Dissertation, Sussex (2012)

Tom McClelland
Cambridge University
This thesis introduces the Problem of Consciousness as an antinomy between Physicalism and Primitivism about the phenomenal. I argue that Primitivism is implausible, but is supported by two conceptual gaps. The ‘–tivity gap’ holds that physical states are objective and phenomenal states are subjective, and that there is no entailment from the objective to the subjective. The ‘–trinsicality gap’ holds that physical properties are extrinsic and phenomenal qualities are intrinsic, and that there is no entailment from the extrinsic to the intrinsic. Stoljar’s Epistemic View (EV) suggests that we have a limited conception of the physical world, and that the apparent inexplicability of consciousness is merely a symptom of our ignorance. I argue that EV must satisfy two conditions which require it to specify the content of our ignorance. EV’s best hope is a Russellian appeal to our ignorance of intrinsic physical properties. After arguing in favour of this ignorance claim, I show how it undermines the –trinsicality gap. However, I suggest that the –tivity gap cannot be dealt with by the Russellian ignorance hypothesis, nor by any other version of EV. However, I then argue that the Russellian ignorance hypothesis can still be deployed as half of a hybrid account of the phenomenal. Representationalist theories of consciousness have difficulty with the –trinsicality gap, but show promise with the –tivity gap. Specifically, Kriegel’s Self-Representationalism indicates that there can indeed be an entailment from objective physical states to subjective phenomenal states. This paves the way for my hybrid account of consciousness: the subjectivity of a phenomenal state is the product of its self-representational structure, and the qualitative character of a phenomenal state is the product of the epistemically inaccessible intrinsic physical properties involved in its implementation.
Keywords Consciousness  Physicalism  Russellian Monism  Self-Representationalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,178
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

View all 189 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Real Acquaintance and Physicalism.Philip Goff - 2015 - In Paul Coates & Sam Coleman (eds.), Phenomenal Qualities: Sense, Perception and Consciousness. Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How Representationalism Can Account for the Phenomenal Significance of Illumination.René Jagnow - 2009 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 8 (4):551-572.
What is Russellian Monism?Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa - 2012 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):67–95.
Color Constancy and Russellian Representationalism.Brad Thompson - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):75-94.
Conceptualizing Physical Consciousness.James Tartaglia - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (6):817-838.
Colour Constancy and Fregean Representationalism.Boyd Millar - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):219-231.
Self-Representationalism and the Explanatory Gap.Uriah Kriegel - 2011 - In J. Liu & J. Perry (eds.), Consciousness and the Self: New Essays. Cambridge University Press.
A Representationalist Argument Against Contemporary Panpsychism.Raamy Majeed - 2013 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (5-6):105-123.


Added to PP index

Total views
73 ( #148,578 of 2,455,063 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #143,406 of 2,455,063 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes