Tuesday, November 1, 2011

submit to me

Dear Hammerheads and potential SSPPers,
Today is the deadline for your submissions. Hurry up!
Details here.
Pete (aka the Philosophy Program Chair for the 2012 SSPP meeting in Savannah, GA)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

cfp: Fourth Online Consciousness Conference

Please post and distribute widely; apologies for cross-posting.
I am pleased to announce the call for papers for the fourth online consciousness conference, scheduled for February 17-March 2, 2012. The Invited Program includes,
Bernard Baars, The Neurosciences Institute
Special Session on Attention, Awareness, and Expectation organized by the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior featuring
Floris P. de Lange, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior
Jackie Gottlieb, Columbia
David Heeger, NYU
Marisa Carrasco, NYU
Special Session on Action Consciousness organized by Myrto Mylopoulos, The Graduate Center CUNY; participants TBA
Special Session on the Social Conditions of Self Consciousness organized by James Dow, Hendrix University; participants TBA
Papers in any area of consciousness studies are welcome. Papers should be roughly 3,000-4,000 words and subsequent presentations, should the presenter choose to make one, should be about 20 minutes (though longer papers/presentations are acceptable). Submissions, suitable for blind review,should be sent to consciousnessonline@gmail.com by December 5th 2011. Those interested in being referees or commentators should also contact me. Authors of accepted papers are urged to make, or have made, some kind of audio/visual presentation (e.g. narrated powerpoint or video of talk) though this is not required to present.
For more information visit the conference website at http://consciousnessonline.com
Find Consciousness Online on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Consciousness-Online/361010842469

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Conference and CFP: Minds, Bodies, and Problems

Conference Announcement and 1st CALL FOR PAPERS

Minds, Bodies, and Problems --

A philosophy of mind conference
hosted by Bilkent University, Ankara, 7-8 June, 2012.

High-quality submissions are invited on the many aspects of the mind-body problem.

Some suggested topics include: naturalistic/physicalistic reduction of intentionality and/or phenomenal consciousness, the potential constitutive role of the body in mental states, the extended mind hypothesis, the potential conceptual role of the Peripheral Nervous System in the characterization of mental states/processes, body and mental causation, body/brain and free will, consciousness related topics in neuro- and bio-ethics, potential novel philosophical implications of focusing on less studied sense modalities: olfaction, proprioception, interoception, kinesthesia, etc.

Self-standing papers are preferred rather than papers responding to/commenting on another paper or book. Each talk will be 45 minutes long, including Q&A.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Murat Aydede (University of British Columbia)
Prof. David Chalmers (Australian National University/New York University)
Prof. Tim Crane (Cambridge University)
Prof. Katalin Farkas (Central European University)
Prof. Shaun Gallagher (U. of Memphis/U. of Hertfordshire)

Interested speakers should submit an extended abstract (500-1000 words) by uploading it to the system to be found on the website of the conference:

Submissions will be blindly refereed by a group of people comprising some of the keynote speakers, some of the faculty members of the Department of Philosophy at Bilkent University, and some members of the Turkish philosophical community.

We will select 8-10 speakers based on the submitted abstracts, and every effort is made to publish the final versions of the papers in an edited volume. The criteria of selection are both the perceived quality of the papers and the maximization of the conference’s overall diversity as far as the topics are concerned.

Abstract submission deadline: 15 January, 2012.

Expected date of a decision: 1 March, 2012.

Registration details:

Selected speakers will be asked to pay a conference fee of 160 EUR, which will cover the following:

-         Three nights’ accommodation (6, 7, 8 June, 2012) in on-campus guest apartments.
-         Lunches and dinners on 7 and 8 June, 2012.
-         Breakfast on 8 June, 2012.
-         Coffee, tea, and refreshments during the two conference days.

There will also be a two-day post-conference trip (9-10 June, 2012) to Cappadocia, which interested participants will have to pay for separately at a concession rate (approximately 100 EUR) which will cover transportation, tour guide, 4-star hotel accommodation, breakfast, dinner, and two lunches. For information on Cappadocia, see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia

The conference fee will also cover a fourth night at Bilkent upon return from Cappadocia, for of those who opt for joining us on that trip.

Payment details will be available to selected speakers by the time the final decision on the program will have been made.

The conference is open to the public, but the University is not able to arrange for accommodation and meals for non-speaker participants.

Two more reminders of the call for papers will be sent out: on 30 November, 2011, and on 30 December, 2011.


Organizing department/institution: Department of Philosophy/Bilkent University

Organizer: Dr. István Aranyosi (Bilkent University)

Program Committee:

Prof. Varol Akman (Bilkent University)
Dr. Sandy Berkovski (Bilkent University)
Dr. Hilmi Demir (Bilkent University)
Dr. Kourken Michaelian (Bilkent University)
Assoc. Prof. Erdinç Sayan (Middle East Technical University)
Dr. Simon Wigley (Bilkent University)
Dr. Bill Wringe (Bilkent University)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brains: Call for Proposals: Content and Consciousness 2.0. Four Decades After.

