PEL End-of-Summer Nightcap 2023

Recorded 8/21/23. Mark, Seth, Dylan, and eventually Wes catch up, getting into people's travels, getting in touch with nature, Barbie, How To with John Wilson, anticipating our upcoming episodes, and then a large information dump from Wes about his research into gender and evolutionary psychology, which will no doubt end up in a PEL episode eventually. We conclude by  Continue Reading …

Ep. 223: Guest Ned Block on Consciousness (Part Two)

We talk with Ned about a second Blockheads (2019) article, Michael Tye's “Homunculi Heads and Silicon Chips: The Importance of History to Phenomenology," which provides a variation off of the David Chalmers fading qualia argument (see our ep. 222), plus Ned's Blockheads response "Fading Qualia: A Response to Michael Tye." Ned thinks that someone really could be radically  Continue Reading …

Ep. 223: Guest Ned Block on Consciousness (Part One)

For the climax and denouement of our summer philosophy of mind series, Ned Block himself comes on to help us fill in the gaps about functionalism and attributing consciousness to machines. We discuss two essays by other authors responding to Ned's work from the collection Blockheads!: Essays on Ned Block's Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness (2019), ed. Adam Pautz and Daniel  Continue Reading …

Ep. 223: Guest Ned Block on Consciousness (Citizen Edition)

For the climax and denouement of our summer philosophy of mind series, Ned Block himself comes on to help us fill in the gaps about functionalism and attributing consciousness to machines. We discuss two essays by other authors responding to Ned's work from the collection Blockheads!: Essays on Ned Block's Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness (2019), ed. Adam Pautz and Daniel  Continue Reading …

Ep. 222: Debating Functionalism (Block, Chalmers) (Part Two)

Continuing on Ned Block's “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995). What would it be like to be halfway between person and machine? If you think the machine can't have consciousness, then Chalmers thinks that there's no sensible way to describe such an experience, ergo the machine (if functionally  Continue Reading …

Ep. 222: Debating Functionalism (Block, Chalmers) (Part One)

On Ned Block's “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995). If mental states are functional states, there couldn't be zombies, i.e., something functionally equivalent to you but which yet doesn't have qualia (a sense of "what it's like" to be you... an inner life). Yet Block claims that there could be such  Continue Reading …

Ep. 222: Debating Functionalism (Block, Chalmers) (Citizen Edition)

On Ned Block's “Troubles with Functionalism” (1978) and David Chalmers’s “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia” (1995). If mental states are functional states, there couldn't be zombies, i.e., something functionally equivalent to you but which yet doesn't have qualia (a sense of "what it's like" to be you… an inner life). Yet Block claims that there could be such  Continue Reading …

Ep. 221: Functionalist Theories of Mind (Putnam, Armstrong) (Part Two)

Continuing on functionalism with David M. Armstrong’s "The Causal Theory of the Mind" (1981). We reconvened a day after Part One on Putnam to come back with fresh energy, considering Armstrong, who self-consciously presents himself as a defender of science: It's the most likely scientific hypothesis that mental states are physical states of the brain, and it's the  Continue Reading …

Ep. 221: Functionalist Theories of Mind (Putnam, Armstrong) (Part One)

On Hilary Putnam’s "The Nature of Mental States" (1973) and David M. Armstrong’s "The Causal Theory of the Mind" (1981). What is the mind? Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth consider a theory of mind that defines things not by what they're made of, but what they do. What does this mean? Well, what makes something a mousetrap, for instance, is that it catches mice. It could be made  Continue Reading …

Ep. 221: Functionalist Theories of Mind (Putnam, Armstrong) (Citizen Edition)

On Hilary Putnam’s "The Nature of Mental States" (1973) and David M. Armstrong’s "The Causal Theory of the Mind" (1981). What is the mind? Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth consider a theory of mind that defines things not by what they're made of, but what they do. What does this mean? Well, what makes something a mousetrap, for instance, is that it catches mice. It could be made  Continue Reading …

Ep. 219: The Harder Problem of Consciousness (Block & Papineau)

On Ned Block's "The Harder Problem of Consciousness" (2002) and David Papineau's "Could There Be a Science of Consciousness?" (2003). What would give us sufficient reason to believe that a non-human was conscious? Block thinks this is a harder problem that we might suspect. We can't know for sure exactly what consciousness in us is, so we can't know for sure what such a  Continue Reading …

Ep. 219: The Harder Problem of Consciousness (Block & Papineau) (Citizen Edition)

On Ned Block's "The Harder Problem of Consciousness" (2002) and David Papineau's "Could There Be a Science of Consciousness?" (2003). What would give us sufficient reason to believe that a non-human was conscious? Block thinks this is a harder problem that we might suspect. We can't know for sure exactly what consciousness in us is, so we can't know for sure what such a  Continue Reading …

Ep. 218: The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, et al) (Part Two)

Continuing on "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" by David Chalmers (2003). We finish Chalmers's account of the types of physicialism, then move on to dualism (including epiphenomenalism), and finally dally with panpsychism, the specialty of our guest, Gregory Miller from the Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast. Listen to part 1 first or listen to the unbroken, ad-free  Continue Reading …

Ep. 218: The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, et al) (Part One)

On "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" by David Chalmers (2003), with special guest Gregory Miller from the Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast. Can we explain human experience using the terms of brain physiology? Well, it depends what you mean by "explain." Our experience has a qualitative character: the feeling of red, the smell of methane, the feel of a cat's scratchy  Continue Reading …

Ep. 218: The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, et al) (Citizen Edition)

On "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" by David Chalmers (2003), with special guest Gregory Miller from the Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast. Can we explain human experience using the terms of brain physiology? Well, it depends what you mean by "explain." Our experience has a qualitative character: the feeling of red, the smell of methane, the feel of a cat's scratchy  Continue Reading …

REISSUE-Ep. 21: What Is the Mind? (Turing, et al) w/ New Intro

Discussing articles by Alan Turing, Gilbert Ryle, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and Dan Dennett. Plus a new intro by Mark, Wes, and Seth reflecting back on this 2010 discussion, which we're re-releasing to help you prepare for our upcoming episodes in this area. What is this mind stuff, and how can it "be" the brain? Can computers think? No? What if they're really sexified?  Continue Reading …

Episode 179: William James’s Introspective Psychology (Part Two)

Continuing on Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), completing "The Stream of Thought" and covering the chapter on "Habit." James thinks that psychologists focus too much on those parts of consciousness that get picked out by substantive words; we neglect those "fringe" parts that are harder to pick out specifically. Do elementary particles have "habits"? James describes  Continue Reading …

Episode 179: William James’s Introspective Psychology (Part One)

On The Principles of Psychology (1890) chapters 1 & 7, and Psychology, the Briefer Course (1892), the chapters on "The Stream of Thought," "Habit," and some of "The Self." Can we talk about the mind in a way that is both scientific and also does justice to our everyday experiences? James thought that previous philosophers talking about the mind weren't accurately reflecting  Continue Reading …