David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In James H. Fetzer (ed.), Consciousness Evolving. John Benjamins (2002)
This paper celebrates an anniversary, or near anniversary.Â As we write it is just more than 40 years since U. T. Place's â€œIs consciousness a brain process?â€ appeared in the British Journal of Psychology, and just less than 40 since J. J. C. Smart's â€œSensations and brain processesâ€ appeared, in its first version, in The Philosophical Review (Place 1962/1956, Smart 1962/1959). Â These two papers arguably founded contemporary philosophy of mind.Â They defined its central preoccupation (the ontology of consciousness), introduced its regnant ontology (materialism/physicalism), offered its initial logical techniques (e.g. appeals to the concepts of identity and event) as well as empirical reliances (on neuroscience), and, finally, offered its most seminal sectarian doctrine (central state materialism).Â No history of philosophy of mind can afford to neglect them.Â (See for discussion Macdonald 1989.)Â It is to be near both the letter of Smart's paper and the spirit of his and Place's concern for how best to develop a philosophical understanding of consciousness that we entitle our own paper 'Sensations and grain processes'.Â (That is not a typo, as will be seen momentarily.) Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In the years since Smart's and Place's contributions, the landscape of philosophy of mind has changed in many ways.Â The empirical reliances of very recent philosophy of mind have expanded to include the cognitive sciences (not just neuroscience); central state materialism alternately has been displaced by causal role and functional specification theories of mind; fresh logical techniques have been introduced (e.g. the concept of supervenience); and it is less clear than it was in the 1950's whether materialism is to be preferred to some more ecumenical ontology (such as naturalism). Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This paper is about the current status of the philosophy of consciousness (which we take to be phenomenal consciousness, for purposes of the paper; of which more momentarily); not so much the case for materialism (which we take to be, for the most part, complicated by considerations which we shall adduce below) as what the philosophical program for doing the philosophy of the conscious mind is and where it can, and most importantly can't, rely on cognitive science.Â There is quite a lot of ground to cover in a short space.Â So let's begin by demarcating the subject matter and outlining the paper to follow..
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