•  11027
    Are women adult human females?
    Philosophical Studies 177 (12): 3783-3803. 2020.
    Are women (simply) adult human females? Dictionaries suggest that they are. However, philosophers who have explicitly considered the question invariably answer no. This paper argues that they are wrong. The orthodox view is that the category *woman* is a social category, like the categories *widow* and *police officer*, although exactly what this social category consists in is a matter of considerable disagreement. In any event, orthodoxy has it that *woman* is definitely not a biological catego…Read more
  •  7074
    Gender muddle: reply to Dembroff
    Journal of Controversial Ideas 1 (1). 2021.
    Dembroff’s “Escaping the natural attitude about gender” replies to my “Are women adult human females?”. This paper responds to Dembroff’s many criticisms of my arguments, as well as to the charge that “Are women...” “fundamentally is an unscholarly attempt to vindicate a political slogan that is currently being used to undermine civic rights and respect for trans persons”. I argue that Dembroff’s criticisms fail without exception, and explain why the claims about my motives are baseless.
  •  1174
    Interpretivism
    European Review of Philosophy 3 (Response-Dependence): 199-223. 1998.
    In the writings of Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson we find something like the following bold conjecture: it is an a priori truth that there is no gap between our best judgements of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Under ideal conditions a subject's belief-box and desire-box become transparent.
  •  1119
    Intentionalism defended
    Philosophical Review 110 (2): 199-240. 2001.
    Traditionally, perceptual experiences—for example, the experience of seeing a cat—were thought to have two quite distinct components. When one sees a cat, one’s experience is “about” the cat: this is the representational or intentional component of the experience. One’s experience also has phenomenal character: this is the sensational component of the experience. Although the intentional and sensational components at least typically go together, in principle they might come apart: the intentiona…Read more
  •  760
    Some like it HOT: Consciousness and higher-order thoughts
    Philosophical Studies 86 (2): 103-29. 1997.
    Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt
  •  679
    Something about Mary
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1): 27-52. 2002.
    Jackson's black-and-white Mary teaches us that the propositional content of perception cannot be fully expressed in language.
  •  678
    Behaviourism
    In S. D. Guttenplan (ed.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, Blackwell. 1996.
    Introductory texts in the philosophy of mind often begin with a discussion of behaviourism, presented as one of the few theories of mind that have been conclusively refuted. But matters are not that simple: behaviourism, in one form or another, is still alive and kicking
  •  666
    Experience and content
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236): 429-451. 2009.
    The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the c…Read more
  •  649
    Qualia ain't in the head
    Noûs 40 (2): 241-255. 2006.
    Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2
  •  585
    Bad intensions
    In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Maci (eds.), Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications, Oxford University Press. pp. 38--54. 2006.
    _the a priori role_ (for word T). For instance, perhaps anyone who understands the word _water_ is able to know, without appeal to any further a posteriori information, that _water_ refers to the clear, drinkable natural kind whose instances are predominant in our oceans and lakes (if _water_ refers at all
  •  560
    Transparency, belief, intention
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 201-21. 2011.
    This paper elaborates and defends a familiar ‘transparent’ account of knowledge of one's own beliefs, inspired by some remarks of Gareth Evans, and makes a case that the account can be extended to mental states in general, in particular to knowledge of one's intentions.
  •  552
    At least in one well-motivated sense of ‘concept’, all perception involves concepts, even perception as practiced by lizards and bees. That is because—the paper argues—all perception involves belief.
  •  500
    Perception and probability
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 1-21. 2021.
    One very popular framework in contemporary epistemology is Bayesian. The central epistemic state is subjective confidence, or credence. Traditional epistemic states like belief and knowledge tend to be sidelined, or even dispensed with entirely. Credences are often introduced as familiar mental states, merely in need of a special label for the purposes of epistemology. But whether they are implicitly recognized by the folk or posits of a sophisticated scientific psychology, they do not appear to…Read more
  •  478
    Perception and ordinary objects
    In Javier Cumpa & Bill Brewer (eds.), The Nature of Ordinary Objects, Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    The paper argues -- against the standard view in metaphysics -- that the existence of ordinary objects like tomatoes is (near-enough) established by the fact that such things are apparently encountered in perception.
  •  474
    Color relationalism and relativism
    Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (1): 172-192. 2017.
    This paper critically examines color relationalism and color relativism, two theories of color that are allegedly supported by variation in normal human color vision. We mostly discuss color relationalism, defended at length in Jonathan Cohen's The Red and the Real, and argue that the theory has insuperable problems.
  •  457
    The science of color and color vision
    In Fiona Macpherson & Derek Brown (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour, Routledge. 2021.
    A survey of color science and color vision.
  •  451
    The epistemic significance of experience
    Philosophical Studies 173 947-67. 2016.
    According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended
  •  437
    What is gender identity?
    Arc Digital (jan 9). 2019.
    The often poorly explained notion of gender identity, and the attendant cisgender/transgender distinction, are critically examined.
  •  436
    Recollection, perception, imagination
    Philosophical Studies 148. 2010.
    Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. The paper addresses two questions: Q1. What are these similarities (and differences)? Q2. How does one tell that one is recalling (and so not perceiving or imagining)?
  •  393
    David Hume, David Lewis, and decision theory
    Mind 106 (423): 411-728. 1997.
    David Lewis claims that a simple sort of anti-Humeanism-that the rational agent desires something to the extent he believes it to be good-can be given a decision-theoretic formulation, which Lewis calls 'Desire as Belief' (DAB). Given the (widely held) assumption that Jeffrey conditionalising is a rationally permissible way to change one's mind in the face of new evidence, Lewis proves that DAB leads to absurdity. Thus, according to Lewis, the simple form of anti-Humeanism stands refuted. In thi…Read more
  •  380
    Perception and conceptual content
    In Ernest Sosa & Matthias Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, Blackwell. pp. 231--250. 2005.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is…Read more
  •  367
    Spin control: Comment on McDowell's Mind and World
    Philosophical Issues 7 261-73. 1996.
    We have justified beliefs about the external world, and some of these are formed directly on the basis of perception. I may justifiably believe that a certain dog is in certain manger, and I may have this belief because I can see that the dog is in the manger. So far, so good
  •  365
    Sensory qualities, sensible qualities, sensational qualities
    In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind, Oxford University Press. 2009.
    Philosophers of mind have distinguished (and sometimes conflated) various qualities. This article tries to sort things out.
  •  352
    Introspection
    Philosophical Topics 33 (1): 79-104. 2005.
    I know various contingent truths about my environment by perception. For example, by looking, I know that there is a computer before me; by hearing, I know that someone is talking in the corridor; by tasting, I know that the coffee has no sugar. I know these things because I have some built-in mechanisms specialized for detecting the state of my environment. One of these mechanisms, for instance, is presently transducing electromagnetic radiation (in a narrow band of wavelengths) coming from the…Read more
  •  344
    Is sex binary?
    Arc Digital (nov 1). 2018.
    Response to Anne Fausto-Sterling's New York Times Op-Ed, in which she purports to explain why sex isn't binary.
  •  342
    How do things look to the color-blind?
    In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science, Mit Press. pp. 259. 2010.
    Color-vision defects constitute a spectrum of disorders with varying degrees and types of departure from normal human color vision. One form of color-vision defect is dichromacy; by mixing together only two lights, the dichromat can match any light, unlike normal trichromatic humans, who need to mix three. In a philosophical context, our titular question may be taken in two ways. First, it can be taken at face value as a question about visible properties of external objects, and second, it may b…Read more
  •  340
    McDowell and Wright on Anti-Scepticism etc.
    In Dylan Dodd & Elia Zardini (eds.), Scepticism and Perceptual Justification, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    On the assumption that we may learn from our elders and betters, this paper approaches some fundamental questions in perceptual epistemology through a dispute between McDowell and Wright about external world scepticism.
  •  336
    Knowing what I want
    In JeeLoo Liu & John Perry (eds.), Consciousness and the Self: New Essays, Cambridge University Press. 2011.
    How do you know what you want? The question is neglected by epistemologists. This paper attempts an answer.