Topics in Philosophy of Mind
Topics in Philosophy of Mind PHIL 93507
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From transparency to Russellianism PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks October 12 2009 Recall our contrast between the following opposed views of content Russellz39am39sm contents are structured objects the constituents of which are worldly items such as objects and properties Fregeam39sm contents are structured objects the constituents of which are ways of thinking about or modes of presentation of objects and properties A core difference between Russellian and Fregean views of content is that the Russellian thinks of contents as built up from worldly items like objects and properties whereas the Fregean thinks of contents as built up from modes of presentation of or concepts of these items Unlike the Russellian who constructs propositions out of objects and properties the Fregean introduces a new class of items 7 senses 7 to play the role of contents It is therefore reasonable to think that the Fregean should be able to provide some constraints on when two experiences have the same Fregean sense and when they do not When the bearers of content in question are sentences such constraint is standardly provided by some version of Fregels Criterion Two sentences 5 and 5quot have the same sense E any rational agent who under stood both would on re ection judge that S is true just in case he he would judge that Squot is true1 But how are we to apply this to the case of perception A straightforward generalization would yield something like this 1Obviously this ignores the need to relativize to contexts of utterance this plays no role in what follows An immediate problem for this statement of the Criterion is the possibility of two intuitively none synonymous sentences which are such that anyone on re ection would judge them both to be true or false 117 and 227 do not have the same sense even if we can7t imagine a situation in which a re ective agent would di er over their truth value The most natural way around this problem is to allow the relevant truthevalue judgements to be not only about S and S but also about any pair of complex sentences which di er only in the substitution of S for S The Criterion can naturally be extended in an analogous way to subsentential expressions so that two expressions m and y have the same sense E any rational agent who understood both would on re ection make the same truth value judgement about any two sentences which differ only in the substitution of m for y Two experiences 6 and e have the same sense E any rational agent who had both experiences would on reflection judge that e is veridical just in case he he would judge that e is veridical But the latter criterion presents problems of interpretation which the former does not Implicit in the criterion for sameness and difference of the senses of sentences is the re quirement that the agent consider the two sentences with respect to the same circumstance of evaluation we can t demonstrate that Bob is a bachelor7 differs in sense from Bob is an unmarried man7 by noting that a friend of Bob s might rationally judge the rst to be true with respect to the morning of the wedding while judging the second to be false with respect to the evening of that day The problem is that perceptual experience come with built in7 circumstances of evaluation the location time and world of the experience itself For this reason one can7t have two experiences of the same time in the same way in which one can consider the truth of two sentences with respect to a single time and so we can7t simply build the same circumstance7 requirement into the second criterioni But clearly we need something like the same circumstance7 requirement in the case of the second criterion just as much as in the case of the rst After all suppose that an agent has experience 6 after being told by a reliable authority that his next experience will be veridical and experience 6 just after being told by the same authority that his experience will be illusoryi The fact that such an agent might well be rational to judge that the rst experience is veridical and that the second is illusory hardly suffices to show that the two experiences differ in sense 7 any more than the example above suffices to show that bachelorl and unmarried man7 o It seems to me that we can capture the intuitive idea behind the second criterion like this consider any agent complete with a set of beliefs about his environment ow consider two possible courses of that agents immediate future that he has experience 6 and that he has experience 6quot If it could ever be the case that the agent would be rational to judge one of the experiences veridical and rational for him to judge the other not to be veridical then the two experiences differ in sense if it couldn7t be the case that any such agents rational judgements would differ in this way then the two experiences have the same sense This seems to do the work which the same time7 requirement does in the case of the rst version of Fregels criterion without requiring incoherently that the agent simultaneously have two experiences of the scene before himi If we adopt this interpretation of Fregels criterion as applied to perceptual experiences then it seems clear that any two experiences which have exactly the same phenomenal character must also have the same sense For if two experiences have the same phenomenal character then they would be indistinguishable to any subject But then how could the pair of experiences supply a rational ground for any difference in veridicality judgements They couldn t holding xed all relevant aspects of an agent7s psychology it can never be rational to judge one experience veridical if it would be rational in just the same circumstances to judge illusory an experience in principle indistinguishable from the rst So the Fregean about the contents of perceptual experience is committed to the following PhenomenologySense Principle If two experiences have the same phenomenology then they have the same sense This commitment should not be surprising The PhenomenologySense Principle is not just derivable from the most plausible way of applying Fregels Criterion to the perceptual experience it also answers to the intuitive idea of a Fregean sense as a mode of presen tation of a reference It seems plausible that two experiences encode the same mode of presentation7 of an object for example the planet Venus if there is no phenomenologi cal difference between their sensory presentations of the planet So visual experiences of Venus in the morning in this part of the sky and in the evening in that part of the sky might agree in reference inasmuch as they are both experiences of Venus while differing in their mode of presentation or way of presenting that object while two visual experiences of Venus would agree in mode of presentation if there is no phenomenological difference between their presentations of the planet An important consequence of the difference between Russellian and Fregean views of content is that if the content of experience is Fregean rather than Russellian then since there will be many Fregean senses corresponding to each visually represented property there will be for each Russellian proposition attributing a property to an object many Fregean propositions which are are about7 the same object and property but differ with respect to the mode of presentation of the property There will also be different Fregean propositions which differ with respect to the mode of presentation of the object but ignore that for simplicity Consider two such Fregean propositions fpl and fpg which correspond in the above sense to a Russellian proposition Tpi e ey question is then Is the phenomenology of an experience which has fpl as its sense different from one which has fpg as its sense or not It seems that fpl and fpg must differ in phenomenology By hypothesis they are distinct Fregean senses and the r quot39 of the P Sc e Principle says that difference in sense guarantees difference in phenomenology So an experience with fpl as content differs phenomenally from one which has fpg as content and this means that there is an introspectable difference between an experience which has fpl as content and one which has fpg as content But now recall the moral of our discussion of the transparency of experience Since introspection reveals only the objects that are presented as being in ones environment and the properties those objects are presented as having any intro spectable difference between two experiences must involve some difference in the objects and properties presented as in ones environment This is the TransparencyDifference Principle discussed above TransparencyDifference Principle If there is an introspectable difference between two experiences then there is a difference in the objects and properties those two experiences represent as in ones environment It follows from this principle along with our conclusion that there is an introspectable difference between experiences which have fpl and fpg as contents that two experiences which respectively have fpl and fpg as contents differ with respect to which objects and properties they represent as before the perceiveri But this contradicts our initial supposition that fpl and fpg correspond to the same Russellian proposition because if they did they would not differ with respect to which objects and properties represented as being in the agent s environment but only with respect to the modes of presentation of the same objects and properties So the hypothesis that the contents of perceptions are Fregean senses along with the transparency of experience entails a contradictioni2 It seems to me that the only plausible reply for the Fregean who wants to respect the View of the transparency of experience sketched above is to try to block the derivation of the PhenomenologySense Principle One initially plausible way to do this is to relax the criterion for sameness and difference of the senses of perceptual experiences to simply a criterion of difference On this view differences in the relevant kinds of veridicality judgements are suf cient for difference in sense but sameness of the relevant kinds of veridicality judgements is not suf cient for sameness of sense So the view in question would reject the principle above namely Two experiences 6 and e have the same sense E any rational agent who had both experiences would on re ection judge that e is veridical just in case he he would judge that e is veridical in favor of Two experiences 6 and e have the same sense A any rational agent who had both experiences would on re ection judge that e is veridical just in case he he would judge that e is veridical From the latter there is no ready derivation of the PhenomenologySense Principle But this saves the Fregean view of experience only by making the notion of the Fregean sense of an experience unacceptably obscurei To see this consider any two experiences which according to the Fregean have distinct senses as their contents but correspond in the above sense to a single Russellian propositioni To borrow a phrase from Michael Nelson call any pair of experiences related in this way a puzzling pairi73 We know that to block the con ict with the transparency of experience the Fregean must claim that puzzling pairs never differ in phenomenologyi This was the point of the retreat from giving necessary and suf cient conditions for sameness of sense to giving necessary conditions We know from the de nition of puzzling pairs that they do not differ with respect to which objects and properties they represent as being before the perceiveri But despite the fact that puzzling pairs present just the same objects and properties in 2One response to this problem that I have heard is that although in general the relationship between Fregean and Russellian propositions is manyeone this may not be so in the case of the contents of perception So for any Russellian proposition there is at most one Fregean proposition which is such that it is a possible content of perception and is about7 the same objects and properties as the Russellian proposition For this to be a plausible reply we7d need some motivation for making this restriction in ase of perception but not thought or language One might attempt to provide such a motivation via the claim that the senses which are the contents of perceptual experiences are always demonstrative senses as in the View of Brewer 1999 But this is not enough the relationship of demonstrative senses to any given object or ropert is man eone T hrase is due to Nelson 2002 though Nelson has in mind certain pairs of sentences which allegedly di er in F regean sense but not Russellian content rather than pairs of experiences phenomenally identical ways the Fregean claims that there is some difference between the members of puzzling pairs in their mode of presentation of some object of property But in what could such a difference of mode of presentation consist It is important to be clear that the worry here is not just the standard worry that Fregeans do not say enough about the nature of the senses invoked to explain linguistic and cogni tive phenomena The worry is that even if we grant the distinctions between the senses of expressions which Fregeans typically accept and Russellians reject this still gives us no purchase on the differences in sense claimed to obtain between puzzling pairs of expe r1ences One way to show this is to compare the Fregeanls claim here with standard Fregean claims in the philosophy of language There is no shortage of pairs of sentences which the Fregean claims to differ in sense but which the Russellian regards as having the same content the easiest and most wellknown examples are sentences which differ only in the substitution of simple coreferential names he difference which the Fregean claims to hold between puzzling pairs of experiences is analogous to the difference which the Fregean claims to hold between such a pair of sentences they differ in sense but correspond to the same Russellian proposition The Russellian of course will deny that there typically are such differences in sense but for purposes of argument let s grant the Fregean7s claim about linguistic expressions This gives us a test for the Fregeanls claim about the contents of experience Often we can use language to report how a perceptual experience represents the world to us as we are supposing there are many sentences which di er in Fregean sense but not Russellian content then if puzzling pairs of experiences