Is phenomenal consciousness a problem for the brain sciences?
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Phenomenal consciousness poses a puzzle for philosophy of science. This arises from two facts: It is common for philosophers (and some scientists) to take its existence to be phenomenologically obvious and yet modern science arguably has little (if anything) to say about it. And, this despite 20 years of work targeting the phenomenon in what I will refer to as the new science of consciousness. How has such a supposedly evident part of our world remained beyond our scientific understanding? One possibility is that there is no such phenomenon. This possibility, however, is undercut by the claim that phenomenal consciousness is phenomenologically obvious. In this paper I argue that this claim is mistaken. Distinguishing between the qualities we are phenomenologically aware of and the classification of those qualities as being mental (as qualia), I present both empirical evidence and theoretical reasons to deny that the latter is phenomenologically obvious.
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