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Profile: William Seager (University of Toronto)
  1. William Seager (2014). Metaphysics of Consciousness. Routledge.
    _Metaphysics of Consciousness_ opens with a development of the physicalist outlook that denies the need for any explanation of the mental. This "inexplicability" is demonstrated not to be sufficient as refutation of physicalism. However, the inescapable particularity of modes of consciousness appears to overpower this minimal physicalism. This book proposes that such an inference requires either a wholly new conception of how consciousness is physical or a deep and disturbing new kind of physical inexplicability.
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  2. 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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  3.  99
    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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  4. William Seager (2010). Panpsychism, Aggregation and Combinatorial Infusion. Mind and Matter 8 (2):167-184.
    Deferential Monadic Panpsychism is a view that accepts that physical science is capable of discovering the basic structure of reality. However, it denies that reality is fully and exhaustively de- scribed purely in terms of physical science. Consciousness is missing from the physical description and cannot be reduced to it. DMP explores the idea that the physically fundamental features of the world possess some intrinsic mental aspect. It thereby faces a se- vere problem of understanding how more complex mental states (...)
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  5. 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.
  6. William Seager (2006). Is Self-Representation Necessary for Consciousness? Psyche 12 (2).
    Brook and Raymont do not assert that self-representing representations are sufficient to generate consciousness, but they do assert that they are necessary, at least in the sense that self-representation provides the most plausible mechanism for generating conscious mental states. I argue that a first-order approach to consciousness is equally capable of accounting for the putative features of consciousness which are supposed to favor the self-representational account. If nothing is gained the simplicity of the first-order theory counts in its favor. I (...)
     
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  7. 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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  8.  51
    William E. Seager (1995). Consciousness, Information, and Panpsychism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):272-88.
    The generation problem is to explain how material configurations or processes can produce conscious experience. David Chalmers urges that this is what makes the problem of consciousness really difficult. He proposes to side-step the generation problem by proposing that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental feature of the world. I am inclined to agree that the generation problem is real and believe that taking consciousness to be fundamental is promising. But I take issue with Chalmers about what it is to be (...)
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  9. William E. Seager (2006). Rosenberg, Reducibility and Consciousness. Psyche 12.
    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 Seager (1995). Ground Truth and Virtual Reality: Hacking Vs. Van Fraassen. Philosophy of Science 62 (3):459-478.
    Hacking argues against van Fraassen's constructive empiricism by appeal to features of microscopic imaging. Hacking relies on both our practices involving imaging instruments and the structure of the images produced by these micropractices. Van Fraassen's reply is formally correct yet fundamentally unsatisfying. I aim to strengthen van Fraassen's reply, but must then extend constructive empiricism, specifically the central notion of "theoretical immersion." I argue that immersion is more analogous to entering a virtual reality than to learning a language. This metaphor (...)
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  11.  79
    William E. Seager (2002). Emotional Introspection. Consciousness and Cognition 11 (4):666-687.
    One of the most vivid aspects of consciousness is the experience of emotion, yet this topic is given relatively little attention within consciousness studies. Emotions are crucial, for they provide quick and motivating assessments of value, without which action would be misdirected or absent. Emotions also involve linkages between phenomenal and intentional consciousness. This paper examines emotional consciousness from the standpoint of the representational theory of consciousness . Two interesting developments spring from this. The first is the need for the (...)
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  12. William E. Seager (1993). The Elimination of Experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):345-65.
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  13. William E. Seager (1983). Functionalism, Qualia and Causation. Mind 92 (April):174-88.
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  14.  32
    William E. Seager (1991). 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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  15. 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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  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.  55
    William Seager & Graeme Hunter (1982). Reply to Forbes. Analysis 42 (4):224 - 226.
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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20.  98
    William Seager (2002). Review: Science and the Riddle of Consciousness: A Solution. [REVIEW] Mind 111 (442):406-410.
  21. William E. Seager (1994). Dretske on HOT Theories of Consciousness. Analysis 54 (4):270-76.
  22.  38
    William E. Seager (2003). Tye on Consciousness: Time to Panic? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):237-247.
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  23.  56
    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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  24. 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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  25.  75
    William Seager (1987). Credibility, Confirmation and Explanation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (3):301-317.
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  26.  45
    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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  27.  62
    William E. Seager (2000). Introspection and the Elementary Acts of Mind. Dialogue 39 (1):53-76.
  28.  69
    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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  29.  47
    William Seager (2013). Classical Levels, Russellian Monism and the Implicate Order. Foundations of Physics 43 (4):548-567.
    Reception of the Bohm-Hiley interpretation of quantum mechanics has a curiously Janus faced quality. On the one hand, it is frequently derided as a conservative throwback to outdated classical patterns of thought. On the other hand, it is equally often taken to task for encouraging a wild quantum mysticism, often regarded as anti-scientific. I will argue that there are reasons for this reception, but that a proper appreciation of the dual scientific and philosophical aspects of the view reveals a powerful (...)
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  30. 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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  31.  30
    William Seager (2012). Emergentist Panpsychism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):9-10.
    There are many possible forms of panpsychism. In this paper, I discuss a type of panpsychism in which the complex mental states of higher-level entities emerge from a system, or organization, of fundamental entities which possess extremely simple forms of mentality. I argue that this sort of panpsychism is surprisingly plausible, especially in light of the notorious difficulties raised by consciousness. Emergentist panpsychism faces a distinctive challenge, however. In so far as panpsychism embraces emergentism of the mental, a purely physicalist (...)
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  32.  47
    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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  33.  40
    William Seager (1983). Probabilistic Semantics, Identity and Belief. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (3):353 - 364.
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  34.  61
    William Seager, Are Zombies Logically Possible?
    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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  35.  59
    William E. Seager (1991). Disjunctive Laws and Supervenience. Analysis 51 (March):93-98.
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  36.  25
    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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  37.  77
    William Seager (2010). Concessionary Dualism and Physicalism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 85 (67):217-237.
    The doctrine of physicalism can be roughly spelled out simply as the claim that the physical state of the world determines the total state of the world. However, since there are many forms of determination, a somewhat more precise characterization is needed. One obvious problem with the simple formulation is that the traditional doctrine of epiphenomenalism holds that the mental is determined by the physical (and epiphenomenalists need not assert that there are any properties except mental and physical ones, so (...)
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  38. William Seager (1990). William S. Robinson, Brains and People: An Essay on Mentality and Its Causal Conditions Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 10 (6):252-255.
     