really exist one would expect that there is a puzzling pair of experiences 61 and 62 such that there is some sentence which correctly even if partially expresses the way that 61 represents the world as being but does not correctly express the way that 62 represents the world as being4 But now consider a puzzling pair of experiences which represent just the same objects and properties as before the perceiver and are phenomenally identical Is it ever the case that a sentence would be a correct report of the content of one member of that pair of experiences but not of the other It seems to me that the answer is Nol A similar argument can be run at the level of thought The Fregean will hold that the contents of thoughts are often distinct even though identical at the level of Russellian content So if there are puzzling pairs of experiences we should expect that sometimes a thought would even if partially match in content one member of the pair but not the other But again consider a puzzling pair of experiences which represent just the same objects and properties as before the perceiver and are phenomenally identical Is it ever the case that a thought or judgement would represent the world in the same way as one of those experiences but not the other If as I think the answer is again No7 the Fregean is stuck with the following view about puzzling pairs of experiences There are inde nitely many pairs of experiences related in the following way they present just the same objects and properties in phenomenally identical 4Otherwise the Fregean would have to claim that although there are differences in the senses of experiences which are not re ected as differences in Russellian content and there are differences in the senses of linguistic expressions which are not re ected as differences in Russellian content of necessity the two never coincide But what could explain that ways but nonetheless differ in their mode of presentation of those objects and properties Sentences and thoughts can also differ in their modes of presenta tions of objects and properties but the differences in mode of presentation we nd in the case of perception are undetectable because they are both inacces sible to thought and inexpressible in language This View does not con ict with the transparency of experience but that seems to be all that it has to recommend it So the differences in content posited by the Fregean conception of content either if ac companied by differences in phenomenology con ict with the transparency of experience or if unaccompanied by differences in phenomenology make the idea of a Fregean sense unintelligible The best conclusion is that the differences in content posited by the Fregean conception of the content of experience do not exist References Bill Brewer 1999 Perception and Reason Oxford Clarendon Press Michael Nelson 2002 Puzzling Pairsi Philosophical Studies 10821097119 More on cross modal binding and singular propositions PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks September 21 2009 Last time we were talking about the pressure put on intramodal intentionalism by cases of crossmodal bindingi These are cases in which intuitively we perceptually represent with distinct senses an object as being F and as being G and in which it perceptually seems to us that a single object is both F ad G Then it seems that there is a proposition namely the proposition that HI I is both F and G which is the content of my overall perceptual experience but is not the content of my visual experience or my auditory experience or i i i One can of course deny that there are such cases of experienced togethernessl as Tye puts it But as usual we can take our intuitions about what would count as an illusory experience 7 a case of perceptual misrepresentation 7 as a rough guide to the contents of our experience And there do seem to be cases in which we would be inclined to take our experience to be illusory if something turned out to be F and something else turned out This indicates that one of the following two things is true in addition to visually representing etc we also in addition to these modall representational states simply perceptually represent some things which are not represented in any sense modality or ii talk about visual representation etc is just talk about an aspect of what we percep tually representi The worry was that ii seems dif cult for the intramodal intentionalist to accept since it seems to involve giving up what Tye calls separatisml about sense experiences and that seems weirdi Last time we considered the possibility that the intramodal intentionalist could respond by taking the contents of the relevant experiences to be not existentially quanti ed contents as above but rather singular propositions which predicate the relevant properties of particular objectsi So in the sort of case above the perceiver might have a visual experience with the singular content oisFi and an auditory experience with the singular content ois Gr If the experiences had these contents this would explain in an intramodal friendly way the fact that we would count an experience as illusory when the F thing is distinct from the Gthingi But there are two problems with this way of handling the cases o It does not account for the intuition that we experientially represent the relevant object as both F and C unless we endorse some sort of closure principle for percep tual representationi But this sort of closure principle does not seem obvious arenlt their cases in which we can perceptually represent one object as F and that object as C but without representing any object as both F and G o A related concern is that this View arguably can7t really explain the relevant illusory casesi Suppose we have a case in which the object 0 which seems to be F is really distinct from the object 0 which seems to be G In this sort of case won t the visual experience have the content that 0 is F but the auditory experience have the content that 0 is G But both these propositions could be true hence we would not have a false perceptually represented proposition to explain the illusion that the experience is illusoryi Now the choice between intra and intermodal intentionalism is not an allornothing thing One could be a local intermodal intentionalist and say that any two perceptual experiences with the same overall content must also have the same overall perceptual phe nomenology without saying the same thing about the content and phenomenal character of someone s perceptualcumattentional state for instance But the cross modal cases can also be used to put some pressure on this sort of local intentionalism because it seems that we can come up with cases of crossmodal binding in which the relevant modalities are not modalities of perceptual experience at all Consider a case where you see yourself being stabbedi lntuitively don7t you perceptually represent the knife as located in a certain spot and as causing the pain you feel But you surely can t visually represent pains right The obvious response is that we should take one s overall perceptual experience7 to include pain sensations and indeed all bodily sensations since this sort of binding argument generalizesi Does this sort of argument show that a local intentionalism limited to perceptual experi ences in inherently unstable lntentionalism and bodily sensations PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks August 31 2009 We turn now to a class of examples directed speci cally at global rather than local in tentionalism examples of states which haVe a phenomenal character but seem to lack a content altogetheri Attention here focuses on bodily sensations 7 like pains itches and orgasms 7 which while not perceptual experiences clearly haVe an associated phenom enal characteri Despite this to many it seems obVious that pains itches and orgasms lack a content 7 it seems obVious that these states fail to represent the world as being any way at alli If this View is correct then global intentionalism is false 1 What could the content of a bodily sensation be Global intentionalism as such is not wedded to any particular View about what the contents of perceptual experiences are But because many people haVe a hard time getting their mind around the idea that pains could haVe contents it might be worth canvassing some things people haVe said about the contents of bodily sensations a feeling of pain in my toe that there is some disorderinjurybodily damage in my toei i i that there is a mental particular a pain present to me orgasm that there is an orgasmi that something Very pleasing is happening down there One also experi ences the pleasingness alternately increasing and diminishing in its intensity77 Tye 2 The case against intentionalism about bodily sensations 21 The tell me what the content is argument The principal argument against intentionalism about bodily sensations seems to be based on the View that the sorts of contentassignments sketched abOVe are implausiblei Thus Block WThe representationist should put up or shut up The burden of proof is on them to say what the representational content of experiences such as orgasm and pain are77 The problem Block thinks is that the results when one tries to do this are not very promising Is the experience of orgasm completely captured by a representational con tent that there is an orgasm Orgasm is phenomenally impressive and there is nothing very impressive about the representational content that there is an orgasm ljust expressed it and you just understood it and nothing phenome nally impressive happened at least not on my end I can have an experience whose content is that my partner is having an orgasm without my experience being phenomenally impressive In response to my raising this issue ye i i i says that the representational content of orgasm in part is that something very pleasing is happening down there One also experiences the pleasingness alternately increasing and diminishing in its intensity77 But once again can have an experience whose representational content is that my partner is having a very pleasing experience down there that changes in intensity and although that may be pleasurable for me it is not pleasurable in the phenom enally impressive way that that graces my own orgasms l vastly prefer my own orgasms to those of others and this preference is based on a major league phenomenal difference The location of down there77 differs slightly between my perception of your orgasms and my own orgasms but how can the rep resentationist explain why a small difference in represented location should matter so much Of course which subject the orgasm is ascribed to is itself a representational matter But is that the difference between my having the experience and my perceiving yours Is the difference just that my experience ascribes the pleasure to you rather than to me or to part of me Represen tational content can go awry in the heat of the moment What if in a heated state in which cognitive function is greatly reduced 1 mistakenly ascribe your orgasm to me or mine to you Would this difference in ascription really con stitute the difference between the presence or absence of the phenomenally impressive quality77 As Block notes it is implausible to require that the intentionalist come up with a sentence or two which would fully capture the content of the relevant sensation 7 that would be impossible with vision too How is Block s objection best understood To what standard is he holding the intention alist s theory about the content of bodily sensations Is the idea that if intentionalism is true then a small difference in content can t corre spond to a big difference in phenomenology Why should that be so And why is the difference between selfattribution of a property and attribution of it to someone else a small difference 22 No unperceived pains It seems that pain is an experience of something 7 namely a pain But ordinarily the things perceived in perceptual experience can exist unperceivedi However this seems not to be true of pains if there is tissue damage but no corresponding sensation there is no pain This indicates that 7 unlike ordinary perceptual experience 7 there is no separation between the experience and what the experience of And this in turn calls into question the intentionalist7s assimilation of pain to contentful sense experience This puts pressure on the idea that when one is feeling a pain what is represented is a pain in ones foot and puts some pressure on the representationalist to say that what is represented is something which like tissue damage can exist unsensedi Similar problems arise with itches where it is very natural to say that if one is repre senting anything one is representing an itc 3 The locatedness of pains The main argument for assigning contents to bodily sensations is their locatednessil Pains are felt as being located somewhere as are itches orgasms etc It is true that the intentionalist has a natural explanation of this fact if bodily sensations are representa tions of things happening in ones body then it would be natural for the objects of those sensations to seem to be somewhere 7 just as the objects of Visual experience seem to be somewhere Can the opponent of contents for bodily sensations offer any explanation of this fact More on existentialisrn PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks November 23 2009 1 The semantics of counterfactuals i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 1 2 More truth conditions for propositions i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 2 3 Monadic amp dyadic truth i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 3 1 The semantics of counterfactuals One question which Kenny asked last time was about how this approach to truth at a world can handle the standard Stalnaker Lewis semantics for coun terfactualsi According to one version of that view a formula p E q is true iff the nearest world at which p is true is also a world at which 4 is true One might put the following gloss on this the formula is true iff where w is the nearest world at which p is true the following is the case were w actual 4 would be true But surely then 4 would have to exist were w actual 7 which will be problematic for true counterfactuals whose consequent includes propositions like the proposition that Socrates does not exist The proponent of the kind of existentialist View I have been sketching can accept the Stalnaker Lewis semantics but not the gloss just given Instead the whole thing should be explained in terms of the of cial account of truth at a world ie p D q is true iff the