•  5888
    Intentionality as the mark of the mental
    In Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Cambridge University Press. pp. 229-251. 1998.
    ‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something would ipso facto cease to exist’.1 Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano’s: that intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano’s originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or …Read more
  •  3508
    I’d like to begin, if I may, by repeating myself. When I spoke at the Institute’s official launch last June, I quoted W.V. Quine’s remark that logic is an old subject, and since 1879 it has been a great one; and I commented that whatever the truth of this, it is undeniably true that philosophy is an old subject and has been a great one since the 5th century BC. The foundation of an institute of philosophy in the University of London has been, in my opinion, a great thing for philosophy and for t…Read more
  •  2795
    The Unity of Unconsciousness
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117 (1): 1-21. 2017.
    What is the relationship between unconscious and conscious intentionality? Contemporary philosophy of mind treats the contents of conscious 10 intentional mental states as the same kind of thing as the contents of un- conscious mental states. According to the standard view that beliefs and desires are propositional attitudes, for example, the contents of these states are propositions, whether or not the states are conscious or unconscious. I dispute this way of thinking of conscious and unconsci…Read more
  •  1918
    What Is the Problem of Perception?
    Synthesis Philosophica 20 (2): 237-264. 2005.
    What is the distinctively philosophical problem of perception? Here it is argued that it is the conflict between the nature of perceptual experience as it intuitively seems to us, and certain possibilities which are implicit in the very idea of experience: possibilities of illusion and to the world' which involves direct awareness of existing objects and their properties. But if one can have an experience of the same kind without the object being there -- a hallucination of an object -- then it …Read more
  •  1535
    Singular Thought
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1): 21-43. 2011.
    A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
  •  1436
    Franz Brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept of intentional inexistence is often cited as reintroducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the 20th century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.1 It is important to correct these misunderstandings if…Read more
  •  1321
    There is No Question of Physicalism
    Mind 99 (394): 185-206. 1990.
    Many philosophers are impressed by the progress achieved by physical sciences. This has had an especially deep effect on their ontological views: it has made many of them physicalists. Physicalists believe that everything is physical: more precisely, that all entities, properties, relations, and facts are those which are studied by physics or other physical sciences. They may not all agree with the spirit of Rutherford's quoted remark that 'there is physics; and there is stamp-collecting',' but …Read more
  •  1183
    The Intentional Structure of Consciousness
    In Quentin Smith & Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives, Oxford University Press. pp. 33-56. 2003.
    Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which …Read more
  •  1155
    Is There a Perceptual Relation?
    In Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experiences, Oxford University Press. pp. 126-146. 2006.
    P.F. Strawson argued that ‘mature sensible experience (in general) presents itself as … an immediate consciousness of the existence of things outside us’ (1979: 97). He began his defence of this very natural idea by asking how someone might typically give a description of their current visual experience, and offered this example of such a description: ‘I see the red light of the setting sun filtering through the black and thickly clustered branches of the elms; I see the dappled deer grazing in …Read more
  •  1074
    Dualism, Monism, Physicalism
    Mind and Society 1 (2): 73-85. 2000.
    Dualism can be contrasted with monism, and also with physicalism. It is argued here that what is essential to physicalism is not just its denial of dualism , but the epistemological and ontological authority it gives to physical science. A physicalist view of the mind must be reductive in one or both of the following senses: it must identify mental phenomena with physical phenomena or it must give an explanation of mental phenomena in physical terms . There is little reason to call a view which …Read more
  •  1036
    Philosophy, that most misunderstood of intellectual pursuits, is often mocked; and no part of philosophy is as often mocked as metaphysics. The image of the ‘speculative metaphysician’ dreaming up abstract pictures of the world has been held up for ridicule by poets, playwrights, novelists, journalists as well as by other philosophers. The Logical Positivists in the first half of the 20th Century rejected all metaphysical speculations as ‘meaningless’ since they could not be verified by scientif…Read more
  •  992
    Is Perception a Propositional Attitude?
    Philosophical Quarterly 59 (236): 452-469. 2009.
