New work for non-reductive theories of consciousness




Saad, Thomas Bradford

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Conscious states are ones that there is something it is like to undergo. There are three senses in which this dissertation delivers new work for non-reductive theories of consciousness. First, it supports non-reductive theorizing about consciousness by defending two new arguments against reductive physicalism about consciousness. Second, it introduces and argues in favor of three non-reductive theories of consciousness. Third, it motivates these theories by showing how they are distinctively well-suited to perform certain explanatory work. Each chapter of the dissertation is self-contained. Chapter 1 develops an empirically motivated argument against reductive physicalism. The argument distinguishes different interpretations of the special theory of relativity and argues that none provides a hospitable environment for reductive physicalism. Chapter 2 develops a new modal argument against reductive physicalism. The argument appeals to the possibility of aliens, i.e. (roughly) subjects of physically irreducible conscious states that are uninstantiated in the actual world. The argument has advantages and consequences that distinguish it from the more familiar anti-physicalist arguments that appeal to zombies and ghosts. I conclude the chapter by proposing quasi-reductive physicalism—a form of grounding physicalism—that retains some of reductive physicalism’s virtues but which is unthreatened by aliens. Chapter 3 introduces a second non-reductive theory of consciousness: tracking dualism. On tracking dualism, a fundamental psychophysical law fixes the distribution of conscious states by operating on facts about what features of the environment brain states “track”. I use a puzzle about spatial experience to argue that tracking dualism is an attractive theory for dualists. Chapter 4 motivates a stringent set of constraints on constructing a dualist theory of consciousness, explains why existing dualist theories satisfy only some of them, and constructs a dualist theory that satisfies all of them. On the resulting theory—which I call delegatory dualism—experiences uphold causal responsibilities “delegated” to them by physical states



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