Pretense is often characterized as a form of imagination, more specifically as a sort of enactive imagination. But for the most part, pretending and imagining interact with one’s evaluative / affective systems differently. One tends to respond to imagined content with emotions similar to (albeit more attenuated than) those one would feel if that content was real. When pretending, however, one’s affective responses are often much more generalized, and insensitive to the content of the pretense. We suggest that this is because one’s attentional focus in pretense is on the actions themselves, and their correspondence with the scripts or roles being used to generate the pretense. Moreover, because pretense is intrinsically motivated, pretending is generally fun, irrespective of what, in particular, is being pretended.
The assertion by Yu and Nikolic that the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment of Kim et al. empirically falsifies the consciousness-causes-collapse hypothesis of quantum mechanics is based on the unfounded and false assumption that the failure of a quantum wave function to collapse implies not be surprising, as confirmed by , that the distribution recorded at D is the sum of two closely-spaced single-slit Fraunhofer distributions. In other words, the detection of which-path information by detectors D1 and D2 guarantees no interference distribution at D . FIG. 1. When which-path information of idler photons is recorded by detectors D1 and D2 , detector D does not produce an interference pattern.
The neocortex figures importantly in human cognition, but it is not the only locus of cognitive activities or even at the top of a hierarchy of cognitive processing areas in the central nervous system. Moreover, the form of information processing employed in the neocortex is not representative of information processing elsewhere in the nervous system. In this paper, we articulate and argue against cortico-centrism in cognitive science, contending instead that the nervous system constitutes a heterarchical network of diverse types of information processing systems. To press this perspective, we examine neural information processing in both non-vertebrates and vertebrates, including examples of cognitive processing in the vertebrate hypothalamus and basal ganglia.
This paper challenges a common assumption about decision- making mechanisms in humans: decision-making is a distinctively high-level cognitive activity implemented by mechanisms concentrated in the higher-level areas of the cortex. We argue instead that human behavior is controlled by a multiplicity of highly distributed, heterarchically organized decision-making mechanisms. We frame it in terms of control mechanisms that procure and evaluate information to select activities of controlled mechanisms and adopt a phylogenetic perspective, showing how decision-making is realized in control mechanisms in a variety of species. We end by discussing this picture's implication for high-level cognitive decision-making.
Merely approximate symmetry is mundane enough in physics that one rarely finds any explication of it. Among philosophers it has also received scant attention compared to exact symmetries. Herein I invite further consideration of this concept that is so essential to the practice of physics and interpretation of physical theory. After motivating why it deserves such scrutiny, I propose a minimal definition of approximate symmetry—that is, one that presupposes as little structure on a physical theory to which it is applied as seems needed. Then I apply this definition to three topics: first, accounting for or explaining the symmetries of a theory emeritus in intertheoretic reduction; second, explicating and evaluating the Curie-Post principle; and third, a new account of accidental symmetry.
According to phenomenal functionalism, whether some object or event has a given property is determined by the kinds of sensory experiences such objects or events typically cause in normal perceivers in normal viewing conditions. This paper challenges this position and, more specifically, David Chalmers’s use of it in arguing for what he calls virtual realism.
One of the central areas of dispute in the reception of Kant’s
critical philosophy concerns his distinction between the cognitive
faculties of sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and intellect
(Verstand), and their characteristic representational
outputs—viz. intuition (Anschauung) and concept
(Begriff). Though the dispute is multi-faceted, it centers on
disagreement concerning the interpretation of Kant’s conception
of the contribution made by the higher cognitive faculties (or the
“intellect” in the broadest sense of that term) to a
subject’s sensory apprehension of the world around it.
The possibility that normative motivations are basic or psychologically primitive is an intriguing one worthy of more attention. On the one hand, there is a powerful case that human minds are equipped with a psychological system dedicated to norms and norm-guided behavior (Setman and Kelly forthcoming). On the other hand, there has not yet been a convincing case made that there are any distinct, sui generis motivational resources that are unique or exclusive to this system. To the extent that the issue is addressed, many discussions simply proceed as if the motivations that drive different norm-guided behaviors are drawn from a number of different and more basic psychological sources. However, I do not think the possibility that some normative motivations are psychologically primitive has been ruled out.
