Using Prescission and the Type/Token/Tone Distinction

  • Marc Champagne
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 19)


In the previous chapter, I argued that Peirce was on the right track when he approached the mind from a semiotic perspective. Having offered a primer on semiotics, I now want to use some of those helpful resources. Ned Block distinguishes access-consciousness and phenomenal-consciousness. Convinced that his distinction is a real one, Block posits a module in the brain responsible for phenomenal experiences. However, I argue that we can make better sense of Block’s distinction if we regard it as a prescissive one. In order to clarify this stance, I examine experiments conducted by George Sperling. Sperling designed tasks that let test subjects access visual experiences that they previously could not act upon. Block thinks that Sperling’s results vindicate his claims, but strictly speaking Sperling’s experiments tracked only access-consciousness. I thus conclude that, to establish that phenomenal experiences were present prior to being accessed, we must prescissively suppose the subjects’ tasks absent.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Champagne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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