Vol 9 (2003)

Table of Contents


Neither HOT nor COLD An Alternative Account of Consciousness Summary Full Text
Robert W. Lurz
I identify three dominant positions in the philosophy of mind on the nature and distribution of consciousness: the exclusive HOT position, the inclusive HOT position, and the COLD position. I argue that each of these positions has its own rather counterintuitive consequence and, as a result, is not entirely satisfying. To avoid these consequences, I argue, a common assumption of the dominant positions ought to be rejected -- namely, that to be conscious of one's mental states is to be conscious that one has them. I go on to show that once this assumption is rejected, an alternative account of consciousness -- the SO account -- emerges. I develop the SO account in the latter half of the paper, showing how it offers a plausible explanation of the difference between conscious and unconscious mental states.
Attention and Blind-Spot Phenomenology Summary Full Text
Liang Lou, Jing Chen
The reliability of visual filling-in at the blind spot and how it is influenced by the distribution of spatial attention in and around the blind spot were studied. Our data suggest that visual filling-in at the blind spot is 1) less reliable than it has been assumed, and 2) easier under diffused attention around the blind spot than under focal attention restricted in the blind spot. These findings put important constraints on understanding the filling-in in terms of its neural substantiation. Recent neurophysiological studies suggest that V1 neurons corresponding to the blind spot in retinotopic map extend their receptive fields far beyond the blind spot and are not silent during the filling-in (Komatsu, Kinoshita, and Murakami, 2000). For those neurons to subserve filling-in, it may be crucially important for top-down attention to match their receptive fields.
Eliminativism, First-Person Knowledge and Phenomenal Intentionality A Reply to Levine Summary Full Text
Charles Siewert
Levine suggests the following criticisms of my book. First, the absence of a positive account of first-person knowledge in it makes it vulnerable to eliminativist refutation. Second, it is a relative strength of the higher order representation accounts of consciousness I reject that they offer (as my account does not) explanations of the subjectivity of conscious states and their special availability to first-person knowledge. Further, the close connection I draw between the phenomenal character of experience and intentionality is unwarranted in the case of both color perception and conceptual thought. In response to Levine's critique, I argue that the eliminativist can be rebutted and higher-order representation theories found wanting, even without offering a positive account of first-person knowledge. Also, I note that I actually have begun to offer an account of this based on my conception of phenomenal consciousness. Finally, it will be seen that Levine's concerns do not undermine my views on color experience, conscious thought, and intentionality, once their justification and character are made clear.
Phenomenal Projection Summary Full Text
Zoltán Jakab
In this paper I shall defend a projectivist view of sensory experience. The case I shall focus on is that of color experience. Projectivism has recently been criticized by some authors who claim that it is unintelligible, or at least implausible, and that it makes a severe category mistake. I shall argue that despite some prima facie impressions of implausibility, projectivism can be made intelligible, and plausible, if its details are spelled out in a reasonable way. In addition, projectivism is ubiquitous in human psychology, and certain cases of projection are reasonably viewed as making a category mistake. Viewed from this perspective, sensory projection is just one instance of projectivism, brought about by low-level perceptual processing. Whether sensory projection is one that makes a category mistake is not obvious. However, even if it does, this is perfectly compatible with the evolutionary advantage of sensation and perception.
The Introspectibility Thesis Summary Full Text
Cody S. Gilmore
According to what Barry Dainton calls the 'Strong Introspectibility thesis', it is a necessary truth that mental states S and S* are co-conscious (experienced together) if and only if they are 'jointly introspectible', i.e., if and only if it is possible for there to be some single state of introspective awareness that represents both S and S*. Dainton offers two arguments for the conclusion that joint introspectibility is unnecessary for co-consciousness. In these comments I attempt to show, first, that Dainton's arguments fail, and, second, that joint introspectibility is actually insufficient for co-consciousness. (As to whether it is also unnecessary, I take no stance.)
First-Person Reflection and Hidden Physical Features: A Reply to Witmer Summary Full Text
Charles Siewert
My response to Witmer comes in three sections: In the first I address concerns about my book's blindsight thought-experiment, remarking specifically on the role imagination plays in it, and my grounds for thinking (in the face of Witmer's doubts) that a first-person approach is valuable here. In Section Two I consider the relation of the thought-experiment to theses regarding possibility and necessity, and Witmer's discussion of ways of arguing for the impossibility of "Belinda-style" blindsight, despite its apparent conceivability. Finally, in Section Three, I consider Witmer's suggestion that we build on my discussion of blindsight to support the thesis that consciousness is a hidden physical feature.
