die Möglichkeit offen läßt, daß es unsere begrifflichen Grenzen sind, die uns (...) daran hindern, das Bewußtsein durch materielle Prozesse zu verstehen. (shrink)
The spectacular success of the scientific enterprise over the last four hundred years has led to the promise of an all encompassing vision of the natural world. In this elegant picture, everything we observe is based upon just a few fundamental processes and entities. The almost infinite variety and complexity of the world is thus the product of emergence. But the concept of emergence is fraught with controversy and confusion. This book ponders the question of how emergence should be understood (...) within the scientific picture, and whether a complete vision of the world can be attained that includes consciousness. (shrink)
Brook and Raymont do not assert that self-representing representations are sufficient to generate consciousness, but they do assert that they are necessary, at least in the sense that self-representation provides the most plausible mechanism for generating conscious mental states. I argue that a first-order approach to consciousness is equally capable of accounting for the putative features of consciousness which are supposed to favor the self-representational account. If nothing is gained the simplicity of the first-order theory counts in its favor. I (...) also advance a speculative proposal that we are never aware of any distinctively mental attributes of our own states of consciousness except via an independent act of reflective conceptualization, although this goes rather farther than the first-order theory strictly requires. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor has recently proposed a new entry into the list of information based approaches to semantic content aimed at explicating the general notion of representation for both mental states and linguistic tokens. The basic idea is that a token means what causes its production. The burden of the theory is to select the proper cause from the sea of causal influences which aid in generating any token while at the same time avoiding the absurdity of everything's being literally meaningful (...) (since everything has a cause). I argue that a detailed examination of the theory reveals that neither burden can be successfully shouldered. (shrink)
In his extraphysical speculations around the mid 20th century, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli proposed, together with the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, a kind of 'dual-aspect monism' as a framework for conceiving of the mind-matter problem. It is discussed how this framework can be related to more recent developments in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind.
Roger Penrose is justly famous for his work in physics and mathematics but he is _notorious_ for his endorsement of the Gödel argument (see his 1989, 1994, 1997). This argument, first advanced by J. R. Lucas (in 1961), attempts to show that Gödel’s (first) incompleteness theorem can be seen to reveal that the human mind transcends all algorithmic models of it1. Penrose's version of the argument has been seen to fall victim to the original objections raised against Lucas (see Boolos (...) (1990) and for a particularly intemperate review, Putnam (1994)). Yet I believe that more can and should be said about the argument. Only a brief review is necessary here although I wish to present the argument in a somewhat peculiar form. (shrink)
It has been argued that Psychological Externalism is irrelevant to psychology. The grounds for this are that PE fails to individuate intentional states in accord with causal power, and that psychology is primarily interested in the causal roles of psychological states. It is also claimed that one can individuate psychological states via their syntactic structure in some internal "language of thought". This syntactic structure is an internal feature of psychological states and thus provides a key to their causal powers. I (...) argue that in fact any syntactic structure deserving the name will require an external individuation no less than the semantic features of psychological states. (shrink)