Is Consciousness Science Fundamentally Flawed?

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This paper will analyse some aspects of Papineau's (2002; 2003) critique of current consciousness research. I focus on his claims about the status of verbal reports in consciousness research and on his 'methodological meltdown' argument. Papineau hopes to use these arguments to show that consciousness research will never be able to identify the neural correlates of consciousness. As such Papineau hopes to stymie the most prominent research project in current consciousness science. I hope to defend consciousness science from his critique. §1 will outline his position and the general reasons he gives for his critique. §2 will motivate concern with this critique and situate it within a wider literature. §3 will point out some errors Papineau makes in assessing the methodology of consciousness research. §4 will give the argument that Papineau takes to be most radical in his critique. Here I will dismiss the reason Papineau presents to explain why some people may think his argument is wrong. In §5 I will point out one problem with Papineau's argument, in that I think it rests upon an equivocation. §6 will point out another problem, which is that Papineau helps himself to an unjustified inference. §7 will summarize what I take myself to have shown.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Durham, 50 Old Elvet, Durham, DH1 3HN, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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