nearest world which instantiates p s truth condition also instantiates 47s truth condition This takes relative similarity nearness relations between worlds as primitive but that s no different from the standard semantics Either could be supple mented by a theory of this relation 2 More truth conditions for propositions This raises the question of how to give systematic truth conditions for propo sitions for the reasons discussed last time there is no easy way to do this via quanti cation over propositions One possibility we discussed last time was to get around this problem by expressing the View as the claim that every instance of a schema like The truth condition for the proposition that S is the following prop erty of worlds the property of being such that were the world actual S is true but the worry is that this presupposes the notion of truth which it is the job of this sort of account to explain Instead I suggest that a systematic account of truth conditions for propositions can be given by a recursive de nition based on types of propositions as follows If p is an existential proposition that attributes existence to 0 then the truth condition for p is the following property of worlds the property of being such that were the world actual 0 would exist one of the objects which exists in the world would be 0 If p is an attribution of a monadic property F to 0 then the truth condition for p is the following property of worlds the property of being such that were the world actual 0 would instantiate F If p is the negation of another proposition 4 then the truth condi tion for p is the following property of worlds the property of not instantiating the truth condition for q and so on The semantics for counterfactuals above could be added to this list Note that this involves commitment to the idea that propositions as well as sen tences can eg be negations This would be de ed by for example the stan dard versions of possible worlds semantics It might also be denied by someone who thought that S and negS express the same proposition though such a person might still think that 5 gave the real7 logical form of the proposition which each expresses It seems to me plausible that propositions have these sorts of properties 7 like the property of being a monadic predication 7 and have them essentially It is not however a trivial claim that an account of truth of this sort could be developed which did not end up leading to problems of the sort Plantinga was trying to generate for the proposition that Socrates does not exist 3 Monadic amp dyadic truth Another source of worry about this view which we also discussed last time is that it reverses the usual order of explanation between the monadic truth predicate true and the dyadic truth predicate true with respect to w A natural thought is that we should explain the latter in terms of the former surely what is true simpliciter must be more fundamental than what is true with respect to this or that circumstance One way to bring out the motivation here is to imagine that all we had were the facts about what is true with respect to what 7 it is natural to think that this would leave out an important aspect of reality namely the facts about what is true simpliciter Insofar as I agree with these worries about the dyadic truth predicate I agree that this predicate should not be taken as basic But on the kind of view sketched above it is not taken as basic the dyadic truth predicate is explained in terms of what things would instantiate which properties were certain worlds actual One might try to argue against this view by saying imagine that all we had were facts about what would be the case were certain worlds actual wouldnlt that leave out facts about what is the case Yes of course But that is an objection only if we think that the only facts are facts about worlds instantiating particular truth conditions which of course is no part of the present view It is a fact that were 1 actual grass would be green but it is also a fact that grass is green full stop So in general the order of explanation which comes out of this sort of view is p is true monadic Edf p is true at w amp w is actual instantiated realized obtains p is true at w Edf w instantiates p7s truth condition So we bottom out where I think we should in things having certain properties In particular we bottom out in worlds instantiating truth conditions and one world possessing the property of bring actual Perceptual representation of external particulars PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks October 277 2009 1 What are the contents of visual experiences of external particulars i i i i i i i 11 Perceptual experiences have only general contents i i i i i i i i i i i i i 12 Perceptual experiences sometimes have singular contents i i i i i i i i i 2 Under what conditions does one visually represent an external particular i i i HgtCA3HH There are at least two fundamental questions about perceptual representation of ex ternal particularsi One is the question of what the contents of the relevant perceptual experiences are The second is the question of the conditions under which a subject can have experiences with the relevant contents whatever they are 1 What are the contents of visual experiences of external particulars The options for answering our rst question are canvassed in Tye 2009 These basically boil down to two the view that such experiences have general contents which would be expressed by sentences involving quanti ers7 like de nite descriptions and the view that experiences have singular contents which on a Millian view have the relevant objects as constituentsi Welll discuss these in turn 11 Perceptual expen39ences have only general contents Imagine that I am looking at a dog7 Fidoi On this view7 the content of my experience does not have Fido himself as a constituent7 but rather has a content which might be expressible as follows there is something in front of me which is brown and furry and 7 The main arguments for this view are really arguments against the opposing view that experiences have singular contentsi We will be delaying our consideration of arguments against the existence of singular propositions as such7 and focus for now on arguments directed speci cally against the idea that such propositions can be contents of visual experiences The intuitive case against singular contents can be put like this imagine a pair of experi ence of Castor and Pollux which have just the same phenomenal character Then the way Castor visually seems to be in the rst is the same as the way in which Pollux visually seems to be in the second But then the contents of the visual experiences must be the same contra the singular proposition view which would make the rst about Castor and the second about Pollux This argument seems to rely on the following inference In El 0 is visually represented as F and nothing else is repre sented as being any other way In E2 0 is visually represented as F and nothing else is repre sented as being any other way El and E2 have the same content But this seems to require at least the further premise that oo There is a difference between two experiences sharing the way they present their respective objects and two experiences representing the world as being the same way Here are some arguments against the purely general7 view 1 The View seems to count some intuitively nonveridical experiences as veridical Tye discusses a case in which a yellow cube is placed behind a mirror which re ects the image of a white cube which due to lighting conditions appears yellow in the mirror The content of the experience on the present view is the general proposition that there is a yellow cube at such and such distance from oneself7 and this is true But the experience also seems to be in some sense or other getting things wrong which the present view can7t capture The proponent of this view might reply that the content of the visual experience is something more complex 7 like that there is a yellow cube which is causing this experience in me Searle has a view like this But as Tye points out we could construct deviant causal cases in which the yellow cube behind the mirror is a cause of the experience the more complex view would have to say that the experience represents a yellow cubs as causing this experience in a nondeviant way which seems implausib e to Caplan and Schroeder 2007 point out that the general view runs into problems with the representation of space and time lntuitively when l have a visual experience of a furry dog the experience doesnlt just represent that there is a furry dog somewhere at some time but that there is a furry dog here and now But how are the here and now represented The proponent of purely general propositions must say that there is some description the F7 which involves no particulars and uniquely picks out the relevant time or place But it is not obvious that we typically have or perceptually represent properties which can do this work One might try to get around this problem by letting the relevant descriptions be egocentric maybe the time is picked out by at the same time as this experience7 and the place by my location7 But this introduces two more particulars which need to be eliminated an experience and me Can these be eliminated in favor of pure descriptions which make no reference to particulars 9 Johnston 2004 emphasizes the role of experience in making objects available for de re thought But in general possession of even a uniquely identifying description for 0 does not make it possible to have de re thoughts about 0 Hence perceptual experiences must themselves be have de re 7 ie singular 7 contents In general I am inclined to think that the following principle about perceptual content is very plausible PerceptionAvailability Principle If two experiences differ in which thoughts they make available to the subject of the perception then they differ in content Suppose that two experiences have just the same content Then they represent the world as being just the same way they present just the same objects as having just the same properties How could one make available thoughts about an object or property which the other did not We7ll return to this principle later when we talk about perceptual representation of natural kinds One can try to get around this as follows say that de re thought is not singular thought but a certain subclass of descriptive thought perhaps involving certain properties especially tightly connected to the identity of the object in question and ii say that we perceptually represent such properties One option along these lines is to focus on haecceitistic properties Three versions of this view a world indexed properties b the property of being identical to 0 and c primitive haecceities Why c seems the best for present purposes but also raises some worries about what perceptual representation of these properties could be like 12 Perceptual experiences sometimes have singular contents These problems for the existential view seem to me to provide a strong reason for going for singular propositions as the contents of perceptual experiences This view also seems to me to better t the phenomenology of perceptual experience which seems to represent particular objects as being certain ways and not just to represent certain properties as being instantiated by something or other But this view is not exactly free from problems either Here are some worries 1 What about hallucinatory experience in which there seems to be an object which is F but really there is no object there There are two standard views about these sorts of cases this is similar to the problem of empty names as it arises in the philosophy of language gappy propositions ii fallback7 descriptive contents Or one might combine these and say that even when I really do perceptually represent 0 as F I also perceptually represent that something is F This last option is what Tye calls the multiple contents thesis7 2 A related worry concerns cases of veridical hallucination the present View can t capture the sense in which these experiences get things right without going for the multiple contents thesis so long as singular representation of 0 requires that 0 cause the relevant experience in a nondeviant way more on this below 9 Much to my displeasure this View seems to run into an argument which I ve raised against other views toward which I am not very favorably disposed 7 namely the worry that these sorts of singular propositions violate something like the following principle Fallibility k if an experience can represent objects I y i i i as instantiating then it can do so even if z y H ido not instantiate i Suppose though this is not obvious that perceptual experiences represent external particulars as existing en the content of a perceptual experience might be in part the singular proposition that 0 exists But we can give two arguments that one can t have such an experience unless it is veridical o The argument from serious presentismi Let p be the proposition that 0 exists For one to have an experience with p as content then by serious presentism p must exist at the time of the experience But again by serious presentism plus the assumption that being a constituent of a proposition is a matter of standing in certain relations to other things if 0 is a constituent of p then if p exists at the time of the experience then 0 must as well l7m increasingly inclined to respond to this sort of worry by denying serious presentism partly because of stuff about crosstemporal relationsi l7m not in clined to deny serious actualism but there is no corresponding problem for the singular proposition theory since it is presumably impossible to perceptually represent 0 as in w unless 0 exists in wi But i you are committed to se rious presentism then I think that this argument does put some pressure on the singular proposition viewi Though one could of course also just take it to be an argument against Fallibility or the view that we perceptually represent objects as existing 0 The argument from the conditions for de re perceptual representation of objects aybe I can represent 0 as F only if 0 is an appropriate cause of my visual experience Then it seems that 0 has to exist in order for me to have the experience I guess 0 could go out of existence between the causation of the experience and the experience One might worry about any such conditions for de re perceptual representationi Can7t l have an illusory experience in which I represent an person as present who isnlt 2 Under what conditions does one visually represent an external particular