Panpsychism and Naïve Realism: Grounding the Qualitative. A debate between Philip Goff and Alex Moran
Alex Moran (Oxford University), Philip Goff (Central European University, Durham University)

February 19, 2020, 11:30am - 1:00pm
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Swire Seminar Room
University College, University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 4BH
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


Université de Fribourg

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Event description: The event is a debate between Philip Goff (Durham University) and Alex Moran (Oxford University), examining the panpsychist view that Goff defends in his recent book, Galileo's Rrror, as well as a novel critique of this position from a naive realist perspective. The debate will also focus on a range of issues pertaining to panpsychism and, more generally, the mind-body problem.

There will be wine; afterwards, we'll go for drinks and dinner. Those who want to come along for dinner should email Alex Moran at [email protected]


In his recent book, Galileo’s Error, Philip Goff defends panpsychism, the view, roughly, that even fundamental particles are in some sense conscious, so that reality is permeated with mentality. This event is a debate between Philip Goff and Alex Moran about panpsychism and related issues.

   As Goff observes in Galileo’s Error, while panpsychism is widely met with incredulity, it constitutes a widely neglected, but nonetheless very important, option for dealing with the so-called “mind-body problem”. What exactly is the mind-body problem? On the one hand, physics appears to show that reality is fundamentally quantitative. On the other hand, conscious experience seems to be distinctively qualitative. So, the problem can be thought of in the form of a challenge: how can we account for the qualitative properties involved in consciousness given that physics reveals our world to be fundamentally quantitative?

    The panpsychist answers by arguing that in a sense, reality is not fundamentally quantitative, since the qualitative properties involved in consciousness are instantiated even by fundamental particles. Much of the debate will focus on this central claim. In particular, the debate will focus on a novel challenge to panpsychists from naïve realists, who insist that there are non-conscious qualitative properties, such as the redness of a rose, which the panpsychist cannot account for. Can the panpsychist meet this challenge? And if not, what is the right way to proceed? How, in other words, are qualitative properties to be grounded?

   There will also be discussion of some more general questions relating to panpsychism and to Goff’s recent defence of it in Galileo’s Error. For instance, the speakers will also consider the well-known “combination problem” for panpsychism, as well as the claim, which is a central thesis of Galileo’s Error, that panpsychism should be taken just as seriously as the two much more standard options, namely dualism and materialism, for responding to the mind-body problem.

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Alex Moran
Elizabeth Murphy
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