Reading Tye’s new book reminded me of slowly sipping a good specimen of a dry vodka Martini. In both cases much is accomplished by the skilful assembly of only a few key ingredients. I don’t really like dry vodka Martinis, though, and similarly I found many of the thoughts offered by Consciousness Revisited to be too bitter to swallow. A sophisticated piece of work, however, it certainly is.
Chalmers has provided a dilemmatic master argument against all forms of the phenomenal concept strategy. This paper explores a position that evades Chalmers's argument, dubbed Type Bb: it is for Type B physicalists who embrace horn b of Chalmers's dilemma. The discussion concludes that Chalmers fails to show any incoherence in the position of a Type B physicalist who depends on the phenomenal concept strategy.
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to (...) whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists. (shrink)
Panpsychism, an increasingly popular competitor to physicalism as a theory of mind, faces a famous difficulty, the ‘combination problem’. This is the difficulty of understanding the composition of a conscious mind by parts (the ultimates) which are themselves taken to be phenomenally qualitied. I examine the combination problem, and I attempt to solve it. There are a few distinct difficulties under the banner of ‘the combination problem’, and not all of them need worry panpsychists. After homing in on the genuine (...) worries, I identify some disputable assumptions that underlie them. Doing away with these assumptions allows us to make a start on a working conception of phenomenal combination. (shrink)
There is no Argument that the Mind Extends On the basis of two argumentative examples plus their 'parity principle', Clark and Chalmers argue that mental states like beliefs can extend into the environment. I raise two problems for the argument. The first problem is that it is more difficult than Clark and Chalmers think to set up the Tetris example so that application of the parity principle might render it a case of extended mind. The second problem is that, even (...) when appropriate versions of the argumentative examples can be constructed, the availability of a second, internalist parity principle precludes the possibility of inferring that the mind extends. Choosing which parity principle we ought to wield would involve deciding beforehand whether or not the mind can extend. Thus Clark and Chalmers beg the question by employing their parity principle rather than the internalist one. I conclude that they fail to provide a proper argument to support the extended mind thesis. (shrink)
Panpsychism is an eminently sensible view of the world and its relation to mind. If God is a metaphysician, and regardless of the actual truth or falsity of panpsychism, it is certain that he regards the theory as an honest and elegant competitor on the ﬁeld of ontologies. And if God didn’t create a panpsychist world, then there’s a fair chance that he wishes he had done so, or will do next time around. The difﬁculties panpsychism faces, then, are not (...) metaphysical ones. They are, instead, difﬁculties of understanding, and of acceptance by philosophers. The main difﬁculty of this sort the theory faces is that its ontology – with consciousness in some sense at the heart of all that exists1 – is deemed too bizarre, frankly, too humano-centric to be taken seriously. Why should anyone think that consciousness, widely held to be the preserve only of ourselves, plus the most recently evolved organisms, infuses the basement level of all existence? Such a thought seems to many – especially, to scientiﬁcally scrupled philosophers of mind – a narcissistic (or at best hopelessly anti-realist) folly, which doesn’t even deserve its day in court. Panpsychism.. (shrink)
According to the knowledge argument, physicalism fails because when physically omniscient Mary first sees red, her gain in phenomenal knowledge involves a gain in factual knowledge. Thus not all facts are physical facts. According to the ability hypothesis, the knowledge argument fails because Mary only acquires abilities to imagine, remember and recognise redness, and not new factual knowledge. I argue that reducing Mary’s new knowledge to abilities does not affect the issue of whether she also learns factually: I show that (...) gaining specific new phenomenal knowledge is required for acquiring abilities of the relevant kind. Phenomenal knowledge being basic to abilities, and not vice versa, it is left an open question whether someone who acquires such abilities also learns something factual. The answer depends on whether the new phenomenal knowledge involved is factual. But this is the same question we wanted to settle when first considering the knowledge argument. The ability hypothesis, therefore, has offered us no dialectical progress with the knowledge argument, and is best forgotten. (shrink)
In this paper I first examine two important assumptions underlying the argument that physicalism entails panpsychism. These need unearthing because opponents in the literature distinguish themselves from Strawson in the main by rejecting one or the other. Once they have been stated, and something has been said about the positions that reject them, the onus of argument becomes clear: the assumptions require careful defence. I believe they are true, in fact, but their defence is a large project that cannot begin (...) here. So, in the final section I comment on what follows if they are granted. I agree with Strawson that --broadly -- 'panpsychism' is the direction in which philosophy of mind should be heading; nevertheless, there are certain difficulties in the detail of his position. In light of these I argue for changes to the doctrine, bringing it into line with the slightly. (shrink)