Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

A Posteriori Russellian Physicalism: A Hybrid Solution to the Meta-problem of Consciousness

22 November 2023  |  15:00  |  Seminari de Filosofia UB


The meta-problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why we think there is a hard problem of consciousness. The meta-problem promises to help us solve the hard problem. Type-B physicalism and Russellian physicalism promises to solve the meta-problem while allowing for a metaphysics of mind that avoids dualism, which is hard to defend, and illusionism which is hard to accept. I first argue that both strategies fail to fulfil this promise. Then, I introduce a new hybrid view, a posteriori Russellian physicalism, and show that it can succeed where other types of physicalism fail. The strategy relies on the metaphysical framework of Russellian physicalism to give a “beefed-up” account of the phenomenal concept strategy. On this view, the hard problem arises because we think about consciousness via conceptually isolated phenomenal concepts that reveal the categorical nature of the physical and we think about the physical via concepts that hide this categorical nature. A posteriori RP shows that physicalists can respond to the meta-problem while avoiding the more extreme positions in the literature.