I can't get no (epistemic) satisfaction: Why the hard problem of consciousness entails a hard problem of explanation

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 5 (1):14-20 (2012)
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Abstract

Daniel Dennett (1996) has disputed David Chalmers' (1995) assertion that there is a "hard problem of consciousness" worth solving in the philosophy of mind. In this paper I defend Chalmers against Dennett on this point: I argue that there is a hard problem of consciousness, that it is distinct in kind from the so-called easy problems, and that it is vital for the sake of honest and productive research in the cognitive sciences to be clear about the difference. But I have my own rebuke for Chalmers on the point of explanation. Chalmers (1995, 1996) proposes to "solve" the hard problem of consciousness by positing qualia as fundamental features of the universe, alongside such ontological basics as mass and space-time. But this is an inadequate solution: to posit, I will urge, is not to explain. To bolster this view, I borrow from an account of explanation by which it must provide "epistemic satisfaction" to be considered successful (Rowlands, 2001; Campbell, 2009), and show that Chalmers' proposal fails on this account. I conclude that research in the science of consciousness cannot move forward without greater conceptual clarity in the field.

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Brian D. Earp
Oxford University

Citations of this work

Dualism and Its Place in a Philosophical Structure for Psychiatry.Hane Htut Maung - 2019 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (1):59-69.
In Defence of Chalmers: A Comment on Korf.Hane Htut Maung - 2016 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 9 (1):32-33.
Qualia in a contemporary neurobiological perspective.Jakob Korf - 2015 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 8 (2):39-44.
What is it like to be a bee?Brian D. Earp - 2017 - Think 16 (45):43-49.
A short comment on the "Defence of Chalmers" by Hane Htut Maung.Jakob Korf - 2016 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 9 (2):69-69.

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