AuthorQuinn, Laleh Kathleen
AdvisorMaloney, J. Christopher
MetadataShow full item record
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.
AbstractWe have yet to develop a theory of explanation that will account for all of consciousness. Recent debate on this topic has been impaired because it has in large part proceeded without any explicit attention to the nature of explanation. On the one hand, the lack of commitment to any well-specified theory of explanation leads to imprecision and vagueness. On the other hand, much of the optimism concerning the possibility of explaining all aspects of consciousness stems from an attachment to the only developed theory of psychological phenomena at our disposal and the belief that all of consciousness can be captured by such a theory. Some of the inadequacy in the literature on consciousness is due to a conflation between consciousness construed as mode of presentation , that is, the way content is presented to the agent, and consciousness construed as subjective or qualitative feel. Once the two objects of concern are distinguished, we have a much clearer vision of what needs to be explained, and we can turn our focus on the proper way to do so. I argue that subjective feel is an important aspect of consciousness in need of explanation, and that an explanation of this phenomenon is distinct from an explanation of mode of presentation or representation. Furthermore, while there are well-articulated methods of explanation that properly address mode of presentation and representation, this is not the case for subjective feel. I delineate several genera of scientific explanation in an attempt to exhaust the possible methods by which we may be capable of explaining subjective feel. This involves the taxonomizing of types of phenomena that are the targets of our explanatory methods. While one type of explanatory strategy may be adequate when the target explanandum is a property, the same strategy may fall short in explaining a single event, event type, or regularity. Subjective feel is best construed as a property. However, while the method employed by cognitive science to explain mental properties may be adequate for explaining much cognitive phenomena, I argue that it is incapable of explaining subjective feel.
Degree ProgramGraduate College