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None of These Problems Are That 'Hard'... or 'Easy': Making Progress on the Problems of Consciousness

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I argue that the traditional distinction between hard and easy problems rests on some inaccurate views about explanation in cognitive science. We should distinguish the question of what gives rise to a phenomenon (the generative question) from what that phenomenon is (the nature question). In many cases throughout the special sciences, an answer to the generative question will not shed significant light on the nature question, nor will it eliminate all conceptually possible alternatives. Meanwhile, the apparent easiness of explaining consciousness functions is due to an oversimplification of these problems akin to what is often called 'substitution bias'. Once these issues are clarified, we see that the hard problem is not so hard, the easy problems are not so easy, and the meta-problem is neither a traditional easy problem nor should we expect it to play a special role in illuminating the natural basis of consciousness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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