AuthorFiala, Brian J.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 07-Aug-2014
AbstractThere is a widespread intuition that physicalist theories of consciousness are importantly incomplete. But the psychological facts give us reason to think that the gap-intuition does not justify the belief that physical theories of consciousness always leave out some facts about consciousness. I target this belief, and aim to establish that it is not epistemically justified by the gap-intuition. I begin by making a case for thinking that a purely psychological analysis of the "explanatory gap" is not only a viable one, but is in many ways preferable to the standard modal-epistemological analysis. Then I marshal a body of empirical findings in support of the view that various sub-personal psychological processes play a key role in producing the gap-intuition. The most crucial of these processes is the agent-detector, a cognitive system specifically dedicated to detecting other conscious agents in the third-person mode. Leveraging this account, I argue that while the relevant sub-personal processes are generally accurate, in the case of the gap-intuition they are "tricked" in a manner analogous to a visual blind spot or a bias in decision-making. Thus gap-intuitions are not trustworthy and do not confer justification upon belief in a "real" gap. I conclude by situating my account within the context of existing literature on the explanatory gap. My account naturally complements various physicalist accounts of the gap, and also deserves consideration as an outright replacement for such accounts. The overall lesson is that the gap-intuition would arise whether or not physicalist theories of consciousness really do leave something out, and would persist even if we came to accept a true physicalist theory of consciousness. Thus anti-physicalist arguments that are based on the gap-intuition pose no serious threat to physicalist theories of consciousness.
Degree ProgramGraduate College