Evolution and epiphenomenalism

Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (11):27-42 (2007)
Abstract
This paper addresses the question whether evolutionary principles are compatible with epiphenomenalism, and argues for an affirmative answer. A general summary of epiphenomenalism is provided, along with certain specifications relevant to the issues of this paper. The central argument against compatibility is stated and rebutted. A specially powerful version of the argument, due to William James (1890), is stated. The apparent power of this argument is explained as resulting from a problem about our understanding of pleasure and an equivocation on 'explanation'. Finally, an argument by Plantinga (2004), which applies to beliefs rather than phenomenal qualities, is stated and rebutted.
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