Two of the worries above 7 the one about Fallibility and the one about veridical hal lucination 7 involve the question of the conditions under which ones visual experience involves a singular proposition about 0 This question is not much discussed a much more discussed question is the question of the conditions under which objectseeing is possible Objectseeing is evidently factive in the sense that one cannot see 0 unless 0 is around to be seen Causal or partly causal theories of objectseeing are the orthodoxyi For an interesting argument that the best theory of objectseeing will involve phenomenological as well as causal constraints see Siegel 2006 Our question is whether the perceptual representation of 0 as F requires that the subject see 0 If so then the worries about veridical hallucination and Fallibility are reinforced But it is not obvious that this is the view that we should take No one thinks that having a singular thought or belief about 0 requires that that thought actually be caused by 0 even if some more indirect causal connection between 0 and the state underwriting the thought is required So why should we think this in the case of visual representation This still leaves unanswered the question of what could make it the case that a given visual experience involves a singular representation of 0 This is a very hard question which l7m not sure has an answer One interesting case to think about is the case of a hallucination of a former acquaintance 7 what makes the hallucination of that person This is a case I concede in which it is natural to appeal to the relations between perception and thought as it seems that such cases are only possible when one has an antecedent capacity to have a thought about the object hallucinatedi As Johnston 2004 says it is hard to see how we could have a hallucination of an object with which we have no prior acquaintancei References Ben Caplan and Tim Schroeder 2007 On the Content of Experience Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 753907611 Mark Johnston 2004 The Obscure Object of Hallucination Philosophical Studies 12021137183 Susanna Siegel 2006 How Does Visual Phenomenology Constrain ObjectSeeing Aus tralasian Journal of Philosophy 84342944li Michael Tye 2009 The Admissible Contents of Visual Experience Philosophical Quar terly 592365417562i Interpersonal comparisons of phenomenal Character PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks September 14 2009 We re now going to turn to counterexamples directed speci cally at interper sonal intramodal intentionalismsi These will all be cases in which a pair of subjects have experiences which differ in phenomenal character but have the same content Accordingly these sorts of cases presuppose that it makes sense to compare the phenomenal character of experiences across subjects Shoemaker and Stalnaker call the denial of this View the Frege Schlick Viewi7 1 Does the FregeSchlick View make sense No one at least no one we are interested in right now is denying that expe riences have a phenomenal characteri What is in question is whether it makes sense to compare the phenomenal characters of the experiences of distinct sub jects But one might think that one could not question this without denying that experiences have phenomenal characteri If experiences have phenomenal char acter doesnlt this just imply that we can compare the phenomenal character of any pair of experiences Stalnaker thinks not The idea is that when we are talking about the phenome nal character of experiences we are talking about relations between experiences of a single subject rather than about an intrinsic monadic property of individual experiences One might worry that this makes no sense Some examples from Stalnaker which indicate that it does a relational theory of space intrapersonal vsi interpersonal utility valuesi 2 Shoemaker s paradox Stalnaker thinks that the Frege Schlick View is supported by Shoemakerls para dox7 from Shoemaker 1981 i This paradox results from a pair of assump tions that interpersonal comparisons of phenomenal character are based on interpersonal comparisons of physical realizers7 and that intrapersonal compar isons are based on discriminatory abilities of the relevant subject An alternative View this is related to what Stalnaker calls the common sense View we have a clear even if dif cult to articulate grasp of how an experience seems to a subject at a time This is suf cient to understand what it would take for another experience of an arbitrary subject to have the same phenomenal character it would have to seem this way One can ask whether any experience which seemed this way would have the same physical realizer or not but one doesn7t have to explain what it would mean for an experience to seem this way in terms of sameness of physical realization References Sydney Shoemaker7 1981 The Inverted Spectrumi Journal of Philosophy 742723577381i Robert Stalnaker7 1999 Comparing Qualia Across Personsi Philosophical Topics 2623857405 Russellianism and self representation PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks November 2 2009 Welve already seen that it is plausible to take perceptual experiences to represent things as having a certain distance or orientation relative to a perceiveri But that means that when l have a perceptual experience I am representing myself as standing in certain relations to things On a Russellian theory of content of the sort we have been discussing there is no difference between my representing a tree as a certain distance from me and my representing the tree as that distance from Je Speaks This gives rise to a standard problem for Russellianism which is sometimes called the problem of the essential indexical7 a phrase due to Perry This is actually a cluster of problems each of which can be thought of as an argument for the conclusion that a pair of sentences which differ only by the substitution of 17 for Jeff Speaks7 can differ in content when uttered by me i Some versions of this problem 0 I am JS7 is a posterioricognitively signi cant whereas JS is JS7 or I am I7 are a prioritriviali o I exist7 is a priori whereas JS exists7 is not 0 I am on re7 has a direct connection to action which JS is on re does noti7 Standard versions of Russellianism which take indexicals like names to be devices of direct reference must come up with responses to this sort of pro lemi Fregeans can say that the content of 17 as used by me is a special rstpersonal content which rigidly designates me and is not the content of any name Fregeans however run into their own problems with indexicals the classic discussion of this is Perry 1977 There is also an interesting variant on this problem of rstpersonal contents which arises speci cally in perception This is brought out nicely by the discussion of the perceptual representation of egocentric directions in ch 3 of Peacocke 1992 Take rst the construal on which seeing something to be in egocentric direc tion D involves merely seeing it as having a certain direction in relation to object X where X is in fact the perceiver himself This reading is too weak to capture what is wanted This is because one can see something as having a particular direction in relation to an object x which is in fact oneself while not realizing that the object to which one sees it as bearing that relation is in fact oneself Examples of persons seen in mirrors suf ce to make the point77 Suppose that I see someone in a mirror who turns out to be me and l visually represent that person as having a book to their right It then follows that l visually represent that there is a book to the right of JS This is the same thing for the Russellian as visually representing that there is a book to the right of me But intuitively in this sort of case I need not visually represent that there is a book to the right of me This argument assumes that the Russellian should treat visual representation of objects in mirrors as having contents which are singular propositions involving the relevant objects This is not completely obvious but I think that it is plausible so I will just ignore this assumption The Russellian is used to denying intuitions about differences in content of this sort so perhaps this case does not introduce any new worriesi But something like Peacocke s case can be used to raise a kind of problem for a Russellian who is also an intentionalisti The most straightforward way to run such an argument would be to try to construct a pair of cases 0 the following sort in Case 1 I represent myself as surrounded by such and such features of the world In Case 2 I represent someone who turns out to be me in a mirror as surrounded by just those features of the world Case 1 and Case 2 will clearly differ dramatically in phenomenal characteri So if we can nd a way to construct a pair of cases of this sort which are also the same in content then it looks like we will have a counterexample to Russellian intentionalismi Unfortunately or fortunately it is not obvious that we can construct a pair of cases of this sort In the most obvious ways of constructing the cases Case 2 will include some extra content7 which the intentionalist can use to block the counterexample For example in Case 2 I will visually represent JS as some distance from me 7 and in Case 1 I will not Even if we don7t have a counterexample there is some weirdness here 7 after all on the present construal Case 2 at least a version in which I don7t know that the object I am seeing is in a mirror involves me representing JS as some distance from JS 7 but intuitively Case 2 is not a case in which I represent myself as bilocatedi But I think that we can also get a bit closer to a counterexample by changing the cases Consider instead two variants on Case 2 two cases in which am viewing myself in a mirror In one case let the mirrorrepresentation be as of that object having a book to his right Now imagine a case in which in addition to this I also intuitively speaking represent the book as to my right We will then have no difference in content between the two experiences since both represent a book as to the right of JS The second one represents this twice over but it is hard to see how this could make a difference If you think it does make a difference 7 eg because you think that in the second case I represent two objects as having a book to their right 7 then subtract the book from the mirrorrepresentation You can suppose that the mirror is so constructed as not to re ect objects to the right of where I am sitting Though this arguably introduces a new difference in content since now I will not represent there being a book at the location where I represent my mirrorimage as being Now the Russellian can still7 plausibly7 nd a difference in content It looks like the case in which again speaking intuitively I represent the book as to my right will be a case in which I represent the location of the book with greater determinacy than in the mirror casei Is there a way around this response Even if there I no way around this response7 this looks to me like an uncomfortable stopping point It does not seem plausible to me that the phenomenal difference between these cases could correspond only to a difference in the determinacy with which I represent the location of the book For this reason it seems to me that the Russellian is at least better off if she can provide some account of egocentric representation other than the standard View sketched above References Christopher Peacocke7 1992 A Study of Concepts Cambridge7 MA MIT Press John Perry7 1977i Frege on Demonstrativesi Philosophical Review 86142474749 The problem of the unity of the proposition PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks November 2 2009 Russell on the problem of the unity of the proposition Frege on concepts i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i Propositions as primitive i i i i i i i i i i i i i i Soames on primitive mental acts of predication Propositions as facts i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 51 Russell s two theories of the proposition 52 Kings theory i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 53 Other versions of the fact view i i i i i i i i The property view i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 61 Chisholmls theory i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 62 Properties of worlds i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i U1gtJgtCADIOH on OOOOOOWIHgtCADCADCADCADIOH 1 Russell on the problem of the unity of the proposition The locus classicus for the problem of the unity of the proposition is Russell s discussion in the Principles of Mathematics Russell noted that sometimes substitution of one expression for another With the same content can transform a sentence 7 Which expresses a proposition relative to a context 7 into a string of words Which does not express a proposition As Russell says By transforming the verb as it occurs in a proposition into a verbal noun the Whole proposition can be turned into a single logical subject no longer asserted and no longer containing in itself truth or falsehood77 52 To use one of his examples A differs from B expresses a proposition and has a truthvalue Whereas A difference B does not express a proposition But intuitively this is puzzling for surely differs and difference have the same content each being terms for the relation di cerencei But then how can the former string of words express a proposition and the latter noti This is in the rst instance a problem about sentences it is the problem of explaining what it takes for one string of words to be propositionexpressing while another is not But it is plausible though not uncontroversial 7 see Davidson 2005 that there is a correlative puzzle here about propositions it is the problem of saying what propositions could be such that one is expressed by the rst string of words rather than the second What Russell s puzzle seems to show is that the proposition expressed by a sentence while intimately connected with the entities which are the contents of the expressions which make up that sentence must be something over and above those contents On this way of viewing Russell7s remarks they are not especially concerned with unity but just are a particularly vivid way of stating a challenge to friends of propositions the challenge of saying what propositions are and how they are related to the contents of the expressions which make up those propositions I will call the contents of the expressions in a sentence which expresses some proposition p the constituents of p This follows standard usage but for our