Hill (2014) argues that perceptual qualia, i.e. the ways in which things look from a viewpoint, are physical properties of objects. They are relational in nature, that is, they are functions of objects’ intrinsic properties, viewpoints, and observers. Hill also claims that his kind of representationalism is the only view capable of “naturalizing qualia”. After discussing a worry with Hill’s account, I put forward an alternative, which is just as “naturalization-friendly”. I build upon Chirimuuta’s color adverbialism (2015), and I argue that we would better serve the “naturalizing project” if we abandoned representationalism and preferred a broadly adverbialist view of perceptual qualia.
Some non-reductionists claim that so-called ‘exclusion arguments’ against their position rely on a notion of causal sufficiency that is particularly problematic. I argue that such concerns about the role of causal sufficiency in exclusion arguments are relatively superficial since exclusionists can address them by reformulating exclusion arguments in terms of physical sufficiency. The resulting exclusion arguments still face familiar problems, but these are not related to the choice between causal sufficiency and physical sufficiency. The upshot is that objections to the notion of causal sufficiency can be answered in a straightforward fashion and that such objections therefore do not pose a serious threat to exclusion arguments.
Conscious experiences are characterized by mental qualities, such as those involved in seeing red, feeling pain, or smelling cinnamon. The standard approach to modeling mental qualities is to develop a quality-space model, where mental qualities are represented by points in multidimensional spaces and where distances between points inversely correspond to degrees of phenomenal similarity. I begin by arguing that the standard framework cannot capture precision structure: for example, consider the phenomenal contrast between seeing an object as crimson in foveal vision versus seeing an object merely as red in peripheral vision. Then I develop a new formal framework that models mental qualities using regions, rather than points. I explain how this new framework not only provides a natural way of modeling precision, but also yields a variety of further theoretical fruits: it enables us to formulate novel hypotheses about the space and structures of mental qualities, formally differentiates two dimensions of phenomenal similarity, generates a quantitative model of the phenomenal so-rites, and provides a new theoretical tool for the empirical investigation of conscious experiences. A noteworthy consequence of the framework is that the structure of the mental qualities of conscious experiences is fundamentally different from the structure of the perceptible qualities of external objects.
Surplus structure arguments famously identify elements of a theory regarded as excess or superfluous. If there is an otherwise analogous theory that does without such elements, a surplus structure argument prompts adopting it over the one with those elements. Despite their prominence, the form, justification, and range of applicability of such arguments is disputed. I provide an account of these, following Dasgupta () for the form, which makes plain the role of observables and observational equivalence. However, I diverge on the justification: instead of demanding that the symmetries of the theory relevant for surplus structure arguments be defined without recourse to any interpretation of those theories, I suggest that the process of identifying what is observable and its consequences for symmetries work in dialog. They settle through a reflective equilibrium that is responsible to new experiments, arguments, and examples. Besides better aligning with paradigmatic uses of the surplus structure argument, this position also has some broader consequences for scope of these arguments and the relationship between symmetry and interpretation more generally.
Christian List  has recently proposed a category-theoretic model of a system of levels, applying it to various pertinent metaphysical questions. We modify and extend this framework to correct some minor defects and better adapt it to application in philosophy of science. This includes a richer use of category theoretic ideas and some illustrations using social choice theory.
Recently, Horsman et al. (2014) have proposed a new framework, Abstraction/Representation (AR) theory, for understanding and evaluating claims about unconventional or non-standard computation. Among its attractive features, the theory in particular implies a novel account of what is means to be a computer. After expounding on this account, I compare it with other accounts of concrete computation, finding that it does not quite fit in the standard categorization: while it is most similar to some semantic accounts, it is not itself a semantic account. Then I evaluate it according to the six desiderata for accounts of concrete computation proposed by Piccinini (2015). Finding that it does not clearly satisfy some of them, I propose a modification, which I call Agential AR theory, that does, yielding an account that could be a serious competitor to other leading account of concrete computation.
