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The challenge presented by dissociations and synaesthesia for the neo-dualism of David Chalmers and Tim Bayne

Fletcher, R. (2020) The challenge presented by dissociations and synaesthesia for the neo-dualism of David Chalmers and Tim Bayne. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00101663


This thesis has, as its primary target, the neo-cartesianism, or property dualism of certain philosophers of mind: David Chalmers, Tim Bayne, and others. All begin with a pre-theoretic commitment to the view that all perceptual states are conscious. They define consciousness by saying that it is synonymous with having ‘qualia’ – a term directed at phenomenal properties which defy reduction to physical states. The thesis argues that this position is challenged by certain neurological conditions, - blindsight, visual form agnosia etc- which we can generalise as ‘dissociations’: conditions in which functions are separated from awareness. The thesis holds that these are examples of unconscious perception, which present the case for a different pre-theoretic position, and a redefinition of concepts used in the vicinity. Insofar as the neo-cartesians recognise the empirical, their inclination to reject the dissociations is challenged with new cases and paradigms which have emerged in recent years. It is contended that the dissociations disrupt Chalmers’ coherence between the phenomenal and the psychological, Bayne’s commitment to the Unity of Consciousness, and Phillips’ campaign against unconscious perception. In addition, synaesthesia is advanced as a problem case for Bayne’s unity contention. I argue that the dissociations are not easily dismissed, and present a real challenge for neo-cartesianism. In exploring this challenge, the thesis contributes to the case for a different philosophy of mind – a Higher Order Thought (HOT) approach. The notion of unconscious perception – it is contended - much more easily finds an accommodation in HOT theories, so this thesis contributes to existing arguments for that position. HOT theories also have an advantage in being receptive to reduction, in giving a developmental account of consciousness, and in being more open to the accommodation of empirical discoveries. In each respect, there is an advantage over the respective positions taken by Chalmers and Bayne.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Preston, J., Stazicker, J. and Schroeder, S.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:101663


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