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Experiencers and the Ambiguity Objection

Sytsma, Justin (2018) Experiencers and the Ambiguity Objection. [Preprint]

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It is often asserted that we should believe that phenomenal consciousness exists because it is pretheoretically obvious. If this is the case, then we should expect lay people to categorize mental states in roughly the way that philosophers do, treating prototypical examples of (supposed) phenomenally conscious mental states similarly. Sytsma and Machery (2010) present preliminary evidence that this is not the case. They found that participants happily ascribed seeing red to a simple robot but denied that the robot felt pain. The most prominent response to this work has been the ambiguity objection, which charges that participants were interpreting ascriptions of seeing red in a purely informational way, such that their attributions of “seeing red” to the robot do not speak to the question of whether they recognize the phenomenality of this state. Peressini (2014) pushes an especially interesting version of the objection, presenting new empirical evidence and suggesting that lay people do in fact have a concept of phenomenality. In this paper, I respond to Peressini’s objections, and the ambiguity objection more generally, arguing that the new data does not undermine Sytsma and Machery’s conclusion.

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Item Type: Preprint
Sytsma, Justin
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2018 03:05
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2018 03:05
Item ID: 15481
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Date: 20 December 2018

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