Thu Nov 17, 2011
Adam Pautz (University of Texas)
Could Consciousness Reduce to a Brain Process? A New Argument Against Type-Type Identity Theory
The identity theory of experience is making a modest comeback (Block, McLaughlin, Prinz). My main aim is to argue that it is mistaken. Some experiences, I argue, are necessarily directed at external states of affairs. But neural states are not necessarily so directed. So experiences cannot be (necessarily) identical with neural states. I compare and contrast my argument with recent arguments about the explanatory role of experience in enabling us to think about the external world. At the end I suggest that the identity theorists are right about one thing: empirical research suggests that the biology of the brain makes a big contribution to what our experience of the world is like. I raise a question about whether currently popular radically externalist theories of phenomenology (externalist intentionalism, disjunctivism) can adequately accommodate the role of the brain in shaping phenomenology.