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

By Gregg Rosenberg | Go to book overview

7
Paradoxes for Liberal Naturalism

7.1 Introduction

The preceding chapters revealed puzzles and tensions for Liberal Naturalism beyond those associated with orthodox psychology and neuroscience. Those tensions suggest that Liberal Naturalists might have to rethink nature quite generally, and the puzzles raising these tensions are clues. For example, the Boundary Problem from chapter 4 points us toward something fundamental, such as causal interaction, in a search for conditions that create inherent individuals. Panexperientialism suggests that the conditions we are looking for exist throughout the natural world and take a specific form in creatures like us.

This chapter articulates five further issues for the Liberal Naturalist, each having the character of a paradox. For now, I am not making any commitments about where any errors might lie (although I make suggestions about a direction of inquiry to which the clues might point). I mostly want to expose the intuitions behind the paradoxes so that we might later diagnose the problems from within a Liberal Naturalist framework. I ask the reader to follow me in my restraint and resist the temptation to think quickly ahead, looking immediately to solutions, perhaps being prematurely tempted to take deflationary attitudes toward some or all of the problems.1

Liberal Naturalists have concluded that physicalism is false. Even though the arguments against physicalism rely only on minimally controversial observations about the nature of conscious experience, quickly dismissing more controversial claims about consciousness would be incautious. As Liberal Naturalists, or those considering Liberal Naturalism, we are no longer under any pressure from physicalism to embrace deflationary claims about consciousness. Were we to indulge in a quick dismissal of controversial claims on the grounds that these features of consciousness seem incompatible with the physical facts, we would be especially unjustified.

-114-

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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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