Dr Goff Philip, University of Liverpool
Cognitive phenomenology makes it hard to naturalise the mind
5 March 2014
In the twentieth century there was a broad consensus that thought and consciousness were quite distinct aspects of mentality. In the twenty first century, a growing number of philosophers believe that occurrent thoughts just are, or at least are grounded in, conscious states. I argue that this view, call it ‘phenomenal intentionalism’, makes the project of giving a naturalistic account of the mind extremely problematic.
Firstly, phenomenal intentionalism renders more acute problems associated with the under-determination content (contrary to the claim sometimes made by its proponents that it makes things easier in this regard). Secondly, phenomenal intentionalism implies that there is no logical connection between thought and behaviour, and this makes it extremely difficult to explain why, always or for the most part, thoughts give rise to rationally appropriate behaviour.
Chalmers’ hard problem of consciousness merely threatens physicalism; there are naturalistic forms of dualism and panpsychism. The hard problems associated with a commitment to phenomenal intentionality threaten any theory of mind we might plausibly call ‘naturalistic’.