Representationism and Phenomenism: A critique of two approaches to explaining the relation between representational and phenomenal content
Thompson, Hamish D.
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The aim of this thesis is to critique two approaches to explaining the relation between representational and phenomenal content. The first approach, representationism, holds that phenomenal content is entirely constituted by intentional or representational content. The second approach, phenomenism, holds that phenomenal content is not entirely constituted by intentional or representational content. There is something ’more’ to phenomenal content than just intentional content. Two types of consideration are considered in order to evaluate these two approaches as follows: The first, considers two ’metaphysical speculations’, inverted spectra and inverted earth: The second, considers causal and explanatory implications of adopting either of these two approaches. Inverted spectrums and inverted earth provide prima facie grounds for rejecting representationism(Block, 1990, 1996; Shoemaker; 199 1); however, it will be demonstrated that both ‘speculations’ do not demonstrate representationism to fail. This thesis will argue that existing responses to inverted earth, for example, Lalor (1999), Lycan (1996), and Tye (1994, 1995b, 1998b) are inadequate. However, it provides a new response to inverted earth on behalf of the wide representationist. Narrow content representationism, which holds that phenomenal contents are functions that map contexts onto contents, will be demonstrated to fail. Doubt is also cast upon teleological approaches to phenomenal content. Causal and explanatory constraints present a problem to both wide representationism and phenomenism. Wide representationalist theories have traditionally faced a challenge from attempting to explain how relational properties can be casually relevant (Fodor, 1987). These problems apply also to representationist theories of phenomenal content. Two current proponents of wide causation are considered, Wilson (1997) and Yablo (1997); their accounts are found to be problematic. Phenomenism either faces a troublesome ‘explanatory gap’ or a problematic commitment to type-type physicalist identity theories. Finally a proposed future direction for these two theories is suggested.