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January 31st and February 1st, 2016
philosophy of mental time IV:
time, experience, and consciousness

locationMinoosansou Kazenomori, Mino-shi, Osaka.
date and time: from Sunday January 31st, 17:00 uintil Monday February 1st, 16:30.
general description (the original call for papers): here.
abstracts of all talks: here.


Sunday January 31st, 17:00~18:00
Lajos Brons, Philosophy, time, and consciousness: an opinionated introduction
(discussion will take place after dinner)

Monday February 1st, session 1, 10:00~12:30
Shigery KitazawaHow does the brain construct the mental present?
Jenny Hung, On Dainton’s Extensional Theory of Experience
Yoshiyuki Hayashi, Self and conscious experience
Ryosuke Ozawa, Why do we feel the return trip being shorter?

session 2, 14:00~16:30
Satoshi Hirata, Apes remember a movie story
Toru Betsuyaku, Retrieval of incidentally encoded memory in non-primate species
Kourken Michaelian, Mental time travel and episodic memory in humans and animals:


In addition to the abstracts below, there also is a PDF file available here containing longer abstracts of some talks.

Lajos Brons
(Nihon University)
Philosophy, time, and consciousness: an opinionated introduction

This talk will give a general introduction into the topics and aims of the workshop. It will briefly discuss the relations between experimental science and philosophy and possibilities for cooperation, and give a sketchy overview of some key philosophical ideas about consciousness and time. The primary purpose of the talk is to provide a framework for discussion.

(A PDF file of this talk is available here.)

Kitazawa Shigeru

(Osaka University)
How does the brain construct the mental present?

Mental time, which we define as the awareness of time, consists of the mental present, past, and future. We here raise a question as to how the brain constructs the mental present. To address this issue we review several temporal illusions that occur within a time frame smaller than one second. For example, we see color before it is actually presented (color phi), feel a touch where it would be touched in the future (cutaneous rabbit), err in ordering touches to the hands when the arms are crossed, or in ordering visual stimuli that are given just prior to the onset of saccadic eye movements. It is now generally accepted that these temporal illusions result from "post-diction", during which the brain settles events in both space and time so that the yielded spatio-temporal perception best explains the information accumulated over a certain period of time. We further suggest that brain regions that represent apparent motion play some essential role in these illusions. We finally discuss relationship between the mental present and the specious present, a terminology defined in philosophy.

Jenny Hung
(Lingnan University, Hong Kong)
On Dainton’s Extensional Theory of Experience

I cast doubt on Barry Dainton’s extensional theory of experience. Dainton’s Extensional View claims that a phenomenally continuous experience is composed of a succession of specious presents which overlap by virtue of sharing common parts (Dainton, 2006, 2008, 2012).
I illustrate by reductio ad absurdum that the model is internally inconsistent. Assume there is a stream of continuous experience having the perception of motion composed of overlapping specious presents. There are two possibilities, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive: either (1) the specious presents partially overlap, or (2) they totally overlap. The partial overlapping model leads to a problem: if one defines the starting and ending point of two connected specious presents, such that their “joint” steps into one of the non-overlapping phases, one fails to explain the sense of continuity at this “joint”. Likewise, the total overlapping model is also problematic. This model have produced more than one simultaneous present moments whose existence are not entailed from a single continuous experiential stream.
Secondly, I argue that the very idea of “overlap” in case of specious presents is questionable. Suppose there is a replicate of me whose experience is exactly the same with mine. I cannot tell whether I experience one of the streams, both of them, or I swap between the two. If there is no information to tell whether there is are one single experience or two experience of the same type. Accordingly, it is in principle unverifiable whether E1 and E2’ are separated or overlapping.

Yoshiyuki Hayashi
(University of Tokyo)
Self and conscious experience

What is the conceptual relationship between self and experience? Recently, some (for example, Dainton 2008; 2014; Strawson 1999; 2011) have put an emphasis on a tight link between these two concepts. In contrast, I propose that the notion of self is irrelevant to that of conscious experience. They are conceptually independent; thus I argue both that there could exist subject without experience and experience without subject.
One could (at least) conceive of a creature that behaves exactly like us, lacking any sort of felt qualities; they are just lacking conscious experiences. One could also conceive of us becoming such a creature (cf. Siewert 1998), which would only amount to death (Dainton and Bayne 2005). Also in reality, this intuition could be a ground for justifying a sort of brain death (cf. McMahan 1995). However, I think there is a conflation of concepts: irreversible loss of consciousness does not necessarily constitute death. Rather, loss of consciousness deprives one of meaning or value of one’s life.
It is still difficult to imagine experience without any subject. For example, Dainton claims that the self could be reducible to very simple experiences (Dainton 2008 Ch.8). Some others share the same intuition: a pain experience that is realized by a minimally sufficient brain part for the pain seems “bad for someone, even if that someone is only a transient and rudimentary subject of consciousness” (Kahane and Savulescu 2009, 13). However, I argue that this is not always true: one could be dead while a stream of consciousness is going on (I shall point out that it is this case that is described in Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller (2013)).
Finally I explore some of the implications from that the self and consciousness are conceptually apart.

