Augustine is commonly interpreted as endorsing an extramission theory of perception in De quantitate animae. A close examination of the text shows, instead, that he is committed to its rejection. I end with some remarks about what it takes for an account of perception to be an extramission theory and with a review of the strength of evidence for attributing the extramission theory to Augustine on the basis of his other works.
Higher-order evidence is, roughly, evidence of evidence. The idea is that evidence comes in levels. At the lowest level is evidence of the familiar type —evidence concerning some proposition that is not itself about evidence. At a higher level the evidence concerns some proposition about evidence at a lower level. Only in recent years has this less familiar type been the subject of epistemological focus, and the work on it remains relegated to a small circle of authors—far disproportionate to the attention it deserves. It deserves to occupy center stage for several reasons. First, higher-order evidence frequently arises in a diverse range of contexts, including testimony, disagreement, empirical observation, introspection, and memory, among others. Second, such evidence often plays a crucial epistemic role in these contexts. Third, the role it plays is complex, yields interesting epistemological puzzles, and therefore remains controversial and not yet fully understood. Although the ultimate goal of an investigation into higher-order evidence is to produce an account of its epistemic significance, my present concern is more fundamental. I have two primary sets of goals here. The first is expositional: to serve as an introduction for readers new to the topic. The second is argumentative: to establish that the existing characterizations of the concept of higher-order evidence and various related concepts are in dire need of refinement, to demonstrate that this lack of refinement is the source of major errors in the literature, and to provide the needed refinement to set the stage for further progress.
Common-sense and traditional metaphysics alike accord shadows a secondary status in the order of things, relegating them from the first rank of genuine substances. Recall, for example, Shirley’s famous lyric: “The Glories of our blood and state // Are shadows, not substantial things”. Or how in Shakespeare’s play, Marcus Andronicus, bemoans of his brother, Titus, that “grief has so wrought on him, He takes false shadows for true substances” (III.ii.79-80).
It is widely believed that the semantic contents of some linguistic and mental representations are determined by factors independent of a person’s bodily makeup. Arguments derived from Hilary Putnam’s seminal Twin Earth thought experiment have been especially influential in establishing that belief. I claim that there is a neglected version of the mind-body relation which undermines those arguments and also excludes the possibility of zombies. It has been neglected because it is counterintuitive but I show that it can nonetheless be intelligibly worked out in detail and all obvious objections met. This suggests that we may be faced with a choice between embracing a counterintuitive interpretation of the mind-body relation or accepting that a currently very promising theory in cognitive science, Prediction Error Minimization, faces a fundamental problem. Furthermore, blocking that threat entails that any physicalist/materialst theory of mind is freed from the spectre of zombie worlds. The proposal also makes the ideas of personal teleportation of mind uploading more plausible.
The extended mind thesis claims that at least some cognitive processes extend beyond the organism’s brain in that they are constituted by the organism’s actions on its surrounding environment. A more radical move would be to claim that social actions performed by the organism could at least constitute some of its mental processes. This can be called the socially extended mind thesis. Based on the notion of affordance as developed in the ecological psychology tradition, I defend the position that perception extends to the environment. Then I will expand the notion of affordance to encompass social affordances. Thus, perception can in some situations also be socially extended.
For a cou ple of decades, higher-order the o ries of con scious ness have enjoyed great pop u lar ity, but they have recently been met with grow ing dis sat is - fac tion. Many have started to look else where for via ble alter na tives, and within the last few years, quite a few have redis cov ered Brentano. In this paper such a (neo-)Brentanian one-level account of con scious ness will be out lined and dis - cussed. It will be argued that it can con trib ute impor tant insights to our under - stand ing of the rela tion between con scious ness and self-aware ness, but it will also be argued that the account remains beset with some prob lems, and that it will ulti mately make more sense to take a closer look at Sartre, Husserl, and Heidegger, if one is on the look out for prom is ing alter na tives to the higher-order the o ries, than to return all the way to Brentano.
