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date: 13 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Dualism is a metaphysical view about the nature of consciousness, driven largely by epistemic concerns. Dualism’s chief rival, physicalism about consciousness, is also a metaphysical view driven largely by epistemic concerns. A primary goal of this chapter is to correct a widespread misunderstanding about how epistemic issues shape the debate between dualists and physicalists. According to a familiar picture, dualism is motivated by armchair reflection, and dualists accord special significance to our ways of conceptualizing consciousness and the physical. In contrast, physicalists favor empirical data over armchair reflection, and physicalism is a relatively straightforward extension of scientific theorizing. This familiar picture is inaccurate. Both dualist and physicalist arguments employ a combination of empirical data and armchair reflection; both rely on considerations of how we conceptualize certain phenomena; and both aim to establish views that are compatible with scientific results but go well beyond the deliverances of empirical science. The discussion highlights these neglected epistemic parallels between dualism and physicalism.

Keywords: Dualism, physicalism, epistemic arguments, theoretical simplicity, mental causation

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