all papers by date of writing
This page includes all of my published papers and a few of my unpublished papers, listed in reverse chronological order by date of writing, which is typically also date of first web publication (though not date of print publication, which is in some cases many years later).
How Can We Solve the Meta-Problem of Consciousness
Debunking Arguments for Illusionism about Consciousness?
Is the Hard Problem of Consciousness Universal?
Spatiotemporal Functionalism v. The Conceivability of Zombies
The Virtual and the Digital
Finding Space in a Nonspatial World
What is Conceptual Engineering and What Should It Be?
Carnap's Second Aufbau and David Lewis's Aufbau
Review of Narrow Content
The Meta-Problem of Consciousness
Extended Cognition and Extended Consciousness
Structuralism as a Response to Skepticism
Idealism and the Mind-Body Problem
The Virtual and the Real
Referentialism and the Objects of Credence: A Reply to Braun
Three Puzzles About Spatial Experience
Frontloading and Fregean Sense: Reply to Neta, Schroeter, and Stanley
Intensions and Indeterminacy: Reply to Soames, Turner, and Wilson
Why Isn't There More Progress in Philosophy?
Intuitions in Philosophy: A Minimal Defence
Two-Dimensional Semantics and the Nesting Problem
What Do Philosophers Believe?
Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism
The Combination Problem for Panpsychism
Strong Necessities and the Mind-Body Problem
The Contents of Consciousness: Reply to Hellie, Peacocke, and Siegel
The Varieties of Computation: A Reply
The Singularity: A Reply
Actuality and Knowability
The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis
Revisability and Conceptual Change in ``Two Dogmas of Empiricism''
Mind and Consciousness: Five Questions
Foreword to Andy Clark's Supersizing the MindIn Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind\ . Oxford University Press, 2008. A foreword to Andy’s book where I discuss the iPhone as mind-extended and discuss what I think is the strongest objection to the thesis. I go to town on the iPhone idea in this TED talk on the extended mind. [pdf] [philpapers]
Propositions and Attitude Ascriptions: A Fregean Account
Nous 45:595-639, 2011. Develops the epistemic 2D paper into a Fregean account of propositions (as “enriched propositions” involving structures of primary intensions and referents) and gives an associated account of propositional attitude ascriptions. I use this framework to address many puzzles involving attitude ascriptions as well as various objections to the 2D framework. [pdf] [philpapers]
Ramsey + Moore = God
Frege's Puzzle and the Objects of Credence
Scott Soames' Two-Dimensionalism
For a session at the meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division, in April 2006. This is a response to Scott Soames’ book Reference and Description: The Case Against Two-Dimensionalism. It focuses mainly on Soames’ broad critique and his own quasi-two-dimensional framework; other objections, especially concerning attitude ascriptions, are addressed in “Propositions and Attitude Ascriptions” and in “Two-Dimensional Semantics and the Nesting Problem”. Soames replied and I replied in turn. See also this earlier extended handout, Soames on Two-Dimensionalism, written for an exchange atArizona State University in January 2004.
The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Materialism
Phenomenal Concepts and the Explanatory Gap
This paper discusses materialist attempts (by e.g. Hill, Loar, Papineau, Tye, and others) to appeal to phenomenal concepts to explain away the explanatory gap and other epistemic gaps. I argue that no such account can work: either the account does not explain the epistemic gap, or the relevant features of phenmenal concepts are themselves not explainable in physical terms. Forthcoming in Torin Alter and Sven Walter, Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism (OUP, 2006). [pdf] [philpapers]
Perception and the Fall from Eden
In Perceptual Experience, edited by Tamar Gendler and John Hawthorne (Oxford University Press, 2006). This is a sequel to the previous paper. I argue that the phenomenology of perceptual experience grounds not just a sort of Fregean content, but also a more fundamental “Edenic” content, involving the representation of primitive properties that may not be instantiated in the world. Much of the paper concerns the relationship between these two sorts of content. [pdf] [philpapers]
How Can We Construct a Science of Consciousness?
