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Profile: William Seager (University of Toronto)
  1. William E. Seager, Are Zombies Logically Possible? -- And Why It Matters.
    A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the _physical_ laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo within (...)
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  2. William E. Seager, Emergence and Supervenience.
    The metaphysical relation of supervenience has seen most of its service in the fields of the philosophy of mind and ethics. Although not repaying all of the hopes some initially invested in it – the mind-body problem remains stubbornly unsolved, ethics not satisfactorily naturalized – the use of the notion of supervenience has certainly clarified the nature and the commitments of so- called non-reductive materialism, especially with regard to the questions of whether explanations of supervenience relations are required and whether (...)
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  3. William E. Seager, Generalized Epiphenomenalism.
    I want to show that a common and plausible interpretation of what science tells us about the fundamental structure of the world – the ‘scientific picture of the world’ or SPW for short – leads to what I’ll call ‘generalized epiphenomenalism’, which is the view that the only features of the world that possess causal efficacy are fundamental physical features. I think that generalized epiphenomenalism follows pretty straightforwardly from the SPW as I’ll present it, but it might seem that, once (...)
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  4. William E. Seager, Whitehead and the Revival (?) Of Panpsychism.
    Whitehead’s philosophy is of perennial scholarly interest as one of the relatively few really serious attempts at a systematic metaphysics. But unlike almost all major ‘philosophical systems’ it is not merely an historical curiosity, but retains contemporary supporters actively deploying Whitehead’s viewpoint in discussion of a variety of live philosophical problems. Furthermore, Whitehead’s metaphysics is the sole example of a comprehensive philosophical system which aims to take into account the radical transformation of science which occurred at the beginning of the (...)
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  5. Jamie P. Tappenden, Achille C. Varzi & William E. Seager (eds.) (2008/2011). Truth and Values: Essays for Hans Herzberger. University of Calgary Press.
    A selection of essays dedicated to Hans Herzberger with affection and gratitude for both his profound work and his lasting example. Contributors: I. Levi (on whether and how a rational agent should be seen as a maximizer of some cognitive value), C. Normore (on medieval accounts of logical validity), J. P. Tappenden (on the local influences on Frege's doctrines), A. Urquhart (on the inexpressible), A. C. Varzi (on dimensionality and the sense of possibility), and S. Yablo (on content and carvings, (...)
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  6. William E. Seager (2007). A Brief History of the Philosophical Problem of Consciousness. In P. D. Zelazo, Morris Moscovitch & Evan Thompson (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Cambridge University Press. 9--33.
  7. William E. Seager & David Bourget (2007). Representationalism About Consciousness. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell. 261-276.
    A representationalist-friendly introduction to representationalism which covers a number of central problems and objections.
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  8. William E. Seager (2006). Emergence, Epiphenomenalism and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (1-2):21-38.
    Causation can be regarded from either an explanatory/epistemic or an ontological viewpoint. From the former, emergent features enter into a host of causal relationships which form a hierarchical structure subject to scientific investigation. From the latter, the paramount issue is whether emergent features provide any novel causal powers, or whether the 'go' of the world is exhausted by the fundamental physical features which underlie emergent phenomena. I argue here that the 'Scientific Picture of the World' (SPW) strongly supports the claim (...)
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  9. William E. Seager (2006). Rosenberg, Reducibility and Consciousness. Psyche.
    Rosenberg’s general argumentative strategy in favour of panpsychism is an extension of a traditional pattern. Although his argument is complex and intricate, I think a model that is historically significant and fundamentally similar to the position Rosenberg advances might help us understand the case for panpsychism. Thus I want to begin by considering a Leibnizian argument for panpsychism.
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  10. William E. Seager (2006). The 'Intrinsic Nature' Argument for Panpsychism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (10-11):129-145.
    Strawson’s case in favor of panpsychism is at heart an updated version of a venerable form of argument I’ll call the ‘intrinsic nature’ argument. It is an extremely interesting argument which deploys all sorts of high caliber metaphysical weaponry (despite the ‘down home’ appeals to common sense which Strawson frequently makes). The argument is also subtle and intricate. So let’s spend some time trying to articulate its general form.
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  11. William E. Seager (2004). A Cold Look at HOT Theory. In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. John Benjamins.
  12. William E. Seager (2004). Emergence and Efficacy. In Christina E. Erneling & David Martel Johnson (eds.), Mind As a Scientific Object. Oxford University Press. 176.
    Imagine the day when physics is complete. A theory is in place which unifies all the forces of nature in one self-consistent and empirically verified set of absolutely basic principles. There are some who see this day as perhaps not too distant (e.g. Hawking 1988, Weinberg 1992, Horgan 1996). Of course, the mere possession of this _theory_ of everything will not give us the ability to provide a complete _explanation_ of everything: every event, process, occurrence and structure. Most things will (...)
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  13. William E. Seager (2003). Review: Tye on Consciousness: Time to Panic? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):237 - 247.
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  14. William E. Seager, Some Awkwardness in Poised Content?
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  15. William E. Seager (2003). Tye on Consciousness: Time to Panic? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):237-247.
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  16. William E. Seager (2003). Yesterday's Algorithm: Penrose and the Godel Argument. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (9):265-273.
    Roger Penrose is justly famous for his work in physics and mathematics but he is _notorious_ for his endorsement of the Gödel argument (see his 1989, 1994, 1997). This argument, first advanced by J. R. Lucas (in 1961), attempts to show that Gödel’s (first) incompleteness theorem can be seen to reveal that the human mind transcends all algorithmic models of it1. Penrose's version of the argument has been seen to fall victim to the original objections raised against Lucas (see Boolos (...)
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  17. Michael Tye, William E. Seager, Barry Maund & Alex Byrne (2003). Ten Problems of Consciousness. Discussions. Author's Reply. Philosophical Studies 113 (3):233 - 290.
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  18. William E. Seager (2002). Emotional Introspection. Consciousness and Cognition 11 (4):666-687.
  19. William E. Seager, Panpsychism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    1 Non-reductive physicalists deny that there is any explanation of mentality in purely physical terms, but do not deny that the mental is entirely determined by and constituted out of underlying physical structures. There are important issues about the stability of such a view which teeters on the edge of explanatory reductionism on the one side and dualism on the other (see Kim 1998). 2 Save perhaps for eliminative materialism (see Churchland 1981 for a classic exposition). In fact, however, while.
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  20. William E. Seager (2001). Consciousness, Value and Functionalism. Psyche 7 (20).
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  21. William E. Seager, Dispositions and Consciousness.
  22. William E. Seager, On Dispositional HOT Theories of Consciousness.
    Higher Order Thought (HOT) theories of consciousness contend that consciousness can be explicated in terms of a relation between mental states of different.
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  23. William E. Seager (2001). The Constructed and the Secret Self. In Andrew Brook & R. DeVidi (eds.), Self-Reference and Self-Awareness. John Benjamins.
     
