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Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

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The problem of consciousness: an assessment of Michael Tye’s and David Chalmers’ criticisms of the phenomenal concept strategy

Adeyanju Olanshile Muideen

Abstract


This paper presents a critical assessment of Michael Tye’s and David Chalmers’ criticisms of the phenomenal concept strategy. The assessment is done with a view to defend the phenomenal concept strategy against Tye’s and Chalmers’ arguments. The phenomenal concept strategy is a strategy developed by physicalists to defend physicalism in the attempt to address the problem of consciousness. For Michael Tye, who was previously an advocate of the phenomenal concept strategy, there is the possibility that two or more distinct phenomenal concepts can refer to the same phenomenal experience and this indicates that phenomenal concepts have no special status as claimed by physicalists and are, in turn, not concepts at all. David Chalmers, on the other hand, raises a dilemma for the phenomenal concept strategy by stating that it is either that the strategy cannot explain the epistemic reality (i.e. knowledge) of consciousness or that the strategy cannot explain this knowledge in physicalist terms. Any of these two indicates that the phenomenal concept strategy is unsuccessful. This paper posits that Tye’s and Chalmers’ criticisms misrepresent the stance of the phenomenal concept strategy. This paper maintains that the phenomenal concept strategy, if understood differently, still provides a plausible support for physicalism in addressing the problem of consciousness.

Keywords: Consciousness, conceivability argument, knowledge argument, master argument, phenomenal concept strategy, physicalism




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