Is the mystery an illusion? Papineau on the problem of consciousness

Pär Sundström
July 2008
Synthese;Jul2008, Vol. 163 Issue 2, p133
Academic Journal
Abstract  A number of philosophers have recently argued that (i) consciousness properties are identical with some set of physical or functional properties and that (ii) we can explain away the frequently felt puzzlement about this claim as a delusion or confusion generated by our different ways of apprehending or thinking about consciousness. This paper examines David Papineau’s influential version of this view. According to Papineau, the difference between our “phenomenal” and “material” concepts of consciousness produces an instinctive but erroneous intuition that these concepts can’t co-refer. I claim that this account fails. To begin with, it is arguable that we are mystified about physicalism even when the account predicts that we shouldn’t be. Further, and worse, the account predicts that an “intuition of distinctness” will arise in cases where it clearly does not. In conclusion, I make some remarks on the prospects for, constraints on, and (physicalist) alternatives to, a successful defence of the claim (ii).


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