I can't get no (epistemic) satisfaction: Why the hard problem of consciousness entails a hard problem of explanation

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Abstract
Daniel Dennett (1996) has disputed David Chalmers' (1995) assertion that there is a "hard problem of consciousness" worth solving in the philosophy of mind. In this paper I defend Chalmers against Dennett on this point: I argue that there is a hard problem of consciousness, that it is distinct in kind from the so-called easy problems, and that it is vital for the sake of honest and productive research in the cognitive sciences to be clear about the difference. But I have my own rebuke for Chalmers on the point of explanation. Chalmers (1995, 1996) proposes to "solve" the hard problem of consciousness by positing qualia as fundamental features of the universe, alongside such ontological basics as mass and space-time. But this is an inadequate solution: to posit, I will urge, is not to explain. To bolster this view, I borrow from an account of explanation by which it must provide "epistemic satisfaction" to be considered successful (Rowlands, 2001; Campbell, 2009), and show that Chalmers' proposal fails on this account. I conclude that research in the science of consciousness cannot move forward without greater conceptual clarity in the field.
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Archival date: 2012-07-14
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2012-07-14

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