By Mind Chat with Philip Goff and Keith Frankish
(*To be more precise, Keith thinks *phenomenal* consciousness doesn't exist; listen to find out what this is.)
Mind ChatJun 28, 2022
Cat Gillen: Do Electrons Exist?
Recently Philip and Sabine Hossenfelder had a discussion on Twitter about the relationship between science and the entities referred to in scientific theories: https://twitter.com/Philip_Goff/status/1725487476695830778. We're going to interview philosopher of science doctoral candidate Cat Gillen (Durham University) on the debates between realists and instrumentalists in the philosophy of science. To support this podcast, please consider donating to our Patreon, including joining the Mind Chat community that discusses each month's episode with Philip and Keith following the broadcast: https://www.patreon.com/MindChat
Halloween Special! The Purpose of the Universe
Donald Hoffman: What is Reality?
Donald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist at UC Irvine and author of 'The Case Against Reality.' He believes that the world we experience is an illusion, whilst ultimate reality is composed of networks of conscious agents. Keith and Philip probe Professor Hoffman's view from their very different perspectives on the nature of consciousness.
Here's the paper we discuss at length which argues that Donald's argument from evolution is self-defeating: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-022-04021-1
Here's Donald's recent co-written paper in which the authors attempt to ground physics in networks of conscious agents: https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/25/1/129
Eric Schwitzgebel : Is the United States Conscious?
Eric Schwitzgebel is professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. His research interests include philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind, moral psychology, classical Chinese philosophy, epistemology, metaphilosophy, and metaphysics. He has also written a number of pieces of philosophical science fiction, which have been published in leading science fiction magazines.
Michelle Liu and Edouard Machery: Is the 'Hard Problem of Consciousness' Nonsense Invented by Philosophers?
Many philosophers worry about David Chalmers' 'hard problem' of how brains produce consciousness. But do ordinary people who haven't been exposed to the peculiarities of academic philosopher share Chalmers' intuition that there's a problem here? Professor Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh-Carnegie Mellon University) answers 'no.' Machery thinks the concept of 'phenomenal consciousness' that gives rise to these intuitions is an invention of academic philosophers, and he's built an empirical case to support his view, based on interviews with the general public. Dr Michelle Liu (University of Hertfordshire-Monash) has responded to the arguments of Machery and others, suggesting they may be ignoring to polysemous nature of language. Keith and Philip will host a friendly debate/discussion between Machery and Liu, whilst trying to resist the temptation to bring the discussion back to panpsychism and illusionism.
Frank Jackson: The Greatest Argument Against Materialism
Professor Frank Jackson (Australian National University) came up with one of the most influential arguments against materialism about consciousness, a version of the 'knowledge argument', involving the story of Black and White Mary. Ironically, Jackson later recanted and is now a committed materialist. Keith and Philip will discuss with Frank the knowledge argument, why he changed his mind, and what he thinks about consciousness now. (Philip secretly hopes to bring Frank back to the fold of anti-materialists, but it's a long shot).
Francois Kammerer and Luke Roelofs: Illusionism or Panpsychism?
Mind Chat is back!! We've been a bit delayed due to illness in the family and Philip needing to finish a book. This is our delayed Christmas special, and will involve sherry, mince pies, and Christmas jumpers. Last Christmas special, Keith and Philip debated illusionism versus panpsychism. This year, we thought we'd invite a leading illusionist and panpsychist from the next generation of thinkers. Dr Francois Kammerer and Dr Luke Roelofs are both Postdoctoral Research Associates at the Centre for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University. They have both done incredibly interesting and provocative work defending illusionism and panpsychism, respectively. We're going to have a formal debate-style show, with a Twitter Poll to decide which view is correct. But as you might expect from Mind Chat, this is more in the spirit of fun than a macho fight to prove who's right. https://www.francoiskammerer.com/
Noam Chomsky: Chomsky on Consciousness
Noam Chomsky is an intellectual giant, who has made major contributions to linguistics, philosophy, and cognitive science. In this episode Keith and Philip explore Professor Chomsky's views on consciousness and the mind.
Streamed live on Sep 15, 2022
Angela Mendelovici: How Does Consciousness Connect us to Reality? Part II
Angela Mendelovici (University of Western Ontorio) is a prominent proponent of the 'Phenomenal Intentionality Theory': the view that all mental representation is at least partly grounded in consciousness. This view contrasts with David Papineau's as to how consciousness connects us to reality, which we discussed in an earlier episode. Our main focus will be to explore the Phenomenal Intentionality Theory, but Angela also happens to be a panpsychist, so Philip is hoping this will finally be a guest that agrees with him more than Keith.
Streamed live on Jun 29, 2022
Angela's website https://publish.uwo.ca/~amendel5/
Ann-Sophie Barwich: Smellosophy--The Philosophy & Neuroscience of Smell
Ann-Sophie Barwich is a cognitive scientist and empirical philosopher, and author of 'Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind' (Harvard University Press). Ann-Sophie explores how the neuroscience of smell challenges philosophical assumptions about the nature of perception.
Streamed live on Jun 16, 2022
Ann-Sophie's website http://www.smellosophy.com/
Publisher's webpage for Smellosophy https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674983694
Philip Goff: Is Physics Different in the Brain?
In a special follow-up episode, Philip shares some personal reflections on the recent discussion 'What Does Physics Tell Us About Consciousness?' with Sean Carroll and Barry Loewer.