purposes should not be taken to imply anything very substantial about the relationship between propositions and these constituents 7 not for example that the relationship between propositions and their constituents is the same as or even analogous to the relationship between material things and their parts I will take it for granted that there must be some intimate relationship between propositions and their constituents in this sense but how this relationship is to be spelled out is something which we should be told by the theory that best answers Russell s challenge not speci ed in advance 2 Frege on concepts One way of responding to this challenge due to Frege is to resist Russell s argument for the conclusion that a proposition must be something over and above its constituents To do this one must deny Russell7s premise that expressions of different syntactic categories can share a content This was Fregels view Two problems 1 The paradox of the concept horse 2 The problem of selfrefutation As Russell suggests someone who denies that expressions of different syntactic categories can ever share a content will still be tempted to make general claims about the meanings of predicates such as Every meaningful predicate has a content and that content is not the content of any proper name which seems to have the following form VI 1 is a meaningful predicate A By y is the content of z amp V2 2 is a name A l y is the content of But given that there are some meaningful predicates for the above to be true the open sentence I is a meaningful predicate amp y is the content of z must be true relative to some assignment of values to z and y So the content of some predicate must be such that it can be the value of a variable occurring in subject position But if this is true it seems that if open sentences express propositions relative to an assignment of values to free variables there must be a proposition which is such that the content of some predicate occurs in subject position But then why couldn7t there be some sentence which expresses that proposition which would then have to contain some singular term whose content is the content of the predicate in question 3 Propositions as primitive One might accept Russell s argument for the conclusion that propositions must be something over and above their constituents without thinking that Russell7s challenge to explain what this something more7 consists in can be given any answer more informative than this that propositions are a suz39 genen39s type of abstract object which essentially have the constituents that they have One worry about this view it leaves it unexplained why for example it is a necessary truth that one who believes that Socrates is wise has a belief about Socrates One might think that this sort of necessity could be explained by a substantial theory of propositions but has to be taken as brute by the view of propositions as primitivei But this argument rests on disputable assumptions about what a theory of propositions should and should not explain llll set the primitive view aside to see whether we can come up with a more informative theory of propositions 4 Soames on primitive mental acts of predication 5 Propositions as facts 51 Russell s two theon39es of the proposition Russell made two quite different attempts to provide a theory of propositions by saying what this something more7 could be His rst attempt was to explain the difference between strings of words such as A differs from B A difference B in terms of the mode of 39 39 of the 39 of the A A quot39 expressed by the rst As he put it WI he twofold nature of the verb as actual verb and as verbal noun may be expressed if all verbs are held to be relations as the difference between a relation in itself and a relation actually relatingi Consider for example the proposition A differs from B1 e constituents of this proposition if we analyze it appear to be only A difference B Yet these constituents thus placed side by side do not reconstitute the proposition The difference which occurs in the proposition actually relates A H 54 andBi While Russell s distinction between relations in themselves and relations actually relating can sound a bit obscure his point is clear enough the proposition expressed by A differs from B7 is not simply a list of two objects and a relation but rather two objects connected by or standing in that relationi In the case of a monadic predication the analogous move would be to say that the proposition is not simply a list of an object and the property but rather the objects instantiating that property Because every proposition includes a property or relation this strategy for solving the problem of the unity of the proposition will always be available Why this makes false propositions impossiblei This is the problem which eventually led Russell to abandon belief in propositionsi See the discussion of false objectives7 in Russell 1910 Russell s second response to the problem which he mentions only in passing is the suggestion that There appears to be an ultimate notion of assertion given by the verb which is lost as soon as we substitute a verbal noun H 77 52 There7s one important similarity and one important dissimilarity between this and the treatment of A differs from B7 discussed above This similarity is that in each case Russell appeals to a relation s holding between the con stituents of the proposition to explain the unity of the proposition The difference is that in this case the relation in question is not the content of any expression in the sentence but rather an ultimate notion of assertion7 which is it seems a multigrade relation which holds between the constituents of every propositioni To continue the example discussed above the proposition expressed by A differs from B7 would then the difference relation s being asserted of A and B Assertion is a relation that really holds between difference A and B Russell s choice of assertion as the relation which binds together the constituents of the proposi tion was a poor onei Assertion is just one among several attitudes which one might take toward a proposition propositions can exist unasserted just as they can exist without being believed or without being known As such propositions can hardly be de ned in terms of this attitude But the general strategy is promising by nding some relation which actually holds between the constituents of a proposition we can explain the unity of the proposition by analogy with the unity of facts by letting this relation be something other than the relations if any which are 39 of the A A T we can t A A T as facts without assimilating them to the facts which would make those propositions truer This seems like a plausible strategy and has the advantage that we re assimilating propositions to a category of entity in which many people think we have independent reason to believe But if we7re to solve the problem of the unity of the proposition in this way we need to come up with a more plausible candidate for the needed unifying relation than the relation of assertioni One might think however that the kinds of examples used above to illustrate the problem of the unity of the proposition give us some indication of where we shou ook because these were all cases in which we moved from a propositionexpressing string of words to a nonproposition expressing string by substituting expressions of different syntactic categories for one another it wou d not be surprising if such substitutions failed precisely because the syntax of the sentence makes some contribution to the proposition it expressesi This suggests that the wanted relation which holds between constituents of the proposition should have something to do with the syntactic structure of sentences which express the proposition 52 King s theory This is the strategy pursued in King 2007 On King7s view the relation which binds the constituents of the proposition is determined in part by the syntactic relation which holds between the expressions of a sentence which expresses the proposition Consider a simple sentence Amelia talks7 In giving the semantics of this sentence we take as input three facts about the sentence that it contains the name Amelial that it contains the predicate talks and that the sentence is formed by concatenating the latter with the former Kingls View is that the relation which obtains here between the name and the predicate is along with the object Amelia and the property of talking a constituent of the fact which is the proposition expressed by the sentence We can to a rst approximation describe the proposition expressed by this sentence as follows letting R7 be a name for the syntactic relation which holds between the name and predicate in this sentence it is the fact of there being words I and y of some language such that I has Amelia as its content y has the property of talking as its content and Rz This gloss on King7s theory of propositions is only a rst approximation because it leaves out the semantic contribution of the syntactic relation R King brings out this point nicely via the example of a possible language Nenglish which is like English but for the fact that concatenation of a name and a predicate expresses a proposition which is true iff the referent of the name does not instantiate the property expressed by the predicate The problem is that the account of propositions sketched above would seem to assign the same proposition to the string Amelia talks7 in Nenglish as in English despite this divergence in truth conditions This seems clearly incorrect so our theory of propositions will have to take account of the divergence in the semantic signi cance of concatenation of a name and simple predicate between the two languages As King suggests we can think of the semantic signi cance of R in English as the following instantiation function from objects properties and worlds to truth values the function which given as argument an object 0 and property F determines the truth value true at w iff 0 instantiates F at w We can then describe the proposition expressed by Amelia talks7 as follows it is the fact of there being words I and y of some language such that I has Amelia as its content y has the property of talking as its content Rzy and R encodes the instantiation function Kingls view has some clear virtues lt assimilates propositions to facts and so shares the virtues discussed above of all versions of this sort of view It also as King says makes it plausible that propositions exist 7 after all no one at least no one who believes in facts doubts that it is in fact the case that there are words I and y of some language such that I has Amelia as its content y has the property of talking as its content Rzy and R encodes the instantiation function And as King says we can see on this view why propositions are the sorts of things that can be true or false the instantiation function has a kind of built in connection to truth at awor Some objections to Kings view 1 The immediate objection to the view is that it makes propositions metaphysically dependent on the existence of a sentence which expresses them so that for example no propositions existed and hence were true before there were humans King rightly emphasizes in reply that his view entails neither that no propositions are now true of those times nor that there were no facts at those times But even if we set aside the extensional worry 7 Are there times at which propositions exist but languages do not 7 one might still be worried about the idea that propositions depend for their existence on languages which express them Consider for example cases of term introduction lsn7t it possible that you have a thought at a time and at a later time introduce some new expression into the language to express that thought If you think that thoughts have propositions as their objects and that having a thought with some proposition p as content does not entail having a sentence in an inner language which has p as its content this sort of case looks puzzling 2 9 If as many think it makes sense to think of perceptual experiences having propositional content is it plausible to think that those contents are languageinvolving The View is on the face of it unnaturali As King points out recall the example of English and Nenglish we can as in the case of linguistic expressions distinguish between syntactic relations and their semantic contribu tion in a given language This suggests that just as we can have a pair of sentences Montreal is pretty Montreal est joliei which contain different linguistic expressions but nonetheless express the same proposition it should be possible to have a pair of sentences which differ with respect to the syntactic relations they involve but nonetheless express just the same propositioni This should be possible for just the same reason that it is possible that sentences like the pair above can express the same proposition just as two different linguistic expressions can have the same semantic content so it seems two distinct syntactic relations can make the same semantic contributioni For example consider a language ReverseEnglish which is like English but for the fact that the order of singular terms in simple relational sentences is reversed so that the sentence John loves Jane is true in English if and only if Jane loves John is true in ReverseEnglish lntuitively both sentences express the proposition that John loves Jane they express the same proposition as surely as do Montreal is pretty7 and Montreal est joliei7 But on King7s theory of propositions this is impossible Although particular subsentential expressions are replaced in the fact which is the proposition expressed by a sentence by existential quot quot over 39 A 39 at the syntactic relation and its semantic contribution are constituents of the fact The foregoing example brings out the oddness of this aspect of Kings viewi Why not think instead that the syntax of a sentence like the words of the sentence contribute only something other than themselves to the proposition expressed by the sentence King could respond to this problem by treating syntactic relations in the same way he treats subsentential expressions and replacing each occurrence of a syntactic relation in a proposition with existential quanti cation over syntactic relationsi On such a view the proposition expressed by Amelia talks7 would be roughly the fact that there are expressions 1 an y such that I has Amelia as its content y has the property of talking as its content and there is some syntactic relation of some language such that z and y stand in that relation and the