SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Can the Tracking Theory Account for Phenomenal Content?
(Philosophy of Mind, )

A Representationalism about phenomenal consciousness holds that the phenomenal character of an experience can be explained in terms of its representational content. A more specific version is tracking representationalism: It combines the representationalist idea with the claim that mental states obtain their representational content in virtue of their tracking features in the subject's environment. Tracking representationalism is thus committed to the view that the tracking theory is an adequate theory about phenomenal content. I will argue that this view is seriously mistaken. My argument takes as its starting point the claim that any adequate theory of phenomenal content should be able to account for all or, at least, most of the acknowleged facts about phenomenal content. These facts include: 1) Phenomenal content (PC) displays specific structural features such as compositional characteristics and similarity relations to other phenomenal contents. 2) PC is introspectively accessible. 3) It is logically and conceptually possible that the properties figuring in PC are not instantiated at all. 4) PC is solely determined by the internal constitution of the subject and, therefore, internally fixed. Thus, intrinsic duplicates necessarily have experiences with the same phenomenal character. 5) PC is causally efficacious in that it contributes to behavior and the acquisition of beliefs. 6) PC is determinate. The aim of my talk is to show that the tracking theory is not an adequate theory of phenomenal content because it cannot accommodate the aforementioned facts about phenomenal content that any adequate theory of phenomenal content should be able to account for. Moreover, I suggest that the tracking theory fails because it is externalist in spirit and delivers the wrong kind of content. Finally, I will give a short outlook what consequences these deliberations have for representationalism in general.

Chair: Martin Niederl
Time: 18:50-19:20, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.005

Daniel Weger 
(Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, )

Testability and Meaning deco