Shared consciousness and asymmetry

Synthese 200 (5):1-17 (2022)
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Abstract

It is widely held that there is an asymmetry between our access to our minds and our access to others’ minds. Philosophers in the literature tend to focus on the asymmetry between our access to our mental states and our access to those mental states of others that are not shared by us. What if a mental state can have multiple subjects? Is there still an asymmetry between our access to our mental states and our access to those mental states of others that are also ours? In this paper, I discuss the implications of a case of shared consciousness—the case of the Hogan twins—for asymmetry. I start by clarifying the notion of asymmetry. Here I develop a characterization of asymmetry and argue that it is preferable to the standard approaches in the literature. I then present the twins’ case and argue that it does not threaten asymmetry. I close by drawing some lessons.

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Shao-Pu Kang
Academia Sinica

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