The Status of Consciousness in Nature

In Steven Miller (ed.), The Constitution of Consciousness, Volume 2. John Benjamins (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The most central metaphysical question about phenomenal consciousness is that of what constitutes phenomenal consciousness, whereas the most central epistemic question about consciousness is that of whether science can eventually provide an explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Many philosophers have argued that science doesn't have the means to answer the question of what consciousness is (the explanatory gap) but that consciousness nonetheless is fully determined by the physical facts underlying it (no metaphysical gap). Others have argued that the explanatory gap in the sciences entails a metaphysical gap. The explanatory gap exists, they say, because there are two fundamental properties in the world that do not reduce to one another: Phenomenal and physical. This position is also known as 'property dualism'. A famous argument, formulated and defended at great length by David Chalmers, uses conceptual tools to argue for a metaphysical gap. When we just look at what the notion of phenomenal consciousness implies, we will find that it doesn't rule out that there could be entities functionally and physically identical to us but without phenomenal consciousness. A couple of further argumentative steps can get us from here to the conclusion that laying down the physical facts of our world does not necessitate phenomenal consciousness. I argue that this argument is compelling but that accepting the conclusion doesn't have the implication that science cannot discover what consciousness is. I begin by outlining and assessing a number of different positions philosophers and scientists have recently defended regarding the link between neurological systems and consciousness, I then argue that even if property dualism is true, that doesn't necessarily prevent the sciences from discovering what constitutes consciousness. That is, there may be no explanatory gap even if there is a metaphysical gap.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,594

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Self-Representationalism and the Explanatory Gap.Uriah Kriegel - 2011 - In J. Liu & J. Perry (eds.), Consciousness and the Self: New Essays. Cambridge University Press.
Consciousness-Dependence and the Explanatory Gap.Neil Campbell Manson - 2002 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):521-540.
How Many Explanatory Gaps Are There?E. Diaz-Leon - 2009 - APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers 8 (2):33-35.
Relationalism and the Problems of Consciousness.William Fish - 2008 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):167-80.
The Gap Into Dissolution: The Real Story.Martin Kurthen - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):157-158.

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-02-22

Downloads
4 (#1,230,208)

6 months
1 (#418,924)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Berit Brogaard
University of Miami

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references