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  2015, Volume 44, Number 2
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2015, Volume 44, Number 2

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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

2015, Volume 44, Number 2

 

CONTENTS

 

EDITORIAL 

 

Igor Gasparov, Sergei Levin. Contemporary Analytic: Philosophy of Mind: Challenges and Solutions

In the paper, we argue that the paradigm of contemporary analytic philosophy of mind has three main theoretical elements: naturalism, respect to empirical data and the search for adequate explanation of subjective experience.

The paper begins with a brief overview of the history of the beginning of analytic philosophy of mind, with a description of its coming to Russia. Then every theoretical element of contemporary philosophy of mind is analyzed and their exemplification in the work of philosophers exposed. Naturalism is very popular in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and it has many varieties. In the article, we specify naturalism in strong and weak senses, methodological and ontological naturalism. The shortcomings for the naturalistic in the strong sense explanation of mind are considered.

Taking into account empirical data looks like a maximum consensus in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind. All major lines in philosophy of mind – materialism, functionalism, dualism – are trying to strengthen their arguments with a help from empirical data. Materialism tend to go by neuroscience due to its theoretical foundations. Debates around functionalism today include empirical data from sociology and psychology. Moreover even the proponents of dualism, usually perceived as anti-naturalists, tend to include neuro-cognitive research in their conceptual schema.

Explaining subjective experience may take radically different forms- from postulating extra ontology of sensation to its total elimination. Nevertheless the choosing the strategy of explanation nearly everyone in the field agree that there could not be any satisfactory explanation of mind unless we have and adequate explanation of subjective experience. In the end, we conclude that the welfare of the current paradigm of philosophy of mind depends on successful explanation of subjecting experience within the naturalistic framework and with a firm empirical data support.

In the end, we conclude that the welfare of the current paradigm of philosophy of mind depends on successful explanation of subjecting experience within the naturalistic framework and with a firm empirical data support.

Keywords: philosophy of mind, dualism, materialism, physicalism, functionalism, naturalism, empirism

 

 

PANEL DISCUSSION

 

Dmitry Ivanov. On the Way Towards Explaining Consciousness

The article deals with the problem of consciousness. It is the problem of providing naturalistic explanation of phenomenal aspects of our conscious experience. Today many philosophers believe that such explanation is impossible. According to them, we can’t reduce phenomenal qualities of conscious states, or qualia, to physical or functional properties of our body. The main idea of the paper is that to move forward towards explanation of consciousness we should answer the question whether qualia are intrinsic properties of conscious states instead of discussing whether they are reducible to physical or functional characteristics. If qualia are intrinsic properties then the inverted spectrum scenario must be conceivable. In the paper it is demonstrated that this scenario is inconceivable. We can demonstrate this inconceivability appealing to Wittgenstein’s critics of the theory of private language and using his arguments such as, for example, “beetle in the box” argument. If qualia are not intrinsic properties of conscious states then we must try to explain the phenomenal aspects of conscious experience using the concept of intentionality (or mental representation). Following Gilbert Harman, it is proposed to consider qualia as relational properties of represented objects and treat conscious states as representational states. This approach allows us to provide naturalistic explanation of consciousness. In conclusion it is argued that these representational states belong not to the brain alone but to the whole body that involved in complex relationship with environment.

Key words: philosophy of mind, the problem of consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, qualia, inverted spectrum argument, intentionality, mental representation, representationalism

 

Igor Gasparov. Qualia, Wittgenstein and "Inverted Spectrum"

The commentary considers an argument provided by Dmitry Ivanov in his paper “On the way towards explanation of consciousness” against the existence of qualia conceived as intrinsics phenomenal properties. It claims that both premisses of the target argument faces some considerable difficulties which don't permit to draw the conclusion the author is like to achieve. First, contrary to the author's assumption, the concept of conceivability used by L. Wittgenstein is different from this used in the contemporary metaphysics so that it is not plausible to conclude that the inverted spectrum is inconceivable simpliciter even if it would be unconceivable according to Wittgenstein's standards of conceivability. Second, the author didn't pay enough attention to the possibility of the “inverted spectrum” Wittgenstein granted in his late work on sense–data and private language. The commentary claims that since Wittgenstein himself admitted the possibility of the intrasubjective “inverted spectrum” it would be not perfectly safe to use his thoughts on the impossibility of the intersubjective “inverted spectrum” to conclude that the “inverted spectrum” is inconceivable simpliciter.