relation encodes the instantiation functioni But this seems to make it clear that it is the semantic contributions of subsentential ex pressions and the syntactic relations in which they stand rather than the expressions and syntactic relations themselves which are doing all the work Since the inclusion of existen tial quanti cation over these expressions and relations as constituents of the relevant facts is what leads to the problems with Kingls view discussed above why not identify propo sitions with facts whose only constituents are the semantic contributions of subsentential expressions and the syntactic relations in which they stand 53 Other versions of the fact view But it is not easy to construct such a theory On this sort of view the semantic contribution of the syntactic form of a sentence would play the role of the unifying relation which genuinely holds between the constituents of the proposition But this raises an immediate question how exactly should we think about the semantic contri butions of syntactic relations on this sort of view Or what comes to the same thing exactly which fact on this sort of view would be the proposition expressed by Amelia talks Here it seems we run into a genuine dif culty Whereas King is able to explain quite clearly which relation holds between the constituents of the facts with which he identi es propositions it is very hard to describe a relation which is contributed by the syntax of a sentence and genuinely holds between the constituents of the proposition Consider again the proposition that Amelia talksi One is tempted to express the relation which is supposed to hold between Amelia and the property of talking with an open sentence like There is a proposition which represents 1 as instantiating yr but this is clearly incoherent we re supposed to be identifying the proposition expressed by Amelia talks7 with a fact this fact can t be one which predicates a property of that very propo sitioni Maybe instead we could try I is represented as instantiating y y is predicated of I but on the only obvious interpretations of these sentences they make the existence of the fact dependent on someone s having predicated the property of talking of Amelia which is the kind of thing we were trying to avoid And of course we can7t think of the relevant relation contributed by syntax as I instantiates yr without repeating Russell7s mistake of identifying propositions with facts whose existence entails their truthi So one the one hand it is very plausible that syntactic relations make semantic contributions and it would be extremely convenient if we could think of those semantic contributions as relations which held between the constituents of the proposition expressed by the relevant sentence but on the other hand our inability to express these relations gives rise to the worry that this is just wishful thinking In a way this line of thought seems to lead us back to a view like King7si After all what sort of fact involving Amelia and the property of talking can be guaranteed to exist whether or not Amelia talks other than the fact that in effect some language represents it as being the case that Amelia talks 6 The property View I think that we can do better by assimilating propositions to properties rather than facts 61 Chisholm s theory The property View was defended by Roderick Chisholm in The First Person who expressed the theory like this Believing must be construed as a relation between a believer and some other thing lWhat kind of thing then lThe simplest conception I suggest is one which construes believing as a relation between a believer and a property 7 a property which he may be said to attribute to himself77 Chisholm 1981 27 A similar theory is defended in Lewis 1979 This ties the view that propositions are properties to a particular view about what the relevant properties are properties of And it is understandable why the view was introduced in this way since its principal initial motivation was the explanation of the distinction between rstpersonal beliefs and thirdpersonal beliefs about oneself 7 or as Chisholm put it between the emphatic and nonemphatic re exive But we can detach the view that propositions are properties from the view that they are always properties ascribed to oneself and as Nolan 2006 has argued there7s good reason why we should Nolan points out that while in many cases we can think of a propositional attitude with the content p as a belief that I am such that p is the case but that in other cases understanding the content of the belief requires that we consider worlds where p is the case but in which I am not such that p is the case because I do not exist The most striking case is perhaps the example of the desire that I not exist This is not the desire that l have the property of nonexistence and still less that I be such that I do not exist the desire is that I not exist and hence that I not be any way 7 not have my property 7 at all Similar worries arise even in cases where my belief is not intuitively a rst personal belief it seems as though I can desire that suchandsuch be the case without desiring that I be around when it does And on a more intuitive level there is something unnatural about the view that all of my mental states are attributions of properties to myself it should be possible for my thinking to be less selfinvolving than that 62 Properties of worlds But there is no reason why the view that propositions are properties should be tied to the view that all thought is selfascription Consider again the example of Amelia talks7 If we think of the assertion of this sentence as the ascription of a property one natural view is that I am ascribing to the world the property of being such that Amelia talks On this kind of view propositions are complex properties rather than facts Then intuitively what is contributed by the syntax of a simple predication is something like the threeplace relation expressed by is such that instantiates 7 which holds between a world an object and a property In the case of the sentence Amelia talks the contents of the name and predicate ll in the second two slots to deliver the monadic property of worlds expressed by is such that Amelia instantiates the property of talking7 One might reasonably want more information about these properties of worlds One might try to get at them with the following locutions the property of being such that according to w Amelia instantiates the property of talking the property of being such that were w actual Amelia would instantiate the property of talkingh Why this View requires that there be uninstantiated properties and indeed properties which could not be instantiated Otherwise there would be no account of the propositions expressed by necessarily false sentencesi l7m OK with this consequence How is this account supposed to solve Russell s original problem What for example is the explanation of the fact that A differs from B expresses a proposition and has a truthvalue whereas A difference B does not The explanation like Kingls is given in terms of the syntax of English differs from7 is a two place predicate difference is a singular term let A7 and B7 be standins for names Then we can give a no doubt oversimple explanation of the fact that the rst expresses a proposition as follows in English concatenating a name with a twoplace predicate and another name has the semantic signi cance that it encodes the fourplace relation expressed by w is such that 1 stands in relation to y So once we ll in the semantic contents of the relevant terms we get the property of worlds which is the property of being such that A stands in the difference relation to B However in English concatenating a name with an abstract singular term and another name encodes nothing it has no semantic signi cance So we are left with effectively a list of items which is not the sort of thing which could be instantiated and hence is not the sort of thing which could be true of anything On this view a proposition is true with respect to a world w iff w instantiates the relevant propertyi Note that w must actually instantiate the relevant property the view is not that were w actual it would instantiate the relevant property The reasons for this will become clear when we talk about Plantinga7s argument against existentialismi This view of propositions might also be developed in such a way as to capture some of the explanatory advantages of Chisholm s view of propositions as properties that one ascribes to onese i Though in the standard case propositions are monadic properties of worlds there s no reason why they always have to be such There seems nothing to block the idea that propositions could sometimes be ascribed to a pair of a world and and individual 7 that is there seems nothing to block the idea that propositions could sometimes work in something like the way that Chisholm and Lewis thought that they always work On one natural way of developing this view the proposition expressed by for example Jeff Speaksls pants are on re might be though of as the property of worlds expressed by the open sentence w is such that 07s pants are on re relative to an assignment of me to 07 while the proposition expressed by My pants are on re might be thought of as the relation between worlds and individuals expressed by the open sentence w is such that 17s pants are on re The intuitive difference in content between an assertion of these two sentences might be explained by the fact that an utterance of the former is an ascription to the world of the property of being such that a certain object s pants are on re whereas an utterance of the latter is an ascription of a certain relation to oneself and the world This gives the present view a way to give a natural treatment of the distinction between rstpersonal beliefs and thirdpersonal beliefs about oneself the former are ascriptions of properties to oneself and the latter are ascriptions of properties involving oneself to the world This should help the Russellian intentionalist deal with the problem of selfrepresentation posed by Peacockels examples One natural idea is that the contents of perceptual experiences are always relations ascribed to oneself and the world 7 that they are always in this way analogous to the contents of sentences involving indexicals This view gives rise to some dif cult problems about the analysis of attitude ascriptions See my paper linked from the course web site for some discussion of these References Roderick Chisholm 1981 The First Person An Essay on Reference and Intentionality Univer sity of Minnesota Press Donald Davidson 2005 Truth and Predication Cambridge MA Harvard University Press Jeffrey King 2007 The Nature and Structure of Content New York Oxford University Press David Lewis 1979 Attitudes De Dicto and De Se Philosophical Review 884137543 Daniel Nolan 2006 Sel ess Desires Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73366579 Bertrand Russell 1910 On the Nature of Truth and Falsehood ln Philosophical Essays 1477159 Longmans Green EL co Peter van lnwagen 2004 A Theory of Properties Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 11077138 lntentionalism and the other7 senses PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks September 7 2009 The literature about intentionalism like the literature on perception more generally has focused on visual experience But the claims intentionalists make are about all perceptual experiences and all states with a phenomenal character in the case of global intentional istsl One therefore wants to know whether intentionalist claims are plausible in the case of other sense modalities and whether they can be given the same kind of motivation 1 Smell It may seem initially less plausible that smell is representational than that vision is the phenomenology of smell might seem more like the phenomenology of pain or other bodily sensations than of vision In particular it is not obvious that our sense of smell represents particulars as instantiating smellrelevant propertiesl Batty says out that this is in large part because the human sense of smell does not locate smellsl You might smell cigarette smoke but you do not smell it as located at a particular point in your environment We do have the ability to locate smells but this seems to come from changes in smell intensity as we move about a space But this is compatible with olfaction being representational it may just be that the contents of olfactory ex periences are less complete7 than of visual experiences For example perhaps olfactory experiences simply represent certain properties as instantiated rather than particular objects as instantiating those properties Moreover there is a clear sense in which we can give the same kind of transparency based argument for smell as for vision lmagine any noticeable change in your olfactory experience there will be a corresponding change in the way that the world around you is represented as being and hence a corresponding change in content Another interesting argument also from Batty for the representational character of smell animals with very developed senses of smell clearly seem to represent their environment with their olfactory experiences But it would be odd if lack of acuity evacuated olfactory experiences of any content rather than just impoverishing the contents of the relevant experiences 2 Hearing Smell and taste are perhaps the hardest cases for a representational View of perceptual experience Hearing and touch are a bit easier in part because each seems to give us more determinate information about our environment In particular as 7 emphasizes because we hear sounds as located we can perceive distinct auditory qualities as qualities of distinct things This seems to be a point of contrast With smelli On one plausible vieW the contents of auditory experiences represent certain events 7 sounds 7 as instantiating certain properties including pitch loudness and timbre and relative location Again it is plausible that a transparencybased argument for inten tionalism about audition can be given any noticeable change in auditory experience Will involve a change in how one s environment seems to be References Casey 07Callaghan 2007 Sounds A Philosophical Theory New York Oxford University ress The problem of the proposition7 pt 2 PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks November 9 2009 1 What is the problem i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 2 What if any are the costs of taking propositions and their relations to their constituents as primitive i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 3 