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  24. William E. Seager (2000). Introspection and the Elementary Acts of Mind. Dialogue 39 (1):53-76.
  25. William E. Seager (2000). Real Patterns and Surface Metaphysics. In Andrew Brook, Don Ross & David L. Thompson (eds.), Dennett's Philosophy: A Comprehensive Assessment. MIT Press. 95--129.
    Naturalism is supposed to be a Good Thing. So good in fact that everybody wants to be a naturalist, no matter what their views might be1. Thus there is some confusion about what, exactly, naturalism is. In what follows, I am going to be pretty much, though not exclusively, concerned with the topics of intentionality and consciousness, which only deepens the confusion for these are two areas.
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  26. William E. Seager (1999). Conscious Intentionality and the Anti-Cartesian Catastrophe. In , Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment. Routledge.
     
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  27. William E. Seager (1999). Dennett, Part I and II. In Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment. Routledge.
     
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  28. William E. Seager (1999). HOT Theory: The Mentalistic Reduction of Consciousness. In Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment. Routledge.
  29. William E. Seager (1999). Representational Theories of Consciousness, Parts I and II. In , Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment. Routledge.
     
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  30. William E. Seager (1999). Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment. Routledge.
    Theories of Consciousness provides an introduction to a variety of approaches to consciousness, questions the nature of consciousness, and contributes to current debates about whether a scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. While discussing key figures including Descartes, Fodor, Dennett and Chalmers, the book incorporates identity theories, representational theories, intentionality, externalism and new information-based theories.
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  31. William E. Seager (1997). Critical Notice of Fred Dretske's Naturalizing the Mind. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):83-109.
     
