Está en la página 1de 5

780

Book Reviews

with, after all, is the moral character of the God of the Hebrew Bible, and its authors do not leave us in the dark about the reasons for genocide. It is said to be a way of preventing the Israelites from marrying Canaanites and joining them in the worship of their gods. This reason is not beyond our ken (p. 169). And we know not only that this is not a good reason for genocide, it is a bad reason. In defence of sceptical theism (p. 175), Mark Murphy responds that we should distinguish between ordinary reasons that we give to one another in justifying our conduct and complete reasons. The Hebrew Bible reports Gods ordinary reasons for exterminating peoples, which is the general wickedness of the Jerichoites (the people with whom Murphy is concerned), and we do not have much of a clue about what Gods complete reason would look like. As can be seen from the above summary of Divine Evil, the book contains a variety of theistic approaches to dealing with the problem of divine evil. One issue not yet mentioned concerns the general line of response put forth by Stump and teased out in different ways by Plantinga, van Inwagen, and Wolterstorff. If this line of response is right, then ordinary people are going to have an extremely difcult time understanding just what the meaning of the Hebrew Bible is at different points (see Antony, p. 56). If you need a scholarly community that labours for centuries (millennia?) over Hebrew texts to ascertain what their true sense and purpose is (labour needed, at least in part, because God is represented as authorizing conduct that He really did not authorize), what, if any, hope can the lay reader have of understanding what is going on? However this question is answered (and one might wonder whether it would really be all that bad if the lay person had to depend upon scholarly expertise?), any person interested in the question of divine evil will nd Divine Evil a fascinating read. Whatever one makes of divine evil, this book most certainly promotes the human good. Department of Philosophy Ursinus College Collegeville, PA USA
doi:10.1093/mind/fzs107
STEWART GOETZ

Downloaded from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte on January 11, 2013

Advance Access publication 21 November 2012

Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers,


by Ned Block. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2007. Pp. 786. H/b 24.95, P/b 55.95. Ned Block believes in mental paint. He is also inclined to believe in mental oil. That is, he believes that the phenomenal character of experiences, what it is like to have experiences, cannot be completely captured by functional or representational facts, or by facts about cognition. An experience involves
Mind, Vol. 121 . 483 . July 2012 Mind Association 2012

Book Reviews

781

mental paint if it represents, but, like paint, has a nature that goes beyond what it represents. A plausible example: the phenomenal red in my visual experience represents the red colour of surfaces, but the quality of phenomenal red what it is like to see red cannot be reduced to its representing the red colour of surfaces. An experiences involves mental oil if it does not represent. Perhaps orgasms are a form of mental oil: pure what it is likeness unheeded by the task of mirroring the world. Many of the essays in Blocks rst volume of collected papers Consciousness, Function and Representation argue in this direction, which gives his diverse work in philosophy of mind an overall unity and coherence. He argues in part using traditional thought experiments, offering us some of the most memorable and powerful thought experiments in philosophy. Perhaps most notably, Block gives us the pleasure of contemplating the Chinese nation collectively replicating the functioning of the human brain, the aim of which is to show the possibility of something functionally indiscernible from us but lacking phenomenal consciousness. He also weaves an intriguing variant on Harmans Inverted Earth: a planet where the colours of objects are inverted the sky is yellow, grass is red, re hydrants are green but the colour vocabulary of the residents is also inverted they call the sky blue and grass green. In Blocks twist on the story he asks you to imagine that you have been knocked out, had colour inverting contact lenses inserted in your eyes, and been plonked onto inverted Earth. When you wake up, you will not notice the difference. The colour inverted lenses will make your experience of the yellow sky and the red grass indiscernible from your experience of sky and grass on Earth. And remember that the people on inverted Earth use the word blue to describe the sky and the word green to describe the grass, so you would not be able to work out your situation from how locals talked. It seems that on Inverted Earth, at least after a little time has passed, you would have experiences phenomenologically indiscernible to those you had on Earth, despite the fact that what your experiences represent has changed: the experience which represented blue on Earth now represents yellow, the experience which represented green on Earth now represents red. Such a representational difference in the absence of a phenomenological difference entails the falsity of representationalism. Block offers us some meta-philosophical advice on how to evaluate the philosophical signicance of such thought experiments, which is summed up in the doctrine: Elicit simple intuitions about complex cases rather than complex intuitions about simple cases. Those who suggest that by attending to our ordinary, everyday experience, we can discover that we are unaware of any intrinsic properties of experience (i.e. experience is transparent) are outing this doctrine, for they are seeking an answer to a highly complicated theoretical question from a simple case. Blocks thought experiments, in contrast, take us into highly unusual situations, but then ask us for our simple responses to them.
Mind, Vol. 121 . 483 . July 2012 Mind Association 2012