1 What is the problem One of the hardest things about discussions of the problem of the unity of the proposition7 is getting clear about what exactly the problem is supposed to be Probably there are really several problems in the vicinity but here is a try at getting clear about one Letls suppose that there are such things as propositions and that they are expressed by sentences relative to contexts of utterance Suppose further that subsentential expres sions as well as sentences have contentsi It seems plausible that the proposition expressed by 5 stands in some close relationship to the contents of expressions which make up This can be illustrated by example Consider for example the proposition expressed by Soames is a Milliani Could that proposition be expressed by any sentence which contained no term whether simple or complex which refers to Soames It seems to me plausible that it could not Much the same point can be made about predicatesi Consider the proposition p ex pressed by This pen cap is blue It seems to me that we can make two plausible claims about the relationship between the words in this sentence and the proposition the sentence expresses 1 No sentence could express p without containing a term which refers to the color uei 2 No sentence could express p if it contained some term which refers to the property of being an ice cream delivery truck But one can generate plausible counterexamples to claims like this Against 1 one sort that we discussed last time involved abbreviations One challenging sort of abbreviation is a case in which a whole sentence is abbreviated with a single symboli For example suppose we adopt BLUE as an abbreviation for the sentence about my pen cap abovei Surely we could do this and surely the resulting abbreviation would express the same proposition as the sentence abbreviated But BLUE contains no term which refers to the color blue 7 it contains only one term and that expresses a proposition rather than referring to a color I agree that this kind of case is possible but I am inclined to think that it depends essentially on the introduction of BLUE by abbreviatl think ioni One could then modify 1 by adding the clause unless this was introduced as an abbreviation for such a sentence77 One might dispute this and think that creatures 7 perhaps creatures quite different than us 7 could speak a language in which BLUE was a primitive term ie not introduced as an abbreviation for a semantically complex term whether public or private and yet expressed pl 1 have trouble conceiving of such a case but I also am not sure how to argue that it is not possible Also against both 1 and 2 one might look to idioms as in but the speaker had an ace in the holei7 In some context this might be used to express the proposition that the speaker had a powerful argument which he had not yet revealedi There may be ways around these sorts of issues But ultimately to get at the problem I am interested in I think that the detour through sentences is unnecessary and as the above examples make clear it s not even obvious that the relevant points can be made at the level of sentences Here is what I take to be the main issue Our proposition p above is closely related both to a particular pen cap and to the color blue This close relationship is such that it entails the following claims 0 Necessarily anyone who believes asserts hypothesizes p believes asserts hypothesizes i something about that particular pen cap 0 Necessarily anyone who believes asserts hypothesizes p believes asserts hypothesizes i of some object that it has the property of being bluei As stated both of these might be unacceptable to someone who is both a serious actualist and who thinks that p can exist without the particular pen cap existingi But this seems to be a matter of wordingi We could eigi rephrase the second so that it ended with believes that some object has the property of being blueil We can then introduce constituentsl talk as follows an object 0 is a constituent of p if a clause relevantly like the rst one above is a necessary truth the property F is a constituent of p if a clause relevantly like the second one above is a necessary truth Our question is then what are propositions and how are they related to their con stituents 2 What if any are the costs of taking propositions and their relations to their constituents as primitive The simplest answer to this pair of question is propositions are a sui generis category of abstract objects and they are related to their constituents by being essentially about them their essentially bearing this relation to them is a primitive fact not explained by for example any complexity in the nature of the proposition I think that there is no direct argument which can show that this view is false But I also think that this view has some costs and that for that reason it would be better to come up with a different view of propositions Here are some of what I take to be the costs 0 Parsimony All things equal we should prefer a view which does not multiply the number of types of thing we have to admit into our ontology A view which took proposition to be a kind of entity in which we have independent reason to believe 7 a fact or property for instance 7 would thus be all else equal preferable to a view of the present sort This is one way in which Soames7 view which is in some ways quite similar to the view sketched above has an advantage insofar as it explains propositions in terms of mental act types the tokens of which are taken as primitive o The problem of brute necessities The picture of propositions that we get from the present view is something like this there are in nitely many simple propositions These propositions all bear necessary connections to other entities like properties the ones that above we were calling the constituents of those propositions Here is an example some propositions are necessarily such that they are true only if something instantiates the property of being blue others do not have this property Or we could put this point as one about the relationship between a proposition and what someone who believed the proposition would have a belief about The problem is that nothing in the nature of these propositions explains why some bear this necessary connection to the instantiation of this particular property whereas others do not It seems as though we should prefer a theory which can explain this relationship between propositions and their constituents to one which cannot One way to push this argument is via a Humean principle about necessary connec tions But one neednlt have any view like this in mind to think that some neces sary truths need explanation Consider for example moral arguments for Godls existence 7 are these arguments undermined by the view that moral properties su pervene on physical psychological properties Further example explanation in mathematics Even if convincing7 these are obviously the sorts of reasons Which should count against a View only in the presence of otherwise plausible alternatives So let s discuss some of those What does it mean to say that perceptual experiences have contents7 and do they PHIL 93507 Jeff Speaks August 25 2009 1 Two aspects of perception content and phenomenal character 2 Why think that perceptual experiences have contents 3 Arguments for skepticism about perceptual content 31 J0 nston on veridical illusion and veridical hallucination 32 Content and the veil of perception7 33 Some experiences lack content so all do part 1 animal perception 34 Some experiences lack content so all do part H illusions 35 Directness and the representation of particulars 36 The explanatory role of experience 37 The argument from dispensability NOJWHgtHgtWWWMH 1 Two aspects of perception content and phenomenal character Informal exposition of the two central terms for our discussion of perception phenomenal char acter and content The phenomenal character of a perceptual experience is how that experience feels how it seems from the point of View of the perceiver what it is like to have the experience Two experiences have just the same phenomenal character iff having one experience is indistinguishable from having the other if they seem the same from the inside7 The content of a perceptual experience is the way that experience presents the world as being the way that world is according to that experience the way that world appears looks smells sounds to be to the perceiver The content of a perceptual experience determines the veridicality conditions of that experience it determines the way the world would have to be the experience to be accurate Compare the way you would explain talk about the content of beliefs to an undergraduate You would say that the content of a belief is the way the world is according to that belief the way the believer takes the world to be and that the content of the belief determines the way the world would have to be in order for the belief to be true Pautz 2009 objects that explaining contentl talk in this way trivializes debates about whether experiences have contents and about what those contents are He is right that on this construal it is very plausible that experiences have contentsi But that is because it is very plausible that experiences have contents I think that it is an overstatement to say that on this sort of View the claim that perceptual experiences have contents is trivial Some people do seem to deny this claimi After all some people deny the corresponding claim about belief and thought But Pautz is right that oftentimes when people say that they are denying that experiences have contents they are denying something much stronger than the claim that in visual experiences for example there is a way that the world visually seems to the subject llll return to this belowi I think that Pautz is incorrect when he says that this sort of explanation of the content of perception trivializes debates about the nature of the contents of experience Compare the case of the content of belief We can agree that debates about the nature of the content of belief are nontrivial Why should perception be any different At this point the key thing is to understand at least in a preliminary way what it means to talk about the phenomenal character of an experience and what it means to talk about the content of an experience You s ould also see that these things at least seem conceptually distinct for all we have said there might be an interesting relation between the two or there might not be One of the reasons why the philosophy of perception is so interesting is because perception is the arena in which these two paradigmatic marks of the mental7 7 intentionality and phenomenal character 7 seem to be most closely related One of the central questions in the philosophy of perception and one of the questions which we re going to talk about concerns the relationship between these two 2 Why think that perceptual experiences have contents In my view the claim that perceptual experiences have contents needs little positive argument at least when read in the above way The intuitive view is surely that eg visual experiences present the world as being some way that there is such a thing as the world visually appearing to be a certain way At least this seems as much the pretheoretic view as the view that beliefs have contents The interesting question I think is whether any of the arguments which have been given against perceptual content should lead us to give this view up But there are three standard kinds of arguments given for perceptual content each of which is a kind of best explanation7 argument 0 Thinking of perceptions as having contents provides the most natural treatment of illu sion and hallucinationi It is plausible pretheoretically that illusions involve some mis takenfalse representation of the world But one can have an illusory experience which one knows to be illusoryi In that case one does not have a belief with a false content 7 so what sort of state could have the false content A very natural answer is the perceptual state itselfi Your perceptual experience is giving you a false picture of your environment This is not to say that there is no other way to think about illusion 7 just that this is one very natural understanding of the distinction between illusion and veridical experience For a nice discussion of this and a critical discussion of views of illusion which avoid commitment to perceptual contents see Byrne 2009 VVl for an opposed view of illusion see Brewer 2007a The view that perceptual experiences have contents is the best explanation of our ability to have contentful thoughts about our environment 0 The view that experiences have contents is the best explanation of the fact that we can have justi ed beliefs about our environments on the basis of perceptual experiences These latter two are the main subject of McDowell 1994 3 Arguments for skepticism about perceptual content But as mentioned the main action here is not around arguments for perceptual content but on arguments against it 31 Johnston on veiidical illusion and veiidical hallucination Perhaps the most popular sort of objection to the contents of experience turns on worries about the consistency of the directness of perceptual access to the world with the View that perceptual experiences are fundamentally relations to propositionsl Often these arguments seem purely rhetoricall ButJohnston 2006 gives an example designed to show that the View that experiences are propositional attitudes can t capture certain key distinctions between perceptual experiences The distinction between veridical hallucination and veridical experience The examples of the twins in the Ames room and seeing in the dark See Johnston 2006 pp 2719 Johnston s intuitions about these cases might without absurdity be denied But I think that he is onto something However I don7t see that these cases are an objection to the idea that experiences have contentsl To be fair Johnston does not say that they are To say that every perceptual experience involves a relation to a proposition which is its content is not to say that this is all that there is to perceptual experience or even to say that perceptual experiences are fundamentally7 propositional attitudesl A comparison might be usefull Think about the act of assertively uttering a sentence This sort of act always involves a propositional attitude one bears the assertion relation to a proposition or several propositionsl But this does not mean that the acttype in question is fundamentally a relation to a proposition or should be analyzed in terms of a relation to a proposition