Hardin’s (1988) empirically-grounded argument for color eliminativism has defined the color realism debate for the last thirty years. By Hardin’s own estimation, phenomenal structure – the unique/binary hue distinction in particular – poses the greatest problem for color realism. Examination of relevant empirical findings shows that claims about the unique hues which play a central role in the argument from phenomenal structure should be rejected. Chiefly, contrary to widespread belief amongst philosophers and scientists, the unique hues do not play a fundamental role in determining all color appearances. Among the consequences of this result is that greater attention should be paid to certain proposals for putting the structure of phenomenal color into principled correspondence with surface reflectance properties. While color realism is not fully vindicated, it has much greater empirical plausibility than previously thought.
Shagrir () and Sprevak () explore the apparent necessity of representation for the individuation of digits (and processors) in computational systems. I will first offer a response to Sprevak’s argument that does not mention Shagrir’s original formulation, which was more complex. I then extend my initial response to cover Shagrir’s argument, thus demonstrating that it is possible to individuate digits in non-representational computing mechanisms. I also consider the implications that the non-representational individuation of digits would have for the broader theory of computing mechanisms.
How does language (spoken or written) impact thought? One useful way to approach this important but elusive question may be to consider language itself as a cognition-enhancing animal-built structure. To take this perspective is to view language as a kind of self-constructed cognitive niche. These self-constructed cognitive niches play, I suggest, three distinct but deeply interlocking roles in human thought and reason.
Adverbialist theories of thought such as those advanced by Hare (1969) and Sellars (1969) promise an ontologically sleek understanding of a variety of intentional states, but such theories have been largely abandoned due to the ‘many-property problem’. In an attempt to revitalize this otherwise attractive theory, in a series of papers as well as his recent book, Uriah Kriegel has offered a novel reply to the ‘many-property problem’ and on its basis he argues that ‘adverbialism about intentionality is alive and well’. If true, Kriegel will have shown that the logical landscape has long been unnecessarily constrained. His key idea is that the many-property problem can be overcome by appreciating that mental states stand in the determinable-determinate relation to one another. The present paper shows that this relation can’t save adverbialism because it would require thinkers to think more thoughts than they need be thinking.
It is often said that ‘what it is like’-knowledge cannot be acquired by consulting testimony or reading books [Lewis 1998; Paul 2014; 2015a]. However, people also routinely consult books like What It Is Like to Go to War [Marlantes 2014], and countless ‘what it is like’ articles and youtube videos, in the apparent hope of gaining knowledge about what it is like to have experiences they have not had themselves. This article examines this puzzle and tries to solve it by appealing to recent work on knowing-wh ascriptions. In closing I indicate the wider significance of these ideas by showing how they can help us to evaluate prominent arguments by Paul [2014; 2015a] concerning transformative experiences.
In ‘Freedom and Resentment’ P. F. Strawson argues that reactive attitudes like resentment and indignation cannot be eliminated altogether, because doing so would involve exiting interpersonal relationships altogether. I describe an alternative to resentment: a form of moral sadness about wrongdoing that, I argue, preserves our participation in interpersonal relationships. Substituting this moral sadness for resentment and indignation would amount to a deep and far-reaching change in the way we relate to each other – while keeping in place the interpersonal relationships, which, Strawson rightfully believes, cannot be eliminated.
Use of ‘representation’ pervades the literature in cognitive science? But, do representations actually play a role in cognitive-scientific explanation, or is such talk merely colorful commentary? Are, for instance, patterns of cortical activity in motion-sensitive visual area MT or strings of symbols in a language-processing parser genuine representations? Do they have content? And if they do, can a naturalist assign such contents in a well-motivated and satisfying way?
