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Abstract: In this paper I undertake the tasks of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality, and of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, the only probabilistically coherent candidates being ‘anomic danglers’ (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers’ (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental/physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favour of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject.
Abstract: ABSTRACT. In this paper I propose a defense of a posteriori materialism. Prob- lems with a posteriori identity materialism are identi?ed, and a materialism based on composition, not identity, is proposed. The main task for such a proposal is to account for the relation between physical and phenomenal properties. Compos- ition does not seem to be ?t as a relation between properties, but I offer a peculiar way to understand property-composition, based on some recent ideas in the literature on ontology. Finally, I propose a materialist model for the mind-body relation that is able to resist the attack from conceivability arguments
Abstract: Are qualia natural kinds? In order to give this question slightly more focus, and to show why it might be an interesting question, let me begin by saying a little about what I take qualia to be, and what natural kinds. For the purposes of this paper, I shall be assuming a fairly full-blooded kind of phenomenal realism about qualia: qualia, thus, include the qualitative painfulness of pain (rather than merely the functional specification of pain states), the qualitative redness in the visual field that typically accompanies red discriminations, the taste of lemon (independently of the fact that such states are normally caused by lemons and give rise to puckering of the lips, etc.), and so on. In other words, I am assuming the falsity of functionalism with respect to qualia, though I am not for a moment assuming dualism
Abstract: If a brain is duplicated so that there are two brains in identical states, are there then two numerically distinct phenomenal experiences or only one? There are two, I argue, and given computationalism, this has implications for what it is to implement a computation. I then consider what happens when a computation is implemented in a system that either uses unreliable components or possesses varying degrees of parallelism. I show that in some of these cases there can be, in a deep and intriguing sense, a fractional (non-integer) number of qualitatively identical phenomenal experiences. This, in turn, has implications for what lessons one should draw from neural replacement scenarios such as Chalmers
Abstract: Although the capacity to discriminate between different qualia is typically admitted to have a definition in terms of functional role, the qualia thereby related are thought to elude functional definition. In this paper I argue that these views are inconsistent. Given a functional model of discrimination, one can construct from it a definition of qualia. The problem is similar in many ways to Goodman's definition of qualia in terms of 'matching', and I argue that many of his findings survive reinterpretation into a physicalistic basis which employs 'indiscriminability' as its primitive term. I show how one can identify the critical properties to which discrimination capacities are sensitive, and then identify their order. A problem arises concerning the different ways in which qualitatively distinct experiences can differ (hue, shape, and so on). Physicalist accounts have often been accused of relying in a circular fashion on some antecedent understanding of phenomenal properties in order to specify those differences. This account avoids such an accusation: ordering of critical properties is determined by the dimensionality of discriminations, and the latter is given by the structure of the discrimination pair lists. Once a topology of quality is constructed, qualia names can be defined by their relative location within the order. In the conclusion I argue that psychophysics employs physicalist techniques to define a topology of quality, and that it can provide what Thomas Nagel calls an "objective phenomenology."
Abstract: s Gibson (1982) correctly points out, despite Quine’s brief flirtation with a “mitigated phenomenalism” (Gibson’s phrase) in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Quine’s ontology of 1953 (“On Mental Entities”) and beyond left no room for non-physical sensory objects or qualities. Anyone familiar with the contemporary neo-dualist qualia-freak-fest might wonder why Quinean lessons were insufficiently transmitted to the current generation
Abstract: The question of how a physical system gives rise to the phenomenal or experiential (olfactory, visual, somatosensitive, gestatory and auditory), is considered the most intractable of scientific and philosophical puzzles. Though this question has dominated the philosophy of mind over the last quarter century, it articulates a version of the age-old mind-body problem. The most famous response, Cartesian dualism, is on Daniel Dennett’s view still a corrosively residual and redundant feature of popular (and academic) thinking on these matters. Fifteen years on from his anti-Cartesian theory of consciousness (Consciousness Explained, 1991), Dennett’s frustration with this tradition is still palpable. This frustration is primarily aimed at philosophers
Abstract: Assume that a quale as we experience it is a perspective on an underlying physical state, rather than the physical state as such – the reality as known as distinct from the reality as such. Assume, further, that this inner perspective is integral to, and materially co-extensive with, the physical state itself. Assume, finally, that the physical state in question is known as a brain state of a particular kind by an external observer of the brain in which it occurs. The result is a perspective in which a quale is entirely physical; a position that resolves several known difficulties for physicalism, including those associated with the explanatory gap, Jackson’s knowledge argument, and Chalmers’ hard problem of consciousness
Abstract: A zombie is a creature just like a conscious being in certain respects, but wholly lacking in consciousness. In this paper, I look at zombies from the perspective of basic ontology (“from below”), taking as my starting point a trope ontology I have defended elsewhere. The consequences of this ontology for zombies are mixed. Viewed from below, one sort of zombie—the exact dispositional zombie—is impossible. A similar argument can be wielded against another sort—the exact physical zombie—but here supplementary principles are needed to get to the impossibility result. Finally, at least two sorts of zombie—the behavioural and functional zombies—escape these arguments from below.
Abstract: A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to qualia of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate between, for example, Hardin, Levine, Jackson, Clark and Chalmers as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. This paper examines carefully the type of explanation that is needed here, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is only of marginal relevance here.
Abstract: In recent philosophy of mind, epiphenomenalism—that strain of dualism according to which the mind is caused by the body but does not cause the body in turn—has undergone something of a renaissance. Contemporary epiphenomenalists bear only partial resemblance to their more extravagantly metaphysical ancestors, however. Traditional epiphenomenalists thought that (at least) two sorts of mental properties were epiphenomenal—intentional properties such as the meaning or representational content of the propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires and so on); and conscious properties such as awareness and the qualitative nature of experience. Contemporary epiphenomenalists, on the other hand, are largely sanguine about the prospects for intentionality to be brought within the purview of a physicalist worldview; what forces their dualism is one particular feature of consciousness—what irks them are qualia, the..