Clip Show ‘011

It’s that time of year again! Here are the top posts of 2011 (see last year’s clip show and the best of all time)

–Runner Up– News Flash: Philosophy Sucks!

Philosophy is unavoidable; that is part of why it sucks!

10. Epiphenomenalism and Russellian Monism

Is Russellian Monism committed to epiphenomenalism about consciousness? Dave Chalmers argues that it is not.

9. Bennett on Non-Reductive Physicalism

Karen Bennett argues that the causal exclusion argument provides an argument for physicalism and that non-reductive physicalism is not ruled out by it. I argue that she is wrong and that the causal exclusion argument does cut against non-reductive physicalism.

8. The Zombie Argument Requires Phenomenal Transparency

Chalmers argues that the zombie argument goes through even without an appeal to the claim that the primary and secondary intension of ‘consciousness’ coincide. I argue that it doesn’t. Without an appeal to transparency we cannot secure the first premise of the zombie argument.

7. The Problem of Zombie Minds

Does conceiving of zombies require that we be able to know that zombies lack consciousness? It seems like we can’t know this so there may be a problem conceiving of zombies. I came to be convinced that this isn’t quite right, but still a good post (plus I think we can use the response here in a way that helps the physicalist who wants to say that the truth of physicalism is conceivable…more on that later, though)

6. Stazicker on Attention and Mental Paint

Can we have phenomenology that is indeterminate? James Stazicker thinks so.

5. Consciousness Studies in 1000 words (more) or less

I was asked to write a short piece highlighting some of the major figures and debates in the philosophical study of consciousness for an intro textbook. This is what I came up with

4. Cohen and Dennett’s Perfect Experiment

Dennett’s response to the overflow argument and why I think it isn’t very good

3. My Musical Autobiography

This was big year for me in that I came into possession of some long-lost recordings of my death metal band from the 1990’s as well as some pictures. This prompted me to write up a brief autobiography of my musical ‘career’

2. You might be a Philosopher

A collection of philosophical jokes that I wrote plus some others that were prompted by mine.

1. Phenomenally HOT

Some reflections on Ned Block and Jake Berger’s response to my claim that higher-order thoughts just are phenomenal consciousness

Epiphenomenalism and Russellian Monism

Over at the Online Consciousness Conference, which is now in it’s second week, David Chalmers has advanced an argument that Russellian Monism is not a form of epiphenomenalism, On RM there are phenomenal, or protphenomenal, properties that serve as the categorical bases for the dispositional properties that physics talks about. So on this view mass, charge, spin, etc are the visible face, so to speak, of these fundamental phenomenal, or protophenomenal, properties. The zombie world, then, is one that has the same dispostitions –mass, charge, spin, etc– but lacks the protophenomenal/phenomenal properties that serve as the categorical bases. This can happen in one of two ways. The first is by having a different set of categorical bases that were not related to consciousness, the second by having just the structural properties with no categorical bases. In the first instance the new fundamental properties would take over the causal work that the propphenomenal properties had done before. But just because they are now causing behavior doesn’t show that the protophenomenal properties that are postulated by RM can’t have causal powers. The second possibility seems a bit weird. How can we have disposition properties like mass and charge without any kind of categorical base? But assuming that we can make sense of this idea Dave suggested that we should not hold it against the idea that the categorical bases that these dispositions actually have are causally efficacious. I think I am less sympathetic to this suggestion and would wonder why we should accept it, but someone who like RM could simply reject that such a world is conceivable. RM is a strange view but it is a bit better than epiphenomenalism.

Also in the discussion Dave says that he takes the best argument against epiphenomenalism to be the argument from coincidence. Epiphenomenalism makes it a lucky accident that behavior always lines up with qualia. He acknowledges that this is not fatal, as it may be shown that we should accept these laws anyways, but it is a prima facie point against the epiphenomenalist that RM doesn’t share.