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Eliminativism about consciousness

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness
EditorsUriah Kriegel
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198749677
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2020


In this chapter, we examine a radical philosophical position about consciousness: eliminativism. Eliminativists claim that consciousness does not exist and/or that talk of consciousness should be eliminated from science. These are strong positions to take, and require serious defence. To evaluate these positions, the chapter is structured as follows. In Section 2 we introduce the difference between entity eliminativism and discourse eliminativism and outline the typical strategies used to support each. Section 3 provides a brief overview of the kinds of consciousness we refer to throughout the chapter. Section 4 focuses on entity eliminativist arguments about consciousness: Dennett’s classic eliminativist argument (4.1); a rebooted version of Dennett’s argument (4.2); and recent arguments for ‘illusionism’ (4.3). In Section 5, we examine discourse eliminativist arguments about consciousness: methodological arguments from scientific behaviourism (5.1); arguments based on the empirical accessibility of phenomenal consciousness (5.2); and a stronger version of discourse eliminativism aimed at both phenomenal and access consciousness (5.3). In Section 6, we offer a brief conclusion

    Research areas

  • eliminativism, consciousness, qualia, experience, phenomenal consciousness, access consciousness, illusionism, behaviourism, Daniel Dennett, Ned Block, Keith Frankish, consciousness science

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