Experiments on the folk theory of consciousness
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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It is not uncommon to find assumptions being made about folk psychology in the discussions of phenomenal consciousness in philosophy of mind. In this article I consider one example, focusing on what Dan Dennett says about the “folk theory of consciousness.” I show that he holds that the folk believe that the sensory qualities that we are acquainted with in ordinary perception are phenomenal qualities. Nonetheless, the shape of the folk theory is an empirical matter and in the absence of empirical investigation there is ample room for doubt. Fortunately, experimental evidence on the topic is now being produced by experimental philosophers and psychologists. This article contributes to this growing literature, presenting the results of six new studies on the folk view of colors and pains. I argue that the results indicate against Dennett’s theory of the folk theory of consciousness.
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