Explanatory Perspectivalism: Limiting the Scope of the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Topoi 36 (1):119-125 (2017)
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I argue that the hard problem of consciousness occurs only in very limited contexts. My argument is based on the idea of explanatory perspectivalism, according to which what we want to know about a phenomenon determines the type of explanation we use to understand it. To that effect the hard problem arises only in regard to questions such as how is it that concepts of subjective experience can refer to physical properties, but not concerning questions such as what gives rise to qualia or why certain brain states have certain qualities and not others. In this sense we could for example fully explain why certain brain processes have certain subjective qualities, while we still don’t have a viable theory of concepts that explains co-referentiality of phenomenal and physical concepts. Given this limitation, the hard problem doesn’t pose a problem for the empirical study of consciousness.



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Daniel Kostić
Leiden University

Citations of this work

General Theory of Topological Explanations and Explanatory Asymmetry.Daniel Kostic - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (1796):1-8.

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References found in this work

Facing up to the problem of consciousness.David Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.

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