I'm involved with a new book project focusing on the philosophy of mind of Daniel Dennett. The editor is seeking additional contributors. Here's a link to the CFP: Brains: Call for Proposals: Content and Consciousness 2.0. Four Decades After.

Mental Causation

From Key Terms in Philosophy of Mind (Continuum, 2010):

mental causation, denied by EPIPHENOMENALISM, the having of effects, by mental phenomena, on any other phenomena, especially physical phenomena. An example would be the production of a bodily motion (a physical event) as a result of an episode of willing (see WILL, THE). (See also ACTION.) Another would be the causing of one mental state by another in a chain of REASONING. More broadly, mental causation concerns the causes of mental phenomena in addition to their effects. On this broader construal, an example would be the production of a PERCEPTION of an avalanche as a causal consequence of an avalanche. That mental phenomena enter into various causal interactions with one another and with nonmental phenomena is a core idea of many varieties of FUNCTIONALISM. For example, one sort of functionalistic thesis holds that what it is to be a BELIEF, and in particular a belief that tigers have stripes, is to be a state of a subject that has various causal relations to other states of the subject, including other states of belief as well as states of sensory reac- tions to striped tigers and states of intention toward certain kinds of behaviors concerning striped tigers. See also EXPLANATORY EXCLUSION; INTERACTIONISM.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Neurophilosophy bibliography translated into Romanian

This post goes out to all you HammerHeads who like to read stuff in Romanian. Alexander Ovsov has translated my neurophilosophy bibliography into Romanian. Check it out here: link. See the original here: link.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New philosophy of mind blog

I've just launched a new blog, This Is Philosophy of Mind. It's a companion blog for a forthcoming book of the same name. Give it a look-see:


Monday, September 19, 2011

Chinese room

From Key Terms in Philosophy of Mind (Continuum, 2010):

Chinese room, an argument, due to John Searle, against FUNCTIONALISM as well as certain conceptions of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. The argument has, as a main component, the following THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: A computer program alleged by functionalists to allow a computer to conduct a conversation in Chinese is rewritten as a set of instructions in English that can be followed by John Searle even though he understands no Chinese. Searle is imagined to sit in a room in which cards with Chinese symbols emerge from one of two slots in the wall. Searle examines each incoming card and, though comprehending no Chinese, consults instructions concerning which appropriate response card should be selected and sent out of the second of the two wall slots. The essence of the Chinese room argument against functionalism is that since Searle can follow the program without understanding Chinese, functionalism is mistaken in its contention that intelligent processes such as understanding Chinese are constituted by program-following.

One noteworthy functionalist response to the Chinese room argument has come to be known as the systems response. According to the systems response, it is not John Searle who is running the program, but a larger system, of which he is a mere proper part, that runs the program. This larger system includes, in addition to John Searle, the cards coming in and out of the slots, and the book that Searle consults when each new card comes in. According to the systems response, no threat is posed to functionalism by the possibility that John Searle can play his part without understanding Chinese. It is the whole system that runs the program and thus, according to the functionalist, the whole system is what understands Chinese.

Searle has countered against the systems response that the cards and the book are irrelevant and that it is possible, at least in theory, for John Searle to memorize the contents of the book (or its functional equivalent) and replace the cards with heard and spoken Chinese utterances. In this imagined sce- nario, John Searle hears a Chinese question and then, though he doesn’t understand Chinese, consults his memory of the rule book, which describes different sounds in terms of their purely auditory, nonsemantic characteristics, and Searle then produces an appropriate sound with his mouth. Now the whole system running the program does not have John Searle as a mere proper part.

Another functionalist response to the Chinese room argument is the robot response. According to the robot response, the system comprising the Chinese room does not adequately satisfy the conditions for SYMBOL GROUNDING and thus no state of the system exhibits the appropriate INTENTIONALITY for understanding Chinese. If, instead, the system comprised by the whole Chinese room and its contents were embedded in a large robot so that it could act as the robot’s brain, the states of the room-system could acquire intentionality in virtue of their relations to the rest of the robot and the robot’s relations to its environment. Such a response emphasizes the importance of embodiment for cognition. See EMBODIED COGNITION.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CFP: Origins of Mind

Origins of Mind is a forthcoming volume in the Springer Book Series in Biosemiotics. Abstracts (of ~150 words) are solicited by September 15*; formal invitations to contribute to the book will be sent by October 1. The final book manuscript will be sent to Springer in June 2012.

Book précis:
Origins of Mind will address a question that is fundamental to both science and philosophy: how and why did organic mindedness come to exist in the natural world? Researchers in the life and mind sciences will be invited to contribute papers that present or critique either comprehensive theories on the origins of organic mindedness, or accounts of the origins of specific cognitive capacities, e.g., mental representation, meaning-making, language and other forms of symbolic communication, moral behavior, creativity, etc.

*If you already submitted an abstract for the book proposal, you do not need to submit anything at this time. The book’s table of contents will be decided, and formal notification of inclusion in the book will be emailed, by October 1.

