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The Naturalists versus the Skeptics: The Debate Over a Scientific Understanding of Consciousness

Valerie Gray Hardcastle
The Journal of Mind and Behavior
Vol. 14, No. 1 (Winter 1993), pp. 27-50
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43853732
Page Count: 24
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The Naturalists versus the Skeptics: The Debate Over a Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
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Abstract

There are three basic skeptical arguments against developing a scientific theory of consciousness: (1) theory cannot capture a first person perspective; (2) consciousness is causally inert with respect to explaining cognition; and (3) the notion "consciousness" is too vague to be a natural kind term. Although I am sympathetic to naturalists' counter-arguments, I also believe that most of the accounts given so far of how explaining consciousness would fit into science are incorrect. In this essay, I indicate errors my colleagues on both sides of the fence make in thinking about this issue, as well as outline data relevant to distinguishing conscious states from unconscious ones empirically.

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