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Churchland on Arguments Against Physicalism

  • Torin AlterEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 6)

Abstract

In “Consciousness and the Introspection of ‘Qualitative Simples’” Paul Churchland criticizes a familiar family of anti-physicalist arguments, including Thomas Nagel’s (1974) “What is it like to be a bat?” argument, Frank Jackson’s (1982, 1986, 1995) knowledge argument, and related arguments developed by David Chalmers (1996, 2010) and others. In Churchland’s view, those arguments lead to the pessimistic view that science can shed no light on the qualitative features of conscious experience. He provides good reasons to reject that pessimistic view. However, I will argue, he is wrong to associate it with at least two of the anti-physicalist arguments he considers: the knowledge and conceivability arguments. Proponents of those arguments can share Churchland’s more optimistic view about the science of consciousness. Indeed, at least some proponents, including Chalmers, advocate a similar view. Churchland also attacks the anti-physicalist arguments more directly, identifying and criticizing assumptions that he sees as underlying them. But, I will argue, those attacks are at best inconclusive, at least with respect to the knowledge and conceivability arguments.

Keywords

Physical Science Conscious Experience Phenomenal Character Phenomenal Property Phenomenal Consciousness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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