Liz Stillwaggon Swan, PhD
Hist & Phil of Science Fellow
Center for the Humanities
Oregon State University


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Call for Philosophy Papers SSPP

Screen shot 2011 08 25 at 7 03 40 AM

I'm the philosophy program chair for the 104th annual meeting of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, to be held March 22-24, 2012 in Savannah, GA. SSPP meetings feature concurrent programs in philosophy and psychology, as well as plenary sessions jointly sponsored by the philosophy and psychology program committees. The deadline for all submissions is November 1, 2011.

Invited Speakers:

David Rosenthal (CUNY Graduate Center)

William Bechtel (UC San Diego)

Jesse Prinz (CUNY Graduate Center)

Invited Symposia:

Cognition and the Social: Carrie Figdor, Bryce Huebner, Anthony Chemero

Perplexities of Perception: Brian Keeley, Robert Briscoe, Berit Brogaard

Fictionalism, Falsehood and the Epistemic Value of Truth: Anthony Dardis, Chase Wrenn, Tad Zawidzki

Explaining Consciousness: Richard Brown, Josh Weisberg, Kenneth Williford

The Philosophy Program Committee encourages the submission of papers and symposium proposals.  Their selection will be based on quality and relevance to philosophy, psychology, and other sciences of the mind.  The aim of the committee is to present as balanced a program as the quality of submissions in each area permits.

Papers:  Submissions exceeding 3,000 words will not be considered. Submissions should include a word count and an abstract of no more than 150 words.  Self-reference should be deleted to permit blind reviewing; authors should indicate their identity only on the cover letter that accompanies their submission.  All papers submitted and presented should employ gender-neutral language.  Please submit file as lastname.firstname.doc or lastname.firstname.rtf or lastname.firstname.pdf.

Papers, along with the Abstract Submission Form on the website, should be submitted electronically to: 

Dr. Pete Mandik  petemandik@gmail.com

Certain papers may be selected for commentary depending on overall programmatic considerations.  People who wish to comment on a paper or to chair a session may volunteer by sending a short version of their curriculum vitae directly to the program chairperson at the above address.

Please specify ‘SSPP Submission' in the subject line.  If the paper is being submitted in consideration of a Graduate Student Travel Award, please specify ‘SSPP Submisson– GSTA.’  If the paper should be considered for the Griffith prize, please specify ‘SSPP submission - Griffith.’

Further info can be found at the SSPP website and especially in the SSPP August Newsletter.

Monday, August 22, 2011

xphi of zombies

ScienceDirect - Cognition : More dead than dead: Perceptions of persons in the persistent vegetative state:
Patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS) may be biologically alive, but these experiments indicate that people see PVS as a state curiously more dead than dead. Experiment 1 found that PVS patients were perceived to have less mental capacity than the dead. Experiment 2 explained this effect as an outgrowth of afterlife beliefs, and the tendency to focus on the bodies of PVS patients at the expense of their minds. Experiment 3 found that PVS is also perceived as “worse” than death: people deem early death better than being in PVS. These studies suggest that people perceive the minds of PVS patients as less valuable than those of the dead – ironically, this effect is especially robust for those high in religiosity.

Ross on Macpherson on the Senses

From NDPR: Peter Ross reviews Fiona Macpherson's new collection on the senses (a collection containing a piece by my good buddy Brian Keeley).

This collection makes it clear that philosophical issues about the sensory modalities deserve attention. It comprises eleven 'classic' works, eight previously unpublished papers, and a substantial introduction by Macpherson. All of the classic works (with the exception of a selection from Aristotle's De Anima) were published in the past 50 years. Some of these selections -- in particular, De Anima and H. P. Grice's 1962 essay "Some Remarks about the Senses" -- are classic in any context. However, the other classic selections have been underappreciated until recently, when the philosophical literature on sensory modalities started gaining more attention. Together the classic works demonstrate the challenge, complexity, and sheer (philosophical) fun of issues having to do with senses. The previously unpublished papers, most of which originated as invited papers for a 2004 conference titled "Individuating the Senses" at University of Glasgow, largely build on the classic works.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is Quiet Karate Reflex

Thanks for voting, but we decided to go with "Quiet Karate Reflex." Here we are, playing Aristotelian Eye Jelly:

You can follow us on Google+ (until we get thrown off).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

CUNY Kripke Conference

Conference, September 15-16, 2011: Celebrating the publication of Saul A. Kripke, Philosophical Troubles: Collected Papers, Volume 1, Oxford University Press

Click Here for Schedule and Registration Information

Thursday, July 28, 2011

new Mandik book forthcoming: This is Philosophy of Mind

I have just received the signed contract for a book project I'm working on for Wiley-Blackwell: This is Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction. The book is part of a forthcoming series of introductory philosophy texts edited by Steven Hales. Distinctive of the series are various planned tie-ins with online resources. I plan on creating a companion blog to go along with the book, which will feature supplemental material.

I hope to have more news on the project in coming weeks. Stay tuned!