Keywords: Philosophy of mind, the inverted spectrum, conceivability, quality, Wittgenstein

 

Igor Michailov. A Long Way, Far Away…

In his article "On the way towards the explanation of consciousness", Dmitry Ivanov attempts to further progress on the road to non-Cartesian (reductionist) ontology of consciousness. He argues that the specific properties of consciousness are relational and not attributive, and therefore, they are intentional. The concept of intentionality presupposes the existence of intentional objects, which are declared the bearers of phenomenal properties by the author. At the same time, they are ontologically explicated as relations of the whole organism, not just the brain, to its environment.
In my comments, I undertake to show that each of the logical steps in the reasoning of the author lacks sufficient logical justification. Thus, I don't see any necessity for phenomenal properties being intentional, once they are relational. If we suggest the existence of intentional objects with phenomenal properties, then we must either identify the intentional objects with the correspondent physical ones and deduce thereby that the latter possess phenomenal properties too, or admit that they are different objects and we are, therefore, into the business of doubling the reality instead of our initial endeavor of reduction. I also argue that the author's general conclusion contradicts his original concept, as some phenomenal states of consciousness (e.g., bodily pain), being ontologically tied to the integrity of the body, become internal attributive properties, contrary to being previously conceived as the relational ones.

Keywords: mind, dualism, reductionism, qualia, phenomenal properties, intentionality, embodied cognition, ontology, representation

 

Sergei Levin. Phenomenal Qualities as Relational Properties

In this paper, I argue that quale is a misleading notion.

Immediate subjective experiences of some sense data are usually called phenomenal qualities or qualia. Traditionally phenomenal qualities are considered as one of the most difficult aspect of mind for naturalistic explanation.

Many philosophers are assume that full physical or functional description of human state does not give us univocal indication of her actual feelings at any particular moment. Qualia appear to be non-reductive to the system physical architecture or its functional abilities. Philosophers tend to declare that qualia are special non-physical property. Then what kind of properties? From metaphysical point of view, we can distinguish two kinds of properties: intrinsic and relational. An intrinsic property is a property that an object or a thing has of itself, independently of the world of other things. A relational property on the other hand exist only as one thing relate to something in the rest of the world. There are compelling arguments proving that qualia as intrinsic property of organism or brain are unimaginable. In the paper, I examine the issue of conceptual possibility of meaningful accounting of qualia as relational property of organism and the object it represents.

In the end of the article, I claim that description of phenomenal qualities, as relational properties are reducible to the description of intrinsic properties of organism, the object represented plus their natural relational properties. Since qualia tend to be seen as property and they are unimaginable as intrinsic property and their description to as relational properties meaningfully rephrased as the description of intrinsic property I conclude that the whole notion of qualia is misleading.

Keywords: Philosophy of mind, the inverted spectrum, conceivability, quality, Wittgenstein

 

Max Belyaev. What Do We Really Explain When We Try to Explain Consciousness?

Ivanov's aim in his article is to defend a naturalistical point of view in discussion about the nature of consciousness. The author used three philosophical presuppositions: (1) There are two kind of properties. We have some of our properties purely in virtue of the way we are (e.g., our mass). We have other properties in virtue of the way we interact with the world (e.g., our weight). The former are the intrinsic properties, the latter are the extrinsic properties; (2) The phenomenal properties are extrinsic; (3) The phenomenal properties must be ascribed to objects represented through the mind (e.g., material things, signs). The core of the article is Ivanov's argument for scientific explanation of the intentionality. This argument is strongly critisized in this paper. The point of disagreement is the following: it is impossible to find the objective explanation of consciousness since it is impossible to describe phenomenal attributes of objects as physical. The general conclusion is that if (A) to take a naturalistic and scientific explanation of consciousness as identical, and (B) to define the scientific explanation as the study the relationships between different kinds of objectively existing things, and (C) to agree that phenomenal states are relational properties of the body, there is no way to justify the physical nature of phenomenal states themselves, and therefore their objectivity. Impossibility of explaining in this case due to the fact that (1) the consciousness is not conceived at the same time objectively and subjectively existing, and (2) body do not possess intentionality.

