Mar 16, 2015

Our Next Visiting Speaker March 20 - Donovan Wishon

Dr. Donovan Wishon, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mississippi, will our next visiting speaker. He will be presenting a talk titled “Phenomenal Concepts, Introspective Error, and Kripke’s Modal Argument” on Friday, March 20 from 1:30-3:30 in McCain Hall, Room 185. Dr. Wishon's abstract is as follows:

It is hard to see how, and why, in a purely physical universe, complex biological organisms like us enjoy conscious mental lives with rich qualitative, subjective features such that there is “something it’s like” for us to have them. On the other hand, there are compelling reasons for thinking that conscious experience must be identical with some part of physical reality given its causal role and given the steady march of the natural sciences. Drawing inspiration from Kripke’s notion of a posteriori necessary identities, many philosophers insist that our intuitive resistance to accepting psychophysical identities ultimately stems from the conceptual gap between our introspective concepts of consciousness and those of the natural sciences, rather than from any ontological gap. Kripke himself has famously rejected this use of a posteriori identities on the grounds that it would require an appearance/reality gap for our grasp of consciousness where there is none to be found. Somewhat surprisingly, many of Kripke’s opponents agree with him that our intimate acquaintance with conscious experience rules out such a gap, and so needlessly look elsewhere for resources to resist dualism. Following Schwitzgebel (2008), I argue that while how things phenomenally appear to be in experience corresponds (trivially) with how things phenomenally are, how things epistemically appear to be in our introspective judgments about experience need not. In particular, there are several kinds of introspective error which suggest that our intimate acquaintance with consciousness leaves open the possibility of a posteriori psychophysical identities.

We hope to see you there!

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