Talk:Hard problem of consciousness

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    i feel compelled to wonder to what extent the literature on this subject- espeacially how the work of the Mysterians- has dealt with the common and seemingly spontaneous formulation or "taking up with" of aspects of this problem by children and others otherwise innocent of philosophical concepts; what, if any, research has been done concerning the psychological, philosophical, or social mindsets or behaviors to which such a framing of the problem by the naive might co-relate.


    Overall, I think this is a great discussion of the Hard Problem of Consciousness, and I commend the authors for their excellent work. Although I think the article is basically fine as is, I offer the following suggestions for improvement:

    You write, “Such phenomena are functionally definable. That is, roughly put, they are definable in terms of what they allow a subject to do.” I don’t think this is the best way to cash out the notion of what it means for something to be functionally definable. Given the importance of this notion for distinguishing the easy from the hard problems of consciousness, I would recommend fleshing this out in a little more detail.

    You write, “While many philosophers doubt that the conceivability of these zombie duplicates is indicative of their possibility, the hard problem primarily concerns the first step of the argument. If we can conceive of micro-physical duplicates of ourselves that lack consciousness, then we lack a complete explanation for why the physical facts give rise to the experiential or phenomenal facts. This again shows the existence of an explanatory gap.” Are you identifying the hard problem with the explanatory gap? Here and throughout, I think you should be more careful/clear about the relationship between the hard problem and the explanatory gap.

    I think you should define reductionism.

    You write: “Comparisons are also made to the scientifically ignorant concerned about hard problems of heat or light (Churchland 1996).” I find this sentence hard to parse. Also, I think another sentence or two here would be useful to help illuminate things.

    You write: “By contrast, consciousness does not seem to consist in the performance of functions.” Here and elsewhere it might be useful to say explicitly “phenomenal consciousness.”

    I find it strange to say that reductionism is entailed by eliminative materialism. If EM is right about pain, say, then pain doesn’t reduce to c-fibers; rather, we give up on the concept of pain altogether.

    Missing word: (neutral monism might or might not count as a version of physicalism, depending on whether the categorical bases [OF] physical properties are considered physical)

    Instead of “its best-known champion” (re: the Mysterians), I would say “is most closely associated with” or something like that.

    Reviewer B

    Overall an excellent start. Some thoughts:

    (1) It might be useful to give a bit of a background to the problem. The phrase might have been introduced by Chalmers, but others were worrying about the same issue at around the same time and earlier (Broad, Nagel, Strawson)..

    (2) A bit of a gloss on 'phenomenal consciousness' might be helpful. It is, I think, a notoriously slippery term.

    (3) I share Reviewer A's thought that the discussion of EM needs to be tidied up a bit. The Churchlands are very keen to emphasize that their EM is restricted only to propositional attitudes - they are realists about (uncontroversially) phenomenal states. Not many folks defend EM about phenomenal states: Georges Rey does, and perhaps Dennett in some moods does as well. It might be worth mentioning eliminativism about phenomenality as an option in the theoretical landscape, but I wouldn't associate that position with the Churchlands.

    (4) I think it would be worth reworking the discussion of reductionism. The authors clearly have a kind of conceptual or a priori reductionism in mind. That's fine, but there are also view of reductionism according to which one can have a kind of a posteriori reductionism in mind. Proponents of that flavour of reductionism hold that one can solve the hard problem even if the concept of phenomenal consciousness is not functionally definable/characterizable. A useful paper to cite here might be the Block and Stalnaker Phil Review piece. This big issue, it seems to me, is whether one thinks that conceptual developments are needed in order to solve the hard problem (to 'reduce' phenomenal consciousness), or whether one thinks that what's needed is basically just more science.

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