Keywords: Consciousness, scientific explanation, qualia, intentionality, naturalism

 

Dmitry Ivanov. Reply to critics. A simple solution to the problem of consciousness does not exist

The article provides a reply to critics of On the Way Towards Explanation of Consciousness. The main idea of the paper is that there is no simple solution to the problem of consciousness. To move forward towards naturalistic explanation of consciousness we should examine many complicated arguments and thought experiments, carefully analyze a set of counter-intuitive approaches to this problem. The paper addresses the next issues raised by commentators: necessity and the conceivability arguments; conceivability of inverted spectrum scenario; ineffability of qualitative properties of conscious states; elimination of qualia; causal efficacy of qualia; possibility of naturalistic explanation of consciousness; the nature of intentionality; the prospects of representationalism. It defends the main thesis of On the Way Towards Explanation of Consciousness that to move forward towards explanation of consciousness we should answer the question whether qualia are intrinsic properties of conscious states instead of discussing whether they are reducible to physical or functional characteristics. It demonstrates that qualia are not intrinsic properties of conscious states. They are relational properties of represented objects. It is also argued that phenomenal aspects of conscious states should be explained with the concept of intentionality. The whole approach to the problem of qualia proposed in the article could be characterized as a mixture of representationalism and eliminativism.

Key words: philosophy of mind, the problem of consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, qualia, inverted spectrum argument, intentionality, mental representation, representationalism, eliminativism 

 

 

EPISTEMOLOGY AND COGNITION

 

Yuri Balashov. Experiencing the Present 

I had excruciating back pain last night. The next day I went to a spa and the pain disappeared. Psychologically speaking, my pain is gone. Where is it, speaking ontologically? A-theorists have an easy time here (more or less). But B-theorists who think that persons persist by enduring are in trouble. Why am I finding myself at this particular time, with this particular set of experiences, rather than at numerous other times, with different experiences, despite the fact that all times are on the same ontological footing and I am wholly present at all of them? I argue that the Puzzle of the Experience of the Present is a real challenge for B-theorists, and the best way to deal with it is to adopt the stage view of persistence.

Keywords: temporal experience, time, endurance, exdurance, present

 

Danil Razeev. On the Two Levels in the Epistemology of Consciousness 

The article considers different approaches to investigating consciousness. The author claims that consciousness study can be divided into two different epistemological levels. The first level of the epistemology of subjectivity was developed by philosophers and rational psychologists during the period of Early Modern Time, and can be divided into ph-epistemology, i.e. the epistemology of physical facts including our bodies, and m-epistemology, i.e. the epistemology of mental events.

In the XX century, by naturalizing mind and inventing new non-invasive tools in investigating our brain, the epistemology of subjectivity went to the next level. The author considers contemporary movements in philosophy of mind working on the second epistemological level: eliminative materialism, property dualism, functionalism and so-called mysterianism. The author suggests dividing the second level into r-epistemology, i.e. the reductive epistemology that reduces and identifies our consciousness activity with a set of neuronal, electro-chemical and physical processes in nature, and n-epistemology, i.e. the non-reductive epistemology that considers consciousness as an independent phenomenon in nature.

Keywords: epistemology of consciousness, mind-body problem, naturalism, reductive and non-reductive physicalism

 

Fedor Stanzhevskiy. Towards a Pragmatist and Interactive Paradigm of Studying Intersubjectivity  

Modern cognitive sciences are dominated by the individualist paradigm of studying intersubjectivity. According to this paradigm, the individual mind precedes intersubjective interrelationships. The individual is a fully constituted participant of interaction. Interaction itself is nothing more than a sum of internal models in the minds and brains of the participants and as such it has no autonomy in itself. Consciousness reflects “inside” the outward objective reality. The representative theory of mind is one of the foundations of internalism and individualism about mind. In case of perception, a representation is construed as an internal mental state which represents the outward world. In case of action, a representation is an internal mental state that causally precedes outward behavior. These ideas imply a split between the individual mind and the world; a similar split exists between the interacting minds.

