The structure of phenomenal consciousness

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Philosophers have largely abandoned the claim that the special sciences will ultimately reduce to microphysics in favour of the view that the special sciences trade in functional explanations. However, a careful examination of scientific practice reveals that the explanatory strategy of the special sciences is neither reductionist nor functionalist, but mechanistic. Mechanistic explanations appeal to active material entities organized so as to produce the target phenomena. We claim that phenomenal consciousness will also succumb to mechanistic explanation: it will turn out to be the activity of specific neural mechanisms in the brain. In this chapter we explore the implications of this perspective for the ontology of consciousness, arguing that it has a complex structural essence.


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