I argue that there is an important similarity between causation and grounding. In particular I argue that, just as there is a type of scientific explanation that appeals to causal mechanisms—causal-mechanical explanation—there is a type of metaphysical explanation that appeals to grounding mechanisms—grounding-mechanical explanation. The upshot is that the role that grounding mechanisms play in certain metaphysical explanations mirrors the role that causal mechanisms play in certain scientific explanations. In this light, it becomes clear that grounding-mechanical explanations make crucial contributions to the evaluation of a variety of important philosophical theses, including priority monism and physicalism.
Here are two technical problems with consciousness causes collapse (ccc) interpretations of quantum mechanics. In both, suppose a quantum experiment with two possible outcomes, A and B, of equal probability 1/2. …
Polynesian sailors developed elaborate techniques for long-distance sea travel long before their European counterparts. They mapped out the elevation of the stars; they followed the paths of migrating birds; they observed sea swells and tidal patterns. …
Recent philosophical attention to fiction has focused heavily on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance: the fact that readers are sometimes unable or unwilling to play along with an author’s instructions to imagine certain contents, especially about moral matters. Readers’ resistance in these cases seems puzzling, given that they are typically willing to imagine all sorts of implausible, even impossible things. Theorists have offered various explanations for resistance. Richard Moran (1994) argues that resistance arises, at least in part, because evaluative and emotional engagement with fiction requires more than merely imaging certain contents: it involves actual, robust responses, which are not the sort of thing readers can simply choose to do in response to an author’s demands. Kendall Walton (1994), Steve Yablo (2002) and Brian Weatherson (2004) argue that resistance arises because what readers are able to imagine is constrained by fixed conceptual or metaphysical principles. And Tamar Szabó Gendler (2000, 2006a) argues that resistance is driven by readers’ unwillingness to ‘export’ certain moral principles or perspectives from fictions to reality.
In our ASSC20 symposium, “Does unconscious perception really exist?”, the four of us asked some difficult questions about the purported phenomenon of unconscious perception, disagreeing on a number of points. This disagreement reflected the objective of the symposium: not only to come together to discuss a single topic of keen interest to the ASSC community, but to do so in a way that would fairly and comprehensively represent the heterogeneity of ideas, opinions, and evidence that exists concerning this contentious topic. The crux of this controversy rests in no small part on disagreement about what is meant by the terms of the debate and how to determine empirically whether a state is unconscious or not.
Similar to other complex behaviors, language is dynamic, social, multimodal, patterned, and purposive, its purpose being to promote desirable actions or thoughts in others and self (Edelman, 2017b). An analysis of the functional characteristics shared by complex sequential behaviors suggests that they all present a common overarching computational problem: dynamically controlled constrained navigation in concrete or abstract situation spaces. With this conceptual framework in mind, I compare and contrast computational models of language and evaluate their potential for explaining linguistic behavior and for elucidating the brain mechanisms that support it.
In the recent second edition of William Seager’s book Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment he addresses some of my work on the higher-order theory. I haven’t yet read the entire book but he seems generally very skeptical of higher-order theories, which is fine. …
It is a standard understanding that we live in time. In fact, the whole physical world as described in sciences is based on the idea of objective (not absolute) time. For centuries we have defined time ever so minutely, basing them on finer and finer event measurements (uncoiling springs to atomic clocks) that we do not even notice that we have made an inductive leap when it comes to time - we can measure time, so we experience time. In the current work I wish to critique this inductive leap and examine what it means to experience time. We are embodied and embedded cognitive agents, constrained by our body as well as in continuous interaction with our environment. So another way to ask the question of temporal experience would be - how embodied is time? I posit that experience of time spoken of in general literature is a linguistic construct, in that, the idea of experience of time overshadows the actual phenomenal contents of time perception. Moreover, time perception itself comes from a post-facto judgment of events. It has also been observed that the order of events in time can be altered to create an illusion of violation of causality itself. This points to the possibility that events are arranged in a temporal map that can be read off by higher cognitive substrates. In the current work we go on to explore the nature of such a map as it emerges from an embodied mind.
I argue that perceptual consciousness is constituted by a mental activity. The mental activity in question is the activity of employing perceptual capacities, such as discriminatory, selective capacities. This is a radical view, but I hope to make it plausible. In arguing for this mental activist view, I reject orthodox views on which perceptual consciousness is analyzed in terms of (sensory awareness relations to) peculiar entities, such as, phenomenal properties, external mind-independent properties, propositions, sense-data, qualia, or intentional objects.