I will begin by reviewing three classic points in philosophy of mind. Point 1 is that there is a theory, which I will call here ‘the reflexive theory’ or ‘RT’ for short, according to which a (psychological) state is a conscious state of a subject only if the subject of the state is conscious of being in the state. Since ‘is conscious of’ is a rough synonym of ‘is aware of’, we may also say that, according to RT, a psychological state is a conscious state of a subject only if the subject of the state is aware of being in the state. Point 2 is that RT faces a regress objection; that is, it is apparently committed to an infinite regress of a problematic sort. The objection might be formulated this way. First Premise: if RT is true, then, if you instantiate one conscious state you instantiate an infinity of conscious states. Second Premise: you do not instantiate an infinity of conscious states. Conclusion: either RT is false or you never instantiate a conscious state—a disaster for a theory of consciousness!
The meta-problem of consciousness is (to a first approximation) the problem of explaining why we think that there is a problem of consciousness. Just as metacognition is cognition about cognition, and a metatheory is a theory about theories, the metaproblem is a problem about a problem. The initial problem is the hard problem of consciousness: why and how do physical processes in the brain give rise to conscious experience? The relevant sort of consciousness here is phenomenal consciousness. A system is phenomenally conscious if there is something it is like to be that system, from the first-person point of view. The meta-problem is roughly the problem of explaining why we think phenomenal consciousness poses a hard problem, or in other terms, the problem of explaining why we think consciousness is hard to explain.
In my book Understanding Scientific Progress (Maxwell 2017), I argue that fundamental philosophical problems about scientific progress, above all the problem of induction, cannot be solved granted standard empiricism (SE), a doctrine which most scientists and philosophers of science take for granted. A key tenet of SE is that no permanent thesis about the world can be accepted as a part of scientific knowledge independent of evidence. For a number of reasons, we need to adopt a rather different conception of science which I call aim-oriented empiricism (AOE). This holds that we need to construe physics as accepting, as a part of theoretical scientific knowledge, a hierarchy of metaphysical theses about the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these theses becoming increasingly insubstantial as we go up the hierarchy. Fundamental philosophical problems about scientific progress, including the problems of induction, theory unity, verisimilitude and scientific discovery, which cannot be solved granted SE, can be solved granted AOE.
Many of our mental states such as beliefs and desires are
intentional mental states, or mental states with content. Externalism with regard to mental content says that in order
to have certain types of intentional mental states (e.g. beliefs), it
is necessary to be related to the environment in the right way. Internalism (or individualism) denies this, and it
affirms that having those intentional mental states depends solely on
our intrinsic properties. This debate has important consequences with
regard to philosophical and empirical theories of the mind, and the
role of social institutions and the physical environment in
constituting the mind.
My article aims to revisit the aesthetic thought of the Austrian psychologist and philosopher Joseph Wilhelm Nahlowsky (1812–1885), as expounded in his formerly famous monograph Das Gefühlsleben. I show that although Nahlowsky was a direct heir of Herbart, his ideas were in keeping with both the contemporary debate about form and content and the then-emerging paradigm of psychological aesthetics. I describe his developments on aesthetic feelings and his remarkable attempt to elaborate a general psycho-affective theory on the experience of the aesthetic object. I also discuss the importance of the notion of form, inherited from Herbart, in his psychological aesthetics. Finally, I demonstrate that, in addition to having marked an ‘affective’ turn in Herbartianism, Nahlowsky was a key actor in the evolution of ideas in psychological aesthetics in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Mike Stay is applying category theory to computation at a new startup called Pyrofex. And this startup has now entered a deal with RChain. But let me explain why I’m interested. I’m interested in applied category theory… but this is special. …
I’ve been way too distracted by actual research lately from my primary career as a nerd blogger—that’s what happens when you’re on sabbatical. But now I’m sick, and in no condition to be thinking about research. …
