Vol 7 (2001)

Table of Contents

Book Reviews

Awareness: More Than Meets the Eye A Review of Consciousness Lost and Found: A Neuropsychological Exploration by Lawrence Weiskrantz Full Text
Trevor Chong
A Review of The Physics of Consciousness by Evan Harris Walker Full Text
Matthew J. Donald
Inattentional Blindness: Reply to Commentaries Full Text
Arien Mack
What I AmThe Self as a Dynamic Data Structure Implemented Within a Cognitive Framework by a Functional System Full Text
Matthias Scheutz



Inattentional Blindness: Perception or Memory and What Does It Matter? Summary Full Text
Cathleen M. Moore
An extensive research program surrounding a phenomenon called inattentional blindness is reported by Mack and Rock (1998) in their book of the same name. The general conclusion that is drawn from the work is that no conscious perception can occur without attention. Because the bulk of the evidence surrounding inattentional blindness comes from memorial reports of displays, it is possible that inattentional blindness reflects a problem with memory, rather than a problem with perception. It is argued here that at least some instances of inattentional blindness are better characterized as memorial failures than perceptual failures. The extent to which unattended stimuli fail to engage perceptual processing is an empirical question that the combination of inattentional blindness and online measures of processing can be used to address.
Have We Neglected Phenomenal Consciousness? Summary Full Text
William G. Lycan
Charles Siewert's The Significance of Consciousness contends that most philosophers and psychologists who have written about "consciousness" have neglected a crucial type or aspect that Siewert calls "phenomenal consciousness" and tries carefully to define. The present article argues that some philosophers, at least, have not neglected phenomenal consciousness and have offered tenable theories of it.
Who Is Blind to Blindsight? Summary Full Text
Peter Carruthers
This paper uses the explanation of blindsight generated by a two-systems theory of vision in order to set Siewert a dilemma. Either his blindsight examples are modelled on actual blindsight, in which case certain reductive theories of phenomenal consciousness will have no difficulty in accommodating them. Or they are intended to be purely imaginary, in which case they will have no force against a reductive naturalist.
Inattentional Awareness Summary Full Text
Donelson E. Dulany
The authors report "priming" effects for subjects they classify as "inattentionally blind" and interpret this as evidence for unconscious perception--an interpretation consistent with deeply entrenched metatheory. I question that interpretation, however, on methodological grounds. On these assessment procedures, some subjects could be classified as "inattentionally blind" despite representing the critical stimulus in conscious attention. Still others--presenting a more interesting challenge--could be so classified despite representing the stimulus literally in inattentional awareness. The study is illuminated, I believe, by seeing it in metatheoretical and experimental contexts, with its theoretical interpretation contrasted with an alternative.
It's Great But Not Necessarily About Attention Summary Full Text
Jochen Braun
I point out that Mack and Rock manipulated both expectation and attention and suggest that their results ('inattentional blindness') may have been caused by lack of expectation rather than lack of attention. This alternative reading of Mack and Rock's results is supported by other findings, which suggest that 'pure' manipulations of expectation produce 'blindness' whereas 'pure' manipulations of attention do not. Why should failure to expect or anticipate a stimulus lead to 'blindness'? In psychophysics, stimuli near threshold typically require a degree of familiarity to be consciously perceived. Perhaps the same is true for the supra-threshold stimuli used by Mack and Rock. This may reflect the fact that the human visual system uses natural and acquired 'priors' to solve the probabilistic problem of perception.
Consciousness Neglect and Inner Sense: A Reply to Lycan Summary Full Text
Charles Siewert
Lycan is concerned that I fail to explain my sense of 'phenomenal consciousness' sufficiently, and that I would unjustifiably criticize his "inner sense" theory for consciousness neglect. In response, I argue that my explanation of what I mean provides an adequate basis for disambiguating and answering Lycan's questions about the relation of phenomenal consciousness to "visual awareness" and the like. While I do not charge Lycan's theory with consciousness neglect, I do argue it employs a notion of non-conceptual higher order representation that has not been explained so as to make it clear we have warrant for applying it to our own experience.
Spontaneous Blindsight and Immediate Availability: A Reply to Carruthers Summary Full Text
Charles Siewert
Carruthers' "immediate availability" theory of consciousness is criticized on the grounds that it offers no reasonable alternative to asserting the metaphysical impossibility of spontaneous blindsight. In defense, Carruthers says he can admit a spontaneous blindsight that relies on unconscious behavioral cues, and deny only its possibility without such mechanisms. I argue: (1) This involves him in an unwarranted denial of the possibility that conscious visual discrimination could depend on behavioral cues. (2) We can conceive of blindsight without behavioral cuing; if we can, then we should not accept Carruthers' denial of its metaphysical possibility without good reason. To warrant this denial it is not enough to hold that the concept of consciousness employed is purely "recognitional," and thus of no relevance to modal claims. The concept is not this cognitively primitive.
