Philosophy Research Papers on Consciousness
Eric Lormand, University of Michigan
I develop and defend an "inner-perception" theory of "phenomenal"
consciousness--of what it is like to have mental states. This kind of view has gone
far out of favor in contemporary philosophy of mind, although it is perhaps the dominant
view of consciousness in traditional philosophy of mind (Locke, Leibniz, Kant, Brentano)
and in (contemporary Western) commonsense.
Just below the list of papers is advice about which to read for which
List of consciousness papers on this site
|Steps toward a Science of Consciousness?
||Intro for people with little or no philosophy background. (49K)
||Michigan Philosophy News
||Advanced intro for people with some philosophy background but little
exposure to philosophy of mind. (98K)
||Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
|Qualia! (Now Showing at a Theater near You)
||Response to Daniel Dennett's "Quining Qualia" and Consciousness
||Philosophical Topics 1994
||Argues that attitudes and moods are not phenomenally conscious even when
introspectively conscious, uses this to criticize rival theories of phenomenality.
||Nous June 1996
|Shoemaker and "Inner Sense"
||Defends inner perception against Shoemaker's criticisms in
"Self-Knowledge and 'Inner Sense'"
||Philosophical Topics 2001
|The Explanatory Stopgap
||Attempts to show how to deduce phenomenal consciousness from wholly
nonphenomenal, physical facts. (177K)
||Philosophical Review (2005?)
|Appendix to "The Explanatory Stopgap"
||Argues against the claim that such deducibility is needed for satisfactory
scientific explanation. (20K)
(formerly titled Phenomenal Illusions)
||Argues that all phenomenal experiences embody either an "image
impression" of subjective objects with objective properties (an
illusion, in our case), or the "transparency
impression" of objective objects with subjective properties (also an
illusion, in our case). Uses inner
perception to explain why the (illusory) impresions exist. (148K)
||Gendler & Hawthorne (eds), Perceptual Experience (2005?)
|Inner Sense until Proven Guilty
||Responds to 22 philosophical and scientific objections against inner
If you're completely new to philosophy, you might start with Steps.
If you have some philosophy background but are new to philosophy of mind or to the
consciousness issue, try Consciousness.
For a quick introduction to the inner-perception theory for those with relevant
background, try the first part of Inner Sense.
The other material includes four main styles of argument for the inner-perception
(1) Conceptual analysis--Contrary to Nagel, Levine, Jackson, Searle,
Chalmers, etc., from wholly nonphenomenal premises about inner perception we can deduce,
as a matter of conceptual necessity, that there is something it is like to have mental
states (see Stopgap).
(2) Explanation of troublesome features of qualia--Inner perception provides
a plausible defense of claims that qualia are intrinsic to experience, directly and
reliably (perhaps even infallibly and completely) introspectible, unanalyzable, ineffable,
and private. It does so while preserving insights from philosophical frameworks that have
often been thought incompatible with these claims (functionalism, representationalism,
eliminativism, etc.). (See the first two-thirds of Qualia!
and section 7 of Stopgap.) I am
also working on extending the view to inverted qualia, and indirectly to self-knowledge
and introspection of nonphenomenal states (see also section
3 of Nonphenomenal).
(3) Explanation of (illusory) impressions--Inner perception provides the best available
explanation of a widespread pair of illusions built into phenomenal experience (see
part 2 of Impressions). The
"image illusion" is an appearance of phenomenal objects subjectively having
normal environmental properties (shape, degrees of loudness, etc.). The "transparency
illusion" is an appearance of normal environmental objects objectively having
phenomenal properties (varying and modality-specific shape-looks, shape-feels,
(4) Explanation of correlations--The illusions are present in all clear
cases of phenomenal consciousness, despite the otherwise wild heterogeneity of these cases
(see parts 1 and 3 of
Impressions). Phenomenality is absent for attitudes and
moods--even when they are conscious in some sense--but the illusions and inner
perception are also absent for attitudes and moods (see Nonphenomenal
and part 3 of Impressions). Also,
in imaginary cases of "superblindsight" almost everything philosophers have
taken to be relevant to phenomenality is present, except inner perception, the illusions ... and phenomenality itself (see section 5 of
In addition there are several lines of defense against objections (see Inner Sense, Shoemaker, and the final third of Qualia!), and some criticism of rival theories (see Consciousness and section 2
of Nonphenomenal). I have more extensive criticisms in
materials not on the site yet, but I have thought it more important to develop a positive
account than to develop these criticisms into standalone articles. My immediate aim is to
tend to the publication of the unpublished papers on this site, and to launch into a
book-length treatment of these issues.
Relations to meaning
Reference and semantic structure are important issues for understanding consciousness,
since on my account specific qualia are
determined by the specific contents of inner perceptions, and content is at least a matter
of reference and semantic structure. Also, many of the strategies I use to argue that
there is a dearth of conceptual necessities (see sections
3-4 of "Holist")
can be used to argue against the "explanatory gap"
claim that fully satisfying scientific explanations typically provide links of conceptual
(rather than merely empirical) necessitation.
Relations to cognitive
The distinction (if any) between perception and cognition is important for
distinguishing inner perception from inner-directed thought (see
6 of "Stopgap").
I hope you enjoy this stuff; please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.