Downloaded from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte on January 11, 2013

782

Book Reviews

However, it is not clear that the intuitions Block invokes in the above thought experiments cannot be accommodated by his opponents. For example, Michael Tye has argued that a representationalist who grounds representation in the naturally evolved functions of the organism can deny that what my experiences represent changes when I move to Inverted Earth. What my experiences represent is (very roughly) what they would be caused by in optimal circumstances, and those optimal circumstances are ones which obtain in the environment in which I evolved, that is, on Earth rather than Inverted Earth. Therefore, my experience which represented blue on Earth continues to represent blue on Inverted Earth, precisely because it continues to be the case that blue is what would cause that experience in optimal circumstances (even if those optimal circumstances never again transpire due to the fact that I am never returned to Earth). Compare: a speedometer which is tted to a car with the wrong tyre size will continue to misrepresent due to the fact that it is not in the situation it was designed to be in in order to function properly. Of course this response on behalf of the representationalist involves the potentially counterintuitive claim that I continue to systematically misrepresent colours for the rest of my life in exile on Inverted Earth, despite being by all outward appearances perfectly integrated into the community and well able to perfectly negotiate the environment. The same would go for my heirs if I mate with another immigrant from Earth. Block trades in real experiments as well as thought experiments, for example, appealing to actual variation in colour experience to argue against representationalism. In Sexism, Racism, Ageism and the Nature of Consciousness, he argues on empirical grounds that there are slight phenomenological variations in the colour experience of different genders and races, and between people of different ages. If representationalism is true, then these slight variations correspond to slight differences in colour representation. And if there are such differences between how, say, a black man and a white man are representing the colour of a certain surface, it can not be the case that both are representing the surface colour correctly: one must be getting it right and one must be getting it wrong (unless of course both are getting it wrong). But it is implausibly chauvinistic to suppose that one race has the privilege of veridically perceiving colours, from which Block infers the implausibility of representationalism. Once we give up on representationalism, we can take these slight phenomenal differences to be slightly different ways of representing the same facts. Throughout the volume, a compelling case is made for the irreducibility of phenomenology to the functional/cognitive/representational. So far Blocks project is one a dualist could enthusiastically support. But Block is resolutely committed to physicalism. Given his rejection of deationary analyses of phenomenology, his physicalism can take only one form: a posteriori identities between phenomenal states and neuro-physiological states of the brain.
Mind, Vol. 121 . 483 . July 2012 Mind Association 2012

Downloaded from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte on January 11, 2013

