Papineau, D. (2020). The problem of Consciousness. In U. Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
Consciousness raises a range of philosophical questions. We can distinguish between the How?, Where?, and What? questions. First, how does consciousness relate to other features of reality? Second, where are conscious phenomena located in reality? And, third, what is the nature of consciousness? In line with much philosophical writing over the past fifty years, this chapter will focus mostly on the How? question. Towards the end I shall also say some things about the Where? question. As for the What? question, a few brief introductory remarks will have to suffice.
Keywords: phenomenological fallacy
Citing Place (1956) in context (citations start with an asterisk *):
Section Explaining the Intuition of Distinctness
* I shall now briefly run through six different theories that have been put forward to account for the prevalence of dualist thinking. fn 1: For a more detailed discussion of the literature on explanations for dualist intuitions, see Papineau 2010 section 7. I would like to thank Dara Ghaznavi for drawing my attention to Place's “phenomenological fallacy”.
* The Phenomenological Fallacy. Everyday thinking (along with some philosophical theories) takes the view that sensory experiences are constituted in part by ordinary worldly properties: when you see a green circle, the properties of greenness and roundness are in some sense literally present in your experience. However, it is clear that these worldly properties are not instantiated in the brain - nothing in the brain is green or round. So the natural inference is that the sensory experiences must be distinct from brain processes. U.T. Place called this inference “the phenomenological fallacy” and located the mistake in the initial premise that worldly properties are constituents of experiences (Place 1956). Perhaps Place was too quick to diagnose a fallacy. Maybe there are good senses in which worldly properties are constituents of sensory experience, and indeed senses in which this is consistent with physicalism. Still, however these niceties work out, the point remains that the manifest absence of properties like greenness and roundness from the brain might be the reason why many people are convinced that sensory experiences cannot be physical.