The world is awake. That can stand as a slogan for panpsychism: the view that I will understand here as holding that consciousness is fundamental and ubiquitous in nature. This does not mean that everything is conscious. Whether a particular non-fundamental entity is conscious will depend upon the arrangement of its fundamental constituents given some presumed laws of ‘mental chemistry’ which govern the emergence of complex forms of consciousness. So in bare outline panpsychism presents a familiar picture of fundamental features interacting in ways to generate more complex forms. Nor does panpsychism entail that sophisticated, high level consciousness is ubiquitous. The term ‘consciousness’ is notoriously hard to define and the victim of multitudes of more or less well motivated (re)definitions. I aim for a minimal conception. For contrast, compare this expansive notion of consciousness, plucked merely for illustrative purposes from Aaronson (2016): ‘displaying intelligent behavior (by passing the Turing Test or some other means) might be thought a necessary condition for consciousness’. On the minimal conception, consciousness does not at all require that ability to pass the Turing test. Feeling pain (or any other sensation) alone is sufficient for consciousness. It’s worth noting this because there is a somewhat pernicious ambiguity lurking here, that between a property and the evidence we have for ascribing it. Although still inaccurate, Aaronson’s dictum is closer to the truth if we change the final phrase to ‘a necessary condition for the ascription of consciousness’. But note that we can have theoretical reasons for ascribing a property without there being any direct observational evidence for the ascription. So, the kind of minimal consciousness in question is not ‘self-consciousness’ or ‘transcendental subjectivity’, or awareness of the self as a subject, or awareness of one’s own mental states, or the ability to conceptualize one’s own mental states as such. Consciousness is simply sentience, or the way things are present (to the mind).
Śrīharṣa was an Indian philosopher and poet, who lived
in northern India in the 12th century
CE.[ 1 ]
Śrīharṣa didn’t affiliate himself explicitly to
any philosophical text tradition active in classical India. Some have
argued that he was an advocate of Advaita Vedānta (Phillips 1995;
Ram-Prasad 2002). Vedānta (literally, the end of the Vedas) is a
family of competing philosophical interpretations of the texts called
Upaniṣads that appear at the end of the
Vedas.[ 2 ]
Many texts of Vedānta are commentaries on the canonical summary
of the Upaniṣads given by Bādarāyaņa’s
Aphorisms on the Brahman (Brahmasūtra).
tion to perform in order to change a currently undesirable situation. The policymaker has at her disposal a team of experts, each with their own understanding of the causal dependencies between different factors contributing to the outcome. The policymaker has varying degrees of confidence in the experts’ opinions. She wants to combine their opinions in order to decide on the most effective intervention. We formally define the notion of an effective intervention, and then consider how experts’ causal judgments can be combined in order to determine the most effective intervention. We define a notion of two causal models being compatible, and show how compatible causal models can be combined. We then use it as the basis for combining experts causal judgments. We illustrate our approach on a number of real-life examples.
Possible worlds models of belief have difficulties accounting for unawareness, the inability to entertain (and hence believe) certain propositions. Accommodating unawareness is important for adequately modelling epistemic states, and representing the informational content to which agents have access given their explicit beliefs. In this paper, I use neighbour-hood structures to develop an original multi-agent model of explicit belief, awareness, and informational content, along with an associated sound and complete axiom system. I defend the model against the seminal impossibility result of Dekel et al. (1998), according to which three intuitive conditions preclude non-trivial unawareness on any ‘standard’ model of knowledge or belief. I argue that at least one of these conditions is implausible when applied to a model of belief. The plausibility of the other two rests on further questions regarding the scope and granularity of mental content. Finally, I show that, once we’ve jettisoned the least plausible of these conditions, it’s possible to strengthen the remainder while retaining non-trivial unawareness within a possible worlds model of belief with unawareness.
This entry focuses on the phenomenon of clinical delusions. Although
the nature of delusions is controversial, as we shall see, delusions
are often characterised as strange beliefs that appear in the context
of mental distress. Indeed, clinical delusions are a symptom of
psychiatric disorders such as dementia and schizophrenia, and they
also characterize delusional disorders. The following case
descriptions include one instance of erotomania, the delusion that
one is loved by someone else, often of higher status, and one instance
of Cotard delusion, the delusion that one is dead or disembodied.
Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin, Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content In our previous posts, we have so far focused on: (1) clarifying our understanding of Ur-intentionality – REC’s positive proposal for understanding the thesis that basic cognition lacks content; (2) reviewing the problems faced by classic teleosemantic theories that motivate adopting REC’s proposal; and (3) detailing some of the theoretical consequences that adopting REC’s proposal has for how we think about and describe the contributions that brains make to cognition.One advantage of going contentless about cognition is that it eliminates the need to deal with what we dub the Hard Problem of Content that haunts naturalistic theories of content (Hutto and Myin 2013, Ch. …
Fictions evoke imagery, and their value consists partly in that achievement. This paper offers analysis of this neglected topic. Section I identifies relevant philosophical background. II offers a working definition of imagery. III identifies empirical work on visual imagery. IV and V criticize imagery essentialism, through the lens of genuine fictional narratives. This outcome, though, is not wholly critical. The expressed spirit of imagery essentialism is to encourage philosophers to "put the image back into the imagination." The weakened conclusion is that while an image is not essential to imagining, it should be returned to our theories of imagination.
I conceptualise the role of dualities in quantum gravity, in terms of their functions for theory construction. I distinguish between two functions of duality in physical practice: namely, discovering and describing ‘equivalent physics’, vs. suggesting ‘new physics’. I dub these the ‘theoretical’ vs. the ‘heuristic’ functions of dualities. The distinction seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the philosophical literature: and it exists both for dualities, and for the more general relation of theoretical equivalence. The paper develops the heuristic function of dualities: illustrating how they can be used, if one has any luck, to find and formulate new theories. I also point to the different physical commitments about the theories in question that underlie these two functions. I show how a recently developed schema for dualities articulates the differences between the two functions.
A Comment in a Letter by John Dewey to Charles Strong, Quoted by Louis Menand in the Metaphysical Club, has Become Well Known. Dewey Wrote in 1905 That "the Chief Service of Pragmatism, as Regards Epistemology" Will Be "to Give the Coup de Grace to Representationalism” (Menand 2001, 361). The Passage is Quoted with Approval by Huw Price (2009), Drawing on Menand, and in Macarthur and Price (2007) It is Used to Support a Statement of What Pragmatism Itself Should Be Taken to Be, a View in Which Opposition to Representationalism is Central: Pragmatism = Linguistic Priority Without Representationalism. Whether or Not They Would Agree with the "=", Quite a Few Others Would Agree That "Representationalism" is a Philosophical Error, and Dewey Helps Us Get Past It – Rorty is a Further Example (1982).
Christine Tappolet’s Emotions, Values, and Agency provides a rich, provocative, and highly accessible defense of a perceptual theory of emotion. On her account, emotions are perceptual experiences of evaluative properties: to be disgusted by the maggot infested meat is, quite literally, to perceive the meat as disgusting—to see it as something to be rejected or avoided. While Tappolet’s core argument for her Perceptual Theory comes through the significant parallels she identifies between emotions and sensory perceptions, the proposal gets further development and support from her efforts to draw out the implications that it has for our understanding of a wide range of issues in value theory. For instance, she argues that her Perceptual Theory not only enriches our understanding of emotions’ tendency to prompt motivation and action, but also pushes us toward a novel, broadly sentimentalist account of value and moral responsibility. To this she adds a nuanced account of how emotions contribute positively to human agency. Tappolet also argues that understanding emotions as perceptions has important epistemological consequences: just as sensory perceptions can help us become aware of the external world and justify our associated beliefs about it, emotions can be sources of awareness and justification within the evaluative realm. The end result is a powerful defense of a perceptual theory of emotions and its philosophical significance.
