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Strategy for Dualism

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Dualists need to change their argumentative strategies if they wish to make a plausible case for dualism. In particular, dualists should not merely react and respond to physicalist views and arguments; they need to develop their own positive agenda. But neither should they focus their energies on constructing a priori arguments for dualism. Rather, dualists should acknowledge that what supports their view that consciousness exists and is a nonphysical phenomenon is observation, not argumentation. What is needed is a positive account of the nature of consciousness and the indispensable role that it plays in our lives, for it is only by showing the explanatory utility of the nonphysical that dualists can begin to discredit those who would deny its existence. In this paper, I try to give some idea of what such a positive theory of consciousness would look like. In particular, I argue for a theory of consciousness that contains a priori synthetic truths about the ontological nature and causal powers of consciousness.

Keywords: consciousness; dualism; materialism; physicalism; rationality; synthetic a priori

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4780, USA

Publication date: 2001-07-01

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