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Abstract: The claim that behaviourally undetectable inverted spectra are possible has been endorsed by many physicalists. I explain why this starting point rules out standard forms of scientific explanation for qualia. The modern ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ is an updated way of defending problematic intuitions like these, but I show that it cannot help to recover standard scientific explanation. I argue that Chalmers is right: we should accept the falsity of physicalism if we accept this problematic starting point. I further argue that accepting this starting point amounts to at least implicitly endorsing certain theoretical claims about the nature of introspection. I therefore suggest that we allow ourselves to be guided, in our quest to understand qualia, by whatever independently plausible theories of introspection we have. I propose that we adopt a more moderate definition of qualia, as those introspectible properties which cannot be fully specified simply by specifying the non-controversially introspectible ‘propositional attitude’ mental states (including seeing x, experiencing x, and so on, where x is a specification of a potentially public state of affairs). Qualia thus defined may well fit plausible, naturalisable accounts of introspection. If so, such accounts have the potential to explain, rather than explain away, the problematic intuitions discussed earlier; an approach that should allow integration of our understanding of qualia with the rest of science.
Abstract: The explanatory gap . Consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account, even a highly speculative, hypothetical, and incomplete account of how a physical thing could have phenomenal states. (Nagel, 1974, Levine, 1983) Suppose that consciousness is identical to a property of the brain, say activity in the pyramidal cells of layer 5 of the cortex involving reverberatory circuits from cortical layer 6 to the thalamus and back to layers 4 and 6,as Crick and Koch have suggested for visual consciousness. (See Crick (1994).) Still, that identity itself calls out for explanation! Proponents of an explanatory gap disagree about whether the gap is permanent. Some (e.g. Nagel, 1974) say that we are like the scientifically naive person who is told that matter = energy, but does not have the concepts required to make sense of the idea. If we can acquire these concepts, the gap is closable. Others say the gap is uncloseable because of our cognitive limitations. (McGinn, 1991) Still others say that the gap is a consequence of the fundamental nature of consciousness
Abstract: In this paper I argue that a priori arguments fail to present any real problem for physicalism. They beg the question against physicalism in the sense that the argument will only seem compelling if one is already assuming that qualitative properties are nonphysical. To show this I will present the reverse-zombie and reverse-knowledge arguments. The only evidence against physicalism is a priori arguments, but there are also a priori arguments against dualism of exactly the same variety. Each of these parity arguments has premises that are just as intuitively plausible, and it cannot be the case that both the traditional scenarios and the reverse-scenarios are all ideally conceivable. Given this one set must be merely prima facie conceivable and only empirical methods will tell us which is which. So, by the time a priori methodology will be of any use it will be too late.
Abstract: Is conceptual analysis required for reductive explanation? If there is no a priori entailment from microphysical truths to phenomenal truths, does reductive explanation of the phenomenal fail? We say yes (Chalmers 1996; Jackson 1994, 1998). Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker say no (Block and Stalnaker 1999)
Abstract: This paper is a defence of Terence Horgan’s claim that any genuinely physicalist position must distinguish itself from (what has been traditionally known as) emergentism. I argue that physicalism is necessarily reductive in character -- it must either give a reductive account of apparently non-physical entities, or a reductive explanation of why there are non-physical entities. I argue that many recent ‘nonreductive’ physicalists do not do this, and that because of this they cannot adequately distinguish their view from emergentism. The conclusion is that this is the real challenge posed by Joseph Levine’s ‘explanatory gap’ argument: if physicalists cannot close the explanatory gap in Levine’s preferred way, they must find some other way to do it. Otherwise their view is indistinguishable from emergentism
Abstract: The current stand-off between reductionists and anti-reductionists about the mental has sparked a long-overdue reexamination of key issues in philosophi- cal methodology.1 The resulting debate promises to advance our understand- ing of how empirical discoveries bear on the numerous philosophical problems which involve the analysis or reduction of kinds. The parties to this debate disagree about how, and to what extent, conceptual facts contribute to justify- ing explanatory reductions
Abstract: According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self-
representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and
only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self-
representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal
consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self-
representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most
promising self-representational approach to the explanatory gap (§2). That approach
is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine,
which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of
how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4).
Abstract: Do facts about water have a priori, transparent, reductive explanations in terms of microphysics? Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker hold that they do not. David Chalmers and Frank Jackson hold that they do. In this paper I argue that Chalmers