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The many-worlds theory of consciousness

List, Christian (2020) The many-worlds theory of consciousness. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This exploratory paper discusses a somewhat heterodox metaphysical theory of consciousness: the “many-worlds theory”. The theory gives up the common assumption that all conscious experiences are features of one and the same world and asserts instead that different conscious subjects are associated with different “first-personally centred worlds”. We can think of these as distinct and “parallel” first-personal realizers of a shared “third-personal world”. This is combined with a form of modal realism, according to which different subjects’ first-personally centred worlds are all real, though only one of them is present for each subject. The relationship between first-personally centred and third-personal worlds can in turn be captured in a levelled ontology, where the first-personal level is subvenient and the third-personal supervenient. The described setup is intended to capture the irreducibly subjective nature of conscious experience without lapsing into solipsism. The paper also looks at some existing scientific theories of consciousness, such as integrated information theory, through the lens of the present metaphysical theory and discusses its implications for the hard problem of consciousness.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
List, Christian
Keywords: Consciousness, subjectivity, experience, modal realism, first-personal vs third-personal facts, hard and easy problems, levelled ontology, integrated information theory, presentism, indexicality
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Consciousness
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Christian List
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2020 00:05
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2020 00:05
Item ID: 17014
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Consciousness
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 18 March 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17014

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