Archive for December, 2006

Supervenience and Neuroscience

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Supervenience and Neuroscience. Draft. Comments welcome.

ABSTRACT: I assume physicalism and argue against non-reductive physicalism on the following grounds. Extant forms of non-reductive physicalism spell out their commitment to physicalism in terms of a notion of supervenience incapable of ruling out obviously unappealing scenarios that I call “doubled-qualia” and “mental-mental-supervenience.” Such scenarios involve multiple minds supervening on all and only the same physical properties. Such scenarios can be ruled out by a natural extension of the supervenience thesis that I call “fine-grained supervenience.” I argue further that the combination of non-reductive physicalism with fine-grained supervenience leads to a regress. I argue further still that if the regress is to be avoided, the form of reductive physicalism most preferable is one in which mental properties reduce to neural properties.

[Link to full text of article]

Related posts: Doubled Qualia; A Regress for Non-reductive Physicalism; Fine-grained Supervenience, Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Future of Functionalism

Hawthorne’s “Direct Reference and Dancing Qualia”

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Reading Notes on John Hawthorne’s “Direct Reference and Dancing Qualia” In (T. Alter and S. Walter) Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge (OUP, 2006).
Hawthorne’s main thesis: Direct reference theory for phenomenal concepts is incompatible with the dualist possibility of dancing qualia.

What is the gist of Hawthorne’s argument?

Hawthorne wants to argue that if qualia can dance, then there are certain situations in which one might not be sure whether one concept and another concept refered to the same qualia. Further, Hwthorne wants to argue, in such situations, it looks like what is going on is more like wondering whether “Hesperus = Phospherus” than being unsure about the a priori knowable “Hesperus = Hesperus”. Thus, if qualia can dance, Fregeanism, not Russellianism is a better theory of phenomenal concepts.


PMS WIPS 007 - Joshua Knobe and Jesse Prinz - Intuitions about Consciousness: Experimental Studies

Friday, December 15th, 2006

“Intuitions about Consciousness: Experimental Studies” by Joshua Knobe and Jesse Prinz, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

When people are trying to determine whether an entity is capable of having certain kinds of mental states, they can proceed either by thinking about the entity from a functional standpoint or by thinking about the entity from a physical standpoint. We conducted a series of studies to determine how each of these standpoints impact people’s mental state ascriptions.

The results point to a striking difference between two kinds of states — those that involve phenomenal consciousness and those that do not. Specifically, it appears that ascriptions of states that involve phenomenal consciousness show a special sort of sensitivity to purely physical factors.

[Link to full text of article]

[Link to further info on PMS WIPS]

Stupid Monkey

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

If a creature can only add, say, integers less than nine, do they really grasp what addition is? Whatever faults generalized conceptual holism might have, isn’t it still pretty plausible for the concept of addition?

Tad Zawidzki emailed the following link to a video of a mathematical monkey (Thanks, Tad!):

The following link describes the relevant research:

Not unrelated is Tanasije Gjorgoski’s recent post on whether babies intuit that 1+1=2:

Philosophy Porn

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

I found this delicious bit of philosophy porn over at the Philosophy of Mind Workshop Blog. I hope there’s more of this sort of thing out there. (Warning: NNSFW.)




PMS WIPS 006 - Brendan Ritchie - Dualism and the Limits of Conceivability

Friday, December 1st, 2006

“Dualism and the Limits of Conceivability” by Brendan Ritchie, University of Manitoba.

One of the most widely discussed arguments against physicalism has been the Zombie Argument (or ZA) of David Chalmers (1996). There is, however, more metaphysical baggage in this argument than is usually assumed; in fact, Chalmers faces a trilemma: either (1) zombies are not ideally conceivable, which ZA requires; (2) zombies are ideally conceivable, but this can only be shown a posteriori, which undermines the a priori nature of ZA; or (3) Chalmers must abandon the particular brand of functionalism he espouses and adopt another one which one must hold in order for ZA to succeed: limiting the scope of ZA as an argument against physicalism.

[Link to full text of article]

[Link to further info on PMS WIPS]