David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophia 39 (1):39-49 (2011)
The phenomenal properties of conscious mental states happen to be exclusively accessible from the first-person perspective. Consequently, some philosophers consider their existence to be incompatible with materialist metaphysics. In this paper I criticise one particular argument that is based on the idea that for something to be real it must (at least in principle) be accessible from an intersubjective perspective. I argue that the exclusively subjective access to phenomenal contents can be explained by the very particular nature of the epistemological relation holding between a subject and his own mental states. Accordingly, this subjectivity does not compel us to deny the possibility that phenomenal contents are ontologically objective properties. First, I present the general form of the argument that I will discuss. Second, I show that this argument makes use of a criterion of reality that is not applicable to the case of subjective experience. Third, I discuss a plausible objection and give an argument for rejecting observation models of self-knowledge of phenomenal contents. These models fall prey to the homunculus illusion
|Keywords||Consciousness Explanatory gap Materialism Subjectivity Metaphysics of mind|
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References found in this work BETA
Ned Block (2007). Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers, Volume. Oxford University Press.
Donald Davidson (2001). Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective: Philosophical Essays Volume 3. Clarendon Press.
Daniel C. Dennett (2005). Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness. MIT Press.
Frank Jackson (1986). What Mary Didn't Know. Journal of Philosophy 83 (May):291-5.
Jaegwon Kim (2005). Physicalism, or Something Near Enough. Princeton University Press.
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