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The hardness of the hard problem

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This paper offers an account of why the Hard Problem cannot be solved within our present conceptual framework. The reason is that some property of each conscious experience lacks structure, while explanations of the kind that would overcome the Hard Problem require structure in the occurrences that are to be explained. This account is apt to seem incorrect for reasons that trace to relational theories of consciousness. I thus review a highly developed representative version of relational theory (namely, David Rosenthal's, 1986; 1990) and explain why I do not find it acceptable. This rejection requires a nonrelational alternative, which I describe and defend against a certain further objection. Finally, I discuss implications of the foregoing for the views of McGinn (1991) and Chalmers (1995).

Keywords: Chalmers; Rosenthal; consciousness; hard problem; higher order thought; phenomenal qualities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 1996


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