Explanation and the Hard Problem

Philosophical Studies 132 (2):301-330 (2007)
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Abstract

This paper argues that the form of explanation at issue in the hard problem of consciousness is scientifically irrelevant, despite appearances to the contrary. In particular, it is argued that the 'sense of understanding' that plays a critical role in the form of explanation implicated in the hard problem provides neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition on satisfactory scientific explanation. Considerations of the actual tools and methods available to scientists are used to make the case against it being a necessary condition, and work by J.D. Trout that exploits psychological research on the hindsight and overconfidence biases is used to show that it is not a sufficient condition. It is argued, however, that certain intellectual and moral concerns give us good reason to still try to meet the hard problem's explanatory challenge, despite its extrascientific nature.

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Wayne Wright
California State University, Long Beach

Citations of this work

Thoughts on the Scientific Study of Phenomenal Consciousness.Stan Klein - 2021 - Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 8 (74-80).
The Psychology of Scientific Explanation.J. D. Trout - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.
Are Sensations Still Brain Processes.Thomas W. Polger - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (1):1-21.

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