Ontological Justice for Consciousness Anton Kuznetsov (Moscow Center For Consciousness Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation) C18
There is injustice in regarding consciousness. It is manifested in the asymmetry of how we prove the existence of the physical and existence of consciousness. Causal role or causal power is the main condition of existence in the naturalistic ontology. It is a causal criterion. Both the causal criterion and principle of causal closure seems to exclude the existence of consciousness. Other ontological criteria are in use for consciousness. They are irrelevant elsewhere in the naturalistic ontology. The infallibility of introspection, the transcendental status of consciousness, the specific nature of phenomenal concepts. They are problematic. Introspection could be inadequate, in different cases, the specific nature of phenomenal concepts is faced by the strategy of phenomenal concept or relies on introspection, or incoherent, the transcendental argument is a non-starter. The causal criterion can give a basis for the existence of a particular physical entity. But that criterion itself is based on the existence of physical entities in general and doesn't tell on what basis they exist. I think It is a realistic attitude towards the external world. There is no causal or logical argument for it, only argument from common sense. And it leads to the difference between the existence of particular physical entities and physical entities at all. I call it the physical in particular and the physical in general. It could be applied to consciousness as well. When someone rejects the existence of consciousness she regards it as consciousness in particular. And it could work for every particular physical entity. It's always possible to be mistaken about existence of the physical in particular but it's impossible to be mistaken about existence of the physical in general. To restore ontological justice towards consciousness we should say that if It's always possible to be mistaken about the existence of consciousness in particular that doesn't imply inexistence of consciousness in general. The main point is when I want to prove the existence of consciousness, I don't want to prove that I or someone else have this or that conscious state. What I want to prove is the very existence of consciousness in general. But what I do is trying to prove it by using irrelevant criteria or regarding consciousness as consciousness in particular. If I show that particular physical entity doesn't exist although causal criterion is satisfied it doesn't prove the inexistence of the physical and inadequacy of causal criterion as well. If I show that particular conscious state doesn't exist although there is an introspective knowledge it doesn't prove the inexistence of consciousness and inadequacy of introspection as well. I feel pain and I'm able to say it because at least one time I was right that I felt pain although now I could make a mistake. Common sense defends the existence of consciousness in the same way as the existence of the physical. If you reject the existence of consciousness then you must reject the existence of the physical. And this is ontological justice for consciousness.