RoboMary, Blue Banana Tricks, and the Metaphysics of Consciousness: A Critique of Daniel Dennett's Apology for Physicalism

Philosophia Christi 15 (1):119-132 (2013)

Authors
John M. DePoe
University of Iowa (PhD)
Abstract
Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to "pump" the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I will summarize Dennett's recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett's defense of physicalism. First, I will rebut his case against the traditional conceptual arguments against physicalism. Second, I will present some empirical grounds for thinking that a crucial move in the argument against physicalism is well-supported. For someone, like Dennett, who finds conceptual arguments dubious, the empirical findings make it exceptionally difficult to deny the anti-physicalist argument
Keywords consciousness  Daniel Dennett  knowledge argument
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DOI 10.5840/pc201315110
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