dissertation title: The Extended Conscious Mind

committee: David Chalmers, Terence Horgan, Uriah Kriegel and Shaun Nichols

abstract: I defend the claim that visual consciousness is spatially and temporally extended in the following sense. Many visual experiences are constitutively dependent upon states of the world extrinsic to any individual’s body. Insofar as individuals are conceived of as occupying the same regions as their bodies, the defended claim implies a form of externalism about conscious visual states. The overall view has less in common with representationalism or disjunctivism about conscious vision than it does with enactivism about perception. Alternatively, the main thesis can be characterized as form of active externalism or vehicle externalism about conscious visual states. I begin by familiarizing the reader with some points of background and sketch an account of the distinction between causal and constitutive relations. Critical discussions of active externalism and enactivism frequently involve disagreements over what is required for some explanatorily salient dependency relation to count as constitutive rather than causal in nature. The account I provide is intended to be neutral with respect to the contended issues in these discussions. I proceed to argue that some of our visual experiences constitutively depend on states of things, which occupy regions that: (i) have duration; (ii) are a part of some individual’s central nervous system associated with the production and simulation of movement; (iii) are a part of some individual’s body that is not a part of that individual’s central nervous system; and (iv) are parts of the surrounding non-bodily environment. I conclude by considering some of the practical implications for future empirical inquiry into how minds work and future normative inquiry into how individuals should be, if it is true that visual consciousness typically extends beyond any body.

Here are my published articles

Intuitions about Personal Identity: An Empirical Study

(with Shaun Nichols)

Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)

Locke's Answer to Molyneux's Thought Experiment

(with Eric Mandelbaum)

History of Philosophy Quarterly (forthcoming)

What does the Nation of China Think about Phenomenal States?

(with Bryce Huebner and Hagop Sarkissian)

Review of Philosophy and Psychology (forthcoming)

Here are my published book reviews:

Review of Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Mind

Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 84(4), pp. 640-642, December 2006

Review of Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: an Anthology

Psyche, 11(6), October 2005. 

Here are the departments and programs I've been affiliated with.

Australia National University Centre for Consciousness

Australia National University Philosophy (RSSS)

Lewis & Clark College Behavioral Health and Social Psychology Lab 

Lewis & Clark College Philosophy

New York University Philosophy

University of Arizona Center for Consciousness Studies

University of Arizona Cognitive Science

University of Arizona Experimental Philosophy Lab

University of Arizona Philosophy

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Philosophy