Monday, June 13, 2011

Doing More with Mary

Jackson's Mary thought experiment is primarily discussed in connection with qualia. However, a couple of recent papers extend the thought experiment to raise problems concerning intentionality.

Martina F├╝rst, What Mary's Aboutness Is About | PhilPapers
The aim of this paper is to reinforce anti-physicalism by extending the hard problem to a specific kind of intentional states. For reaching this target, I investigate the mental content of the new intentional states of Jackson’s Mary. I proceed in the following way: I start analyzing the knowledge argument, which highlights the hard problem tied to phenomenal consciousness. In a second step, I investigate a powerful physicalist reply to this argument: the phenomenal concept strategy. In a third step, I propose a constitutional account of phenomenal concepts that captures the Mary scenario adequately, but implies anti-physicalist referents. In a last step, I point at the ramifications constitutional phenomenal concepts have on the constitution of Mary’s new intentional states. Therefore, by focusing the attention on phenomenal concepts, the so-called hard problem of consciousness will be carried over to the alleged easy problem of intentional states as well.

Philip Goff, Does Mary know I experience plus rather than quus? A new hard problem | PhilPapers

Realism about cognitive or semantic phenomenology, the view that certain conscious states are intrinsically such as to ground thought or understanding, is increasingly being taken seriously in analytic philosophy. The principle aim of this paper is to argue that it is extremely difficult to be a physicalist about cognitive phenomenology. The general trend in later 20th century/early 21st century philosophy of mind has been to account for the content of thought in terms of facts outside the head of the thinker at the time of thought, e.g. in terms of causal relations between thinker and world, or in terms of the natural purposes for which mental representations have developed. However, on the assumption that consciousness is constitutively realised by what is going on inside the head of a thinker at the time of experience, the content of cognitive phenomenology cannot be accounted for in this way. Furthermore, any internalist account of content is particularly susceptible to Kripkensteinian rule following worries. It seems that if someone knew all the physical facts about what is going on in my head at the time I was having a given experience with cognitive phenomenology, they would not thereby know whether that state had ‘straight’ rather than ‘quus-like’ content, e.g. whether the experience was intrinsically such as the ground the thought that two plus two equals four or intrinsically such as to ground the thought that two quus two equals four. The project of naturalising consciousness is much harder for realists about cognitive phenomenology.