Our New, Ongoing and Empirically Resolvable Debates over Reduction and Emergence

Some philosophers of science have suggested that scientific discussions of “reductionism” and “emergentism” are merely rhetorical funding grabs. But drawing together my work in earlier parts of the book, in the final section, Part IV, I outline how we are in substantive, ongoing and empirically resolvable scientific debates about the …

The Scientific Emergentist and her Striking Metaphysical Mutualism

Part III of the book focuses on reconstructing the scientific emergentism of writers like Anderson, Freeman, Laughlin, Prigogine, and others, and providing a theoretical framework for its claims. I argue that scientific emergentism is a philosophically overlooked, and profoundly important position, that I dub ‘Mutualism’ with a range of novel …

The Scientific Reductionist and her Live Fundamentalist Position

The widespread philosophical view is that reductionism in the sciences is a dead view and perhaps slightly distasteful to boot. As I outlined in an earlier post, the received view assumes that “reductionism” is semantic, or Nagelian, reduction. The goal of such semantic reduction was to show that higher sciences …

Understanding Compositional Explanations in the Sciences

Understanding the nature of “vertical” relations whether in science, nature, mathematics, logic, or anywhere else, is a hot topic in philosophy. What is unfortunate is that, as yet, too little attention is paid to focused issues about what frameworks work best for the “vertical” relations in particular areas. However, it …

Metaphysics of Science vs. Metaphysics for Science: Scientific and Philosophical Frameworks

Part I of the book clears space for later work and supplies a key theoretical platform. To get us started, I briefly sketch the outlines of the scientific views to highlight how they differ from philosophical accounts of reduction /emergence; and to broach a diagnosis of how the dislocation between …

Revisiting Reduction and Emergence in the Sciences

Many thanks to John Schwenkler for allowing me to blog here about my new book Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy. The book is long, so I will seek to unpack the main themes of the book’s four sections in subsequent posts. At the end of this post, I …

Conceptualism Can’t Account for the Phenomenology of Hallucination

The argument from fineness of grain is probably the most discussed argument for nonconceptualism. (To name but a few discussants: Peacocke 1998, 2001a, 2001b; McDowell 1994, 1998, Brewer 1999, 2005, Tye 2005, Coliva 2003, Kelly 2001a, 2001b, Veillet 2014.) To account for the fine-grained phenomenal character of visual experience in …

Yes, We Can: Get from the State View to the Content View

In my previous post, I referred several times to the state view/content view distinction. As has been argued by authors such as Byrne (2005) or Crowther (2006), the distinction is problematic for nonconceptualists to the extent that they want to make a claim about perceptual content. For central pro-nonconceptualist arguments …

Concept Possession Isn’t Good Enough

Typically, nonconceptualism is introduced in terms of concept possession. Take for instance, the first claim from the recently updated SEP entry on nonconceptual content: The central idea behind the theory of nonconceptual mental content is that some mental states can represent the world even though the bearer of those mental …

Introducing Modest Nonconceptualism

First off, I want to thank John Schwenkler for inviting me to contribute a few posts on my new book, Modest Nonconceptualism: Epistemology, Phenomenology, Content, this week. As I’m sure readers of the Brains blog are well aware, there is an intricate debate over whether perceptual experience is conceptual or …

Why all conscious thinking is sensory-based

This final post addresses an obvious puzzle: why is reflective thinking sensory based? We can, after all, think about all sorts of abstract nonsensory topics. We think about God, the size of the universe, the mental states of other people, the validity of arguments, arithmetical facts and other mathematical entities, …

Decomposing the hierarchy of thought

Like other social animals, humans are status-conscious creatures, obsessed with hierarchy and rankings. This is obvious in the realm of finance, the entertainment industry, and academic reputation-chasing, but it also turns up in the more staid realms of theory. Psychology and ethology make frequent reference to the distinction between the …

Naïve normativity

In standard approaches to folk psychology, our folk psychological reasoning is taken to be a species of causal reasoning. And while there is some attention to other kinds of reasoning in the developmental literature, notably teleological reasoning, most of the research I’ve run across on children’s social reasoning and explanations …

SpaceTimeMind

You may (or may not) have noticed that Pete Mandik and Richard Brown (me) have started a podcast, called SpaceTimeMind, where we talk about tax law updates for 2014, uh, I mean, er, we talk about space and time and mind! The first episode is up now (and has been …

Aliens versus materialists (Part III): Phenomenal concepts to the rescue?

A year ago we met an alien species (Part I) that lacked subjective conscious states but were virtuoso scientists. They developed a detailed understanding of cat brains at every level of organization, but still did not realize that cats were conscious. This was parlayed into an argument for dualism (Part …