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Profile: William Seager (University of Toronto)
  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. William Seager, Uncertain Knowledge and Reflective Epistemology.
    Our knowledge forms a highly interconnected and dynamically changing body of propositions. One obviously important way that knowledge changes is via rational inference, based either upon new insight into the content of what we already know or upon new knowledge provided by the senses. The most obvious codification of the acceptability of inference driven knowledge growth is the so-called known entailment closure principle, the principle that if S knows that p and knows that p implies q then S knows that (...)
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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. William Seager (2012). Beyond Theories: Cartwright and Hacking. In James R. Brown (ed.), Philosophy of Science: The Key Thinkers. Continuum Books 213.
     
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  11. 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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  12. William Seager (2011). A New Idea Of Reality: Pauli on the Unity of Mind and Matter. Mind and Matter 9 (1):37-52.
    In his extraphysical speculations around the mid 20th century, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli proposed, together with the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, a kind of 'dual-aspect monism' as a framework for conceiving of the mind-matter problem. It is discussed how this framework can be related to more recent developments in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind.
     
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  13. Jamie P. Tappenden, Achille C. Varzi & William E. Seager (eds.) (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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. William Seager (2010). Review of Robert W. Lurz (Ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (7).
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  17. William Seager (2010). The Reflexive Nature of Consciousness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):563-566.
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  18. William Seager (2009). Review of John Foster, A World for Us: The Case for Phenomenalistic Idealism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (4).
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  19. 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.
  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. William Seager (2006). Review of Alexander Batthyany, Avshalom Elitzur (Eds.), Mind and its Place in the World: Non-Reductionist Approaches to the Ontology of Consciousness. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (9).
  23. William Seager (2006). The Emergence of Consciousness. Philosophic Exchange 36:5-23.
     
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. William Seager (2005). Dispositions and Consciousness. Anthropology and Philosophy 6 (1/2):53-61.
  28. William Seager (2005). Susan Blackmore: Consciousness: An Introduction. [REVIEW] Psyche 11.
    There are plenty of books about consciousness, but none of them is like this book. On the first page we discover that ‘a great deal of this book is aimed at increasing rather than decreasing your perplexity’. At this Blackmore certainly succeeds. This is a testimony not only to the subject matter but her own deft and relentless exploration of every facet of consciousness as well as its study. It is her positive aim to lead the reader to the mystery (...)
     
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  29. William Seager (2005). Brain Fiction: Self-Deception and the Riddle of Confabulation, by William Hirstein. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 25 (4):262-264.
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  30. William Seager (2004). Thomas W. Polger, Natural Minds Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 24 (5):354-356.
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  31. William Seager (2004). Thomas W. Polger, Natural Minds. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 24:354-356.
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  32. William E. Seager (2004). A Cold Look at HOT Theory. In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology. John Benjamins
  33. 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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  34. William Seager (2003). Yesterday's Algorithm. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):265-273.
    Roger Penrose is infamous for defending aversion of John Lucas’s argument that Gödel’s incompleteness results show that the mind cannot be mechanistically (or, today, computationally) explained. Penrose’s argument has been subjected to a number of criticisms which, though correct as far as they go, leave open some peculiar and troubling features of the appeal to Gödel’s theorem. I try to reveal these peculiarities and develop a new criticism of the Penrose argument.
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  35. William E. Seager (2003). Review: Tye on Consciousness: Time to Panic? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):237 - 247.
  36. William E. Seager, Some Awkwardness in Poised Content?
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  37. William E. Seager (2003). Tye on Consciousness: Time to Panic? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 113 (3):237-247.
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  38. 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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  39. 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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  40. William Seager (2002). Review: Science and the Riddle of Consciousness: A Solution. [REVIEW] Mind 111 (442):406-410.
  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. William Seager (2001). The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness by B. Alan Wallace. [REVIEW] Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 92:771-772.
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  44. William E. Seager (2001). Consciousness, Value and Functionalism. Psyche 7 (20).
    Charles Siewert presents a series of thought experiment based arguments against a wide range of current theories of phenomenal consciousness which I believe achieves a considerable measure of success. One topic which I think gets insufficient attention is the discussion of functionalism and I address this here. Before that I consider the intriguing issue, which is seldom considered but figures prominently at the close of Siewert's book, of the value of consciousness. In particular, I broach the question of whether the (...)
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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. William Seager (2000). Jeremy Butterfield and Constantine Pagonis, Eds., From Physics to Philosophy Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 20 (5):318-319.
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  48. William E. Seager (2000). Introspection and the Elementary Acts of Mind. Dialogue 39 (1):53-76.
  49. 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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  50. William Seager (1999). Conscious Intentionality. In Denis Fisette (ed.), Consciousness and Intentionality: Models and Modalities of Attribution. Springer 33--49.
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