It is widely held that the content of perceptual experience is propositional in nature. However, in a well-known article, “Is Perception a Propositional Attitude?” (2009), Crane has argued against this thesis. He therein assumes that experience has intentional content and indirectly argues that experience has non-propositional content by showing that from what he considers to be the main reasons in favour of “the propositional-attitude thesis”, it does not really follow that experience has propositional content. In this paper I shall discuss Crane’s arguments against the propositional-attitude thesis and will try to show, in contrast, that they are unconvincing. My conclusion will be that, despite all that Crane claims, perceptual content could after all be propositional in nature. KEYWORDS: Crane, propositional-attitude thesis, perceptual experience, propositional content, non-propositional content, accuracy conditions.
Our understanding of what exactly needs protected against in order to safeguard a plausible construal of our ‘freedom of thought’ is changing. And this is because the recent influx of cognitive offloading and outsourcing—and the fast-evolving technologies that enable this—generate radical new possibilities for freedom-of-thought violating thought manipulation. This paper does three main things. First, I briefly overview how recent thinking in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science recognises—contrary to traditional Cartesian ‘internalist’ assumptions—ways in which our cognitive faculties, and even our beliefs, can be materially realised by as well as stored non-biologically and extracranially. Second, and taking brain-computer interface technologies (BCIs) and the associated possibility of ‘extended’ beliefs as a reference point, I propose and defend a sufficient condition on freedom-of-thought violating (extended) thought manipulation. On the view proposed, the right not to have one’s thoughts or opinions manipulated is violated if one is (i) caused to acquire non-autonomous propositional attitudes (acquisition manipulation) or (ii) caused to have otherwise autonomous propositional attitudes non-autonomously eradicated (eradication manipulation). The implications of this view are then illustrated through four thought experiments, which map on to four distinct ways—what I call Type 1-Type 4 manipulation—in which, and with reference to the view defended, one’s freedom of thought is plausibly violated.
We show that there is a mathematical obstruction to complete Turing computability of intelligence. This obstruction can be circumvented only if human reasoning is fundamentally unsound, with the latter formally interpreted here as certain stable soundness. To this end, we first develop in a specific setting a certain analogue of a Gödel statement, which has universality with respect to a certain class of Turing machines / formal systems. As a partial consequence of this universality, this Gödel statement, or Gödel string G as we call it in the language of Turing machines, does not require soundness but only stable soundness. Moreover, this G is constructed explicitly, given the general form of our class of Turing machines.
Despite its long history of investigating sociality, phenomenology has, to date, said little about online sociality. The phenomenological tradition typically claims that empathy is the fundamental way in which we experience others and their experiences. While empathy is discussed almost exclusively in the context of face-to-face interaction, I claim that we can empathetically perceive others and their experiences in certain online situations. Drawing upon the phenomenological distinction between the physical, objective body and the expressive, lived body, I: (i) highlight that empathy involves perceiving the other’s expressive, lived body, (ii) show that the lived body is not tied to the physical body and that empathy can take place outside of face-to-face interactions, and (iii) argue that the lived body can enter online space and is empathetically available to others there. I explore two ways in which the other’s lived body enters online space and can be empathetically perceived: first, in cases where our face-to-face encounter is technologically-mediated over video link and, second, by showing how the other’s texts, as speech, can form part of the other’s lived body. Investigating empathy online not only furthers our understanding of online encounters but also leads to a refined conception of empathy more generally.
