The Puzzle of Cognitive Phenomenology
Tim Bayne (Monash)

August 31, 2017, 12:15pm - 2:15pm
Philosophy Department, The University of Melbourne

Jim Potter Room, Old Physics Building
The University of Melbourne
Parkville 3010

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What is the nature of conscious thought? Answers to this question cluster into two groups. According to a position that I dub ‘phenomenal conservatism’, the phenomenal character of thought is restricted to that of the sensory and affective states that accompany thought. According to a view I dub ‘phenomenal liberalism’, thought is characterized by a distinctive range of phenomenal properties—what we might call ‘cognitive phenomenological properties’. The debate between conservatives and liberals generates a puzzle, for we cannot account for it without rejecting one (or more) prima facie plausible claim about consciousness. I argue that this debate is best explained by supposing that conservatives and liberals are operating with different notions of ‘phenomenal consciousness’. This result is an important one, for it calls into question the widespread assumption that there is a unitary notion of phenomenal consciousness at work in the philosophy of mind.

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