[link to proposal]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mental Colors Published

My paper,"Mental Colors, Conceptual Overlap, and Discriminating Knowledge of Particulars" has been published online at Consciousness and Cognition here:


See also: http://petemandik.blogspot.com/2011/06/mental-colors-conceptual-overlap-and.html

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Help rename the 8-bit Criminals

Calling all Hammerheads
Dear Hammerheads,

The New York Consciousness Collective spinoff, 8-bit Criminals, is renaming itself. The tiny subset of you who give a shit are hereby invited to help. If you are reading this message in a feed reader or printed on a slip of paper in a bottle that just washed up on your beach, you may need it pointed out to you that there is a poll you can vote in on the right-side column of the Brain Hammer blog. The poll is open until 7/25/2011. Multiple votes are permitted.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness

ScienceDirect - Trends in Cognitive Sciences : Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness:

by Hakwan Lau and David Rosenthal

Higher-order theories of consciousness argue that conscious awareness crucially depends on higher-order mental representations that represent oneself as being in particular mental states. These theories have featured prominently in recent debates on conscious awareness. We provide new leverage on these debates by reviewing the empirical evidence in support of the higher-order view. We focus on evidence that distinguishes the higher-order view from its alternatives, such as the first-order, global workspace and recurrent visual processing theories. We defend the higher-order view against several major criticisms, such as prefrontal activity reflects attention but not awareness, and prefrontal lesion does not abolish awareness. Although the higher-order approach originated in philosophical discussions, we show that it is testable and has received substantial empirical support.

double-plus good

Alright, brainy/thinky-type people, let's go plus it up. See you on the other side.

ht: http://fuckyeahdementia.com/

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Morgan Freeman saying "The New York Consciousness Collective" and other things

Here are a bunch of mp3s of Morgan Freeman saying stuff like:
"The New York Consciousness Collective," "an elite group of
philosophers," and "trying to understand the nature and limits of
Ganked from Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

All Together Now by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

The New York Consciousness Collective by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

An Elite Group Of Philosophers by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

Trying To Understand The Nature And Limits Of Consciousness by Morgan Freeman Listen on Posterous

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Philosophy of Cognitive Science at Oxford Bibliographies Online

Mandik, P. (2011). Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy. doi: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0019

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary study of the mind loosely united by the idea that the mind is a computer. Philosophy is one of the main contributing disciplines (along with psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, and computer science), and many of its contributions concern the conceptual foundations of the separate disciplines (e.g., psychology and artificial intelligence), explorations of the relations between the disciplines (e.g., is psychology reducible to neuroscience?), and examinations of core uniting ideas (e.g., how best can we understand the idea that the mind is a computer?). Much contemporary philosophy of cognitive science overlaps with contemporary philosophy of mind. The present work tries as much as possible to focus on work peculiar to the philosophy of cognitive science, but the reader is advised to see pertinent work discussed in other Oxford Bibliographies Online articles, especially Metaphysics of Mind and Consciousness.

Gareth Evans


Mandik, Pete. (2005). Gareth Evans. In: The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Continuum.


EVANS, Gareth (1946-1980)


Gareth Evans (Michael Gareth Justin Evans) was born in London 12 May 1946 and died in London on 10 August 1980. He was educated at Dulwich College (1961-1962) and later at Oxford, where he was heavily influenced by his teacher, P. F. Strawson. In 1963, Evans won the Gladstone Open Scholarship in History at University College, Oxford. In 1965 he passed his PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics) exam prelims with distinction and in 1967 he was first in his class in the PPE finals. He won a Senior Scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford. He won a Kennedy Scholarship in 1968, allowing him to spend academic year 1968-1969 in the United States at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Evans returned to Oxford where he would be a Fellow from 1969 to 1979. In 1979 Evans was elected to the Wilde Readership in Mental Philosophy. On 2 June 1980 Evans was diagnosed with cancer and on 11 June 1980 he was privately married to Antonia Philips in the University College Hospital.


Evans best known work, the posthumously published The Varieties of Reference was an incomplete manuscript at the time of his death and edited by John McDowell. The primary significance of Varieties is for the philosophy of language but it has had significance for the philosophy of mind as well. The varieties referred to in the title are varieties of referring expressions, that is, expressions understood as distinct from predicates and quantificational phrases in virtue of their distinct contributions to the semantic values of sentences. The primary semantic value of a referring expression is its referent, the thing it refers to. Following Frege, some philosophers have argued that referring expressions have a sense in addition to a referent, where a sense is conceived of as the mode of presentation of the referent. According to Evans, the two main varieties of referring expressions are those whose semantic values include Fregean senses and those whose semantic values do not include Fregean senses. Proper names, Evans argued, are referring expressions that lack Fregean senses, since they can be understood without any description being associated with the referent in the mind of the speaker or hearer. Referring expressions that have Fregean senses, according to Evans, include demonstratives (“that book”) and indexicals (“I”, “here”). Additional examples of referring expressions with Fregean senses include expressions Evans called “descriptive names”. According to Evans, descriptive names are names that, unlike proper names, can be understood only if one knows some associated description. Evans thought that descriptive names were rare and that examples included names that were stipulated, as in his example “Let us call whoever invented the zip ‘Julius’” (Varieties p. 31). Evans thought the key feature that distinguished demonstratives and indexicals on the one hand from descriptive names on the other was that demonstratives and indexicals are, in Evans phrase, Russelian. A Russelian expression is an expression that, if it is empty (if it fails to refer) then it is meaningless. However, in holding that demonstratives and indexicals have Fregean senses, Evans incurs the obligation of saying what those senses are.  Evans holds, following Perry, that no description can capture the content of a demonstrative or an indexical. However, whereas Perry saw this as an argument against the positing of Fregean senses for demonstratives and indexicals, Evans supplies an account of non-descriptive senses. Evans’s quest for non-descriptive senses for demonstratives and indexicals led him to one of his most central and influential views, namely, that there exists such a thing as non-conceptual content. Non-conceptual contents are mental representational contents that can be grasped by a subject even though that subject lacks the concepts we would employ in attributing that content. For example, the perceptual state of an infant may represent the presence of an object colored with a certain shade of red, say vermillion, even though the infant is insufficiently sophisticated to have a concept of vermillion.