The article postulates the necessity to develop a truly interactive model of intersubjectivity. Such a model implies that interaction has reality of its own apart from internal models “in the heads” of its participants. This model would imply that individual minds are results of interaction no less than they are prerequisites for it. Based on data from developmental psychology, the author argues that individual minds are constituted in intersubjective interaction. The first stage of this interaction is dyadic interrelation whereby an infant and her mother constitute one dynamical system. The second stage is the so called joint attention, which engenders the triangulation of self-consciousness, other-consciousness and objectivity. Then some experimental neurobiological data are presented. These data have been obtained in an attempt to provide an ecological approximation to real interactions. These data were obtained and interpreted from a non-individualistic standpoint, which shows that the internalist model of consciousness is not the only one to serve as an experimental and theoretical paradigm in studying intersubjectivity.

Keywords: intersubjectivity, interaction, representational theory of mind, internalism, joint attention, affordance, attribution of mental states, observation, participation

 

 

LANGUAGE AND MIND

 

Ines Hipolito. Mind and Brain States: Embedding the Mental in the Living Organism 

With neurons emergence, life alters itself in a remarkable way. This embodied neurons become carriers of signals, and processing devices: it begins an inexorable progression of functional complexity, from increasingly drawn behaviors to the mind and eventually to consciousness (Damásio, 2010). In which moment has awareness arisen in the history of life? The emergence of human consciousness is associated with evolutionary developments in brain, behavior and mind, which ultimately lead to the creation of culture, a radical novelty in natural history.

It is in this context of biological evolution of conscious brains that we raise the question: how conscious brains connect with each other? In order to answer it, I will explore how brain states and conscious states each participate in dynamic interactive processes involving the whole organism. I will argue that a possible way to overcome the hard problem of consciousness might be based on the notion of embodiment as a process of embedding the mental in the living organism relating dynamically with the environment through the sensory-motor experience. In order to do so, I will provide an assembly between an anthropologic perspective of consciousness with contemporary Philosophy of Mind, Interaction Theory (Gallagher 2001, 2008; Zahavi 2001, 2008; Fuchs and De Jaegher, 2009).

Keywords: Biological evolution; Consciousness; Interaction Theory

 

 

James Grindeland. Blockers: A Reply to Hawthorne 

Physicalism is roughly the thesis that everything is physical. The two most popular ways of formulating physicalism rigorously are the ways given by Frank Jackson and David Chalmers. The best objections, in turn, include John Hawthorne’s ‘blocker’ objections. Hawthorne argues that, if it is possible for there to be non-physical beings or properties that prevent certain mental phenomena from existing (i.e., non-physical blockers), Jackson’s and Chalmers’ formulations will be inadequate. Jackson’s formulation will be inadequate by virtue of not capturing all of the right physical dependence principles. Chalmers’ formulation will be inadequate in so far as, when modified to define ‘restricted physicalisms’—such as physicalism of the mental—the restricted formulations will not capture all of the right physical dependence principles. By contrast, I object to Hawthorne’s blocker arguments in three ways. First, I argue that non-physical blockers are impossible, in which case Hawthorne’s blocker arguments are misguided—worrying about something that isn’t possible anyway. Second, I argue that his critique of Chalmers’ formulation is unsound, as it falsely presupposes that restricted physicalisms require restricted formulations of physicalism. Third, I argue that Jackson’s and Chalmers’ formulations do capture all of the right physical dependence principles.

