A Dialogue on Consciousness

Paperback | December 29, 2008

byTorin Alter, Robert J. Howell

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What is consciousness? Is it a physical or a non-physical phenomenon? If it is physical, why does it elude scientific explanation? If it is not physical, how can it be explained? A Dialogue on Consciousness introduces readers, in dialogue form, to the problem of consciousness; it explores the main arguments for and against physicalism - the view that consciousness is entirely physical - and the several levels of debate surrounding those arguments. The dialogue takes place ina university library, after hours, where the two protagonists, impoverished graduate students Tollens and Ponens, sleep in lieu of proper accomodations. Through the course of five nights and a Saturday morning, they quote key passages from classic and contemporary texts while discussing the majortheories on the subject: Frank Jackson's knowledge argument, philosophical "zombies," the inverted spectrum, epiphenomenalism, neutral monism, panpsychism, the problem of mental causation, the ability hypothesis, the phenomenal concept strategy, and more. The dialogue ends with the studentscontemplating the merits and drawbacks of modern physicalist views and non-physicalist alternatives.While A Dialogue on Consciousness is an entertaining and accessible introduction to some of the most complicated issues in contemporary philosophy, it does not forego rigor. Arguements and responses are precisely formulated and discussed in non-technical terms. Positions are considered with the carethat they receive in professional literature. An expansive, categorized and annotated Reading Suggestions list is included at the end of the book to direct readers to the most relevant and helpful primary sources. Ideal for courses on the philosophy of mind and on consciousness, the book provides a thorough, up-to-date orientation to the debate about consciousness and physicalism.

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What is consciousness? Is it a physical or a non-physical phenomenon? If it is physical, why does it elude scientific explanation? If it is not physical, how can it be explained? A Dialogue on Consciousness introduces readers, in dialogue form, to the problem of consciousness; it explores the main arguments for and against physicalism ...

Torin Alter is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from UCLA. Robert J. Howell is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southern Methodist University. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University.

other books by Torin Alter

Format:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:December 29, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195375297

ISBN - 13:9780195375299

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgements1. Monday NightLate night in the LibraryThe Subjectivity of ExperienceThe Soul and The MindDescartes' Conceivability ArgumentLois Lane, Clark Kent, and SupermanArnauld's Objection to Descartes' ArgumentHume's Elusive SelfSouls and the Problem of Mental-Physical Causation2. Tuesday NightComputers and CognitionConsciousness versus CognitionIgnoring SubjectivityWhat is it Like to be a Bat?The Need for a New FrameworkMary and The Knowledge Argument against PhysicalismSpectrum InversionZombies and the Conceivability Argument against Physicalism3. Wednesday NightThe Structure of the Anti-Physicalist Arguments: the Epistemic Step and the Metaphysical StepQuestioning the Epistemic StepAfterimages and Mary's Shortcuts to Phenomenal KnowledgeThe Importance of DeductionPsycho-Physical LawsHooking Up to the PhysicalThe Objectivity Condition on the PhysicalDeduction and TranslationThe Ability HypothesisThe Connection between Abilities and InformationThe Transparency of Experience and Representationalism4. Thursday NightQuestioning the Metaphysical StepSuperheroes and the Many Disguises of Physical FactsDisguise Depends on IgnoranceThe Cognitive Isolation of Phenomenal ConceptsMartian Mary and the Phenomenal Concept StrategyDo Phenomenal Concepts Require Experience?The Dilemma for the Phenomenal Concept StrategyDescartes Returns, with Zombies5. Friday NightClarifying Property DualismWhy Souls are No HelpThe Causal Inefficacy of Non-Physical QualiaAssessing the Costs of EpiphenomenalismThe Paradox of Phenomenal JudgmentThe Attractions of Monism6. Saturday NightPanpsychismPhenomenal Properties as the Ground of Physical DispositionsPanprotopsychismThe Combination ProblemThe Problem of Mental-Physical Causation ReduxThe Significance of IgnoranceDefining the PhysicalSubjective PhysicalismNecessitation without DeductionThe Sun RisesSources of QuotationsReading SuggestionsIndex