A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World

By Gregg Rosenberg | Go to book overview

2
The Argument against Physicalism

2.1 Introduction

Physicalism says that the fundamental physical facts are the only fundamental facts. All other facts, whether about rocks, tables, morals, or minds, are derivative on these physical facts. In this chapter, I argue that physicalism is false by arguing that a purely physical world could not contain facts of experience. Others have given arguments of this kind, but I hope to look at this kind of argument in a fresh way. In chapter 3 I defend the argument against objections.

My argument is not a form of conceivability argument or knowledge argument. It is a direct argument that the phenomenal facts are of a type that cannot be entailed, either a priori or a posteriori,1 by the physical facts. To diagnose precisely why entailment fails, I produce a working analysis of physical facts as a type. This working analysis is central to this chapter, and it recurs in part II. Because the specific lessons of this chapter’s argument hold recurring importance, I ask even readers who are familiar (or impatient) with the debate over physicalism to pay some attention to this chapter.


2.2 The Dialectic

Recent antiphysicalist arguments rely on thought experiments that claim to show limits on the physicalist program for explanation and, by implication, the metaphysical status of physicalism. In his seminal paper, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” (1974), Thomas Nagel argues that any physicalist account of the universe, by being inherently objective, will leave out the subjectivity of points of view. Nagel argues that this omission is reflected in the fact that even when we know all about the physiology of creatures that are very different from us, we do not know what it is like to be them.

Among others, Frank Jackson (1982) and David Chalmers (1996) have refined

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A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xvii
  • Part I - Liberal Naturalism 1
  • 1 - A Place for Consciousness 3
  • 2 - The Argument against Physicalism 13
  • 3 - Physicalist Responses to the Argument against Physicalism 31
  • 4 - The Boundary Problem for Experiencing Subjects 77
  • 5 - On the Possibility of Panexperientialism 91
  • 6 - On the Probability of Panexperientialism 104
  • 7 - Paradoxes for Liberal Naturalism 114
  • Part II - Faces of Causation 127
  • 8 - Against Hume 129
  • 9 - The Theory of Causal Significance 141
  • 10 - A Tutorial on Causal Significance 184
  • 11 - Is Connectivity Entailed by the Physical? 218
  • 12 - The Carrier Theory of Causation 230
  • 13 - The Consciousness Hypothesis 248
  • 14 - Applications 272
  • 15 - Conclusion 297
  • Notes 301
  • References 311
  • Index 319
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