Ryosuke Ozawa
(Osaka University)
Why do we feel the return trip being shorter?

When you make a round trip, you could feel as the return trip is shorter than the initial trip. This phenomenon is called the “return trip effect”. Virtual trip experiments revealed that the return trip effect is caused only postdictively, and the postdictive evaluation would be explained by the discrepancy between expectation and perception of mental time.

Satoshi Hirata
(Kyoto University)
Apes remember a movie story

We developed a novel eye-tracking task to examine great apes’ anticipatory looks to the events that they had encountered one time 24-hour earlier. Half-minute movie clips depicted novel and potentially alarming situations to the participant apes. In the Experiment 1 clip, an aggressive character came out from one of two identical doors. While viewing the same movie again, apes anticipatorily looked at the door where the character would show up. In the Experiment 2 clip, the human actor grabbed one of two objects and attacked the character with it. While viewing the same movie again but with object-location switched, apes anticipatorily looked at the object that the human would use. Our results show that great apes, just by watching the events once, encoded particular information (location and content) into long-term memory and later retrieved that information at a particular time in anticipation of the impending events.

Toru Betsuyaku
(Kyoto University)
Retrieval of incidentally encoded memory in non-primate species

It has been hotly debated whether nonhuman animals have the ability for episodic memory, or to retrieve memories of their private past event. Integration of “what, where, and when (WWW)” of the events and incidentality of encoding are two major criteria of this memory process. Although the former criterion has been successfully met in rodents and food-caching birds, very few studies addressed the latter. These previous approaches may not be suited to broad comparative studies because of their use of species-specific behavior and/or intensive training. In order to draw an evolutionary scenario of episodic memory, it is desirable to compare various species using the same experimental paradigm. Our approach was to test whether animals would retrieve incidentally formed memory trace of a single past foraging experience, using species-general behavior without intensive training. Specifically, we asked whether the animals return to the food left uneaten after delay, rather than the rewarded location. Because associative learning predicts that animals would return to the rewarded location, revisit to the unrewarded location may not be explained by such simple learning. Rather, it might suggest the adaptive use of an incidentally formed memory at the first foraging to maximize the possibility to obtain an additional reward. In this talk, we introduce the application of this experimental paradigm to non-primate mammals, including dogs, rodents (degus and golden hamsters), cats, and horses. From these results, we would like to discuss the significance of focusing on incidentality in episodic memory research in nonhuman animals.

Kourken Michaelian
(University of Otago, New Zealand)
Mental time travel and episodic memory in humans and animals: Continuities and discontinuities

The talk has two goals. First, it will integrate ideas from Michaelian’s (2016) simulation and Cheng and Werning's (forthcoming a, b) sequence analyses of episodic memory to develop a novel “dual process” model of mental time travel. The dual process model distinguishes between a basic form of MTT, consisting in the replay of episodic sequences, and a sophisticated form, consisting in the simulation of possible scenarios with or without reliance on episodic sequences. Second, it will apply the dual process model to a pair of hotly-debated issues in the philosophical and empirical literature on episodic memory and MTT: the continuity or discontinuity of MTT in humans and animals; and the continuity or discontinuity of episodic memory and future-oriented MTT in humans. The dual process model supports continuity between humans and animals with respect to basic MTT but discontinuity with respect to sophisticated MTT. And it supports discontinuity between episodic memory and FMTT with respect to basic MTT but continuity with respect to sophisticated MTT. Time permitting, the talk will also apply the dual process model to a third issue, that of the compatibility of research on memory as mental time travel in psychology and neuroscience with the causal theory of memory in philosophy, arguing that the causal theory may be adequate with respect to basic but not sophisticated episodic memory.

S. Cheng and M. Werning. What is episodic memory if it is a natural kind? Synthese, forthcoming a.
S. Cheng, M. Werning, and T. Suddendorf. Dissociating memory traces and scenario construction in mental time travel.
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, forthcoming b.
K. Michaelian. Mental Time Travel: Episodic Memory and Our Knowledge of the Personal Past. MIT Press, 2016.