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bridge from phenomenal identity to intentional identity he appeals to
(i) brains in vats that (ii) share perceptually based concepts and (iii) share
all other concepts in virtue of their sharing their conceptual roles. As
Loar notes, in effect, (i) is required to ensure that any shared intention-
ality does not hold in virtue of shared (or similar) environments, and
so is narrow; (ii) provides a base case that Loar takes externalists to be
committed to in virtue of the phenomenon of failed perceptual demon-
stratives (and the inadequacy of representationalist accounts of it); and
the extension in (iii) appeals primarily to another resource, conceptual
roles, that Loar takes externalists to view as shared across contexts, no
matter how radically different those contexts may be. I want to put aside
concerns about (i) for now and concentrate on (ii) and (iii).15
Loar™s view here is programmatic and sketches a large-scale view of
phenomenal intentionality, rather than presenting detailed analyses for
any concept that putatively has phenomenal intentionality. My comments
are correspondingly cast. The idea of starting with individual concepts,
rather than phenomenal experience in its fullness, is a good one prima
facie, for part of the problem with sensory experience as a whole is that
it must be articulated ultimately in terms of a range of concepts, and
many of these are conceded by nearly everyone as being externalist, as
having wide content. This seems true even when the articulation we are
interested in is done from the ¬rst-person perspective. Begin, then, with
concepts whose phenomenal intentionality (and its nature) is not in se-
rious dispute, and then constructively build a full account of experience
as having phenomenal intentionality.
I have already ¬‚agged one problem with this approach, however: It
seems to fragment the actual phenomenology we have, and so to be
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
254

at best a philosophical analysis rather than a description of it. Suppose
that we put this aside, and suppose that we simply grant, for now, that
there are perceptually based concepts that are individualistic. How do
we constructively build from here? After discussing perceptually based
concepts, including “recognitional concepts” that “purport to pick out,
perceptually, kinds and properties rather than individuals,” Loar consid-
ers concepts that seem neither paradigmatically narrow nor wide, includ-
ing the general concepts of physical objects and spatial relations. Here
he argues that these contain a recognitional component or aspect, and
so can be assimilated to recognitional concepts, which he has argued
to have phenomenal intentionality. While Loar concedes that this is not
true of socially deferential concepts “ which have paradigmatically wide
content “ he argues that their phenomenal intentionality derives from
the conceptual roles they play in the systematic internal economy of the
individual.16
There are thus two distinct paths to phenomenal intentionality: via
assimilation to perceptually based concepts (paradigms of the recogni-
tional), and via assimilation to the logical connectives (paradigms of the
Conceptual Roley). These paths are very different from one another. One
concern is whether they in fact converge. That is, what grounds are there
for thinking that they determine the very same kind of property, phenom-
enal intentionality? This question seems to me to need a nonstipulative
answer for Loar™s program to be successful. Unlike Horgan and Tienson,
Loar explicitly rules out the possibility that this unifying feature is the
availability of phenomenal intentionality to introspection, for he wants
conceptual roles to determine phenomenal intentionality independent
of its relationship to “an introspective glance.” Indeed, in light of this
concession, and independently, one wonders what makes intentionality
determined solely by conceptual roles phenomenological. What is the
phenomenology of the concept “and,” one wonders?17
There is a parallel here with wide content that might be drawn. Why
think that “environmentally-determined” content (for example, that of
water, a la Putnam) and “socially-determined” content (for example, that
`
of arthritis, a la Burge) are examples of a single kind of content, wide
`
content? There are, however, two important dissimilarities between this
pair of factors, the physical and social environments, and those deter-
mining phenomenal intentionality. First, one might plausibly (even if not
de¬nitively) make the case that environmentally determined content of
these is really an instance of socially determined content, in that the key
feature of Putnam externalism is the pattern of social deference that it
Intentionality and Phenomenology 255

identi¬es in the use of language. Second, and short of this, these “paths
to externalism,” while distinct, are not independent in that they share key
elements, such as the idea of a social division of labor between regular
folk and experts and that of individual knowledge as being incomplete
or partial.
A ¬nal general question: If phenomenology determines a kind of in-
tentionality (albeit via two distinct paths), what is phenomenology™s rela-
tionship to wide content? Given the diaphanous character of much of our
introspective experience, a point (as we have seen) upon which represen-
tationalists have seized, it seems implausible to think that our everyday
phenomenology is never of, or never leads us to, intentionality that is
wide. I suspect that Loar, Horgan, and Tienson would concur. If that is
so, then there is nothing special about the path from phenomenology
to individualism, for there is also a path from phenomenology to at least
some kind of externalism. We should consider this issue more fully by
turning explicitly to the focus on twin cases, and to Loar™s appeal to the
brain in a vat.