In (M. Gazzaniga, ed) The Cognitive Neurosciences III. MIT Press, 2004. This paper discusses the agenda for a science of consciousness. I characterize the central task as the systematic integration of first-person data and third-person data, and lay out various concrete projects, discussing recent work in psychology and cognitive science along the way. I also discussed some obstacles, especially those tied to the methods for gathering first-person data. The paper appears in The Cognitive Neurosciences III, edited by Michael Gazzaniga (MIT Press, 2004). [pdf] [philpapers]
The Representational Character of Experience
In The Future for Philosophy, edited by Brian Leiter (Oxford University Press, 2004). This paper concerns the relationship between the phenomenal character and representational content of perceptual experience, and the status of representationalism. I argue for a sort of nonreductive, narrow, Fregean representationalism, contrasting with the more common reductive, wide, Russellian representationalism. [pdf] [philpapers]
The Matrix as Metaphysics
Phenomenal Concepts and the Knowledge Argument
In (P. Ludlow, Y. Nagasawa, & D. Stoljar, eds) There’s Something about Mary: Essays on Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism. MIT Press, 2004. This paper applies the analysis of phenomenal concepts above to the knowledge argument against materialism. Most of this paper is drawn from with material in other papers, but there is a bit of new material in the second half on replies to the knowledge argument. It is forthcoming in There’s Something About Mary, an anthology of papers on the knowledge argument, edited by Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa, and Daniel Stoljar (MIT Press, 2004). [html] [philpapers]
Imagination, Indexicality, and Intensions
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68:182-90. This is a commentary in a symposium on John Perry’s book Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness (MIT Press, 2001), which defends a materialist view against a number of arguments (the zombie argument, the knowledge argument, the modal argument), and addresses the discussion in my book. The online version includes an additional response to John Perry’s reply. [html] [philpapers]
Strong and Weak Emergence
The Nature of Narrow Content
David Lewis: In Memoriam
The Foundations of Two-Dimensional Semantics
The St. Petersburg Two-Envelope Paradox
Analysis 62:155-57, 2002. A short paper with my preferred analysis (the correct analysis!) of the two-envelope paradox. It sets out a related scenario that combines elements of the St. Petersburg paradox and the two-envelope paradox, and uses this to diagnose where the decision-theoretic paradoxical reasoning goes wrong. [html] [philpapers]
Consciousness and its Place in Nature
The Nature of Epistemic Space
What is the Unity of Consciousness?
Co-authored with Tim Bayne. In (A. Cleeremans, ed) The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration, Dissociation (Oxford University Press, 2003). We distinguish a number of different senses in which it might be said that a subject’s conscious experiences are unified, and isolate a central notion for which the claim that consciousness is necessarily unified is tenable without being trivial. We then discuss potential counterexamples to this unity thesis, and will consider the implications of the unity thesis for theories of consciousness more generally. This paper appears in The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration, Dissociation (Oxford University Press, 2003) edited by Axel Cleeremans. [pdf] [philpapers]
On Sense and Intension
Conceptual Analysis and Reductive Explanation
Co-authored with Frank Jackson. Philosophical Review, 110:315-61, 2001. This paper is a reply to Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker’s paper “Conceptual Analysis, Dualism, and the Explanatory Gap”. It doesn’t presuppose knowledge of that paper. It defends from first principles the thesis that there is an a priori entailment from microphysical and phenomenal truths (plus or minus a bit) to macroscopic truths; it addresses Block and Stalnaker’s objections to this thesis; and finally argues that a priori entailment is required for reductive explanation and for physicalism. The paper appears in Philosophical Review 110:315-61, 2001. There have been a number of replies, e.g. by Peter Carruthers, Joe Levine, and Laura Schroeter. A number of the ideas and argument here are developed further in Constructing the World. [pdf] [philpapers]
The Content and Epistemology of Phenomenal Belief
In (Q. Smith & A. Jokic, eds) Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press, 2003. This long paper has two halves. The first half gives an account of phenomenal concepts and phenomenal beliefs, on which their content is partly constituted by the quality of an experience. The second half applies this account to epistemological issues: e.g. arguing for a limited incorrigibility thesis, defending a sort of foundationalism about phenomenal knowledge, defending the phenomenal realist from certain epistemological problems, and addressing the “Myth of the Given”. [pdf] [philpapers]
Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?
What is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness?