Susanna Siegel, The Rationality of Perception (Oxford, 2017)
I find the challenges to the coherence of inferentialism much more powerful than the objections inherent in alternatives. That’s why I devote more time in the book to making the case that inferentialism is coherent, and to explaining what form it could take. …
In his paper, Presentational Character and Higher-Order Thoughts, which came out in 2015 in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, Gottlieb presents a general argument against the higher-order theory of consciousness which invokes some of my work as support. …
Epistemic two-dimensional semantics (E2D), advocated by Chalmers (2006) and Jackson (1998), among others, aims to restore the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke (1972/1980), by showing how armchair access to semantic intensions provides a basis for knowledge of necessary a posteriori truths (among other modal claims). The most compelling objections to E2D are that, for one or other reason, the requisite intensions are not accessible from the armchair (see, e.g., Wilson 1982, Melnyk 2008). As we substantiate here, existing versions of E2D are indeed subject to such access-based objections. But, we moreover argue, the difficulty lies not with E2D but with the typically presupposed conceiving-based epistemology of intensions. Freed from that epistemology, and given the right alternative---one where inference to the best explanation (i.e., abduction) provides the operative guide to intensions---E2D can meet access-based objections, and fulfill its promise of restoring the desirable link between necessity and a priority. This result serves as a central application of Biggs and Wilson 2016 (summarized here), according to which abduction is an a priori mode of inference.
In recent years, a number of philosophers and cognitive scientists have advocated for an ‘interactive turn’ in the methodology of social-cognition research: to become more ecologically valid, we must design experiments that are interactive, rather than merely observational. While the practical aim of improving ecological validity in the study of social cognition is laudable, we think that the notion of ‘interaction’ is not suitable for this task: as it is currently deployed in the social cognition literature, this notion leads to serious conceptual and methodological confusion. In this paper, we tackle this confusion on three fronts: 1) we revise the ‘interactionist’ definition of interaction; 2) we demonstrate a number of potential methodological confounds that arise in interactive experimental designs; and 3) we show that ersatz interactivity works just as well as the real thing. We conclude that the notion of ‘interaction’, as it is currently being deployed in this literature, obscures an accurate understanding of human social cognition.
We have a conundrum. The physical basis of information is clearly a highly active research area. Yet the power of information theory comes precisely from separating it from the detailed problems of building physical systems to perform information processing tasks. Developments in quantum information over the last two decades seem to have undermined this separation, leading to suggestions that information is itself a physical entity and must be part of our physical theories, with resource-cost implications. We will consider a variety of ways in which physics seems to affect computation, but will ultimately argue to the contrary: rejecting the claims that information is physical provides a better basis for understanding the fertile relationship between information theory and physics. Instead, we will argue that the physical resource costs of information processing are to be understood through the need to consider physically embodied agents for whom information processing tasks are performed. Doing so sheds light on what it takes for something to be implementing a computational or information-processing task of a given kind
Recall the example discussed in my earlier post:
Jill and Jack: Jill fears (without good reason) that Jack is angry with her. As a result of her fear, Jack’s face looks angry to her when she sees it. If you saw Jack, you’d see his neutral expression for what it is. …
This paper employs a case study from the history of neuroscience—brain reward function—to scrutinize the inductive argument for the so-called ‘Heuristic Identity Theory’ (HIT). The case fails to support HIT, illustrating why other case studies previously thought to provide empirical support for HIT also fold under scrutiny. After distinguishing two different ways of understanding the types of identity claims presupposed by HIT and considering other conceptual problems, we conclude that HIT is not an alternative to the traditional identity theory so much as a relabeling of previously discussed strategies for mechanistic discovery.
