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General Information:


Preliminary Thoughts:


Project Statement:

How can one differentiate between a 'good' and 'bad' explanation of consciousness? Discuss some of the major philosophical models of scientific explanation and their relevance to the 'hard problem' of consciousness, i.e. the problem of explaining subjective experience.


Scientific Explanation and Consciousness:

Thoughts on the Problem of Induction
* Interesting/ important element of scientific explanation.

Deductive-Nomological Explanation
* Relevance of model to explanations of consciousness?

Causal-Mechanical Model of Scientific Explanation
* Relevance of model to explanations of consciousness?

Observation and Evidence in Science
* Can we possibly 'observe' something like consciousness? If not, how do we gain scientific evidence for its existence?

Is it possible for science to explain consciousness?
* If so, what should we look for in a 'good' explanation? If not, what makes some explanations better than others?

Prediction in scientific explanations of consciousness
* Explanations generally have some sort of predictive component - is this true of 'explanations' of consciousness?


Consciousness - Some 'Explanatory' Models/ Ideas:

Note: Probably won't look at all of these!

Physicalist vs. anti-physicalist theories of consciousness
Dualism
Physicalism
Functionalism
Representationalism
Higher-order Representationalism
Self-representationalism
Integrated Information Theory
Panpsychism


Resources that might be useful:

Theories of Consciousness, Uriah Kriegel - good overview of some of the more prominent theories of consciousness, arguments for and against.

The Problem of Consciousness, John R. Searle - section 3 lists some of the features that an empirical theory of consciousness should try to explain.

Comparing the Major Theories of Consciousness, Ned Block - compares the three frameworks for theories of consciousness that are taken most seriously by neuroscientists. Higher Order, Global Workspace and Biological Theory approaches are discussed.


Other interesting things:

Interview with David Chalmers

Science weekly podcast: Can science ever explain consciousness?