5 individualism and phenomenal intentionality
Loar™s view, like that of Horgan and Tienson, moves from claims about the
phenomenology of perceptual experience to a conclusion about its (phe-
nomenal) intentionality. As we saw in the previous chapter, Fred Dretske
has argued that even conscious perceptual experience is externalist, and
a reminder of the dilemma that Dretske poses is useful in understanding
a challenge facing those, such as Horgan, Tienson, and Loar, who deny
this. What are perceptual experiences? If they are or involve conceptual
or thoughtlike entities, then those experiences inherit their width from
that of the concepts or thoughts they involve. But if perceptual experi-
ences are completely divorced from conceptual or thoughtlike entities,
then perceptual states are unknowable, even by their bearers.
In terms of this “wide or unknowable” dilemma posed by Dretske,
defenders of phenomenal intentionality attempt to grasp the ¬rst horn
by articulating concepts that are not externalist. This is a strategy that
Colin McGinn has also pursued in demarcating the limits of externalism,
arguing that perceptual content in general is not what he calls strongly
externalist, that is, dependent on nonmental features of a subject™s envi-
ronment. Central to McGinn™s argument is the imagined case of Percy and
his doppelg¨ nger. Percy is behaviorally disposed to respond to round things
a
in round-thing appropriate ways, and so is said unproblematically to have
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
256

an internal state that corresponds to the concept round; Percy™s dupli-
cate, by contrast, is behaviorally disposed to respond to square things in
round-thing appropriate ways. The question is whether Percy™s duplicate
has the concept round or the concept square.
McGinn thinks that an externalist is committed to the latter, since
square things are the distal causes of the relevant internal state, and
externalists individuate mental states by such external causes rather than
by internal features of an organism. Yet the intuition that Percy™s duplicate
is a creature that misperceives square things as round is strong, and so,
according to McGinn, only an individualistic view of the case will do.
Here is a case where perceptual content is individualistic. It seems to
both Percy and his duplicate that they are both seeing a round thing, and
this shared seeming is what explains their shared behavioral dispositions.
Hence, there is a need for an account of the constituents of perceptual
contents that is individualistic. The argument here is similar to Loar™s
chief reason for appealing to phenomenal intentionality: cases of failed
perceptual demonstrative reference.18
Such pair-wise twin comparisons may be a ¬rst step in articulating a
conception of phenomenal intentionality via the claim that there are at
least some narrow concepts. Yet one needs to be able to generalize from
them to reach a conclusion about any pair of physical twins, which is
required to show that the corresponding concepts, and thus phenomenal
intentionality, are individualistic. In the remainder of this section I shall
argue for a contestability to what we can imagine in twin cases that poses
a problem for this generalization, and so for this putative link between
individualism and phenomenal intentionality.
In discussing a variant of McGinn™s example, Martin Davies implicitly
defends the view that a generalization from particular twin cases to ar-
bitrary twins will fail, since it is relatively easy to ¬nd examples where it
seems more plausible to characterize the twin™s concepts in terms of our
ordinary notion of (wide) content. More telling, in my view, is Davies™ sug-
gestion, following Fricker, that it may be most plausible to refrain from
ascriptions of content at all. Suppose, for example, that Percy™s twin is
a brain in a vat, in an internal state identical to the one that Percy has
when he sees round objects, but which is caused by square objects, and
that Percy™s twin (not ever having been embodied at all) has no behavior
at all. In such a case, we have no basis to ascribe even behavioral disposi-
tions to Percy™s twin. It seems to me very hard to ascribe a speci¬c content
to Percy™s twin in such a case without already supposing that only what™s
“in the head” determines content. Thus, what ascriptions one is prepared
Intentionality and Phenomenology 257

to make turn largely on one™s prior theoretical commitments regarding
the individualism-externalism debate.19
If this is true, then defenders of phenomenal intentionality have seri-
ously underestimated the task before them, for they have been content to
¬nd relatively few cases in which perceptual content is (plausibly) shared
by doppelg¨ ngers, and then simply supposed that the generalization from
a
such cases is unproblematic. But consider the range of possible dupli-
cates there are for any given individual. There is Rex and there is his
doppelg¨ nger T-Rex on Twin Earth. But there is also brain-in-a-vat Rex,
a
entirely virtual Rex, Rex the happy android, Rex the purely immaterial
substance, and multiperson Rex, whose phenomenal life is the fusion of
half-lives of two other individuals. In each case, we can imagine Rex™s phe-
nomenal mental life being present in some radically (or not so radically)
different circumstance.
Or can we? Can we really imagine a purely immaterial substance having
exactly the same phenomenal life as regular embodied and embedded
Rex here on Earth? As I intimated in section 3, we may conceptualize
phenomenology not simply as the result of passive experience and active
introspection but as the active exploration of one™s environment through
one™s body. Given that, whatever it is we are imagining in these cases, it is
not a scenario in which the phenomenology remains constant across the
two scenarios. In fact, if one adopts such a view of at least the phenomenol-
ogy of perceptual experience, as I think is plausible, then it is dif¬cult to
imagine disembodied minds having the corresponding phenomenology
at all. In this respect, to draw on a Wittgensteinian example, comparing
Rex and disembodied Rex is like comparing the time on Earth with that
on the sun. Worse, comparing disembodied Rex and his differently situ-
ated but equally disembodied duplicate is like comparing the time it is
on two places on the sun™s surface.20
This is to ¬‚ip around a response that physicalists have made to an
objection based on the conceivability of zombies: That in fact they are not
conceivable, or their conceivability (if it implies possibility) presupposes,
rather than indicates, the falsity of physicalism. Here I am suggesting that
the conceivability of phenomenal duplicates itself presupposes, rather
than indicates, the narrowness of phenomenal intentionality, by assuming
that embodiment does not go to the heart of phenomenal experience.
Loar, Horgan, and Tienson seem to me to adopt a misleading view of
what phenomenology is, of how it is merely contingently or extraneously
both embodied and embedded, and so make the task of imagining the
phenomenal experience of radically different individuals appear easier
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
258