Why is our knowledge of the past so much more ‘expansive’ (to pick a suitably vague term) than our knowledge of the future? And intimately related, how can we capture the difference(s): i.e., in what sense is knowledge of the past more ‘expansive’ ? As a first stab, one might be convinced by the first four chapters of David Albert’s Time and Chance (2000; henceforth T&C – all quotations are from this work unless otherwise stated) that the ‘Newtonian statistical mechanical contraption for making inferences about the world’ (96) captures everything that can be inferred by statistical mechanics at any time. Indeed, in this paper I will assume that it does. One might then reasonably wonder whether it would even be possible to know anything that didn’t follow from the contraption – so doing would apparently take more knowledge of the past than the past hypothesis (PH), or more knowledge of the present state than its current macrocondition, or a more informative probability distribution, and how could one obtain any of those? So one might suggest that: A proposition can only be known if it is made likely by taking a uniform probability over all states compatible with the current macrocondition of the universe, and with its initial macrocondition, given the laws of mechanics.
In this paper, I will give an argument for what I call pannormism, the view according to which if x instantiates a metaphysically basic normative property F, then whatever grounds the being of x also instantiates F. In slogan form: if there is normativity, there is normativity all the way down. Such pannormism is in many ways analogous to panpsychism, and my discussion also contains an important lesson for panpsychism, a way to avoid its so-called combination problem. In section 1, I present the argument; in section 2, I discuss its conclusion.
TRANSITIVITY: Conscious mental states are mental states we are aware of in some way. W-TRANSPARENCY: For at least one conscious state M, it is impossible to:
(a) TRANSPARENCY-DIRECT: Stand in a direct awareness relation to M, or; (b) TRANSPARENCY-DE RE: Stand in a de re awareness relation to M, or; (c) TRANSPARENCY-INT: Stand in an introspective awareness relation to M,
His basic claim, then, is that there is no way of making precise the statement of transitivity above in such a way as to render it consistent with the weak version of transparency that he thinks should count as a truism or platitude. …
Marc Lewis, The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease (Public Affairs, 2016)
It is my pleasure to introduce the latest in our series of symposia on papers from the journal Neuroethics. The focus of the current symposium is a forthcoming special issue of Neuroethics on Marc Lewis‘s book The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease (PublicAffairs, 2016). …
Chapter 6 of Idealism and Christian Theology is “On the Corruption of the Body: A Theological Argument for Metaphysical Idealism” by S. Mark Hamilton. This is easily the best essay in the collection so far, and the most directly focused on the central issues the volume purports to address. …
The capacity for “mindreading” is understood in philosophy
of mind and cognitive science as the capacity to represent, reason
about, and respond to others’ mental states. Essentially the
same capacity is also known as “folk psychology”,
“Theory of Mind”, and “mentalizing”. An
example of everyday mindreading: you notice that Tom’s
fright embarrassed Mary and surprised Bill,
who had believed that Tom wanted to try
everything. Mindreading is of crucial importance for our social life:
our ability to predict, explain, and/or coordinate with others’
actions on countless occasions crucially relies on representing their
This chapter starts from a puzzle. Realism about X is often glossed as the idea that Xs are mind independent: Xs exist, and have their nature, independently of our beliefs, interests, attitudes, or other mental states. Xs are, in a sense ‘out there’, getting on with it independently of our mental life. If this is right, how should we understand realism about cognitive science? Mental processes and states are not mind independent: they don’t take place independently of our beliefs, interests, attitudes, or other mental states. Hence, it seems that we cannot be realists about them. Nevertheless, in line with other areas of philosophy of science, there seems scope for asking the realist question about the posits of cognitive science even if those posits make up our mental life. But unless we state realism differently, there is no way to sensibly ask the realist question about cognitive science. In this paper, I explore the right way to state realism about cognitive science. I introduce three different types of mind dependence and evaluate their merit to stating realism about cognitive science.
Since its introduction, multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), or “neural decoding”, has 8 transformed the field of cognitive neuroscience. Underlying its influence is a crucial inference, 9 which we call the Decoder’s Dictum: if information can be decoded from patterns of neural activity, then this provides strong evidence about what information those patterns represent. Although the Dictum is a widely held and well-motivated principle in decoding research, it has received scant philosophical attention. We critically evaluate the Dictum, arguing that it is false: decodability is a poor guide for revealing the content of neural representations. However, we also suggest how the Dictum can be improved on, in order to better justify inferences about neural representation using MVPA.