The Normative Challenge for Illusionist Views of Consciousness

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6 (2019)
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Illusionists about phenomenal consciousness claim that phenomenal consciousness does not exist but merely seems to exist. At the same time, it is quite intuitive for there to be some kind of link between phenomenality and value. For example, some situations seem good or bad in virtue of the conscious experiences they feature. Illusionist views of phenomenal consciousness then face what I call the normative challenge. They have to say where they stand regarding the idea that there is a link between phenomenality and value. If they accept that there is such a link, they might be committed to revisionary normative consequences (and some of them may prove to be uncomfortable). If they deny that there is such link, they might avoid revisionary normative consequences (without being guaranteed against them) but then they have to give reasons to deny that such link obtains, which is not a trivial task. The existence of the normative challenge does not show that illusionism is false, but it shows that illusionism might have important consequences in the normative domain, which have to be clarified.

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Fran├žois Kammerer
New York University


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