Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Rescuing Maligned Views in Phil Mind [HYC]

Epiphenomenalism and Idealism are two of the most maligned views in philosophy of mind. So it's kind of funny that Helen defends both.  Something I really like about her papers is that they really bring out why these views are much more defensible -- or even appealing -- than others usually realize.  This comes through especially strongly in her two latest papers:

(1) 'Get Acquainted With Naïve Idealism' (forthcoming in The Roles of Representations in Visual Perception) argues that only idealists can truly secure the putative epistemic benefits of direct realism about perception, as the only well-developed conception of direct acquaintance on offer in phil mind involves the objects of direct acquaintance (i.e., phenomenal experiences) being literal constituents of our thoughts.  Helen shows how idealists can extend this account to make sense of direct acquaintance with "physical" objects (that are themselves ultimately made of phenomenology, and hence apt to enter our minds in the relevant way), while traditional materialist accounts of physical reality can't make sense of this.  The resulting theory of perception -- naive idealism -- is completely wild, but a lot of fun to think about! 

(2) 'Dualism All the Way Down: Why There is No Paradox of Phenomenal Judgment' (forthcoming in Synthese) should instantly become required reading for any class that covers epiphenomenalism.  In this paper, Helen expands upon Chalmers' classic defense of epiphenomenalism against the paradox of phenomenal judgment ("how can you know you're conscious, if qualia can't cause this belief?"), emphasizing that the paradox -- including Kirk's post-Chalmers development of it -- loses its force when one takes care to adopt a systematically dualistic conception of the mind, such that you are not your brain.  This putative "paradox" is usually taken to be the objection to epiphenomenalism, and this paper basically offers a knock-down refutation of it (and a half-dozen closely related variants of the objection).



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