Only 34 at the time of his death, Evans short life gave rise to remarkable philosophical contributions.







The Varieties of Reference (Oxford, 1982).


The Collected Papers of Gareth Evans. (Oxford, 1985).



Other Relevant Work


Ed., with John McDowell Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (Oxford, 1976).



Chalmers and the New York Consciousness Collective on TV

David Chalmers (http://consc.net/chalmers/) and the New York Consciousness Collective (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-New-York-Consciousness-Collective/110597088... are featured in this episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (starts around 7:35):

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

conceptual-role semantics

From Key Terms in Philosophy of Mind (Continuum, 2010):

conceptual-role semantics, (also known as “inferential-role semantics,” “causal-role semantics,” “computational-role semantics,” and “functional- role semantics”) an attempt to explain the INTENTIONALITY or CONTENT of a mental STATE in terms of relations (such as inferential relations [see INFERENCE]) a mental state bears to other mental states. For example, the content of my mental state concerning dogs may be constituted by relations to other mental states, such as those concerning mammals, those concerning domestication, and those concerning barking. Thus, any mental state has the content dog if it is a mental state that a person would be in as a result of drawing an inference from premises concerning domesticated barking mammals. Such an account of mental content seems especially compatible with the LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT hypothesis. For the same reasons that make conceptual-role semantics fit with the hypothesis of a language of thought, conceptual-role semantics is sometimes regarded as an account of the meaning of public language items. (See also USE THEORY OF MEANING.)

A key early proponent of conceptual-role semantics was Wilfrid SELLARS.

Conceptual-role semantics is widely regarded as most plausible as an account of logical concepts and terms such as “and.” Plausibly, the meaning of the truth-functional connective “and” is exhausted by the role it plays in truth- preserving inferences such as inferring from “John has slacks and Mary has a skirt” to “John has slacks.” One appealing reason for extending conceptual- role semantics beyond logical items is that it promises to account for the sorts of phenomena that support the postulation of Fregean SENSE. For example, there seems to be a difference in thinking that the Morning Star is bright and that Venus is bright even though the Morning Star and Venus are one and the same astronomical body. This difference is accounted for in conceptual- role semantics by positing different conceptual roles for the MENTAL REPRESENTATION of the Morning Star and the mental representation of Venus.

Conceptual-role semantics has a certain compatibility with FUNCTIONALISM given the emphases both theories place on the roles played by mental states. Certain versions of conceptual-role semantics, in emphasizing relations between mental states and de-emphasizing relations borne to states of the external world, have been appealing to adherents of INTERNALISM and METHODOLOGICAL SOLIPSISM. Other philosophers, more impressed with the insights of EXTERNALISM, have adapted conceptual-role semantics to involve content-constituting rela- tions to the external world in addition to relations between internal states, thus giving rise to accounts such as two-factor conceptual-role semantics. Many detractors of conceptual-role semantics have held that it gives rise to intolerable versions of HOLISM. See also CONTENT, THEORIES OF.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dennett's 1969 account of introspective infallibility

DennettIn chapter 5 of Dennett’s 1969 book, Content and Consciousness, he sketches an account of how, without recourse to dualism, our introspective reports can be infallible and we can have “certainty about the contents of our own thoughts” (p. 100). At the heart of Dennett’s sketch is a functional sketch of the brain as an intentional system, especially as it enables persons to make verbal reports on occasions of sensory stimulation. At the heart of this functional/Intentional view is a distinction Dennett borrows from Putnam (1960), a distinction between functional or logical states of a system and physical states of a system. As Dennett states the key idea:

“A particular machine T is in logical state A if, and only if, it performs what the machine table specifies for logical state A, regardless of the physical state it is in” (p. 102).

For both Dennett and Putnam, a significant upshot of such a notion of states is that T can be in A without itself ascertaining that it is in state A. Putnam argues, in a passage Dennett quotes (pp. 102-103): “Indeed,…suppose T could not be in state A without first ascertaining that it was in state A (by first passing through a sequence of other states). Clearly a vicious regress would be involved. And one ‘breaks’ the regress simply by noting that the machine, in ascertaining [anything] passes through its states—but it need not in any significant sense ‘ascertain’ that it is passing through them.”

