Justin Sytsma F'09

Justin  Sytsma
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Doctoral Candidate
History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh
Phenomenal Consciousness as Scientific Phenomenon? A Critical Investigation of the New Science of Consciousness

Phenomenal consciousness poses a puzzle for philosophy of science. This arises from two facts: It is common for philosophers to take its existence to be phenomenologically obvious and yet modern science arguably has little (if anything) to tell us about it. And, this is despite 20 years of work targeting phenomenal consciousness in what has been termed the new science of consciousness. How has such a supposedly evident part of our world remained beyond our scientific understanding? This dissertation argues, by investigating the new science, that it has resisted scientific explanation because there is no such phenomenon. It details how these researchers understand consciousness, tie this to the recent philosophical debates, and assess the reasons given for believing that such a phenomenon exists.