HOT (still) Implies PAM

In the comments on There’s Somethign About Jerry Josh and I have been having a nice discussion fo Rosenthal’s objection to my HOT implies PAM argument. The main challenge of my argument is a request to know what the difference is between conscious pains and conscious beliefs that results in there being something that it is like for the creature who has one but not when it has the other according to the higher-order theory. Whatever is offered it must be something that does not render the nature of qualitative properties mysterious and unexplainable. Josh’s suggestion is that the difference lies in the kind of property that one is attributing to oneself. As he says,

in the sensory [case], I attribute a state with such-and-such similarities and differences, arranged in such-and-such a mental space (space*) centered on me. The attribution of sensory qualities and mental spatial qualites, centered on the subject, makes it seem to me that I am in a sensory state. With intentional states, I do not attribute to myself this kind of thing; rather, I attribute to myself the property of believing that such-and-such is the case. No similarities and differences, no “egocentric” spatial stuff. So it will seem very different to me.

In my response I noted that I can agree that it will seem different to me, but it still remains a mystery as to how we get from ‘it’s different’ to ‘there is nothing that it’s like for me to have a belief’.

But as I was thinking about this I seddenly realized that this line of response fails for another reason (or, at least I can illustrate the reason on another way). So, mental states fall in four rough kinds for Rosenthal. There are sensations, perceptions (sensations+thought), thoughts (i.e. propositional attitudes), and emotions. The emotions, according to Rosenthal, do have intentional content, and so are propositional,

But it is equally plain[, he continues,] that the emotions are not just special cases of propositional attitudes, but are a distinctive type of mental state. What is it, then, that distinguishes the emotions fromt he cognitive states? Part of teh answer doubtless lies with the phenomenal feel that emotions exhibit. There is normally a particular way one feels when one is angry, joyful, jeleous, afraid, or sad, whereas the propsotional attitudes have no such phenomenal aspect. (C&M p 306)

Now when I am unconsciously angry there will be nothing that it is like for me to be angry, just like there will benothing that it is like for me to have an unconscious pain. When I am consciously angry I have a higher-order thought which attributes a qualitative mental attitude towrds some propsotional content (or state of affairs or whatever). So, I am conscious of myself as being angry that the guy in front of me won’t go when the light is green and then it is like being angry for me. So why is it the case that when I consciously believe that the guy in front of me won’t go when the light is green it isn’t like believing that for me? The difference between sensory qualities and beliefs isn’t present and yet there is still something that it is like for the creature (according to the theory)…so the difference that Josh and Rosenthal point to can’t be the difference that matters.

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