Dennett elaborates:

“Suppose T ‘ascertained’ it was in state B; this could only mean that it behaved or operated as ifit were in state B, and if T does this it is in state B. Possibly there has been a breakdown so that it should be in state A, but if it ‘ascertains’ that it is in state B (behaves as if it were in state B) it is in state B.

Now suppose the machine table contained the instruction: ‘Print: “I am in state A” when in state A.’ When the machine prints ‘I am in state A’ are we to say the machine ascertained it was in state A? The machine’s ‘verbal report’, as Putnam says, ‘issues directly from the state it “reports”; no “computation” or additional “evidence” is needed to arrive at the “answer”.’ The report issues directly from the state it reports in that the machine is in state A only if it reports it is in state A. If any sense is to be made of the question, ‘How does T know it is in state A?’, the only answer is degenerate: ‘by being in state A’.


‘Even if some accident causes the printing mechanism to print: “I am in state A” when the machine is not in state A, there was not a “miscomputation” (only, so to speak, a “verbal slip”).’ Putnam compares this situation to the human report ‘I am in pain’, and contrasts these to the reports ‘Vacuum tube 312 has failed’ and ‘I have a fever’. Human beings have some capacity for the monitoring of internal physical states such as fevers, and computers can have similar monitoring devices for their own physical states, but when either makes a report of such internal physical conditions, the question of how these are ascertained makes perfect sense, and can be answered by giving a succession of states through which the system passes in order to ascertain its physical condition. But when the state reported is a logical or functionally individuated state, the task of ascertaining, monitoring or examining drops out of the reporting process.

A Turing machine designed so that its output could be interpreted as reports of its logical states would be, like human introspectors, invulnerable to all but ‘verbal’ errors. It could not misidentify its logical states in its reports just because it does not have to identify its states at all. “(p. 103-104)

Monday, June 27, 2011

CFP: The Body Represented/Embodied Representation

The Body Represented/Embodied Representation

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3(1), 2012

Adrian J.T. Smith & Frédérique de Vignemont (eds.)

Submission deadline: 15 August 2011

Cognition is embodied. The body is represented. Is there genuinely a convergence of ideas here? Does the claim that representations of the body support cognitive processes amount to the claim that the latter are embodied? What are the important open questions emerging
from sensorimotor and embodied accounts of cognition? What are the advances that have been made? This issue will explore the landscape beyond the
ideological differences in which embodied and sensorimotor approaches to cognitive science first emerged. It aims to discern avenues of concrete
progress with contributions from fields including comparative, developmental, and perceptual psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy.
Contributions will serve to clarify the concept of embodiment, its productive value and contemporary worth in the study of mind, and its relation to the
emerging focus on body representation in contemporary cognitive neuroscience. The focus will be upon general agreement and the prospects of achieving
it. To this end we invite contributions specifically anchored in discussion of one of the particular issues highlighted below. Each contribution ought
to be made with a view to encompassing more than one disciplinary domain. We are not looking for revised manifestos, but for genuinely novel
contributions to an advancement of the field.

Themes and questions to be addressed include but are not limited to the following:

• How embodied is a mind that represents its body?

Despite its radical anti-representational roots, embodied cognitive science is often presented as entirely compatible with a representational theory
of mind. But does positing representations of the body complement or challenge an understanding of the mind as embodied rather than merely

• Higher cognition and sensorimotor loops: Is there a difference that makes a difference?

The coordination of sensory and motor functions is a capacity shared between the most basic and the most advanced cognitive systems. Is the claim
that human cognition is unique in genuine conflict with its putative sensorimotor origins?

• To what extent are cognitive capacities learnt through action?

A variety of factors have been hypothesised as playing a role in the acquisition of cognitive capacities, such as innate core modules, linguistic
bootstrapping, and sensorimotor engagement. Does sensorimotor learning have a special role in bootstrapping higher cognitive capacities? What is the
balance between these factors? Does their contribution vary from one domain to another (e.g. from spatial cognition to mathematics)?

Guest authors

The issue will include invited articles authored by:
  • Salvatore Aglioti, University of Rome, Matteo Candidi, University of Rome, & Patrick Haggard, University
    College London
  • Ned Block, New York University & J. Kevin O'Regan, Paris Descartes University
  • Shaun Gallagher, University of Memphis & Daniel Povinelli, University of Louisiana Lafayette
  • Alvin Goldman, Rutgers University
Order of authorship is alphabetical.

Important dates

  • Submission deadline: 15 August 2011
  • Target publication date: 15 March 2012

How to submit

Prospective authors should register at: www.editorialmanager.com/ropp to obtain a login and
select The Body Represented/Embodied Representation as an article type. Manuscripts should be approximately 8,000 words.
Submissions should follow the author guidelines available on the journal's website.

About the journal

The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (ISSN: 1878-5158; eISSN: 1878-5166) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by Springer and focusing on philosophical and foundational issues in cognitive science. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for discussion on topics of mutual interest to philosophers and psychologists and to foster interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of philosophy and the sciences of the mind, including the neural, behavioural and social sciences.

The journal publishes theoretical works grounded in empirical research as well as empirical articles on issues of philosophical relevance. It includes thematic issues featuring invited contributions from leading authors together with articles answering a call for paper.