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  32. William E. Seager (1995). Consciousness, Information, and Panpsychism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):272-88.
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  33. William E. Seager (1994). Dretske on HOT Theories of Consciousness. Analysis 54 (4):270-76.
  34. William E. Seager (1993). Fodor's Theory of Content: Problems and Objections. Phiosophy of Science 60 (2):262-77.
    Jerry Fodor has recently proposed a new entry into the list of information based approaches to semantic content aimed at explicating the general notion of representation for both mental states and linguistic tokens. The basic idea is that a token means what causes its production. The burden of the theory is to select the proper cause from the sea of causal influences which aid in generating any token while at the same time avoiding the absurdity of everything's being literally meaningful (...)
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  35. William E. Seager (1993). The Elimination of Experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):345-65.
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  36. William E. Seager (1993). Verification, Skepticism, and Consciousness. Inquiry 36 (1-2):113-133.
    I argue that Daniel Dennett's latest book, Consciousness Explained, presents a radically eliminativist view of conscious experience in which experience or, in Dennett's own words, actual phenomenology, becomes a merely intentional object of our own and others? judgments ?about? experience. This strategy of ?intentionalizing? consciousness dovetails nicely with Dennett's background model of brain function: cognitive pandemonium, but does not follow from it. Thus Dennett is driven to a series of independent attacks on the notion of conscious experience, many of which (...)
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  37. William E. Seager (1992). Externalism and Token Identity. Philosophical Quarterly 42 (169):439-48.
    Donald Davidson espouses two fundamental theses about the individuation of mental events. The thesis of causal individuation asserts that sameness of cause and effect is sufficient and necessary for event identity. The thesis of content individuation gives only a sufficient condition for difference of mental events: if e and f have different contents then they are different mental events. I argue that given these theses, psychological externalism--the view that mental content is determined by factors external to the subject of the (...)
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  38. William E. Seager (1992). Metaphysics of Consciousness. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    Metaphysics of Consciousness , a volume in the series Philosophical Issues in Science , discusses the philosophical issue of the nature of consciousness. William Seager argues that the purely physicalist or materialist view of human consciousness is by no means disproved and is in fact strongly supported by some developments in artificial intelligence. William Seager proceeds by addressing the problems of consciousness that remain even for a minimal physicalism. The particular modes of subjective consciousness that constitute experience threaten a paradigm (...)
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  39. William E. Seager (1992). Thought and Syntax. Philosophy of Science Association 1992:481-491.
    It has been argued that Psychological Externalism is irrelevant to psychology. The grounds for this are that PE fails to individuate intentional states in accord with causal power, and that psychology is primarily interested in the causal roles of psychological states. It is also claimed that one can individuate psychological states via their syntactic structure in some internal "language of thought". This syntactic structure is an internal feature of psychological states and thus provides a key to their causal powers. I (...)
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  40. William E. Seager (1991). Disjunctive Laws and Supervenience. Analysis 51 (March):93-98.
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  41. William E. Seager (1988). David Copp, Ed., Nuclear Weapons, Deterrence and Disarmament Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 8 (11):436-438.
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  42. William E. Seager (1988). Descartes on the Union of Mind and Body. History of Philosophy Quarterly 5 (2):119 - 132.
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  43. William E. Seager (1988). Peirce's Teleological Signs. Semiotica 69 (3-4):303-314.
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  44. William E. Seager (1988). Weak Supervenience and Materialism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48 (June):697-709.
    THIS ARTICLE ARGUES THAT WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS\nSUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO ESTABLISH A REASONABLE AND PLAUSIBLE\nMATERIALISM. SUPERVENIENCE IS A RELATION BETWEEN FAMILIES\nOF PROPERTIES, SUCH THAT, ROUGHLY SPEAKING, FAMILY A\nSUPERVENES ON FAMILY B IF ANY OBJECTS WHICH ARE\nINDISCERNIBLE WITH RESPECT TO B ARE THEREBY INDISCERNIBLE\nWITH RESPECT TO A. WEAK SUPERVENIENCE IS SUPERVENIENCE\nRESTRICTED TO ONE POSSIBLE WORLD; STRONG SUPERVENIENCE IS A\n"NECESSARY" SUPERVENIENCE EXTENDING ACROSS SOME PRINCIPLED\nSET OF POSSIBLE WORLDS. THESE NOTIONS ARE MADE SOMEWHAT\nMORE RIGOROUS FOLLOWING JAEGWON KIM'S DEVELOPMENT OF THEM.\nKIM HAS ARGUED THAT ONLY (...)
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  45. William E. Seager (1987). Russel Hardin, John J. Mearsheimer, Gerald Dworkin, and Robert E. Goodin, Eds., Nuclear Deterrence: Ethics and Strategy Reviewed By. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 7 (2):68-70.
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  46. William E. Seager (1987). Scientific Explanation and the Trial of Galileo. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1 (2):176 – 195.
  47. William E. Seager (1983). Functionalism, Qualia and Causation. Mind 92 (April):174-88.
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  48. William E. Seager (1981). The Anomalousness of the Mental. Southern Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):389-401.