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Consciousness Without Subjectivity. Pete Mandik Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy Coordinator, Cognitive Science Laboratory William Paterson University, New Jersey USA. My main points.

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consciousness without subjectivity

Consciousness Without Subjectivity

Pete Mandik

Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy

Coordinator, Cognitive Science Laboratory

William Paterson University, New Jersey USA

my main points
My main points
  • Conscious experience is not subjective in the way needed to sustain neo-dualism and the knowledge argument
  • Neo-dualists cannot embrace the possibility of “deviant knowledge”
slide3
Stage setting
  • The Psychosemantic Argument
  • The Factivity Argument
  • Conclusions
neo dualism
Neo-dualism
  • Qualia are non-physical, introspectible, epiphenomenal, ontological simples.
subjectivity
Subjectivity
  • The alleged subjectivity of qualia is identical to the one-way knowability of certain aspects of conscious experience.
  • The one-way of knowing is (or is at least partially) constituted by having had an experience relevantly similar to the target experience.
  • Ways excluded as ways of knowing subjective stuff are ways that would involve deducing the target facts from objective physical facts.
knowledge argument
Knowledge Argument
  • Premise One: If physicalism is true then Mary, knowing all physical facts, would also know what it’s like to see red, even though she’s never experienced red before (it will be useful, for brevity’s sake, to count hallucinations and afterimages of red as episodes of seeing red).
  • Premise Two: However, Mary must necessarily be surprised and learn something new upon seeing red for the first time; she can’t have pre-experiential knowledge of what it’s like to see red.
the no experience necessary attack on the knowledge argument
The no-experience-necessary attack on the knowledge argument
  • Premise Two (necessarily surprised Mary) needs an explanation to be true
  • The Experience Requirement is the only plausible candidate
  • But the Experience Requirement is false, because deviant knowledge is possible.
deviant knowledge
Deviant knowledge
  • Knowledge of what it’s like to have red experience without having ever had a red experience (perceptual or hallucinatory).
meet some deviants
Meet Some Deviants
  • SwampMary (Gabriel Love)
  • RoboMary (Dan Dennett)
  • HyperbolicMary (Pete Mandik)
the deviant knowledge defense of the knowledge argument
The deviant-knowledge defense of the knowledge argument
  • Torin Alter (forthcoming) “Phenomenal Knowledge Without Experience”:
    • The Experience Requirement is false but irrelevant
    • What is relevant is non-deducibility (the non-deducibility of the phenomenal from the physical)
    • Deviance is consistent with non-deducibility
two arguments
Two arguments
  • The Psychosemantic Argument
    • Since neo-dualism can give no psychosemantic account of deviance, Deviance defeats neo-dualism
  • The Factivity Argument
    • Via the factivity of knowledge, Deviance entails deducibility
slide12
Stage setting
  • The Psychosemantic Argument
  • The Factivity Argument
  • Conclusions
the psychosemantic argument
The Psychosemantic Argument
  • If deviance is consistent with neo-dualism, then some psychosemantic account of the deviant’s representation of WIL must be consistent with neo-dualism
  • The psychosemantic options are
  • QUOTATION
  • ACTUAL CAUSE
  • DESCRIPTIVE-ISOMORPHISM
  • NOMOLOGICAL

Deviance is inconsistent with QUOTATION and ACTUAL CAUSE

Neo-dualism is inconsistent with DESCRIPTIVE-ISOMORPHISM

Neo-dualism is inconsistent with NOMOLOGCIAL

neo dualism is inconsistent with nomologcial
Neo-dualism is inconsistent with NOMOLOGCIAL
  • Adapting Fodor’s Asymmetric Dependence theory: replace “cause” with “kause” where
    • C kauses E 
    • [(C supervenes on B) & (B causes E)]
  • So, R’s represent Q’s and not Z’s 

1. It’s a law that Q’s kause R’s

2. It’s a law that Z’s kause R’s

3. If it were not the case that (1), then not (2)

4. If it were not the case that (2) it would still be the case that (1)

neo dualism is inconsistent with nomologcial15
Neo-dualism is inconsistent with NOMOLOGCIAL

Problem(s):

If neo-dualism is true, then 1-4 are unknowable

  • It’s a law that Q’s kause R’s
  • It’s a law that Z’s kause R’s
  • If it were not the case that (1), then not (2) (in the nearest worlds where ~1, ~2)
  • If it were not the case that (2) it would still be the case that (1) (in the nearest worlds where ~2, still 1)

Chalmers (1996 pp. 247-273) sorts the nomological from the non-nomological-but-possible via questionable plausibility considerations

Mill’s methods are infinitely easier to apply to horses and cows than epiphenomenal qualia.

neo dualist objection
Neo-dualist objection:
  • The laws (and inter-law dependencies) don’t have to be knowable, just true.
  • More on NOMOLOGICAL later…
slide17
Stage setting
  • The Psychosemantic Argument
  • The Factivity Argument
  • Conclusions
the factivity argument
The Factivity Argument
  • D = (a physical description of a deviant)
  • Q = (a phenomenal description of what it’s like to see red)
  • KQ = It is known that Q
  • D  KQ (Explicability Premise)
  • KQ  Q (Factivity Premise)

 D  Q

 Deduciblity

neo dualist objection to explicability
Neo-dualist objection to Explicability
  • Torin Alter: Intuitively, pre-experience Mary cannot know the content of the Deviant’s state
  • Intuitively, pre-experience Mary cannot herself have a state with the same content as the Deviant’s state
however
However…
  • …this alleged asymmetry between Mary and the Deviant needs an explanation
  • Psychosemantics again:
  • Mary and the Deviant are equally incapable of satisfying QUOTATION and ACTUAL CAUSE
  • And the neo-dualist can’t say of either that they satisfy DESCRIPTIVE-ISOMORPHISM
how about nomological
How about NOMOLOGICAL?
  • Problem: if the Deviant is nomologically related to qualia she never had, nothing prevents Mary from piggy-backing on such nomological connections
  • Compare: a scientist incapable of perceiving particles may nonetheless be nomologically related to them indirectly via laws that relate percepts to instrument states and laws that relate instrument states to particles
slide22
Stage setting
  • The Psychosemantic Argument
  • The Factivity Argument
  • Conclusions
conclusions
Conclusions
  • The failure of subjectivity undermines neo-dualism and the knowledge argument
  • A psychosemantic grounding for deviant knowledge is required.
  • Neo-dualism is in no position to explicate the requisite grounding.