The acttype in question is fundamentally a matter of bearing a relation to a sentencetoken 7 ut that doesn7t mean that there are not interesting questions about the propositions asserted by such acts or that understanding the relationship between those propositions and other aspects of the act is of no importance In general we should distinguish between talk of the objects and the contents of perception One sort of relational theory of experience thinks of the objects of experience as propositions But one can believe that experiences have contents without endorsing this view of the metaphysics of experience 32 Content and the veil of perception A distressingly common complaint against the view that perceptions have content is that it fails to account for the directness of perceptual experience that contents are something like a veil interposed between perceiver and world A representative example from Brewer 2006 Perceiving is not a matter of being saddled with representational content however worlddependent this may be It is rather a matter 0 the conscious presentation of actual constituents of physical reality themselves particular such things just as they are which is what makes all contentful representation of that reality in thought even so much as possible77 Why this worry seems more serious if you think of the contents of experience as Fregean senses A connection between this sort of worry and the problem about objects vs contents of perception above 33 Some expeiiences lack content so all do part 1 animal perception The View that perceptual experiences have content is naturally interpreted as the View that all perceptual experiences have content It is dif cult to see how having content could be an accidental feature of a type of mental state Alston 2005 argues that it is at least possible and is probably actually the case that some perceptual experiences lack content It would suffice to establish that possibility to point out perceivers to whom objects look in certain ways and who are not at a stage of cognitive development that enables them to mentally represent SOA s as obtaining if we take lower animals of the order of frogs and insects who do have perceptual capacities it is very plausible both that objects consciously appear to them in certain ways and that they are incapable of doing anything that could properly be called representing those objects as having certain properties77 Why think that frogs and insects are incapable of perceptually representing objects as having properties 34 Some experiences lack content so all do part II illusions As Brewer 2006 points out it seems to follow from the idea that perceptions have content that some perceptual experiences could misrepresent the world they could have as their content a false proposition It is also natural for the believer in perceptual content to think of illusions and hallucinations as cases of this kind This appears to be a strength of the view that perceptions have contents but Brewer thinks that it is a problem for the view His basic idea is that t e possibility of falsity con icts with the kind of direct access that perception gives us to the world the problem is The incompatibility between this idea that perceptual experience consists in direct conscious access to constituents of the physical world themselves and the possibility of falsity in perceptual content which is characteristic of any form of the view that perceptions have content 7 So far this is hardly an argument But Brewer doesn7t rely on this intuition he argues that the view that perceptions have contents can t give a convincing treatment of illusions like the MullerLyer illusion According to the view that perceptions have content in the case of such illusions the content of one s experience is a false proposition But Brewer 2006 2007b thinks that it is hard to see what this proposition could be for the following reasons 1 Either one line must be represented as longer than it is or the other must be represented as shorter than it is But it is implausible to think that my experience of the lines represents them as being a determinate amount longer or shorter than they are Reply some views of perceptual experience think ofthe contents of perceptions as invariably determinatei But this is an inessential aspect of the View that perceptions have content and in my view not a very attractive one Why not think that perceptions like thoughts can represent one line as longer than another without representing it as some determinate length longer than the other 2 Your experience represents the four endpoints of the two lines as being where they really are your experience of the location of the endpoints is veridicali But you also represent the lines as of different lengths so the content of your experience as a whole is a necessarily false propositioni Reply 1 indeterminacy again Also some worries about what where your experience represents the endpoints as being7 meansi Reply 2 perhaps in this kind of case one7s perceptual experience has a contradictory proposition as its content 3 The dynamic7 version of the illusion on which the hashes coming off of the endpoints shrink till they vanishi The view that experiences have content is committed to the view that you represent the lines as gradually changing in length But this is not the way it seems perceptually the lengths of the two lines appear to remain constant Reply This is the most interesting of Brewer s cases I am inclined to say that your experi ence represents the lines as of different lengths and then at some point comes to represent them as the same length but that this change comes to pass without your representing either line as changing in length over time I don7t see that this involves your perceptual experience at any time as having an impossible proposition as its content Of course it is true that the content of your experience at the later time is inconsistent with its content at an earlier time but that is what we7d expect given that your perceptual experience initially represents the lines as having a different length and later as having the same lengt i 35 Directriess and the representation of particulars A second way of developing the worry that thinking of perceptions as having contents makes perceptual experience unacceptable indirect is due to Bill Breweri Suppose that you see a particular red football 7 call it Balli According to CV your perceptual experience is to be characterized by its representational contenti Let us take it for granted that this content makes singular reference to Balli Your experience therefore represents that Ball is a speci c general way F which such objects may be Whichever way this is supposed to be its identi cation requires making a determinate speci cation of one among inde nitely many possible generalizations from Ball itselfi Ball has colour shape size weight age cost and so on So perception must begin by making a selection amongst all of these according to CV Furthermore and far more importantly for my present purposes on any given such dimension 7 colour or shape say 7 the speci cation in experience of a determinate general way that your perception supposedly represents Ball as being requires further crucial abstraction Supposing that your experience is veridical it must be determinate to what extent and in which ways Balls actual colour or shape might vary consistently with the truth of the relevant perceptual content This is reallyjust to highlight the fact that CV is committed to the idea that your perceptual experience has specific truth conditions which go beyond anything xed uniquely by the actual nature of the particular red football 7 Ball 7 which you see According to CV then perception does not consist in the simple presentation to a subject of various constituents of the physical world themselves Instead it offers a determinate specification of the general ways such constituents are represented as being in experience ways which other such constituents qualitatively distinct from those actually perceived by any arbitrary extent within the given specified ranges might equally correctly 7 that is truly 7 be represented as being Any and all such possible alternatives are entirely on a par in this respect with the object supposedly perceived so far as CV is concerned Thus perceptual experience trades direct openness to the elements of physical reality themselves for some intellectual act of classi cation or categorization As a result CV loses all right to the idea that it is the actual physical objects before her which are subjectively presented in a persons perception rather than any of the equally truthconducive possible surrogates777 Emphasis is mine What seems right about this quote is that typically one s experience of an object will attribute to that object properties which other objects have or could have However it certainly does not follow from this that states of affairs involving objects other than the object perceived are so far as that perceptual experience goes on par with the state of affairs perceived One might think that the experience represents Ball as F not just that there is something F in the vicinity Nor is it clear why the representation of some properties but not others is some t act of 39C 39 or character atin7 It is difficult for me to come up with a charitable interpretation of this argument Brewer goes on to challenge the believer in perceptual content to specify the facts in virtue of which some aspects of the scene before her are represented in a given perceptual experience and others are not This is indeed a difficult question But it is not as though posing this question shows that it cannot be answered and it is not clear that if we can7t answer it it follows that there is no such thing as perceptual content Compare the case of thought You might think that all the going theories of mental content fail without leaping to the conclusion that there is no such thing as having a thought with a certain content Moreover an analogous worry can be raised for any theory of perception in virtue of what does a perceptual experience consist in relations to some objects but not otherssome sense data but not othersinvolve one mode of adverbial sensing rather than another 36 The explanatory role of experience Campbell 2002ab worries that the view that experiences have contents makes experiences ill suited to play the role of making new contents available for thought Here s one way he puts the argument The argument turns on an appeal to the explanatory role of experience Experience is what explains our grasp of the concepts of objects But if you think of experience as intentional as merely one among many ways of grasping thoughts you cannot allow it this explanatory role77 135 It is hard to see why the fact that both perceptions and thoughts have contents should preclude the idea that the former can explain the possibility of the latter This seems to depend on assimilating the view that perceptions have content to the view that perception is a species of thinkingl But I donlt see why we should want to do that or why we have to McDowell for one sees this clearly in Mind and World If we say that there must be a rational constraint on thought from outside it so as to ensure a proper acknowledgement of the independence of reality we put ourselves at the mercy of a familiar kind of ambiguity Thought can mean the act of thinking but it can also mean the content of a piece of thinking what someone thinksl Now if we are to give due acknowledgement to the independence of reality what we need is a constraint from outside thinking and judging i i lThe constraint does not need to be from outside thinkable contentsl77 28 37 The argument from dispensability Here is how Alston 2005 describes his opposition to the attribution of contents to perceptions My central argument against the View that perceptions have contents is that we lack a suf cient reason for positing any such representation The rst point to note here is that in the absence of such a suf cient reason there is no basis for attribut ing a representative function to PB The only other basis there could be is that PE presents itself is experienced as a representation But that is clearly not the case When something I see looks a certain way to me conical red i i i it doesnt appear on the face of it be a representation of anything The mind is not irresistibly conveyed to something it is representing the way the mind is when one looks at a realistic paint ing or a photograph The experience is not of that sort Phenomenologically it has the character of a presentation of an object as being suchand suchl The experience terminates in the object presented without so far as it appears functioning to put S in mind of something else Hence we need a reason beyond the phenomenological character of the experi ence to take it to be a representation 2756 For related sentiments about the dispensability of content attributions to perceptual experiences see Crane 2009 What is the argument here Could we make an analogous point about mental states which uncontroversially have contents like judgements There is a worry here that the disagreement is merely verball When Alston says Phenomeno logically it has the character of a presentation of an object as being suchandsuch77 this seems to me to be pretty much the same thing as it represents the object as being suchandsuchl77 Alston would not agree But what does he require of states having contents that perceptions lack or at least seem to lack References William Alston 2005 Perception and Representation Philosophy and Phenomenological Re search 7022537289 Bill Brewer 2006 Perception and Content European Journal of Philosophy 14221657181l Bill Brewer 2007a How to Account for lllusionl ms i Bill Brewer 2007b Perception and its Objects Philosophical Studies 13228779 Alex Byrne 2009 Experience and Content Philosophical Quarterly 592364297451 John Campbell 2002a Berkeley s Puzzle ln Imagination Conceivability and Possibility edited by Tamar Gendler and John O LearyHawthorne 1277144 Oxford Oxford University Press John Campbell 2002b Reference and Consciousness New York Oxford University Press Tim Crane 2009 ls Perception a Propositional Attitude Philosophical Quarterly 592364537 Mark Johnston 2006 Better than Mere Knowledge The Function of Sensory Awareness ln Perceptual Experience edited by Tamar Szab o Gendler and John Hawthorne 2607290 New York Oxford University Press John McDowell 1994 Mind and World Cambridge MA Harvard University Press Adam Pautz 2009 What Are the Contents of Experiences Philosophical Quarterly 592364837