Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Could consciousness be a brain process?

Why is consciousness so perplexing to so many? Perhaps, owing to our being conscious, we regard ourselves as experts on the matter, and it seems to us blindingly obvious that consciousness could not possibly be a brain state or process. We have a front-row seat, an unmediated first-hand awareness of what conscious experiences are like, and we know well-enough what brain processes are like. The two could not be more different.In the hands of philosophers, this sentiment is transmuted into the doctrine that consciousness cannot be identified with, or ‘reduced to’, anything physical. The reduction in question must be a relation among explanations, or predicates, not as it is sometimes cast, a relation among properties. What would it be to reduce something to something else?  If the As are not reducible to the Bs, explanations of the As could not be derived from explanations of the Bs, nor could A-terms be analysed or paraphrased in a B-vocabulary.In the hands of philosophers, [More]

New Issues in Epistemological Disjunctivism

2020.03.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Casey Doyle, Joseph Milburn, Duncan Pritchard (eds.), New Issues in Epistemological Disjunctivism, Routledge, 2019, 396pp., $150.00, ISBN 9781138094093. Reviewed by Kegan J. Shaw, Anderson University (SC) Epistemological disjunctivism is a theory of perceptual knowledge -- or least it is usually advanced and discussed in connection with perceptual knowledge. While there isn't one way of stating the view simply, it's safe to say that if it's true then perceptual knowledge can enjoy rational grounds that are both factive and reflectively accessible to the subject. (cf. Pritchard 2012). This book is the first volume dedicated exclusively to investigation of this idea. Here Casey Doyle, Joe Millburn, and Duncan Pritchard have collected seventeen very nice essays that, in my view, not only reflect well the cutting edge but also serve to advance the discussion in interesting and productive directions. The volume will certainly be of interest to those doing research... Read [More]

There's more to matter than what it does

It is broadly agreed that consciousness poses a profound challenge to contemporary science. Will neuroscience one day crack it? The problem is that consciousness is unobservable – you can’t look inside someone’s head and see their feelings and experiences – and this severely constrains our capacity to investigate it experimentally.Because we can’t observe consciousness, our only way of gathering data about it is by relying on people’s testimony regarding their private, inner feelings. If we scan their brains at the same time, we can map correlations between various kinds of brain activity and various experiences. This is important data but it’s not itself a theory of consciousness. What we ultimately want from a theory of consciousness is an explanation of those correlations. Why is it that certain kinds of brain activity are correlated with certain kinds of experience?Materialists hope to account for these correlations by explaining experiences in terms of brain activity. The trouble [More]

What is Race? Four Philosophical Views

2020.03.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Joshua Glasgow, Sally Haslanger, Chike Jeffers, and Quayshawn Spencer, What is Race? Four Philosophical Views, Oxford University Press, 2019, 283pp., $35.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780190610180. Reviewed by Michael O. Hardimon, University of California San Diego In his provocative 2006 essay, “‘Race’: Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic,” Ron Mallon argues that much of the apparent metaphysical debate over race is an illusion.1 There is widespread agreement that racialist race (race conceived of in essentialist and hierarchical terms) is unreal. The remaining metaphysical debate (over whether race understood in a non-racialist way is real) is mostly illusory, since the parties to the dispute operate with different understandings of the word ‘race’ and different theories of meaning. The real substantive philosophical dispute is normative; it concerns what we want our racial concepts, terms, and practices to do. The welcome appearance of this book suggests that Mallon may have overlooked the possibility that the proper understanding of the terms... Read [More]

Some of our tools: “awl”

The names of weapons, tools, and all kinds of appurtenances provide a rare insight into the history of civilization. Soldiers and journeymen travel from land to land, and the names of their instruments, whether murderous or peaceful, become so called migratory words (Wanderwörter, as they are called in German: words errant, as it were). I […] The post Some of our tools: “awl” appeared first on [More]