Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's Tye's beef with Dennett?

There's a lot that I like about both Michael Tye's and Daniel Dennett's views on consciousness, so it's a bit of a bummer to read Tye's statements against Dennett in Richard Marshall's recent interview of Tye for 3am magazine. Of Dennett's "Quining Qualia" (one of my all-time favorite papers), Tye says:
...the most charitable way to read him is as holding that experiences themselves are dispositions to believe various things. So, there are no experiences or qualia, conceived of as non-epistemic, non-belief-laden entities. This view seems obviously mistaken...
I don't know, but if it is mistaken it doesn't strike me as obviously so. It also strikes me as significantly similar to Tye's own view. A notion of "poise" plays a key role in Tye's theory of phenomenal character, and I have a hard time reading poise as being anything other than a dispositional property, specifically, a disposition related to belief. Here's Tye describing his own view in the interview:
A mental state has phenomenal character just in case it is appropriately poised (a functional role condition) and it nonconceptually represents a complex of properties.
What representations have to do to get to be experiences, on my view, is that they have to arise at the right level in the information processing. They have to be available to cognitive processes in the right sort of way. They have to be appropriately ‘poised’. Your visual experience of the computer screen before you and its properties is the evidential basis for your belief that there is a computer screen ahead and a whole host of related beliefs.
I'm guessing that Dennett's reaction to that wouldn't be "that's obviously mistaken" but instead "sounds pretty good to me". So what's the rift, here? I'm not seeing it. First-order representationalists about phenomenal character, can't we all get along?