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Title: A hybrid naive realist-representationalist theory of phenomenal consciousness
Author: Mathers, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 0318
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This is a Thesis about a tension in the metaphysics of phenomenal consciousness. Many philosophers have endorsed the view that phenomenally conscious perceptual experiences are transparent, in the sense that when we try to attend to those experiences, we find ourselves instead attending to the objects and properties in the external world we perceive by undergoing them. At the same time, many are attracted to the view that the items we immediately attend to on introspecting our conscious perceptions constitutively fix the phenomenal properties of those experiences. And many also believe that, in itself, whether an experience is a successful perception of an object in the world, or hallucinatory need not make any difference to the phenomenal properties of that experience. These three beliefs are in tension. For if successful perceptions get their phenomenal properties fixed by the ordinary objects and perceptible properties associated with them, there is a worry that pure hallucinations will not be able to share all and only the phenomenal properties of successful perceptions. For, arguably, hallucinations are not hooked up to the world in the right way to make ordinary physical objects available for their subjects' introspective attention. If the items which constitutively fixed the phenomenal properties of successful perceptions are therefore not available to perform this task in the purely hallucinatory case, it's not clear how pure hallucinations can come to share the phenomenal properties of successful perceptions. In this Thesis, I first clarify exactly what the tension is here. I go on to show that it is in fact unclear whether or not the original three claims are incompatible. But I then show that there is a tension of a broadly similar sort which is definitely real. I argue that those who accept transparency should also accept an extension to the transparency thesis. This extension says that the entities associated with successful perceptions which fix their phenomenal properties are fact-like entities which have ordinary objects as parts, and which I call 'perceptible scenes'. I then argue that it follows from standard views about what phenomenal properties are that, if successful perceptions get their phenomenal properties from having such perceptible scenes associated with them, then pure hallucinations will not be able to share all the phenomenal properties of successful perceptions unless they also have their phenomenal properties fixed by associated perceptible scenes. I argue, however, that it's impossible for hallucinations to have perceptible scenes associated with them in the right way. This shows that it's impossible for a successful perception and a pure hallucination to share all and only the same phenomenal properties. In the remainder of the Thesis, I develop my own view of how the phenomenal properties of conscious perceptual experiences are fixed, which takes account of these claims about perceptible scenes. It is a hybrid view, drawing from both representationalist and naive realist view in the literature, despite representationalism and naive realism usually being thought to be rivals.
Supervisor: Hawthorne, John Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; Consciousness ; Philosophy of Perception