Any questions? Please email the guest editors:
adrianjtsmith@gmail.com - frederique.de.vignemont@ens.fr

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pete Mandik, Slow Earth and the Slow-switching Slowdown Showdown | PhilPapers

Pete Mandik, Slow Earth and the Slow-switching Slowdown Showdown | PhilPapers

The present paper has three aims. The first and foremost aim is to introduce into philosophy of mind and related areas (philosophy of language, etc) a discussion of Slow Earth, an analogue to the classic Twin Earth scenario that features a difference from aboriginal Earth that hinges on time instead of the distribution of natural kinds. The second aim is to use Slow Earth to call into question the central lessons often alleged to flow from consideration of Twin Earth, lessons having to do with relations of minds to spatially definable boundaries of bodies such as skin or skull. The third aim is to suggest a puzzle for adherents of cognitive content externalism having to do with the metaphysical requirements on slow-switching, a hypothetical process whereby changes in the relations between subjects and their environments are followed by gradual changes in cognitive contents.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Eric Dietrich, There Is No Progress in Philosophy | PhilPapers

Eric Dietrich, There Is No Progress in Philosophy | PhilPapers

Eric Dietrich (2011). There Is No Progress in Philosophy. Essays in Philosophy 12 (2).
Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, a mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy's inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy's future.

Tracking down the Russell joke about solipsism

"As against solipsism it is to be said, in the first place, that it is psychologically impossible to believe, and is rejected in fact even by those who mean to accept it. I once received a letter from an eminent logician, Mrs. Christine Ladd-Franklin, saying that she was a solipsist, and was surprised that there were no others. Coming from a logician and a solipsist, her surprise surprised me." (Russell, p. 180). Russell, Bertrand., Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits,London: George Allen & Unwin, 1948.

Bat-winged Skull Chickens drawing by Pete Mandik

Bat-winged Skull Chickens
Bat-winged Skull Chickens, pen and ink, scanned and colored in Photoshop, 2008.

At Brains: Was Psychosemantics a Failure?

Brains: Was Psychosemantics a Failure?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Career Advice: Getting a Job in Philosophy - Inside Higher Ed

Career Advice: Getting a Job in Philosophy - Inside Higher Ed:

Getting a Job in Philosophy
June 20, 2011
By Brian L. Keeley
These suggestions are based on my personal experiences as a graduate student at the University of California at San Diego, as a postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis, and as an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa. While my experiences are in philosophy, much of this advice would apply to other humanities fields as well.

There are different things that can be done at different points in your graduate career. This series of recommendations will be broken down by year. I will take as my ideal a person who goes on the market for the first time in the fall of his or her fifth year. Obviously, if you go out sooner or later, the time frame will shrink or expand accordingly. (However, the longer you wait, the more urgency there will be that you get a job immediately.) Also, the order is more or less arbitrary.

Jackson's Mary thought experiment as a rap video

"Trumpalump" by Dels. All the monochrome stuff is done with paint.

Posted via email from petemandik's posterous

Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, organ

On Malinowski's Music Animation Machine:

Posted via email from petemandik's posterous

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Books in Philosophy Podcast

Here's announcement of a new cool thing I just got from Rob Talisse:

I write to announce a new podcast, New Books in Philosophy. Carrie Figdor (U of Iowa) and I co-host the podcast, and each episode features an in-depth interview with an author of a newly-published philosophy book. Interviews will be posted on the 1st and 15th of each month. The inaugural interview, posted today, is with Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside), author of Perplexities of Consciousness (MIT Press). An interview with Jerry Gaus (Arizona), author of The Order of Public Reason (Cambridge University Press), will be posted on July 1st. Upcoming podcasts include interviews with Robert Pasnau, Sandy Goldberg, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Fabienne Peter, Allen Buchanan, and others. Please click over to the NBiP site, and check out what we’re doing.

Here’s a link to the interview with Eric Schwitzgebel:


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brain Hammerings 06/14/2011

  • The feeling of being in control of one's own actions is a strong subjective experience. However, discoveries in psychology and neuroscience challenge the validity of this experience and suggest that free will is just an illusion. This raises a question: What would happen if people started to disbelieve in free will? Previous research has shown that low control beliefs affect performance and motivation. Recently, it has been shown that undermining free-will beliefs influences social behavior. In the study reported here, we investigated whether undermining beliefs in free will affects brain correlates of voluntary motor preparation. Our results showed that the readiness potential was reduced in individuals induced to disbelieve in free will. This effect was evident more than 1 s before participants consciously decided to move, a finding that suggests that the manipulation influenced intentional actions at preconscious stages. Our findings indicate that abstract belief systems might have a much more fundamental effect than previously thought.

    tags: will use your delusion

  • Entoforms are life, grown in the computer, printed in 3D, collected by macouno.

    tags: real artificial life

  • Scientists have for the first time created laser light using living biological material: a single human cell and some jellyfish protein.

    tags: future body mods

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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 Fürst, 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.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Champalimaud Neuroscience Symposium

The Champalimaud Neuroscience Symposium will bring together researchers from around the world who are interested in solving the puzzle of the brain. The Programme includes 30 distinguished speakers and poster sessions. The invited speakers reflect the interests of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme and cover a broad range of areas within neuroscience. The Symposium will take place at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown on the waterfront in central Lisbon, Portugal. We are looking forward to a lively and stimulating scientific meeting, and we hope that you will join us.

