The many‐worlds theory of consciousness

Noûs 57 (2):316-340 (2023)
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This paper sketches a new and somewhat heterodox metaphysical theory of consciousness: the “many-worlds theory”. It drops the assumption that all conscious subjects’ experiences are features of one and the same world and instead associates different subjects with different “first-personally centred worlds”. We can think of these as distinct “first-personal realizers” of a shared “third-personal world”, where the latter is supervenient, in a sense to be explained. This is combined with a form of modal realism, according to which different subjects’ first-personally centred worlds are all real, though only one of them is present for each subject. The theory offers a novel way of capturing the irreducibly subjective nature of conscious experience without lapsing into solipsism. The paper also looks at some scientific theories of consciousness, such as integrated information theory, through the proposed lens and reconsiders the hard problem of consciousness.

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Author's Profile

Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

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