The Spring 2016 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Martina Fürst, University of Graz. The title of her talk is "On Actual And Hypothetical Phenomenal Contrast Scenarios." (Abstract below.)
Friday, Apr 15, 2016, 3-5pm, Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224 (1145 E South Campus Drive 85721).
The cognitive phenomenology-thesis (CP-thesis) has it that conscious cognitive states essentially exhibit a phenomenal character. There is significant controversy about how to characterize the phenomenal character of conscious thoughts. Defenders of a strong CP-thesis claim that introspection delivers a sui generis, proprietary, cognitive phenomenology. Proponents of a weak CP-thesis, in contrast, hold that all they find introspectively is the familiar kind of sensory phenomenology. This disagreement is puzzling, since phenomenology is often held to be directly revealed by introspection. To convince their opponents, defenders of a strong CP-thesis offer “arguments from phenomenal contrast”. Those arguments can be dived into two kinds - one involving actual contrast cases, and one relying on hypothetical contrast cases. The former arguments aim at inducing in the opponent of proprietary cognitive phenomenology a first-person experience that she did not introspectively recognize before. The latter arguments focus on the conceivability of hypothetical contrast scenarios.
In my talk, I will offer explanations for why both versions of phenomenal contrast arguments fail to settle the dispute about how to characterize the phenomenology of conscious thoughts. Notably, they fail for different reasons. The explanations given shall generate a more sophisticated understanding of the underlying mechanism that are responsible for the current dialectical stand-off in the debate about cognitive phenomenology.