The Inadequacy of Materialistic Explanation A Review of Joseph Levine's Purple Haze Summary Full Text
Mark Bradley
Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness, by Joseph Levine, is reviewed. The position that Levine takes in the current philosophical debate about consciousness is identified and the general approach of the essay outlined. I focus on two of the more important issues in the book - the conceivability argument against materialism, and the explanatory gap argument against dualism - and argue that Levine's argument against the former is unconvincing and his diagnosis of the source of the latter leads him into problems. I suggest a more promising route.
The Contents of Phenomenal Consciousness One Relation to Rule Them All and in the Unity Bind Them Summary Full Text
Antti Revonsuo
Stream of Consciousness is a detailed and insightful analysis of the nature of phenomenal consciousness, especially its unity at a time and continuity over stretches of time. I find Dainton's approach to phenomenal consciousness in many ways sound but I also point out one major source of disgreement between us. Dainton believes that to explain phenomenal unity and continuity, no reference to anything outside experience is required. Thus, he postulates a fundamental experiential relation called co-consciousness which is supposed to do all the explanatory work. On the contrary, I hold that to truly explain features of consciousness such as phenomenal unity and continuity, reference to mechanisms outside the phenomenal realm are necessary.
A Scientist's Vision Of Art A Review of Margaret Livingstone's Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing Summary Full Text
Amy Ione
Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing by Margaret Livingstone is reviewed. Livingstone's analysis balances genes and experiences in proposing explanations that illustrate commonalities between art and visual perception. The book contributes to the literature that applies visual perception research to artwork, although it fails to probe where artistic visual processing might differ from visual processing per se.
Sync-Ing in the Stream of Experience Time-Consciousness in Broad, Husserl, and Dainton Summary Full Text
Shaun Gallagher
By examining Dainton's account of the temporality of consciousness in the context of long-running debates about the specious present and time consciousness in both the Jamesian and the phenomenological traditions, I raise critical objections to his overlap model. Dainton's interpretations of Broad and Husserl are both insightful and problematic. In addition, there are unresolved problems in Dainton's own analysis of conscious experience. These problems involve ongoing content, lingering content, and a lack of phenomenological clarity concerning the central concept of overlapping experiences.
Looking and Seeing with the Mind’s I, and its Brain A Review of Visual attention and cortical circuits by Braun, J., Koch, C. and Davis, J.L. (Eds.) Summary Full Text
Tony Dickinson
Contributions to this edited volume argue for the existence of top-down, context- and task-dependant modulating mechanisms of attention occurring in the mammalian brain. Such positions support the view that areas of the brain traditionally thought to be involved in relatively 'late' stages of visual processing activity (typically frontal cortex) can, and do affect the response properties of 'early' visual processing neurons, including primary visual cortex (V1). Neural circuitries concerned with the processing of visual information should now be viewed less as involving unidirectional mappings from sensory input to motor output for the purposes of planning visually-guided movements. Instead, the attentional processes required to support the co-ordination of sensorimotor transformation functions involve a variety of widely distributed parallel and reciprocally connected neural pathways, including the visual, parietal and frontal cortex.
Phenomenal Space and the Unity of Conscious Experience Summary Full Text
Douglas B. Meehan
One's contemporaneous conscious mental states seem bound in a single, unified experience. Dainton argues, against what he calls the S-Thesis, that we cannot explain such co-consciousness in terms of states' being located in a single phenomenal space, a functional space posited to explain our ability to locate ourselves relative to perceived stimuli. But Dainton's argument rests on a conflation of egocentric and allocentric self-localizing, and thus fails to undermine the S-Thesis. Nevertheless, experiments on visual neglect (Bertelson et al., 2000) suggest one can have unconscious mental states that are located in the same phenomenal field, so the S-Thesis fails after all. I examine a modified version of the S-Thesis according to which mental states are co-conscious when one is aware of them via a higher-order sensation that represents them as located in the same phenomenal field. But among other problems, this view fails to explain the co-consciousness of intentional states, which aren't located in phenomenal fields. Finally, I argue that a higher-order-thought model of consciousness (e.g., Rosenthal, 1997, forthcoming) best explains the apparent unity of experience in terms of one's tacit assumption that all the first-person thoughts in virtue of which one is conscious of one's mental states refer to the same individual.
Is Mental Life Possible Without the Will? A Review of Daniel M. Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will Summary Full Text
Bruce Bridgeman
Though we share an irresistible introspection that we possess a will governing our behavior and not controlled by outside forces or previous states, empirical research shows that such a will does not exist. Rather, actions are triggered unconsciously, and a memory-related part of the brain produces a narrative to explain the behavior after the fact.