Keywords: blockers, physicalism

 

Mariya Sekatskaya. Why the Explanatory Gap Is Not a Decisive Argument against Naturalism 

in Philosophy of Mind

Conscious phenomena are subjective and are experienced from the first person perspective. Science aims for objectivity. Scientific theories deal with publicly observable phenomena, which are therefore said to be given from the “third person perspective”. In philosophy of mind there have been presented several arguments to the effect that objective scientific approach can’t explain consciousness. In this article I focus on the famous argument of “explanatory gap” by Joseph Levine. According to Levine, there is an unremovable gap in any scientific explanation of the phenomena of conscious experience, because no such theory can intelligibly correlate objective scientific concepts with subjective phenomenal states. I argue for two claims.

First, I want to show that “explanatory gap” can not be used as an independent argument against physicalism or functionalism such that it would give anti-physicalist or anti-functionalist thought experiments additional conceptual force. It can’t be used for this aim not because it is wrong, but because it is not an argument, strictly speaking, but rather a formal expression of basic anti-physicalist and anti-functionalist intuitions. 

Second, I want to demonstrate that “explanatory gap” is not specific for explaining consciousness. This kind of gap also exists in other theoretical explanations of concrete facts and is not considered problematic in those other cases. In order to show this I argue that physical theories of space can not explain why I am “here” and physical theories of time can not explain why I am “now”, but we do not think that they leave out something important for our understanding of space and time.

My conclusion is that the existence of “explanatory gap” is not a decisive argument in favor of anti-naturalism in philosophy of mind.

Key words: explanatory gap, qualia, consciousness, experience, physicalism, functionalism, philosophical zombies

 

Svetlana Nagumanova. Why Should We Care about the Explanatory Gap, and not the Hard Problem? 

It is a received view in philosophy of consciousness today to consider the Hard problem and the explanatory gap problem to be the same problem. The term “explanatory gap” has been introduced by J. Levine (1983). The term the “Hard problem” was introduced by D. Chalmers (1995). Chalmers has developed Levine’s idea of an explanatory gap into the Hard problem. In this article I show that there are two different problems here and give reasons why we should care about the explanatory gap rather than the Hard problem.

Behind the explanatory gap and the Hard problem as well stands a certain methodology of functional reduction called the “Canberra plan”. Both Levine and Chalmers accept functional model of reductive explanation. According to them, functional reduction model that works so well for almost all phenomena does not work in explaining consciousness. No cognitive function can grasp phenomenal consciousness which is not functional by definition.

However Canberra plan admits a compromise: to introduce replacement conceptions. I think that phenomenal representation is the best candidate for replacing pre-theoretic concept of consciousness.

There are two possible interpretations of a gap existing today in explaining consciousness: 1) suggested replacement concept leave out its qualitative and subjective aspects. 2) it is a principled gap by definition, that is the Hard problem. The last interpretation ignores the possibility of replacement of pre-theoretical concept with theoretical successor.

Keywords: Consciousness, Hard problem, explanatory gap, functional reduction, replacement, phenomenal representation 

 

 

VISTA

 

Diana Gasparyan. What Is It Like to be a Transcendentalist in the Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Mind?  

In this study I would like to demonstrate what is like to be a transcendentalist t in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind. At the same time I will explore in what sense transcendentalism is opposed to naturalism. Next, I will consider the examples of transcendentalist theories as the approaches in contemporary analytic philosophy, namely the theory of K. McGinn, J. Levin and N. Chomsky. In addition, I will show, what is the proportion the negative and positive components in these approaches, and will stipulate the role of the skeptical position in their theories.

Keywords: transcendentalism, analytical philosophy of mind, skepticism, K. McGinn, J. Levin, N. Chomsky

 

Dmitry Volkov. Does the Argument from Causal Trajectories Undermine Local Supervenience of Mental on Physical? 

Thesis of supervenience (TS) of mental on physical is a common ground for many contemporary analytic philosophers. The argument from the causal trajectories presented by V. Vasilyev (ACT 1) is challenging this principle, in particular the local supervenience. In this paper the author defends the thesis of supervenience. He demonstrates that if the argument from causal trajectories undermines the local supervenience, it also undermines the global supervenience of mental on physical. This is a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the initial argument. However this may sound inconclusive. The author presents a more reliable way to disapprove the argument – proof by contradiction. In this paper he suggest another argument (ACT 2) which is analogous the ACT 1, but which leads to obviously false conclusions. If two arguments are analogous, then both arguments must be false.

