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Kind, Amy, , . Transparency and Representationalist Theories of Consciousness
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (10):902-913.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Over the past few decades, as philosophers of mind have begun to rethink the sharp divide that was traditionally drawn between the phenomenal character of an experience (what it’s like to have that experience) and its intentional content (what it represents), representationalist theories of consciousness have become increasingly popular. On this view, phenomenal character is reduced to intentional content. This article explores a key motivation for this theory, namely, considerations of experiential transparency. Experience is said to be transparent in that we ‘look right through it’ to the objects of that experience, and this is supposed to support the representationalist claim that there are no intrinsic aspects of our experience.

Comment: Useful survey on ‘transparency’ arguments for representationalism/intentionalism
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Kind, Amy, , . What’s so transparent about transparency?
2003, Philosophical Studies 115 (3):225-244.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: Intuitions about the transparency of experience have recently begun to play a key role in the debate about qualia. Specifically, such intuitions have been used by representationalists to support their view that the phenomenal character of our experience can be wholly explained in terms of its intentional content.[i] But what exactly does it mean to say that experience is transparent? In my view, recent discussions of transparency leave matters considerably murkier than one would like. As I will suggest, there is reason to believe that experience is not transparent in the way that representationalism requires. Although there is a sense in which experience can be said to be transparent, transparency in this sense does not give us any particular motivation for representationalism – or at least, not the pure or strong representationalism that it is usually invoked to support

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Macpherson, Fiona, , . Ambiguous Figures and the Content of Experience
2006, Noûs 40 (1):82-117
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counterexample to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judgements to account for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position.

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Macpherson, Fiona, , . Novel Colours and the Content of Experience
2003, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 84 (2003), 43-66.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: I propose a counterexample to naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. The counterexample is generated by experiences of novel colours reported by Crane and Piantanida. I consider various replies that a representationalist might make, including whether novel colours could be possible colours of objects and whether one can account for novel colours as one would account for binary colours or colour mixtures. I argue that none of these strategies is successful and therefore that one cannot fully explain the nature of the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences using a naturalistic conception of representation

Comment: Further reading, raises an interesting objection to intentionalism/representationalism
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Orlandi, Nicoletta, , . Ambiguous Figures and Representationalism
2011, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 10 (2011), 307-323
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: Ambiguous figures pose a problem for representationalists, particularly for representationalists who believe that the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual (MacPherson in Nous 40(1):82–117, 2006). This is because, in viewing ambiguous figures, subjects have perceptual experiences that differ in phenomenal properties without differing in non-conceptual content. In this paper, I argue that ambiguous figures pose no problem for non-conceptual representationalists. I argue that aspect shifts do not presuppose or require the possession of sophisticated conceptual resources and that, although viewing ambiguous figures often causes a change in phenomenal properties, this change is accompanied by a change in non-conceptual content. I illustrate the case by considering specific examples.

Comment: Specialised further reading on nonconceptual content and representationalism.
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Pacherie, Elisabeth, , . Qualia and representations
1999, In Denis Fisette (ed.), Consciousness and Intentionality: Models and Modalities of Attribution. Springer. pp. 119–144.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Dretske has recently offered a representational theory of perceptual experience – considered as paradigmatic of the qualitative and phenomenal aspects of our mental life. This theory belongs, as do his previous works, to a naturalistic approach to mental representation

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Raffman, Diana, , . From the Looks of Things: The Explanatory Failure of Representationalism
2008, In Edmond L. Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. MIT Press. pp. 325.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Representationalist solutions to the qualia problem are motivated by two fundamental ideas: first, that having an experience consists in tokening a mental representation; second, that all one is aware of in having an experience is the intentional content of that representation. In particular, one is not aware of any intrinsic features of the representational vehicle itself. For example, when you visually experience a red object, you are aware only of the redness of the object, not any redness or red quale of your experience. You are aware of outer red without being aware of inner red. According to the representationalist, the phenomenal character of your experience is just (an element of) the intentional content of your representation. In effect, inner red just is outer red. For her part, the defender of qualia, or anyway the defender of qualia who will figure in the present discussion, grants that experiencing a red object involves mentally representing it, and that when you have such an experience you are aware of its intentional content. But she denies that that intentional content exhausts your awareness. The defender of qualia (call her ‘Quale’) contends that your mental vehicle is itself mentally or phenomenally red, and that in addition to the outer redness of the object, you are aware of this inner redness, the intrinsic phenomenal character of your representational vehicle. Thus, contra the representationalist (call him ‘Rep’), you are not aware of the content of your representation without being aware of its intrinsic features

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