Experience, Appearance, and Hidden Features Summary Full Text
D. Gene Witmer
Charles Siewert has given us an ingenious thought experiment involving a limited lack of conscious experience. The possibility of the described case is incompatible with a number of popular theories of consciousness. Siewert acknowledges, however, that this possibility is not a direct threat to "hidden feature" theories. I aim to do two things: first, strengthen his defense of the claim that the case is genuinely possible by considering and rejecting some further attempts to explain away our temptation to believe it possible; and second, to explore how a hidden feature approach could be developed and made plausible.
Phenomenal Consciousness and the First-Person Summary Full Text
Joseph Levine
Siewert's book revolves around three theses: that there is a distinctive style of epistemic warrant associated with the first-person point of view, that if we pay close attention to the deliverances of this first-person point of view, we will see that phenomenal consciousness is both real and yet neglected by many current theories that purport to explain consciousness, and that phenomenal consciousness is inherently intentional; one cannot divorce what phenomenal character presents to us from what it's like to have it. Among several points made on the relations among these three theses, it is argued that Siewert's argument for the distinctive status of first-person warrant does not provide him with the support necessary to employ that thesis in his defense of the significance of phenomenal consciousness.
First Person Warrant Comments On Siewert's The Significance Of Consciousness Summary Full Text
Fred Dretske
I agree with Siewert's claims about the special character and importance of phenomenal consciousness and the impossibility of providing a satisfactory functionalist reduction of it. I question, however, his dismissal of a representational (non-functionalist) theory of conscious (e.g., perceptual) experience. I also question his account of how conscious agents are supposed to know, or enjoy first person warrant, for their belief that they are conscious.
Phenomenal Consciousness and Intentionality Summary Full Text
Dana K. Nelkin
Siewert identifies a special kind of conscious experience, phenomenal consciousness, that is the sort of consciousness missing in a variety of cases of blindsight. He then argues that phenomenal consciousness has been neglected by students of consciousness when it should not be. According to Siewert, the neglect is based at least in part on two false assumptions: (i) phenomenal features are not intentional and (ii) phenomenal character is restricted to sensory experience. By identifying an essential tension in Siewert's characterization of phenomenal consciousness, I argue that his case for denying (i) and (ii) is at best incomplete.
Taking the First-Person Approach: Two Worries for Siewert's Sense of 'Consciousness' Summary Full Text
Robert W. Lurz
There are two things about Siewert's (1999) project that worry me. First, it's not clear to me that by taking Siewert's first-person approach, we can come to grasp what he means by 'consciousness'. And second, even if we are able to come to grasp what he means by this term, it's not clear to me that all the "consciousness-neglectful theoreticians of mind" - for example, Dennett, Rosenthal, and Tye - have failed to give an account of the property which Siewert's term picks out.
The Relationship Between Phenomenality and Intentionality Comments On Siewert's The Significance Of Consciousness Summary Full Text
Brie Gertler
Charles Siewert offers a persuasive argument to show that the presence of certain phenomenal features logically suffices for the presence of certain intentional ones. He claims that this shows that (some) phenomenal features are inherently intentional. I argue that he has not established the latter thesis, even if we grant the logical sufficiency claim. For he has not ruled out a rival alternative interpretation of the relevant data, namely, that (some) intentional features are inherently phenomenal.
Sensation's Ghost The Non-Sensory "Fringe" of Consciousness Summary Full Text
Bruce Mangan
Non-sensory experiences represent almost all context information in consciousness. They condition most aspects of conscious cognition including voluntary retrieval, perception, monitoring, problem solving, emotion, evaluation, meaning recognition. Many peculiar aspects of non-sensory qualia (e.g., they resist being 'grasped' by an act of attention) are explained as adaptations shaped by the cognitive functions they serve. The most important nonsensory experience is coherence or "rightness." Rightness represents degrees of context fit among contents in consciousness, and between conscious and non-conscious processes. Rightness (not familiarity) is the feeling-of-knowing in implicit cognition. The experience of rightness suggests that neural mechanisms "compute" signals indicating the global dynamics of network integration.
Consciousness, Value and Functionalism Summary Full Text
William Seager
Charles Siewert presents a series of thought experiment based arguments against a wide range of current theories of phenomenal consciousness which I believe achieves a considerable measure of success. One topic which I think gets insufficient attention is the discussion of functionalism and I address this here. Before that I consider the intriguing issue, which is seldom considered but figures prominently at the close of Siewert's book, of the value of consciousness. In particular, I broach the question of whether the value of consciousness has any impact on our theoretical understanding of consciousness.