•  483
    Reasons and Theories of Sensory Affect
    with Matthew Fulkerson
    In David Bain, Michael Brady & Jennifer Corns (eds.), The Philosophy of Pain: Unpleasantness, Emotion, and Deviance, Routledge. pp. 27-59. 2019.
    Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main conte…Read more
  •  659
    Are Frege cases exceptions to intentional generalizations?
    with Philip Robbins
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (1): 1-22. 2001.
    This piece criticizes Fodor's argument (in The Elm and the Expert, 1994) for the claim that Frege cases should be treated as exceptions to (broad) psychological generalizations rather than as counterexamples.
  •  238
    What does feeling a sharp pain in one's hand have in common with seeing a red apple on the table? Some say not much, apart from the fact that they are both conscious experiences. To see an object is to perceive an extramental reality -- in this case, a red apple. To feel a pain, by contrast, is to undergo a conscious experience that doesn't necessarily relate the subject to an objective reality. Perceptualists, however, dispute this. They say that both experiences are forms of perception of an o…Read more
  •  196
    Defending the IASP Definition of Pain
    The Monist 100 (4). 2017.
    The official definition of ‘pain’ by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) hasn’t seen much revision since its publication in 1979. There have been various criticisms of the definition in the literature from different quarters: that the definition implies a dubious metaphysical dualism, that it requires a strong form of consciousness as well as linguistic abilities, that it excludes many vulnerable groups that are otherwise perfectly capable of experiencing pain, that it has…Read more
  •  430
    The language of thought hypothesis
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.
    A comprehensive introduction to the Language of Though Hypothesis (LOTH) accessible to general audiences. LOTH is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has a synt…Read more
  •  289
    Has Fodor Really Changed His Mind on Narrow Content?
    Mind and Language 12 (3-4): 422-458. 1997.
    In his latest book, The Elm and the Expert (1994), Fodor notoriously rejects the notion of narrow content as superfluous. He envisions a scientific intentional psychology that adverts only to broad content properties in its explanations. I argue that Fodor's change in view is only apparent and that his previous position (1985-1991) is extensionally equivalent to his "new" position (1994). I show that, despite what he says narrow content is for in his (1994), Fodor himself has previously never ap…Read more
  •  105
    Computation and intentional psychology
    Dialogue 39 (2): 365-379. 2000.
    The relation between computational and intentional psychology has always been a vexing issue. The worry is that if mental processes are computational, then these processes, which are defined over symbols, are sensitive solely to the non-semantic properties of symbols. If so, perhaps psychology could dispense with adverting in its laws to intentional/semantic properties of symbols. Stich, as is well-known, has made a great deal out of this tension and argued for a purely "syntactic" psychology by…Read more
  •  12
    The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (edited book)
    with P. Robbins
    Cambridge University Press. 2008.
    Since its inception some fifty years ago, cognitive science has seen a number of sea changes. Perhaps the best known is the development of connectionist models of cognition as an alternative to classical, symbol-based approaches. A more recent - and increasingly influential - trend is that of dynamical-systems-based, ecologically oriented models of the mind. Researchers suggest that a full understanding of the mind will require systematic study of the dynamics of interaction between mind, body, …Read more
  •  43
    [DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000765] Amanda Williams and Kenneth Craig, in a recent article in the IASP official journal _Pain_ (DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000613), have argued that it is time to revise the IASP's well-entrenched definition of 'pain'. They propose an alternative definition. We critically discuss their proposed revision and argue that it admits clear counterexamples as both sufficient and necessary conditions. We further discuss the wisdom of replacing 'unpleasant' in the I…Read more
  •  125
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2019.
    Pain is the most prominent member of a class of sensations known as bodily sensations, which includes itches, tickles, tingles, orgasms, and so on. Bodily sensations are typically attributed to bodily locations and appear to have features such as volume, intensity, duration, and so on, that are ordinarily attributed to physical objects or quantities. Yet these sensations are often thought to be logically private, subjective, self-intimating, and the source of incorrigible knowledge for those who…Read more
  •  759
    Is feeling pain the perception of something?
    Journal of Philosophy 106 (10): 531-567. 2009.
    According to the increasingly popular perceptual/representational accounts of pain (and other bodily sensations such as itches, tickles, orgasms, etc.), feeling pain in a body region is perceiving a non-mental property or some objective condition of that region, typically equated with some sort of (actual or potential) tissue damage. In what follows I argue that given a natural understanding of what sensory perception requires and how it is integrated with (dedicated) conceptual systems, these a…Read more
  •  1241
    This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenal consciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a…Read more
  •  108
    What makes perceptual symbols perceptual?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4): 610-611. 1999.
    It is argued that three major attempts by Barsalou to specify what makes a perceptual symbol perceptual fail. It is suggested that one way to give such an account is to employ the symbols
  •  325
    Aristotle on Episteme and Nous: the Posterior Analytics
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 36 (1): 15-46. 1998.
    According to the standard and largely traditional interpretation, Aristotle’s conception of nous, at least as it occurs in the Posterior Analytics, is geared against a certain set of skeptical worries about the possibility of scientific knowledge, and ultimately of the knowledge of Aristotelian first principles. On this view, Aristotle introduces nous as an intuitive faculty that grasps the first principles once and for all as true in such a way that it does not leave any room for the skeptic to…Read more
  •  82
    Review of Nikola Grahek, Feeling Pain and Being in Pain (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (1). 2008.
  •  263
    [This is an earlier, much longer and more detailed version of my entry on LOTH in the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_] The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, r…Read more
  •  348
    How to Unify Theories of Sensory Pleasure: An Adverbialist Proposal
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (1): 119-133. 2014.
    A lot of qualitatively very different sensations can be pleasant or unpleasant. The Felt-Quality Views that conceive of sensory affect as having an introspectively available common phenomenology or qualitative character face the “heterogeneity problem” of specifying what that qualitative common phenomenology is. In contrast, according to the Attitudinal Views, what is common to all pleasant or unpleasant sensations is that they are all “wanted” or “unwanted” in a certain sort of way. The commona…Read more
  •  101
    Connectionism and the language of thought
    CSLI Technical Report. 1995.
    Fodor and Pylyshyn's (F&P) critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought'' (LOT). Some connectionists declined to meet the challenge on the basis that the alleged regularities are somehow spurious. Some, like Smolensky, however, took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that are supposed to be non-classical
  •  170
    Understanding the nature of pain depends, at least partly, on recognizing its subjectivity (thus, its first-person epistemology). This in turn requires using a first-person experiential method in addition to third-person experimental approaches to study it. This paper is an attempt to spell out what the former approach is and how it can be integrated with the latter. We start our discussion by examining some foundational issues raised by the use of introspection. We argue that such a first-perso…Read more
  •  201
    An analysis of pleasure vis-a-vis pain
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3): 537-570. 2000.
    I take up the issue of whether pleasure is a kind of sensation or not. This issue was much discussed by philosophers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and apparently no resolution was reached. There were mainly two camps in the discussion: those who argued for a dispositional account, and those who favored an episodic feeling view of pleasure. Here, relying on some recent scientific research I offer an account of pleasure which neither dispositionalizes nor sensationalizes pleasure. As is usual in the t…Read more
  •  68
    Pain, philosophical aspects of
    In Tim Bayne, Axel Cleeremans & Patrick Wilken (eds.), Oxford Companion to Consciousness, . pp. 495-498. 2009.
    The ordinary conception of pain has two major threads that are in tension with each other. It is this tension that generates various puzzles in our philosophical understanding of pain. This is a short encyclopedia entry surveying some of the major philosophical puzzles about pain.