Franz Brentano is well known for highlighting the importance of intentionality, but he said curiously little about the nature of intentionality. According to Mark Textor, there is a deep reason for this: Brentano took intentionality to be a conceptual primitive the nature of which is revealed only in direct grasp. Although there is certainly textual support for this interpretation, it appears in tension with Brentano’s repeated attempts to analyze intentionality in terms of ‘notional constituents’ – aspects which cannot come apart in reality but which can be conceptually distinguished. After bringing out this tension, I explore some options for resolving it, ultimately offering my own favored interpretation.
In humans, the reuse of neural structure is particularly pronounced at short, task-relevant timescales. Here, an argument is developed for the claim that facts about neural reuse at task-relevant timescales conflict with at least one characterization of neural reuse at an evolutionary timescale. It is then argued that, in order to resolve the conflict, we must conceptualize evolutionary-scale reuse more abstractly than has been generally recognized. The final section of the paper explores the relationship between neural reuse and human nature. It is argued that neural reuse is not well-described as a process that constrains our present cognitive capacities. Instead, it liberates those capacities from the ancestral tethers that might otherwise have constrained them.
In the philosophy of mind, the multiple realizability thesis contends
that a single mental kind (property, state, event) can be realized by
many distinct physical kinds. A common example is pain. Many
philosophers have asserted that a wide variety of physical properties,
states, or events, sharing no features in common at that level of
description, can all realize the same pain. This thesis served as a
premise in the most influential argument against early theories that
identified mental states with brain states (psychoneural, or
mind-brain identity theories). It also served in early arguments for
Here is an old joke: what is black and white and red all over? A newspaper. Why though? As we assume that nothing could really be black and white and red all over, we infer that ‘red’ should be heard as ‘read.’ In the grand philosophical tradition of making even humour unfunny, I want to take issue with this assumption. My thesis is that it is possible to see two objects in black and white, while at the same time seeing one of them as redder than the other. More generally, I argue that it is possible to perceptually represent colour relations between two objects, without perceptually representing their colours. I call this primitive relational colour representation (PRCR). This goes against the orthodox view that we represent colour relations by virtue of representing colours. This orthodoxy has been challenged by several authors in the recent literature, and I here add my name to the chorus.
A common adage runs that, given a theory manifesting symmetries, the syntax of that theory should be modified in order to construct a new theory, from which symmetry-variant structure of the original theory has been excised. Call this strategy for explicating the underlying ontology of symmetry-related models reduction. Recently, Dewar has proposed an alternative to reduction as a means of articulating the ontology of symmetry-related models—what he calls (external) sophistication, in which the semantics of the original theory is modified, and symmetry-related models of that theory are treated as if they are isomorphic. In this paper, we undertake a critical evaluation of sophistication about symmetries—we find the programme underdeveloped in a number of regards. In addition, we clarify the interplay between sophistication about symmetries, and a separate debate to which Dewar has contributed—viz., that between interpretational versus motivational approaches to symmetry transformations.
This paper trials new experimental methods for the analysis of natural language reasoning and the (re)development of critical ordinary language philosophy in the wake of J.L. Austin. Philosophical arguments and thought experiments are strongly shaped by default pragmatic inferences, including stereotypical inferences. Austin suggested that contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences are at the root of some philosophical paradoxes and problems, and that these can be resolved by exposing those verbal fallacies. This paper builds on recent efforts to empirically document inappropriate stereotypical inferences that may drive philosophical arguments. We demonstrate that previously employed questionnaire-based output measures do not suffice to exclude relevant confounds. We then report an experiment that combines reading time measurements with plausibility ratings. The study seeks to provide evidence of inappropriate stereotypical inferences from appearance verbs that have been suggested to lie at the root of the influential ‘argument from illusion’. Our findings support a diagnostic reconstruction of this argument. They provide the missing component for proof of concept for an experimental implementation of critical ordinary language philosophy that is in line with the ambitions of current ‘evidential’ experimental philosophy.
