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Balog, Katalin, , . Conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem
1999, Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called ‘the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As he puts it, ‘zombies’ are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid.

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Drayson, Zoe, , . The Philosophy of Phenomenal Consciousness
2015, In The Constitution of Phenomenal Consciousness. Amsterdam: pp. 273-292.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: A primer on the philosophical issues relating to phenomenal consciousness, part of a collection of new papers by scientists and philosophers on the constitution of consciousness.

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Gertler, Brie, , . The relationship between phenomenality and intentionality: Comments on Siewert’s The Significance of Consciousness
2001, PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 7.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Publisher’s Note: 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 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 intentional features are inherently phenomenal

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Hurley, Susan, , . Consciousness in Action
1998, Harvard University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: In this important book, Susan Hurley sheds new light on consciousness by examining its relationships to action from various angles. She assesses the role of agency in the unity of a conscious perspective, and argues that perception and action are more deeply interdependent than we usually assume. A standard view conceives perception as input from world to mind and action as output from mind to world, with the serious business of thought in between. Hurley criticizes this picture, and considers how the interdependence of perceptual experience and agency at the personal level (of mental contents and norms) may emerge from the subpersonal level (of underlying causal processes and complex dynamic feedback systems). Her two-level view has wide implications, for topics that include self-consciousness, the modularity of mind, and the relations of mind to world. The self no longer lurks hidden somewhere between perceptual input and behavioral output, but reappears out in the open, embodied and embedded in its environment.

Hurley traces these themes from Kantian and Wittgensteinian arguments through to intriguing recent work in neuropsychology and in dynamic systems approaches to the mind, providing a bridge from mainstream philosophy to work in other disciplines. Consciousness in Action is unique in the range of philosophical and scientific work it draws on, and in the deep criticism it offers of centuries-old habits of thought.

Comment: This book provides an interesting challenge to some standard assumptions about consciousness, action, and perception. The chapters are relatively self-contained, and can be read separately. The appendix of argument outlines is helpful as an aid to comprehension, and could serve as a valuable teaching tool in its own right.

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Irvine, Elizabeth, , . Explaining What?
2014, Topoi 36 (1):95-106.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The Hard Problem is surrounded by a vast literature, to which it is increasingly hard to contribute to in any meaningful way. Accordingly, the strategy here is not to offer any new metaphysical or ‘in principle’ arguments in favour of the success of materialism, but to assume a Type Q approach and look to contemporary consciousness science to see how the concept of consciousness fares there, and what kind of explanations we can hope to offer of it. It is suggested that while they will be materialist explanations, they will not be of the form that many scientists and philosophers would have us believe, but instead prompt a very different set of expectations and research projects.

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Jorati, Julia, , . Gottfried Leibniz: Philosophy of Mind
2014, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath: he made substantial contributions to a host of different fields such as mathematics, law, physics, theology, and most subfields of philosophy. Within the philosophy of mind, his chief innovations include his rejection of the Cartesian doctrines that all mental states are conscious and that non-human animals lack souls as well as sensation. Leibniz’s belief that non-rational animals have souls and feelings prompted him to reflect much more thoroughly than many of his predecessors on the mental capacities that distinguish human beings from lower animals. Relatedly, the acknowledgment of unconscious mental representations and motivations enabled Leibniz to provide a far more sophisticated account of human psychology. It also led Leibniz to hold that perception—rather than consciousness, as Cartesians assume—is the distinguishing mark of mentality.

Comment: Overview over Leibniz’s philosophy of mind; can be used for a survey course on early modern philosophy or for a more specialized course on the history of the philosophy of mind.

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Kind, Amy, , . Pessimism About Russellian Monism
2015, Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), Consciousness in the Physical World: Perspectives on Russellian Monism: 401-421
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: From the perspective of many philosophers of mind in these early years of the 21st Century, the debate between dualism and physicalism has seemed to have stalled, if not to have come to a complete standstill. There seems to be no way to settle the basic clash of intuitions that underlies it. Recently however, a growing number of proponents of Russellian monism have suggested that their view promises to show us a new way forward. Insofar as Russellian monism might allow us to break out of the current gridlock, it’s no wonder that it’s become ‘hot stuff.’ To my mind, however, the excitement about Russellian monism is misplaced. Though some version of Russellian monism might well be true, I do not believe that it enables us to break free of the dualism/physicalism divide. As I will argue, once we properly understand what’s required to flesh out an adequate monistic story, we will see that we are in an important way right back where we started.

