Having it Both Ways: Consciousness, Unique Not Otherworldly

Philosophia 41 (4):1181-1203 (2013)
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I respond to Chalmers’ (2006, 2010) objection to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) by showing that his objection is faced with a dilemma that ultimately undercuts its force. Chalmers argues that no version of PCS can posit psychological features that are both physically explicable and capable of explaining our epistemic situation. In response, I show that what Chalmers calls ‘our epistemic situation’ admits either of a phenomenal or of a topic-neutral characterization, neither of which supports Chalmers’ objection. On the one hand, if our epistemic situation is characterized phenomenally, then Chalmers’ demand that PCS should explain our epistemic situation is misplaced. PCS can explain our epistemic situation only if there is a reductive explanation of consciousness. But according to PCS, no reductive explanation of consciousness can be given. On the other hand, if our epistemic situation is characterized topic-neutrally, then PCS is not only physically explicable, but it also explains our epistemic situation. Either way, PCS is safe
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