In (T. Metzinger, ed) Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Empirical and Conceptual Issues. MIT Press, 2000. Reprinted in (A. Noe & E. Thompson, eds) Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception (MIT Press, 2003). This paper, first presented at the 1998 ASSC conference on neural correlates of consciousness, focuses on neural correlates of consciousness, with reference to recent empirical work in the field (e.g. work in visual neuroscience by Logothetis, Milner and Goodale, and others). In particular it addresses what it means to be a neural correlate of consciousness, distinguishes different sorts of NCCs, and discusses the methodology of the search. It raises some questions about the conclusions that can be drawn from lesion studies. [pdf] [philpapers]
First-Person Methods in the Science of Consciousness
Consciousness Bulletin, University of Arizona, 1999. In this short paper I argue that the task of a science of consciousness is to connect third-person data about brain and behavior to first-person data about conscious experience, and I discuss the difficult question of how we might investigate and represent first-person data. I also discuss some specific issues about emotion. Written for a Tucson online workshop on emotion and consciousness. Most of the ideas were developed further in <../papers/scicon.pdf">How Can We Construct a Science of Consciousness. [html] [philpapers]
The Tyranny of the Subjunctive
Unpublished. An extended outline of a talk I gave a couple of times in the late 1990s. I argue for a parallel between indicative and subjunctive conditionals, on the one hand, and the two dimensions of possibility in the 2-D framework. The standard contemporary analysis of possibility and necessity is grounded in subjunctive conditionals. I suggests that this is entirely arbitrary, and has had a distorting effect on many areas of philosophy. (Html here) [philpapers]
Materialism and the Metaphysics of Modality
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-93, 1999. This is my reply in a symposium on The Conscious Mind, which also included a precis. The commentators were Sydney Shoemaker, Brian Loar, Chris Hill & Brian McLaughin, and Stephen Yablo, all of whom take a “type-B materialist” position on which there is an epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal, but no modal gap. This gets quickly into issues about the 2-D analysis of a posteriori necessity, and whether there are “strong necessities” that escape it. I argue that there are not, and argue for a sort of modal rationalism. [html] [philpapers]
The Problems of Consciousness
On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness
In (S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak, & A.Scott, eds.) Toward a Science of Consciousness II. MIT Press, 1998. This is a constructive analysis of the search for the "neural correlate of consciousness" (or the NCC, as it’s sometimes called). I argue that because we don’t have any way of detecting consciousness directly (i.e., we have no "consciousness meter"), the search is driven by pre-empirical bridging principles instead. I discuss some of these principles and draw some conclusions about the shape of the search. This paper is largely a transcript of my talk at the 1996 Tucson conference on consciousness, although some fun and games with a consciousness meter have been omitted (see the video.[pdf] [philpapers]
Moving Forward on the Problem of Consciousness
Journal of Consciousness Studies 4(1):3-46, 1997. Reprinted in (J. Shear, ed.), Explaining Consciousne\ ss: The Hard Problem. MIT Press, 1997. My lengthy reply to 25 articles commenting on “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness” All the papers and my reply were collected in the book, Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem (edited by Jonathan Shear), published by MIT Press in July 1997. [html] [philpapers]
The Puzzle of Conscious Experience
Minds, Machines, and Mathematics
The Extended Mind
The Components of Content
In (D. Chalmers, ed) Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Issues (OUP, 2002). This paper tries to do for thought what some of the other papers do for language: give an account of the contents of thought on which content is closely tied to reason and cognition. I decompose content into epistemic and subjunctive content, both of which are truth-conditional. Epistemic content is generally internal to a cognitive system, and governs rational relations between thoughts, so it can play the role of "narrow" or "cognitive" content. I apply this framework to a number of puzzles (Frege’s puzzle, Kripke’s puzzle, the problem of the essential indexical, the mode-of-presentation problem, etc.) in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The unpublished 1995 version of this paper was fairly widely cited; I later revised it for publication in my philosophy of mind anthology. The later version does some foundational things better, but in some respects the earlier version is more accessible. A closely related paper appeared as “The Nature of Narrow Content” in Philosophical Issues in 2003. Here are a couple of replies, by Stephen Schiffer (and my response) and by Alex Byrne. [pdf] [philpapers]
Review of Journal of Consciousness Studies
Availability: The Cognitive Basis of Experience?
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20:148-9, 1997. Reprinted in (N. Block, O. Flanagan, and G. Guzeldere, eds.) The Nature of Consciousness (MIT Press, 1997). Here I argue that the cognitive correlate of conscious experience is direct availability for global control, and use this to shed light on a few vexing questions. This was written as a commentary on Ned Block‘s paper “On A Confusion about a Function of Consciousness"; Block’s reply is here. This paper overlaps to some extent with “On the search for a neural correlate of consciousness”. [html] [philpapers]
Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
Journal of Consciousness Studies 2(3):200-19, 1995. Reprinted in (S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak, & A.Scott, eds.) Toward a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press, 1996). Reprinted in J. Shear (ed.) Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem (MIT Press, 1997). Reprinted in J. Heil (ed.) Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2003). Reprinted without attribution in (J. Vacca, ed) The World’s 20 Greatest Unsolved Problems (Prentice-Hall, 2004). Reprinted in (R. Carter) Exploring Consciousness (University of California Press, 2002). Reprinted in (M. Eckert, ed) Theories of Mind: Introductory Readings (Rowman and Littlefield). Reprinted (as “The Hard Problem of Consciousness” and “Naturalistic Dualism”) in (M. Velmans and S. Schneider, eds) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (Blackwell, 2007). This is the paper where I introduced the “hard problem” of consciousness. I distinguish between the easy problems and the hard problem, and I argue that the hard problem eludes conventional methods of explanation. I argue that we need a new form of nonreductive explanation, and make some moves toward a detailed nonreductive theory. This paper was based on a talk I gave at the 1994 Tucson conference on consciousness (see the video), and appeared in 1995 as part of a special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. [pdf] [html] [philpapers]
The Two-Envelope Paradox: A Complete Analysis?
