Representing Plants?

Reading my two previous posts, you might complain that perceiving and remembering require concepts, ideas, or even thoughts, which are basically representations, and plants don’t have those, so they don’t perceive or remember. For the same reason, you might add, they don’t have minds. Do plants have representations? Phototropism can …

Colours as Observational Properties

The second main claim made by the naïve realist is that colours are distinct from the physical properties of objects. In saying that colours are distinct from the physical properties of objects, the naïve realist is not necessarily saying that are ‘perfectly simple’ properties whose nature cannot be described further; …

Morality, the Problem of Possible Future Selves, and Christmas Parables

In my 2016 book, Rightness as Fairness: A Moral and Political Theory, I argue that morality is a solution to a problem of diachronic rationality called ‘the problem of possible future selves.’ To simplify (very) greatly, the problem–which is partially inspired by L.A. Paul’s groundbreaking work on transformative experience–is that (A) our present …

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 …

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 …

The Natural Self

Many thanks to John Schwenkler for inviting me to outline here at The Brains Blog the main ideas in my book The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance (Oxford University Press, new in paperback 2015). I’ll sketch the overall picture in this blog and follow up with two more in which I’ll draw …

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 …

Symposium on Paul Churchland’s “Matter and Consciousness” (3rd ed., 2013)

I’m very glad to be able to kick off this symposium on Paul M. Churchland’s Matter and Consciousness, recently reissued in a new (third) edition by the MIT Press. Below the fold is a brief introduction to the symposium, followed by essays from our three contributors, Amy Kind (Claremont McKenna), William Ramsey (UNLV), …

2013 Spindel Conference: The Lives of Human Animals

The problem of personal identity is one of the most bewitching puzzles in all of philosophy. Until very recently, most philosophers subscribed to the view first advocated by the 17th-century British philosopher, John Locke. Locke held that our fundamental nature is given by our status as self-conscious, rational agents (“persons”) …

A New Theory of Free Will

Just a quick note that I recently published an article in The Philosophical Forum , “A New Theory of Free Will“, that may be of interest to readers (a free PDF of the penultimate draft is available here).  Here’s the abstract:  This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including …

The Analytic Functionalists Were (Probably) Right!

The mind-body problem asks: How are mental states related to physical states of the brain, the body, and behavioral states more generally? Functionalists claim that mental states are identical with functional roles, defined as relations between environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mental states.Analytic functionalists contend that these identities are imposed …