Consciousness is arguably the most important area within contemporary philosophy of mind and perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world. Despite an explosion of research from philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, attempts to explain consciousness in neurophysiological, or even cognitive, terms are often met with great resistance. In The Consciousness Paradox, Rocco Gennaro aims to solve an underlying paradox, namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views, including higher-order thought (HOT) theory, conceptualism, infant and animal consciousness, concept acquisition, and what he calls the HOT-brain thesis. He defends and further develops a metapsychological reductive representational theory of consciousness and applies it to several importantly related problems. Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT theory of consciousness that he calls the "wide intrinsicality view" and shows why it is superior to various alternatives, such as self-representationalism and first-order representationalism. HOT theory says that what makes a mental state conscious is that a suitable higher-order thought is directed at that mental state.
Thus Gennaro argues for an overall philosophical theory of consciousness while applying it to other significant issues not usually addressed in the philosophical literature on consciousness. Most cognitive science and empirical works on such topics as concepts and animal consciousness do not address central philosophical theories of consciousness. Gennaro's integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers.
This book collects recent contributions from Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen and Partha Dasgupta, as well as a new chapter from the editors.
The first part of the book consists of Professor Putnam's John Locke lectures, delivered at the University of Oxford in 1976, offering a detailed examination of a 'physicalist' theory of reference against a background of the works of Tarski, Carnap, Popper, Hempel and Kant. The analysis then extends to notions of truth, the character of linguistic enquiry and social scientific enquiry in general, interconnecting with the great metaphysical problem of realism, the nature of language and reference, and the character of ourselves.
The book first surveys scientific understandings of morality. Chapters by Joan Silk and Christopher Boehm ask what primatology and anthropology tell us about moral origins. Daniel Batson and Stephen Pinker provide contrasting accounts of how evolution shapes moral psychology, and Jeffrey Schloss assesses a range of biological proposals for morality and altruism. Turning to philosophical issues, Martha Nussbaum argues that recognizing our animal nature does not threaten morality. Stephen Pope and Timothy Jackson explore how Darwinian accounts of moral goodness both enrich and require understandings outside the sciences. Hilary Putnam and Susan Neiman ask whether Darwin is truly useful for helping us to understand what morality actually is and how it functions.
The book is a balanced effort to assess the scientific merits and philosophical significance of emerging Darwinian perspectives on morality.