Cognitive Phenomenology: In Defense of Recombination

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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The cognitive experience view of thought holds that the content of thought is determined by its cognitive-phenomenal character. Adam Pautz argues that the cognitive experience view is extensionally inadequate: it entails the possibility of mix-and-match cases, where the cognitive-phenomenal properties that determine thought content are combined with different sensory-phenomenal and functional properties. Because mix-and-match cases are metaphysically impossible, Pautz argues, the cognitive experience view should be rejected. This paper defends the cognitive experience view from Pautz’s argument. I build on resources in the philosophy of mind literature to show that cognitive-phenomenal properties are modally independent from sensory-phenomenal and functional properties. The result is that mix-and-match cases, though modally remote, are metaphysically possible. The possibility of mix-and-match cases allows us to move from defensive posture to a critical one: it poses problems for any theory of content that imposes rationality constraints, including Pautz’s positive view, phenomenal functionalism.

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Preston Lennon
Rutgers University - New Brunswick


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