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Patricia Churchland, , . The Hornswoggle Problem
1996, Journal of Consciousness Studies (3):5-6: 402-408.
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller

Abstract: Beginning with Thomas Nagel, various philosophers have proposed setting conscious experience apart from all other problems of the mind as ‘the most difficult problem-. When critically examined, the basis for this proposal reveals itself to be unconvincing and counter-productive. Use of our current ignorance as a premise to determine what we can never discover is one common logical flaw. Use of ‘I-cannot-imagine- arguments is a related flaw. When not much is known about a domain of phenomena, our inability to imagine a mechanism is a rather uninteresting psychological fact about us, not an interesting metaphysical fact about the world. Rather than worrying too much about the meta-problem of whether or not consciousness is uniquely hard, I propose we get on with the task of seeing how far we get when we address neurobiologically the problems of mental phenomena.

Comment: This paper can be best used to frame the contemporary debate over the 'hard problem' of consciousness. The paper neatly expresses the relevant ideas and criticisms in a brief, easy manner. The paper is also a prime example of an eliminativist response to the hard problem. This paper is highly accessible for students.

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