Sean Carroll and Barry Loewer: What Does Physics Tell Us About Consciousness?
We previously had a long chat with Sean Carroll. A big bone of contention with Philip and Sean was the degree to which physics constrains our theory of consciousness. We decided it would be good to explore this issue in its own right, with a bit of help from esteemed philosophy of physics Sean Carroll (Rutgers University). These are Sean's articles we discuss (the latter is a response to Philip's book 'Galileo's Error'): https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.07884 https://philpapers.org/rec/CARCAT-33. Recorded 6 May 2022.
Helen Steward: Do We Have Free Will?
Helen Steward is a philosopher and author of Metaphysics for Freedom (Oxford University Press), which argues that agency itself—and not merely the special, distinctively human variety of it—is incompatible with determinism. Keith and Philip Mind Chat with Helen about whether we have free will, and what that would entail about the ultimate nature of reality,
David Papineau: How Does Consciousness Connect Us To Reality?
Keith and Philip interview David Papineau (Professor of Philosophy at King's College London) about his recent book 'The Metaphysics of Sensory Experience'. David is also a materialist who believes in consciousness, so there'll probably be a big old fight about that too. Link to David's book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-metaphysics-of-sensory-experience-9780198862390?cc=gb&lang=en&
David Chalmers: Are We Living in a Simulation?
David Chalmers is one of the most important and influential philosophers of consciousness on the contemporary scene. He coined the phrase 'the hard problem of consciousness', and defends 'naturalistic dualism' as an alternative to materialism. In his new book 'Reality+', aimed at a general audience, David explores the big questions of philosophy through the lens of virtual reality. He argues that we don't know whether or not we are in a computer simulation, but that even if we are, it doesn't follow that the physical world around is isn't real. It just means the ultimate nature of the physical world is computational!
Christmas Special: Panpsychism or Illusionism?
In the Mind Chat Christmas special, Keith and Philip take it in turns to interrogate each other about their favoured view of consciousness (illusionism and panpsychism, respectively), based in part on viewers' questions. The episode will culminate in a 15 min twitter poll, in which viewers will decide once and for all whether panpsychism or illusionism is the correct view of consciousness.
Sean Carroll: Is Consciousness Emergent?
Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll joins us to discuss whether it make sense to think of consciousness as an emergent phenomenon, and whether contemporary physics points in this direction.
We discussed Sean's essay responding to Philip's book 'Galileo's Error,' and Philip's counter-response essay. Both are available here: https://conscienceandconsciousness.com/2021/08/01/19-essays-on-galileos-error/
We also discussed Philip's Scientific American article making the case that the move from the fine-tuning to the multiverse commits the 'inverse gambler's fallacy': https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/our-improbable-existence-is-no-evidence-for-a-multiverse/#:~:text=We%20exist%2C%20and%20we%20are,with%20the%20existence%20of%20life.
Finally, Keith and Philip discussed the PhilPapers 2020 survey of philosophers' opinions on philosophical questions, which is linked to from this blog post of Philip's: https://conscienceandconsciousness.com/2021/11/01/materialism-remains-the-majority-view-but-only-just/
Anil Seth: Is Consciousness a Controlled Hallucination?
Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex. In this episode we discuss his new book 'Being You: The New Science of Consciousness.'
Helen Yetter-Chappell: Is Reality Made up of Consciousness?
Dr Helen Yetter-Chappell is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Miami. Idealism is the view that the fundamental nature of reality is made up of mentality or consciousness. Inspired by the 18th century idealist philosophy George Berkeley, Helen has developed a version of Berkeley's idealism which dispenses with his commitment to the existence of God. http://yetterchappell.net/Helen/
Matthias Michel: Is a Science of Consciousness Possible?
Matthias Michel is a philosopher whose work focuses on the science of consciousness. In a recent paper he outlines how scientists working on consciousness have been having the same debates for 150 years without reaching consensus. In this episode, we will explore why the science of consciousness is more challenging than other scientific endeavours and examine possible ways forward.
Christof Koch: The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness
Christof Koch is a neuroscientist and proponent of the integrated information theory of consciousness, or 'IIT". In this episode we explore with Christof the science and philosophy of IIT.
Janet Levin: The Materialist Theory of Consciousness
Professor Janet Levin is a materialist about consciousness. She thinks our feelings and experiences are identical with physical processes in the brain. In this episode we will explore Janet's position and how she responds to arguments that try to show that consciousness alludes physical explanation.
Tim O'Connor: Interview with a Dualist
Tim O'Connor is a dualist: someone who thinks consciousness is not physical. People tend to think of dualists as believing in the soul, a supernatural entity distinct from the physical workings of the body and the brain. However, Tim's dualism is very different. He thinks consciousness resides in the brain, and is brought into existence by the physical particles that ultimately make up the brain. Nonetheless he rejects the idea that we can explain consciousness in terms of the kind of electro-chemical signalling of the brain. Instead, Tim is a Strong Emergentist: He thinks that particles have special powers to produce non-physical consciousness, powers that only kick in when the particles are arranged in the special combinations we find in brains. To put it another way: the brain as a whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Tim's website: https://toconnor.org/
Tim's entry on ''Emergent Properties' for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties-emergent/
Video version of this episode: https://youtu.be/AlUsJRKqEVE