Monday, September 21, 2020

Consciousness and intersubjectivity

This argument is logically valid:

  1. Science only explains intersubjective phenomena.

  2. Consciousness is subjective and not intersubjective.

  3. So, science doesn’t explain consciousness.

The obvious thing to attack here is the second conjunct in (2). If physicalism is true, consciousness is some intersubjective phenomenon, say a certain pattern of neuronal firings or some functional state. But note that on a physicalist view like this, every subjective phenomenon is also intersubjective: for the subject’s internal states then count as intersubjective. So on that view, (1) becomes largely trivialized. So if we think (1) is not only true but significant and non-trivial, we should not be physicalists.

1 comment:

Martin Cooke said...


I suppose that a physicalist would think it non-trivial that science can explain everything. A physicalist might therefore object to that word "only" in (1). Finding that word "only" to be significant might indicate that one was not a physicalist. So, I am unsure as to the significance of this valid argument.