The on-going debate over the ‘admissible contents of perceptual experience’ concerns the range of properties that human beings are directly acquainted with in perceptual experience. Regarding vision, it is relatively uncontroversial that the following properties can figure in the contents of visual experience: colour, shape, illumination, spatial relations, motion, and texture. The controversy begins when we ask whether any properties besides these figure in visual experience. We argue that ‘ensemble properties’ should be added to the list of visually admissible properties. Ensemble properties are features that belong to a set of perceptible objects as a whole as opposed to the individuals that constitute that set. They include such features as the mean size of an array of shapes or the average emotional expression of an array of faces. Recent work in vision science has yielded compelling evidence that the visual system routinely encodes such properties. We argue that epistemological considerations provide strong reasons to think that these properties figure in visual experience. Judgements about ensemble properties are immediately warranted by our perceptual experience, and the only plausible way that a perceptual experience could confer this warrant is if it confers awareness of ensemble properties.
Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin, Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content (MIT Press, 2017)In our previous instalment to this blog series, we alluded to a subtle but pivotal adjustment that our Radically Enactive account of Cognition, REC, recommends making to what, in analytic circles, is the standard conception of minds. …
In a direct challenge to radical, anti-representational proposals about how to conceive of cognition, Aizawa (2015) asks “If the brain does not contribute information processing or symbol manipulation or the transformation of representations … then what does it do?” (2015, 761–762).Given that REC embraces precisely such radicalisms, what alternative story does it tell about the work brains do in contribruting to cogition? …
Can the theory that reality is a simulation be tested? We investigate this question based on the assumption that if the system performing the simulation is finite (i.e. has limited resources), then to achieve low computational complexity, such a system would, as in a video game, render content (reality) only at the moment that information becomes available for observation by a player and not at the moment of detection by a machine (that would be part of the simulation and whose detection would also be part of the internal computation performed by the Virtual Reality server before rendering content to the player). Guided by this principle we describe conceptual wave/particle duality experiments aimed at testing the simulation theory.
My aim is to defend a counterfactual analysis of causation against purportedly decisive difficulties raised recently, many rehearsed and developed further in this volume. Although some of the moves I will make are available to any counterfactual theory, my principal aim is to explain how a theory I outlined elsewhere can, with some adjustment and simplification for the purposes of discussion, deal with a range of problems (see Noordhof (1999) for original presentation of the theory). Specifically, I will be concerned with the issue of whether the semantics of counterfactuals can be characterised independently of causation (raised by Dorothy Edgington (XXXX)), the proper way to deal with the nontransitivity of causation (raised by Michael McDermott (1995) and Murali Ramachandran (XXXX)), and a range of counterexamples to the idea that causation involves, at its heart, chance raising (discussed by Helen Beebee (XXXX); Phil Dowe (XXXX); Doug Ehring (XXXX); Chris Hitchcock (XXXX), Jonathan Schaffer (2000a, 2000b) and Michael Tooley (XXXX)). Obviously, in defending my own counterfactual theory, I am also implicitly arguing that counterfactual approaches to causation in general have the resources to capture its important features. The ambiguity in the title thus accurately reflects the content of the present paper.
We often express our emotions. Indeed, we may often find it very hard to avoid expressing our emotions. We also often find ourselves aware of others' emotions - our friend's anger, their rival's joy. How is it that we become aware of these states? What is the relationship between our emotions, their expression, and others’ knowledge of how we feel? Certainly we sometimes have to infer how people are feeling - from the tear-stained letter or the unexpected hanging up of the 'phone. We may find ourselves reflecting on what these signs mean; find ourselves piecing together various strands of what we know of the person. But that is not always how things unfold. Our sensitivity to each other’s mental lives often lacks that cerebral or effortful character of conscious reasoning. Our awareness may be psychologically spontaneous; immediate. In greeting your friend you find yourself unreflectively realising that she is angry. Or even without attending to it you realise later that in your interactions with her you displayed a certain sensitivity to her anger. Even when your sensitivity is just in the background it can play a central role in guiding how you interact.