Book Reviews

783

Phenomenal states have a hidden (as in not revealed a priori) scientic nature; empirical investigation is needed to reveal the neuro-physiological essence of phenomenal qualities. Block defends this conception of physicalism, commonly known as a posteriori physicalism (or type-B physicalism in David Chalmerss terminology) in a long, very detailed, quite challenging chapter Max Blacks Objection to Mind-Body Identity . Ultimately, Block thinks that the standard arguments against a posteriori physicalism are dependent on the thesis that phenomenal properties are thin, that is, that they lack a hidden nature. He rejects the idea that the a priori availability of phenomenal properties, or the fact that phenomenal properties are available to the rst person, entails that phenomenal properties are thin. When employing a phenomenal concept the phenomenal property which is a physical property is a priori available, is in some sense used as its own mode of presentation, and yet in serving this role it does not present itself as a physical property. Block tells us that phenomenal properties are not thin, but he does not tell us exactly how fat he takes them to be. Are they obese, hiding all their nature? Or are they on the chubby side, revealing something but not everything about their nature? The former option is implausible: we can know a priori much about essential resemblances and differences between our phenomenal states, for example, that phenomenal red resembles phenomenal orange more than it resembles phenomenal green (the fact that this proposition is a priori is revealed by the fact that its negation is inconceivable). What account can the a posteriori physicalist give of this a priori knowledge? The dualist can claim that a subject stands in a special epistemically intimate relationship with her phenomenal qualities, commonly known as acquaintance, such that the nature of those qualities is directly revealed to her. By attending to phenomenal red and phenomenal orange, the nature of each is directly revealed, and hence it is apparent to the subject that they have a similar nature. And yet this seems to imply that phenomenal qualities are thin after all, given that their nature is directly revealed to the subject when she attends to them. The a posteriori physicalist cannot accept this: if the nature of phenomenal red were physical, and that physical nature were directly revealed to us in introspection, it would be a priori that phenomenal red is physical, which is inconsistent with the a posteriori physicalists contention that the physical and the phenomenal are conceptually distinct. It would be helpful to hear from Block exactly how he proposes to account for our a priori knowledge of essential resemblances amongst phenomenal qualities, without relying on a commitment to acquaintance which is inconsistent with a posteriori physicalism. Making sense of a posteriori physicalism is crucial for Blocks project, which perhaps makes it a little strange that only one (admittedly long) chapter of the volume is spent defending it. For if a posteriori physicalism cannot
Mind, Vol. 121 . 483 . July 2012 Mind Association 2012

Downloaded from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte on January 11, 2013

784

Book Reviews

be made sense of, then Blocks extensive work in attacking functionalist and representationalist reductions of qualia amounts to extensive work in defence of dualism, by ruling out deationary forms of reduction. If a posteriori physicalism is false, then the mental paint which Block defends so well turns out to be non-physical paint.
Downloaded from http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte on January 11, 2013

Department of Philosophy University of Liverpool Liverpool, L69 7WY UK philip.goff@liverpool.ac.uk


doi:10.1093/mind/fzs100

PHILIP GOFF

Advance Access publication 21 November 2012

Assertion: New Philosophical Essays, edited by Jessica Brown and


Herman Cappelen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. 300. H/b 39.00. Brown and Cappelens volume collects papers presented at a conference held Research Centre in June 2007. The issues addressed in this at the Arche volume have generated much discussion in recent years, and the contributions represent the state of the art. Brown and Cappelen offer an excellent introduction which lays out the dialectical space, and which explains the division of papers into those which address the nature of assertion (Part I, lbel, John MacFarlane, Peter Pagin, and with papers from Cappelen, Max Ko Robert Stalnaker) and those which concern epistemic norms of assertion (Part II, with papers from Brown, Sanford Goldberg, Patrick Greenough, Jonathan Kvanvig, Jennifer Lackey, and Ishani Maitra). The contributions begin with Cappelens compelling challenge to the very idea of assertion. If his argument is sound, it problematizes much of what follows. Cappelen argues that the notion of assertion should be abandoned in favour of the (uncontroversial) notion of saying: the saying of p is the act of expressing the proposition that p (p. 23) On his view [s]ayings are governed by variable norms, none of which is essential to, or constitutive of, the act of saying (p. 22). Compare Timothy Williamsons view that assertion is essentially governed by: Knowledge rule One must: Assert p only if one knows p. (p. 3)

But not all theories of assertion appeal to constitutive norms (pp. 24, p. 27). Other possibilities include theories that appeal to distinctive causes of assertion (assertion as an attempt to change the conversational score, assertion as the expression of belief ) and theories that appeal to distinctive commitments

Mind, Vol. 121 . 483 . July 2012

Mind Association 2012