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  39.  11
    William E. Seager (1988). Descartes on the Union of Mind and Body. History of Philosophy Quarterly 5 (2):119 - 132.
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  40.  62
    William E. Seager (2004). A Cold Look at HOT Theory. In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. John Benjamins
  41.  10
    William Seager (1994). The Problem of Consciousness by Colin McGinn. Journal of Philosophy 91 (6):327-330.
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  42.  34
    Graeme Hunter & William Seager (1981). The Discreet Charm of Counterpart Theory. Analysis 41 (2):73 - 76.
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  43.  58
    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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  44.  29
    William E. Seager, On Dispositional HOT Theories of Consciousness.
    Higher Order Thought theories of consciousness contend that consciousness can be explicated in terms of a relation between mental states of different.
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  45.  55
    William Seager (1999). The Reality of Now. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):69 – 82.
    The apparent 'flow' of time is one of its most mysterious features, and one which discomforts both scientists and philosophers. One of the most striking assaults upon it is McTaggart's argument that the idea of temporal flow is demonstratively incoherent. In this paper I first urge that the idea of temporal flow is an important part of our intuitive understanding of time, underpinning several of our notions about rationality and time. Second, I try to undercut McTaggart's argument by showing that (...)
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  46.  8
    William Seager (1996). Supervenience and Mind. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):730-733.
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  47.  34
    William Seager, I. The Representational Theory of Consciousness.
    It would be hard to deny that the experience of emotion is one of the most significant aspects of consciousness. While it is possible to imagine a being who enjoyed some forms of consciousness while lacking any awareness of its emotional states, such a being’s conscious life would be radically different from human consciousness. Yet, I believe that in fact we are surrounded by such beings and, most of the time, we ourselves are such. This is not to say that (...)
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  48. William Seager (1999). Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction. Routledge.
    The most remarkable fact about the universe is that certain parts of it are conscious. Somehow nature has managed to pull the rabbit of experience out of a hat made of mere matter. Making its own contribution to the current, lively debate about the nature of consciousness, Theories of Consciousness introduces variety of approaches to consciousness and explores to what extent scientific understanding of consciousness is possible. Including discussion of key figures, such as Descartes, Foder, Dennett and Chalmers, the book (...)
     
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  49. 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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  50.  39
    William Seager, The Reality of Now Mickey Mantle: What Time is It? Yogi Berra: Do You Mean Right Now?
    Though there are many analogies between time and space, there appear to be three commonplace yet deeply perplexing features of time that reveal it to be quite unlike space. These can be called ‘orientation’, ‘flow’ and ‘presence’. By orientation I mean that there is a direction to time, a temporal order between events which is not merely a reflection of how they are observed (what McTaggart 1908/1968 labelled the B-series time). Assertions that objects stand in spatial relations, such as to (...)
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