Megan R. Carey
Zachary Mainen

Marta Moita
Scientific Committee

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mental Colors, Conceptual Overlap, and Discriminating Knowledge of Particulars

I just received word of acceptance of my paper, "Mental Colors, Conceptual Overlap, and Discriminating Knowledge of Particulars" (PDF) forthcoming in Consciousness and Cognition (this is for Richard Brown's special issue associated with the 2nd annual Consciousness Online conference).
Abstract: I respond to the separate commentaries by Jacob Berger, Charlie Pelling, and David Pereplyotchik on my paper, "Color-Consciousness Conceptualism." I resist Berger's suggestion that mental colors ever enter consciousness without accompaniment by deployments of concepts of their extra-mental counterparts. I express concerns about Pelling's proposal that a more uniform conceptualist treatment of phenomenal sorites can be gained by a simple appeal to the partial overlap of the extensions of some concepts. I question the relevance to perceptual consciousness of the arguments for demonstrative concepts that Pereplyotchik attacks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brain Hammerings 06/06/2011

  • There has been quite a furore over some remarks made by Chomsky at the recent MIT symposium Brains, Minds and Machines; Chomsky apparently criticised researchers in machine learning who use purely statistical methods to produce simulations without addressing the meaning of the behaviour being simulated – there’s a brief account of the discussion in Technology Review. The wider debate was launched when Google’s Director of Research, Peter Norvig issued a response to Chomsky. So far as I can tell the point being made by Chomsky was that applications like Google Translate, which uses a huge corpus of parallel texts to produce equivalents in different languages, do not tell us anything about the way human beings use language.

    tags: singularity without sapience

  • tags: singularity without sapience

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Punctate Monday

A snapshot from the archive of my art blog, Punctate Mind:

"A radically punctate mind is no mind at all." --Andy Clark, Microcognition (1991)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brain Hammerings 05/26/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

photo: malware

photo by Pete Mandik

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Useful Obviously False Beliefs

"You've got to believe!" That's the advice professional magician Mark Mitton gave at his recent talk in the CUNY Cognitive Science Symposium. Here's the idea: in order for an illusion to be believable to the audience, the magician has to believe it too. This is, of course, puzzling for all of the sorts of reasons familiar to philosophers debating doxastic voluntarism and self-deception. How do you make yourself believe something that you know you don't?

I've been thinking about something similar to self-deception since Mark's remark. There's a kind of advice given in all sorts of areas of human performance, music and sports to name two, that involves believing (or pretending?) something obviously absurd but is efficacious nonetheless. Here's a quick list:

  • Vocal coaches tell their singers stuff like "breath out of your back" or "quit singing out of the top of your head." Or so I hear.
  • In martial arts, if you are going to punch someone really hard in the solar plexus, it helps to aim for their back, as if your fist can just bore right through.
  • In ball sports (you know, sports with balls?) there's this stuff about "following through" which I guess is something like throwing the ball after it's already been thrown. I dunno, I hate sports.
  • Acting? Maybe this is like the magic thing? I dunno, I'm not an actor (but I've played one on TV).

Anyway, hammer-heads are hereby invited to multiply examples and submit pointers to work done in the relevant areas. That would be awesome. You'd better believe it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Re Portugal

I'm back in NYC from a week of sun, beer, neuroscience, qualia, and zen in lovely Lisboa at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

Zach Mainen, director of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, ran a week-long course on consciousness and first-person methodology for the 2010 class of students in the International Neuroscience Doctoral Programme (with assistance from 2008 student Scott Rennie). Brian Keeley (who knows Zach from like a million years ago when they were together at University of California, San Diego) and I were brought on board to hang out in general as well as provide neurophilosophical overviews of consciousness, free will, and personal identity.


Each morning, the class kicked off with a half-hour of meditation led by monks from a local zen dojo. Then we set off to do things like coach opposing teams of students in constructing arguments about whether the self was something that could survive teleportation.

Thursday afternoon I presented "Does the neuroscience of consciousness need to care about qualia?" in the Neuroscience Seminar Series (abstract and answer here). It was fun to see so many neuroscientists get passionate about qualia!


Saturday afternoon, Brian and I took a teleporter to Cascais, where someone accidentally hit the "receive" button too many times.

Multi Me


(Photos from my flickr set, Lisbon 2011: Neuroscience Programme at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pete to Portugal

This looks pretty cool.
Next week, my good buddy Brian Keeley and I are heading to Lisbon to help run a week-long course on consciousness for the Neuroscience Programme at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. While there, I'll also be giving a talk, "Does the neuroscience of consciousness need to care about qualia?" More news, plus the answer to that titular question, when I get back to NYC later in May.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brain Hammerings 04/27/2011

  • "The deadline for early career participants in our deviant color workshop and conference in Vancouver in August has been extended. Go ahead and apply."

    I hope the phrase "deviant color" catches on.

    tags: other colors

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.