On Bayne and Chalmers’ Phenomenal Unity Thesis

Philosophia 48 (3):935-945 (2020)
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According to the Phenomenal Unity Thesis (“PUT”) – most prominently defended by Tim Bayne and David Chalmers – necessarily, any set of phenomenal states of a subject at a time is phenomenally unified. The standard formulation of this thesis is unacceptably vague because it does not specify what it is to be a subject. In this paper, I first consider possible meanings for ‘subject’ as used in PUT and argue that every plausible candidate definition renders the thesis trivially true. I consider and reject Tim Bayne’s proposal that ‘subject’ means ‘human being’. Then I argue, contra Bayne and Chalmers, that PUT is not incompatible with any major theory of consciousness, and contra Michael Tye, that split-brain patients do not provide evidence against PUT. I close by considering some nontrivial alternatives to PUT.



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Guus Duindam
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Citations of this work

Does consciousness even appear unified?Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup - 2023 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 58 (4):217-224.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
The Unity of Consciousness.Tim Bayne - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
The First Person Perspective and Other Essays.Sydney Shoemaker - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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