The author of this paper considers possible objections. The first objection has to do with qualia. One may suggest that two arguments are different because of the lack of qualia in the ACT 2. However it is demonstrated that qualia plays no significant role in the first argument as well. So it doesn’t make a relevant difference. The second objection is the superficial absurdity of the consequences of TS suggested by Vasilyev, namely the thought experiment with the two identical persons with different autobiographical causal trajectories. This paradox is supposed to demonstrate the inconsistency of TS. However it is shown in the paper that there are no inconsistencies and the thought experiment doesn’t demonstrate that the TS is false. Thus thesis for supervenience is defended.

Keywords: Supervenience, mind-body problem, interactionism, mental and physical properties, argument from causal trajectories

 

 

CASE-STUDIES – SCIENCE STUDIES

 

Rene Jagnow. Can We See Natural Kind Properties?

Which properties can we visually experience? Some authors hold that we can experience only low-level properties such as color, illumination, shape, spatial location, and motion. Others believe that we can also experience high-level properties, such as being a dogor being a pine tree. On the basis of her method of phenomenal contrast, Susanna Siegel has recently defended the latter view. One of her central claims is that we can best account for certain phenomenal contrasts if we assume that we can visually experience natural kind properties. In this paper, I argue that certain kinds of low-level properties, namely shape-gestalt properties, can explain these phenomenal contrasts just as well as high-level properties. If successful, this is a modest, but nevertheless significant result. Even though it does not prove the falsity of Siegel’s proposal, it nevertheless secures the existence of a plausible alternative.

Keywords: Perceptual experience, sensory phenomenology, cognitive phenomenology, perceptual contents

 

Jose Eduardo Porcher. Can Anosognosia Vindicate Traditionalism about Self-Deception?

The traditional conception of self-deception takes it for an intrapersonal form of interpersonal deception. However, since the same subject is at the same time deceiver and deceived, this means attributing the agent a pair of contradictory beliefs. In the course of defending a deflationary conception of self-deception, Mele [1997] has challenged traditionalists to present convincing evidence that there are cases of self-deception in which what he calls the dual belief-requirement is satisfied. Levy [2009] has responded to this challenge affirming that there is at least one real cases of self-deception that meets this requirement, namely, that of anosognosia. In this family of conditions, the patient apparently believes that there is nothing wrong with her while, at the same time, providing behavioral cues that indicate that the patient is somehow aware of his disease. If Levy is right, then traditionalism about self-deception could be vindicated, after having been widely abandoned due to its need to postulate exotic mental processes in order to make sense of the attribution of contradictory beliefs. In this paper, I assess whether Levy’s response to Mele’s challenge is successful by analyzing his interpretation of the empirical evidence to which he appeals. Finally, I attack the cogency of the underlying commitments about the nature of folk psychology to which one is required to defer in order to draw from conflicting evidence the attribution of contradictory beliefs.

Keywords: Self-deception. Anosognosia. Belief. Contradictory beliefs. Folk psychology

 

 

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES

 

Bin Zhao. Phenomenal Character, Representational Content, and the Internal Correlation of Experience: Arguments Against Tracking Representationalism

Tracking representationalism is the theory that phenomenal consciousness is a matter of tracking physical properties in an appropriate way. This theory holds that phenomenal character can be explained in terms of representational content, and it also entails that there is unlikely to be a strong correlation between phenomenal character and neural states. However, the empirical evidence shows that both claims cannot be true. So, tracking representationalism is wrong. Its fault is due to ignoring the internal correlation of experience, the existence of which shows that phenomenal character is shaped by neural states to a large extent, so it cannot be wholly explained by representational content.

Keywords: tracking representationalism; phenomenal character; representational content; the internal correlation of experience

 

 

ARCHIVE

 

Andrey Veretennikov. Alexander Bain and his Philosophical Views

 

Alexander Bain. Definition and Problems of Consciousness

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Igor Gasparov. Сontemporary Dualism. An Attempt at Defense