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date: 13 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines 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. In the first section, the chapter introduces the difference between entity eliminativism and discourse eliminativism and outlines the typical strategies used to support each. The next section provides a brief overview of the kinds of consciousness we refer to throughout the chapter. The following section focuses on entity eliminativist arguments about consciousness: Dennett’s classic eliminativist argument; a rebooted version of Dennett’s argument; and recent arguments for ‘illusionism’. In the subsequent section, discourse eliminativist arguments about consciousness are examined: methodological arguments from scientific behaviourism; arguments based on the empirical accessibility of phenomenal consciousness; and a stronger version of discourse eliminativism aimed at both phenomenal and access consciousness. The final section offers a brief conclusion.

Keywords: Eliminativism, consciousness, qualia, experience, phenomenal consciousness, access consciousness, illusionism, behaviourism, Daniel Dennett, Ned Block, Keith Frankish, consciousness science

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