    It is widely agreed that perceptual experience is a form of intentionality, i.e., that it has representational content. Many philosophers take this to mean that like belief, experience has propositional content, that it can be true or false. I accept that perceptual experience has intentionality; but I dispute the claim that it has propositional content. This claim does not follow from the fact that experience is intentional, nor does it follow from the fact that experiences are accurate or inac…Read more
  •  960
    The Waterfall Illusion
    Analysis 48 (June): 142-47. 1988.
    If you stare for a period of time at a scene which contains movement in one direction, and then turn your attention to an object in a scene which contains no movement, this object will appear to move in the opposite direction to that of the original movement. The effect can be easily achieved by attaching a piece of paper with a spiral drawn on it to the spinning turntable of a record player, and then turning the turntable off while continuing to look at the spiral (see Frisby 1979, pp. 100-101 …Read more
  •  917
    The Origins of Qualia
    In Tim Crane & Sarah Patterson (eds.), The History of the Mind-Body Problem, Routledge. 2000.
    The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are physical…Read more
  •  909
    Summary of "Elements of Mind" and Replies to Critics
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (11): 223-240. 2004.
    Elements of Mind (EM) has two themes, one major and one minor. The major theme is intentionality, the mind’s direction upon its objects; the other is the mind–body problem. I treat these themes separately: chapters 1, and 3–5 are concerned with intentionality, while chapter 2 is about the mind–body problem. In this summary I will first describe my view of the mind–body problem, and then describe the book’s main theme. Like many philosophers, I see the mind–body problem as containing two sub–prob…Read more
  •  892
    What is the Problem of Non-Existence?
    Philosophia 40 (3): 417-434. 2012.
    It is widely held that there is a problem of talking about or otherwise representing things that not exist. But what exactly is this problem? This paper presents a formulation of the problem in terms of the conflict between the fact that there are truths about non-existent things and the fact that truths must be answerable to reality, how things are. Given this, the problem of singular negative existential statements is no longer the central or most difficult aspect of the problem of non-existen…Read more
  •  807
    Unconscious Belief and Conscious Thought
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Phenomenal Intentionality, Oup Usa. pp. 156. 2013.
    We call our thoughts conscious, and we also say the same of our bodily sensations, perceptions and other sensory experiences. But thoughts and sensory experiences are very different phenomena, both from the point of view of their subject and in their functional or cognitive role. Does this mean, then, that there are very different kinds or varieties of consciousness? Philosophers do often talk about different kinds of consciousness: Christopher Hill, for example, claims that ‘it is customary to …Read more
  •  753
    In Brian McLaughlin & Ansgar Beckermann (eds.), The Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Mind, Oxford University Press. pp. 474-93. 2009.
    The central and defining characteristic of thoughts is that they have objects. The object of a thought is what the thought concerns, or what it is about. Since there cannot be thoughts which are not about anything, or which do not concern anything, there cannot be thoughts without objects. Mental states or events or processes which have objects in this sense are traditionally called ‘intentional,’ and ‘intentionality’ is for this reason the general term for this defining characteristic of though…Read more
  •  739
    The Mental Causation Debate
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 69 211-36. 1995.
    This paper is about a puzzle which lies at the heart of contemporary physicalist theories of mind. On the one hand, the original motivation for physicalism was the need to explain the place of mental causation in the physical world. On the other hand, physicalists have recently come to see the explanation of mental causation as one of their major problems. But how can this be? How can it be that physicalist theories still have a problem explaining something which their physicalism was intended t…Read more
  •  712
    Introspection, Intentionality, and the Transparency of Experience
    Philosophical Topics 28 (2): 49-67. 2000.
    Some philosophers have argued recently that introspective evidence provides direct support for an intentionalist theory of visual experience. An intentionalist theory of visual experience treats experience as an intentional state, a state with an intentional content. (I shall use the word ’state’ in a general way, for any kind of mental phenomenon, and here I shall not distinguish states proper from events, though the distinction is important.) Intentionalist theories characteristically say that…Read more
  •  691
    The Nonconceptual Content of Experience
    In The Contents of Experience, Cambridge University Press. pp. 136-57. 1992.
    Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. The claim is not, of course, that the child’s experie…Read more
  •  684
    The Mind-Body Problem
    In Rob Wilson & Frank Keil (eds.), The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, Mit Press. 1999.
    The mind-body problem is the problem of explaining how our mental states, events and processes—like beliefs, actions and thinking—are related to the physical states, events and processes in our bodies. A question of the form, ‘how is A related to B?’ does not by itself pose a philosophical problem. To pose such a problem, there has to be something about A and B which makes the relation between them seem problematic. Many features of mind and body have been cited as responsible for our sense of t…Read more
  •  680
    Mental Causation and Mental Reality
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92 185-202. 1992.
    The Problems of Mental Causation. Functionalism in the philosophy of mind identifies mental states with their dispositional connections with other mental states, perceptions and actions. Many theories of the mind have sailed under the Functionalist flag. But what I take to be essential to Functionalism is that mental states are individuated causally: the reality of mental states depends essentially on their causal efficacy.
  •  673
    The Language of Thought: No Syntax Without Semantics
    Mind and Language 5 (3): 187-213. 1990.
    Many philosophers think that being in an intentional state is a matter of being related to a sentence in a mental language-a 'Language of Thought' (see especially Fodor 1975, 1987 Appendix; Field 1978). According to this view-which I shall call 'the LT hypothesis'-when anyone has a belief or a desire or a hope with a certain content, they have a sentence of this language, with that content, 'written' in their heads. The claim is meant quite literally: the mental representations that make up the …Read more
  •  666
    Subjective Facts
    In Hallvard Lillehammer & Gonzalo Rodriguez Pereyra (eds.), Real Metaphysics, Routledge. pp. 68-83. 2003.
    An important theme running through D.H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (the series of ‘dates…Read more
  •  606
    In this paper, it is argued that the late twentieth century conception of consciousness in analytic philosophy emerged from the idea of consciousness as givenness, via the behaviourist idea of “raw feels”. In the post-behaviourist period in philosophy, this resulted in the division of states of mind into essentially unconscious propositional attitudes plus the phenomenal residue of qualia: intrinsic, ineffable and inefficacious sensory states. It is striking how little in the important questions…Read more
  •  600
    The Significance of Emergence
    In Barry Loewer & Grant Gillett (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents, Cambridge University Press. 2001.
    This paper is an attempt to understand the content of, and motivation for, a popular form of physicalism, which I call ‘non-reductive physicalism’. Non-reductive physicalism claims although the mind is physical (in some sense), mental properties are nonetheless not identical to (or reducible to) physical properties. This suggests that mental properties are, in earlier terminology, ‘emergent properties’ of physical entities. Yet many non-reductive physicalists have denied this. In what follows, I…Read more
  •  529
    Cosmic Hermeneutics vs. Emergence: The Challenge of the Explanatory Gap
    In Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind, Oxford University Press. pp. 22-34. 2010.
    Joseph Levine is generally credited with the invention of the term ‘explanatory gap’ to describe our ignorance about the relationship between consciousness and the physical structures which sustain it.¹ Levine’s account of the problem of the FN:1 explanatory gap in his book Purple Haze (2001) may be summarized in terms of three theses, which I will describe and name as follows...
  •  516
    Intentional Objects
    Ratio 14 (4): 298-317. 2001.
    Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle...
  •  507
    Wittgenstein and Intentionality
    The Harvard Review of Philosophy 17 (1): 88-104. 2010.
    The concept of intentionality --- what Brentano called ‘the mind’s direction on its obj ects’ --- has been a preoccupation of many of the most significant twentieth century philosophers. The purpose of this essay is to examine the place of the concept of intentionality in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, and to criticize one aspect of his treatment of intentionality. Although the word ‘intentionality’ is not (to my knowledge) used in Wittgenstein’s philosophical writings, the idea it expresses w…Read more