Russellian monism – an influential doctrine proposed by Russell (1927/1992) – is roughly the view that the natural sciences can only ever tell us about the causal, dispositional, and structural properties of physical entities and not about their categorical properties, and, moreover, that our qualia are constituted by categorical properties. Recently, Stoljar (2001a, 2001b), Strawson (2008), Montero (2010, 2015), Alter and Nagasawa (2012), and Chalmers (2015) have attempted to develop this doctrine into a version of physicalism. Russellian monism faces the (...) so-called combination problem, according to which it is difficult to see how categorical properties could collectively constitute qualia. In this paper, I suggest that there is an insufficiently discussed aspect of the combination problem which I call the difference-maker problem. Taking the difference-maker problem into account, I argue that the combination problem – whether or not it can be solved – results in a dilemma for the project of developing Russellian physicalism. That is, Russellian monism is either physicalistically unacceptable or it is implausible; hence, Russellian monism and physicalism are incompatible. (shrink)
In this paper, we describe four broad ‘meta-methods’ employed in scientific and philosophical research of qualia. These are the theory-centred metamethod, the property-centred meta-method, the argument-centred meta-method, and the event-centred meta-method. Broadly speaking, the theory-centred meta-method is interested in the role of qualia as some theoretical entities picked out by our folk psychological theories; the property-centred meta-method is interested in some metaphysical properties of qualia that we immediately observe through introspection ; the argument-centred meta-method is interested in the role of (...) qualia in some arguments for non-physicalism; the event-centred metamethod is interested in the role of qualia as some natural events whose nature is hidden and must be uncovered empirically. We will argue that the event-centred metamethod is the most promising route to a comprehensive scientific conception of qualia because of the flexibility of ontological and methodological assumptions it can provide. We also reveal the hidden influences of the different meta-methods and in doing so show why consideration of meta-methods has value for the study of consciousness. (shrink)
The disciplinary characterisation (DC) is the most popular approach to defining metaphysical naturalism and physicalism. It defines metaphysical naturalism with reference to scientific theories and defines physicalism with reference to physical theories, and suggests that every entity that exists is a posited entity of these theories. DC has been criticised for its inability to solve Hempel’s dilemma and a list of problems alike. In this paper, I propose and defend a novel version of DC that can be called a historical (...) paths approach. The idea is (roughly) that metaphysical naturalism can be defined with reference to the historical ideas that current scientific ideas descend from. I argue that it is not rendered implausible by the above problems, and hence that DC is more defensible and attractive than it may first appear. I then argue that the approach also provides a useful framework for the naturalisation of the philosophy of mind and phenomenology. (shrink)
Russellian monism—an influential doctrine proposed by Russell (The analysis of matter, Routledge, London, 1927/1992)—is roughly the view that physics can only ever tell us about the causal, dispositional, and structural properties of physical entities and not their categorical (or intrinsic) properties, whereas our qualia are constituted by those categorical properties. In this paper, I will discuss the relation between Russellian monism and a seminal paradox facing epiphenomenalism, the paradox of phenomenal judgment: if epiphenomenalism is true—qualia are causally inefficacious—then any judgment (...) concerning qualia, including epiphenomenalism itself, cannot be caused by qualia. For many writers, including Hawthorne (Philos Perspect 15:361–378, 2001), Smart (J Conscious Stud 11(2):41–50, 2004), and Braddon-Mitchell and Jackson (The philosophy of mind and cognition, Blackwell, Malden, 2007), Russellian monism faces the same paradox as epiphenomenalism does. I will assess Chalmers’s (The conscious mind: in search of a fundamental theory. Oxford University Press, New York, 1996) and Seager’s (in: Beckermann A, McLaughlin BP (eds) The Oxford handbook of philosophy of mind. Oxford University Press, New York, 2009) defences of Russellian monism against the paradox, and will put forward a novel argument against those defences. (shrink)
Alexander Bird (2001; 2002; 2007) offers a powerful argument showing that, regardless of whether necessitarianism or contingentism about laws is true, salt necessarily dissolves in water. The argument is that the same laws of nature that are necessary for the constitution of salt necessitate the solubility of salt. This paper shows that Bird’s argument faces a serious objection if the possibility of emergentism – in particular, C. D. Broad’s account – is taken into account. The idea is (roughly) that some (...) emergent laws in some possible worlds may disrupt the solubility of salt without disrupting its constitution. (shrink)
In this paper we describe a few interrelated issues for validating theories that posit levels of consciousness. First, validating levels of consciousness requires consensus about the ordering of conscious states, which cannot be easily achieved. This problem is particularly severe if we believe conscious states can be irreducibly smeared over time. Second, the relationship between conscious states is probably sometimes intransitive, which means levels of consciousness will not be amenable to a single continuous measure. Finally, even if a multidimensional approach (...) to levels of consciousness is adopted, we argue that there are further problems for its validation. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Lewtas  recently articulated an argument claiming that emergent conscious causal powers are impossible. In developing his argument, Lewtas makes several assumptions about emergence, phenomenal consciousness, categorical properties, and causation. We argue that there are plausible alternatives to these assumptions. Thus, the proponent of emergent conscious causal powers can escape Lewtas’s challenge.
Monism is our name for a range of views according to which the connection between dispositions and their categorical bases is intimate and necessary, or on which there are no categorical bases at all. In contrast, Dualist views hold that the connection between dispositions and their categorical bases is distant and contingent. This paper is a defence of Monism against an influential conceivability argument in favour of Dualism. The argument suggests that the apparent possibility of causal behaviour coming apart from (...) categorical bases is best explained by Dualism. We argue that Monism can explain the apparent possibility as well, if we take metaphysically alien laws — namely, laws whose metaphysical nature is alien to the actual world — into account. (shrink)
The Humility Thesis is a persistent thesis in contemporary metaphysics. It is known by a variety of names, including, but not limited to, Humility, Intrinsic Humility, Kantian Humility, Kantian Physicalism, Intrinsic Ignorance, Categorical Ignorance, Irremediable Ignorance, and Noumenalism. According to the thesis, we human beings, and any knowers that share our general ways of knowing, are irremediably ignorant of a certain class of properties that are intrinsic to material entities … Continue reading Humility Regarding Intrinsic Properties →.