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Explaining why this body gives rise to me qua subject instead of someone else: an argument for classical substance dualism


Since something cannot be conscious without being a conscious subject, a complete physicalist explanation of consciousness must resolve an issue first raised by Thomas Nagel, namely to explain why a particular mass of atoms that comprises my body gives rise to me as conscious subject, rather than someone else. In this essay, I describe a thought-experiment that suggests that physicalism lacks the resources to address Nagel's question and seems to pose a counter-example to any form of non-reductive physicalism relying on the mind–body supervenience thesis, which would include William Hasker's emergent dualism. Since the particular thought-experiment does not pose any problems for classical substance dualism (CSD) and since the problem, as I call it, of explaining subjectivity is the central problem of mind, I conclude that CSD is better supported than any form of non-reductive physicalism.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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