Comment: This text is a criticism of the view known as Russellian Monism. The text highlights that the physicalism/dualism dichotomy remains even in this ‘alternative’ view. The text is intermediate because it requires students to understand the complexity of the debate leading up to this paper. The paper itself is very accessible.

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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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Levin, Janet, , . Could love be like a heatwave?: Physicalism and the subjective character of experience
1986, Philosophical Studies 49 (March):245-61.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: We expect there to be a connection between experience and knowledge in many of our ordinary epistemic judgments; this expectation is by no means confined to our knowledge of mental states. Thus, the appeal to a special necessary connection between experience and knowledge of mental states ignores the generality of this phenomenon. More important, however, it takes this phenomenon too seriously: our unreflective expectations about the previous experiences of a person who has knowledge, as I have argued, have little to do with whether these experiences are necessary for knowledge of that sort. Thus, they provide no threat to physicalism, or any other objective theory of mental states. To be sure, it is not hard to see why reductionist theses in the philosophy of mind raise suspicion, as they have often ignored the complexity of our mental lives. In this case, however, the suspicion leads to unwarranted fears about Procrusteans under the bed: it is not the insufficiencies of objectivity, but the vestiges of Empiricism, that suggest that these theories may be inadequate for expressing all the truth about experience that there is.

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Mørch, Hedda Hassel, , . Does Dispositionalism Entail Panpsychism?
2018, Topoi 1(16)
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: According to recent arguments for panpsychism, all (or most) physical properties are dispositional, dispositions require categorical grounds, and the only categorical properties we know are phenomenal properties. Therefore, phenomenal properties can be posited as the categorical grounds of all (or most) physical properties—in order to solve the mind–body problem and/or in order avoid noumenalism about the grounds of the physical world. One challenge to this case comes from dispositionalism, which agrees that all physical properties are dispositional, but denies that dispositions require categorical grounds. In this paper, I propose that this challenge can be met by the claim that the only (fundamentally) dispositional properties we know are phenomenal properties, in particular, phenomenal properties associated with agency, intention and/or motivation. Versions of this claim have been common in the history of philosophy, and have also been supported by a number of contemporary dispositionalists (and other realists about causal powers). I will defend a new and updated version of it. Combined with other premises from the original case for panpsychism—which are not affected by the challenge from dispositionalism—it forms an argument that dispositionalism entails panpsychism.

Comment: This paper argues that dispositional essentialism about properties entails a form of panpsychism because, as a matter of fact, the only dispositional properties we know of are phenomenal properties. This paper is a development of an early argument from Galen Strawson, but it is also entirely novel and intersects with the lively debate about Russellian Monsim. This paper is harder than an introductory text, but students who already understand the debate will not find this text difficult. Students will only need to be familiar with debates about dispositions and powerful properties.

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Nagasawa, Yujin, , . God and Phenomenal Consciousness: A Novel Approach to Knowledge Arguments
2008, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Tyron Goldschmidt

Publisher’s Note: In God and Phenomenal Consciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides objections to them. He then presents a parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenal consciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel objections to Jackson’s and Nagel’s arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls ‘non-theoretical physicalism’. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences.

Comment: Fitting for courses on Philosophy of Religion or Philosophy of Mind
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Nida-Rumelin, Martine, , . Qualia: The Knowledge Argument
2002, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: The knowledge argument aims to establish that conscious experience involves non-physical properties. It rests on the idea that someone who has complete physical knowledge about another conscious being might yet lack knowledge about how it feels to have the experiences of that being. It is one of the most discussed arguments against physicalism.

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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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Patricia Churchland, , . The Hornswoggle Problem
1996, Journal of Consciousness Studies (3):5-6: 402-408.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: Beginning with Thomas Nagel, various philosophers have proposed setting conscious experience apart from all other problems of the mind as ‘the most difficult problem-. When critically examined, the basis for this proposal reveals itself to be unconvincing and counter-productive. Use of our current ignorance as a premise to determine what we can never discover is one common logical flaw. Use of ‘I-cannot-imagine- arguments is a related flaw. When not much is known about a domain of phenomena, our inability to imagine a mechanism is a rather uninteresting psychological fact about us, not an interesting metaphysical fact about the world. Rather than worrying too much about the meta-problem of whether or not consciousness is uniquely hard, I propose we get on with the task of seeing how far we get when we address neurobiologically the problems of mental phenomena.

Comment: This paper can be best used to frame the contemporary debate over the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. The paper neatly expresses the relevant ideas and criticisms in a brief, easy manner. The paper is also a prime example of an eliminativist response to the hard problem. This paper is highly accessible for students.

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