Our knowledge about the world is grounded in perception; and a good share of it is based, on visual perception in particular. Due to psychological and neuro-scientific research more and more details are being disclosed about the internal causal process that starts off with rather meager optical images on the retina and ends up in beliefs about the world. As philosophers, however, we must not be content with an exploration of the causal chain between those tiny optical projections on the eye’s inside and the complex, conceptually structured representation that makes up the body of our empirical knowledge. What we have to evaluate, in addition, is the epistemic quality of this in B. process; and in this regard what matters is precisely the course of justification. The stations of this course aren’t just states of the brain, but states of the mind. Concerning the perceptual foundation of empirical knowledge, what’s of particular epistemic interest are the starting points in this course of justification: those states of the mind that are commonly called epistemically prior. Since the optical images on the retina, for sure, are merely neuronal rather than mental, they don’t qualify as epistemically prior, although they are causally prime.
In this paper I will present a puzzle about visual appearance. There are certain necessary constraints on how things can visually appear. The puzzle is about how to explain them. I have no satisfying solution. My main thesis is simply that the puzzle is a puzzle. I will develop the puzzle as it arises for representationalism about experience because it is currently the most popular theory of experience and I think it is along the right lines. However, everyone faces a form of the puzzle, including the naïve realist. In §1 I explain representationalism about experience. In §§2-3 I develop the puzzle and criticize a response due to Ned Block and Jeff Speaks and another response based on a novel form of representationalism (“sensa representationalism”). In §4 I argue that defenders of “perceptual confidence” face an instance of the puzzle. In §5 I suggest that everyone faces a form of the puzzle.
What are the fundamental properties of our world, and what is the best metaphysical account of them? Many assume we should look to physics to answer these questions. Physics refers to properties such as mass, spin and charge, and seems to characterise these properties in exclusively dispositional terms. Mass, for example, is characterised in terms of gravitational attraction and resistance to acceleration; charge is characterised in terms of attraction and repulsion. Perhaps, then, we should conclude that the fundamental properties of our world are dispositions: properties essentially defined in terms of how they dispose their bearers to behave. This, at least, is the argument of dispositional essentialists.
Integration information theories posit that the integration of information is necessary and/or sufficient for consciousness. In this paper, we focus on three of the most prominent information integration theories: Information Integration Theory (IIT), Global Workspace Theory (GWT), and Attended Intermediate-Level Theory (AIR). We begin by explicating each theory and key concepts they utilize (e.g., information, integration, etc.). We then argue that the current evidence indicates that the integration of information (as specified by each of the theories) is neither necessary nor sufficient for consciousness. Unlike GWT and AIR, IIT maintains that conscious experience is both necessary and sufficient for consciousness. We present empirical evidence indicating that simple features are experienced in the absence of feature integration and argue that it challenges IIT’s necessity claim. In addition, we challenge IIT’s sufficiency claim by presenting evidence from hemineglect cases and amodal completion indicating that contents may be integrated and yet fail to give rise to subjective experience. Moreover, we present empirical evidence from subjects with frontal lesions who are unable to carry out simple instructions (despite appearing to understand their meaning) and argue that they are irreconcilable with GWT. Lastly, we argue that empirical evidence indicating that patients with visual agnosia fail to identify objects they report being conscious of present a challenge to AIR’s necessity claim.
Four striking papers
In the past week or two, four striking papers appeared on quant-ph. Rather than doing my usual thing—envisioning a huge, meaty blog post about each paper, but then procrastinating on writing them until the posts are no longer even relevant—I thought I’d just write a paragraph about each paper and then open things up for discussion. …
An adequate explication of miscomputation should do justice to relevant practices in the computational sciences. While philosophers of computation have neglected scientific practices outside computer science, here I focus on computational psychiatry. I argue that computational psychiatrists use a concept of miscomputation in their explanations, and that this concept should be explicated as interest-relative and perspectival, although non-arbitrary, relatively clear-cut, experimentally evaluable, and instrumentally useful. To the extent my argument is convincing, we should reconsider the general adequacy of the mechanistic view of computation for illuminating relevant methodological and explanatory practices in the computational sciences.