The significance argument for the irreducibility of consciousness

Philosophical Perspectives 31 (1):349-407 (2017)
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The Significance Argument (SA) for the irreducibility of consciousness is based on a series of new puzzle-cases that I call multiple candidate cases. In these cases, there is a multiplicity of physical-functional properties or relations that are candidates to be identified with the sensible qualities and our consciousness of them, where those candidates are not significantly different. I will argue that these cases show that reductive materialists cannot accommodate the various ways in which consciousness is significant and must allow massive vagueness in conscious experience. I also will argue that a nonreductive theory of the conscious-of relation can easily provide a very satisfying, unified explanation of the ways in which this relation is significant.



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Adam Pautz
Brown University