•  823
    The use of expressions like ‘concepts of consciousness’, ‘kinds of consciousness’, and ‘meanings of ‘consciousness’’ interchangeably is ubiquitous within the consciousness literature. It is argued that this practice can be made sense of in only two ways. The first involves interpreting ‘concepts of consciousness’ and ‘kinds of consciousness’ metalinguistically to mean concepts expressed by ‘consciousness’ and kinds expressed by ‘consciousness’; and the second involves certain literal, though sem…Read more
  •  376
    Is 'consciousness' ambiguous?
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (2): 19-44. 2001.
    It is widely assumed that ‘ consciousness ’ is multiply ambiguous within the consciousness literature. Some alleged senses of the term are access consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, state consciousness, creature consciousness, introspective consciousness, self consciousness, to name a few. In the paper I argue for two points. First, there are few if any good reasons for thinking that such alleged senses are genuine: ‘ consciousness ’ is best viewed as univocal within the literature. The sec…Read more
  •  376
    Social relations and the individuation of thought
    Mind 102 (406): 247-61. 1993.
    Tyler Burge has argued that a necessary condition for individual's having many of the thoughts he has is that he bear certain relations to other language users. Burge's conclusion is based on a thought experiment in which an individual's social relations are imagined, counterfactually, to differ from how they are actually. The result is that it seems, counterfactually, the individual cannot be attributed many of the thoughts he can be actually. In the article, an alternative interpretation of Bu…Read more
  •  259
    Davidson’s Argument for Monism
    Synthese 135 (1): 1-12. 2003.
    Two criticisms of Davidson's argument for monism are presented. The first is that there is no obvious way for the anomalism of the mental to do any work in his argument. Certain implicit premises, on the other hand, entail monism independently of the anomalism of the mental, but they are question-begging. The second criticism is that even if Davidson's argument is sound, the variety of monism that emerges is extremely weak at best. I show that by constructing ontologically ``hybrid'' events that…Read more
  •  242
    Against functionalist theories of consciousness
    Mind and Language 9 (2): 105-23. 1994.
    The paper contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments to which it appears, on the surface to be similar
  •  210
    Conceiving simple experiences
    Journal of Mind and Behavior 22 (3): 263-86. 2001.
    That consciousness is composed of simple or basic elements that combine to form complex experiences is an idea with a long history. This idea is approached through an examination of our “picture” or conception of consciousness . It is argued that CC commits us to a certain abstract notion of simple experiential events, or simples, and that traditional critiques of simple elements of experience do not threaten simples. To the extent that CC is taken to conform to how consciousness really is, ther…Read more
  •  168
    Toward an ontological interpretation of Dennett's theory
    Philosophia 29 (1-4): 343-369. 2002.
    While "Consciousness Explained" has received an enormous amount of attention since its publication, there is still little agreement on what Dennett’s account of consciousness is. Most interpreters treat his view as an instance of one or another of the standard ontological positions (functionalism, behaviorism, eliminativism, instrumentalism). I believe a different metaphysical account underlies Dennett’s view, one that is important though ill-understood. In the paper I attempt to point in the…Read more
  •  162
    Can We Acquire Knowledge of Ultimate Reality?
    In Jeanine Diller & Asa Kasher (eds.), Models of God and Alternative Ultimate Realities, Springer. pp. 81-91. 2013.
    Can humans acquire knowledge of ultimate reality, even significant or comprehensive knowledge? I argue that for all we know we can, and that is so whether ultimate reality is divine or non-divine. My strategy involves arguing that we are ignorant, in the sense of lacking public or shared knowledge, about which possibilities, if any, obtain for humans to acquire knowledge of ultimate reality. This follows from a deep feature of our epistemic situation—that our current psychology strongly constrai…Read more
  •  159
    Papineau on the vagueness of phenomenal concepts
    Dialectica 60 (4): 475-483. 2006.
    Papineau’s argument in "Thinking About Consciousness" for the vagueness or indeterminacy of phenomenal concepts is discussed. Several problems with his argument are brought out, and it is concluded that his argument fails to establish his desired conclusion.
  •  144
    Outline of a general methodology for consciousness research
    Anthropology and Philosophy 3 (2): 43-56. 1999.
    In spite of the enormous interdisciplinary interest in consciousness these days, sorely lacking are general methodologies in terms of which individual research efforts across disciplines can be seen as contributing to a common end. In the paper I outline such a methodology. The central idea is that empirically studying our conception of consciousness—what we have in mind when we think about consciousness—can lead to progress on consciousness itself. The paper clarifies and motivates that idea.
  •  133
    Sidestepping the semantics of “consciousness”
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (2): 289-290. 2004.
    Block explains the conflation of phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness by appeal to the ambiguity of the term “consciousness.” However, the nature of ambiguity is not at all clear, and the thesis that “consciousness” is ambiguous between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness is far from obvious. Moreover, the conflation can be explained without supposing that the term is ambiguous. Block's argument can thus be strengthened by avoiding controversial issues in the semantics…Read more
  •  126
    Simulation constraints, afterlife beliefs, and common-sense dualism
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (5): 462-463. 2006.
    Simulation constraints cannot help in explaining afterlife beliefs in general because belief in an afterlife is a precondition for running a simulation. Instead, an explanation may be found by examining more deeply our common-sense dualistic conception of the mind or soul.
  •  119
    All due respect - “Reasonable Atheism” by Aikin and Talisse reviewed (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine (55): 108-109. 2011.
  •  101
    On the temporal boundaries of simple experiences
    Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. 1998.
    I have argued elsewhere that our conception of phenomenal consciousness commits us to simple phenomenal experiences that in some sense constitute our complex experiences. In this paper I argue that the temporal boundaries of simple phenomenal experiences cannot be conceived as fuzzy or vague, but must be conceived as instantaneous or maximally sharp. The argument is based on an account of what is involved in conceiving fuzzy temporally boundaries for events generally. If the argument is rig…Read more
  •  60
    How to argue against (some) theories of content
    Iyyun 55 (July): 265-286. 2006.
    An argument is offered against three naturalistic theories of intentional content: causal-covariation theories, teleological theories, and certain versions of conceptual role semantics. The strategy involves focusing on a normative problem regarding the practice of associating content expressions (e.g., that-clauses) with internal entities (states, symbol structures, etc.). The problem can be expressed thus: Which content expressions are the right ones to associate with internal entities? I argu…Read more
  •  28
    The where and when of what?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (2): 201-202. 1992.
  •  12
    The use of expressions like 'concepts of consciousness', 'kinds of consciousness', and 'meanings of 'consciousness" interchangeably is ubiquitous within the consciousness literature. It is argued that this practice can be made sense of in only two ways. The first involves interpreting 'concepts of consciousness' and 'kinds of consciousness' metalinguistically to mean, roughly, concepts expressed by 'consciousness' and kinds expressed by 'consciousness'; and the second involves certain literal, t…Read more
  •  2
    Book review (review)
    Philosophia 31 (1-2): 325-329. 2003.
  •  2
    On the Temporal Boundaries of Simple Experiences
    The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 35 15-19. 1998.
    I argue that the temporal boundaries of certain experiences — those I call ‘simple experiential events’ — have a different character than the temporal boundaries of the events most frequently associated with experience: neural events. In particular, I argue that the temporal boundaries of SEEs are more sharply defined than those of neural events. Indeed, they are sharper than the boundaries of all physical events at levels of complexity higher than that of elementary particle physics. If correct…Read more