Constraints on an emergent formulation of conscious mental states

Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (9-10):99-121 (2001)
Fundamental limitations constraining the application of emergence to formulations of conscious mental states are explored within the paradigm of classical science. This paradigm includes standard interpretations of functionalism, computationalism and complex systems theories of mind -- theories which are ultimately justified by an appeal to emergentist principles. We define a distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic accounts of emergent conscious states, and examine the prospects for both. Extrinsic accounts are subject to relativities with respect to external observers that must be resolved if the ontological character of conscious states is to be preserved. While this can, in some cases, be accomplished by imposing an appropriate invariance, no such strategy exists in the case of relativity with respect to boundary without absurd consequences. If, on the other hand, conscious states require intrinsic definition, a specification of the system boundary must be explicitly available if the conscious ontology is to be uniquely specified. Even minimal information requirements make this incompatible with locality constraints. We investigate what progress can be made in overcoming these obstacles by relaxing various assumptions
Keywords Consciousness  Emergence  Mental States  Metaphysics  Science
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