You’re given two envelopes, and are told that one contains twice the amount in the other, but you aren’t told which is which. You tentatively decide to take envelope A, but then reason that there is a 50% chance that B contains twice A’s amount and a 50% chance that it contains half A’s amount, with an expected value of 1.25 times A’s amount overall, so it is in your interests to switch. But of course the same holds in reverse. What is going on? I give a detailed analysis of this "two-envelope" paradox, including a few interesting subtleties that are sometimes overlooked. I didn’t publish this as I now think the analysis is incomplete; in effect it solves the “numerical” paradox but not the “decision-theoretic” paradox. That’s addressed in my later The St. Petersburg Two-Envelope Paradox. [html] [ps] [philpapers]
Does A Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?
A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition
Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia
In (T. Metzinger, ed.) Conscious Experience. Ferdinand Schoningh, 1995. Reprinted in (T. O’Connor & D. Robb, Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings (Routledge, 2003). In this paper I use thought-experiments to argue that functional organization fully determines conscious experience. These thought-experiments involve the gradual replacement of neurons by silicon chips, and similar scenarios. I argue that if "absent qualia" or "inverted qualia" are possible, then phenomena I call "fading qualia" and "dancing qualia" will be possible; but I argue that it is very implausible that fading or dancing qualia are possible. The resulting position is a sort of "nonreductive functionalism". (There is also a German version entitled "Fehlende Qualia, schwindende Qualia, tanzende Qualia" (!), but it is not available online.) [html] [ps] [philpapers]
Self-Ascription Without Qualia: A Case-Study
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1993. This is a commentary on Alvin Goldman’s piece "The Psychology of Folk Psychology", in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (June 1993). The paper contains a zombie thought-experiment or two, for people who like that sort of thing. [html] [philpapers]
Connectionism and Compositionality: Why Fodor and Pylyshyn Were Wrong
Is There Synonymy in Ockham's Mental Language?
In The Cambridge Companion to Ockham, edited by Paul Spade (Cambridge, 1999). A rare venture into the history of philosophy. It was written when I was a graduate student in Paul Spade’s medieval logic class at Indiana. William of Ockham held that we think in a “mental language”, not unlike the language of thought that some contemporary philosophers believe in. The question arises whether the mental language can contain synonyms, or whether these are just artifacts of ordinary language. Most people have said no. Here I give some reasons to say yes. [html] [philpapers]
Subsymbolic Computation and the Chinese Room
In (J. Dinsmore, ed.) The Symbolic and Connectionist Paradigms: Closing the Gap, pp. 25-48. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1992. In this paper I analyze the distinction between symbolic and subsymbolic computation, and use this to shed some light on Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument and the associated argument that “syntax is not sufficient for semantics”. I argue that subsymbolic models may be less vulnerable to this argument. I no longer think this paper is very good, but perhaps the analysis of symbolic vs. subsymbolic computation is worthwhile. It appeared in The Symbolic and Connectionist Paradigms: Closing the Gap, edited by John Dinsmore, published by Lawrence Erlbaum in 1991. [pdf] [philpapers]
High-Level Perception, Analogy, and Representation: A Critique of Artificial Intelligence Methodology
The Evolution of Learning: An Experiment in Genetic Connectionism
Why Fodor and Pylyshyn Were Wrong: The Simplest Refutation
Consciousness and Cognition
Unpublished. Written when I was a graduate student at Indiana. It talks about the odd fact that even if consciousness is not reductively explainable, our claims about consciousness should be, and discusses various ways in which this tension might be resolved, eventually proposing a proto-theory of consciousness based on the notions of pattern and information. I no longer agree with everything in this paper, and it gets a bit wild toward the end, but it covers some interesting issues. I’ve never tried to publish it, but it is still one of my favorites and I’m intending to return to these themes at some point.[html] [ps] [philpapers]