than it in fact is. But the more basic point is that phenomenology itself is
a contestable phenomenon, and what one can and can™t imagine about
it inherits that contestability.
Thus, the claim that phenomenal duplicates share all phenomenal
states is more problematic than it initially appears. We can come at this
point in another way that brings us back to my initial discussion of the
three dimensions to the inseparability thesis in sections 2 and 3. If we
allow that at least some phenomenal experience is the active exploration
by an embodied agent of its environment, then there are far fewer possible
phenomenal duplicates of any given individual than one might initially
suppose, since such duplicates are constrained by having to have suitably
similar bodies and environments. Given that, the focus on brains in a vat
is misplaced, and will tell us little about phenomenal intentionality.
But should the proponent of phenomenal intentionality adopt this
concessive view of phenomenal experience, whereby at least some such
experience is that of an essentially embodied agent? Neither Loar nor
Horgan and Tienson are as explicit as one might like about this issue,
and different things that they say suggest different answers here. Consider
what Horgan and Tienson say about the thesis of phenomenal intention-
ality. In arguing for the narrowness of phenomenal intentionality through
imaginative evocation, they seem to reject the concession, suggesting that
all phenomenal intentionality is narrow. Yet the inseparability thesis itself
posits a necessary connection (of some type) between phenomenology
and ordinary wide intentional states, suggesting that they may be happy
with the concession. This would mean, in turn, that the quanti¬er in
the thesis of phenomenal intentionality (“there is a kind of intentional-
ity . . . ”) should be understood at face value as an existential quanti¬er.
In either case, there is a problem that can be expressed as a (somewhat
complicated) dilemma.
Consider whether ordinary wide intentional states have a phenomenol-
ogy. If they do not, then while the claim that phenomenal intentional-
ity is narrow remains general in scope, the inseparability thesis loses its
quanti¬cational range, since Loar, Horgan, and Tienson all concede that
wide intentional states exist. By contrast, if they do have a phenomenol-
ogy (as the inseparability thesis prima facie suggests), then either that
phenomenology is narrow or it is wide. Given that the ¬rst half of the in-
separability thesis has been endorsed by proponents of representational
accounts of phenomenology as part of their phenomenal externalism,
as Horgan and Tienson recognize, and that both halves of the thesis are
concerned with intentional states as they are ordinarily conceived, such
Intentionality and Phenomenology 259

phenomenology would seem to be wide. Certainly, when I describe my
current visual phenomenology “ in terms of the books, paper, walls, and
computer screen I am currently looking at “ it seems to me that my expe-
rience is not merely “as of ” a world beyond my body but it is in fact so. The
intuition that drives both Horgan and Tienson™s “intentionality of phe-
nomenology” thesis and phenomenal externalism “ that at least much of
our experience seems to be experience of the actual world “ together with
respect for the link between phenomenology and ¬rst-person reports of
its content, suggests that there is such a thing as wide phenomenology.
But then, clearly, the claim that phenomenal intentionality is individualis-
tic implies that the thesis of phenomenal intentionality does not apply to
all phenomenology. And so the inseparability thesis has a more restricted
quanti¬cational range and a weaker modality than one might initially
think.
The remaining option, that ordinary wide intentional states have a
narrow phenomenology might seem obviously the right thing to say di-
alectically, but it is also fraught with problems. Not only does it sever the
relationship between the ¬rst-person perspective and phenomenology,
but it makes little sense of those aspects of phenomenology that at least
seem “ from both ¬rst- and third-person perspectives “ to be bodily in
nature. For example, both haptic perception and proprioception are dif-
¬cult to make sense of for the case of immaterial entities, and I think
they are almost as problematic for material entities, such as brains in vats

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