You Needn’t be Simple
Bailey (Andrew M.)
Source: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 43, No. 2 (July 2014): 145-160
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Here is an interesting question: what are we1? David Barnett has claimed that reflection on consciousness suggests an answer: we are simple. Barnett argues that the mereological simplicity of conscious beings — Simplicity — best explains the Datum: that no pair of persons can itself be conscious.
  2. In this paper, I offer two alternative explanations of the Datum. If either is correct, Barnett’s argument fails.
    1. First, there are not any such things as pairs of persons.
    2. Second, consciousness is maximal; no conscious thing is a proper part of another conscious thing.
  3. I conclude by showing how both moves comport with materialist theories of what we are2 and then apply them to another anti-materialist argument.

  1. The Simple Argument
  2. Elimination
  3. Maximality
  4. Conclusion

Author’s Conclusion
  1. Let us take stock. The Simple Argument poses a challenge to many theories of human nature.
  2. I have argued that it is unsound by presenting two materialist-friendly ways out, two explanations of the Datum that are compatible with materialism.
  3. Each has some degree of plausibility. One pairs nicely with chaste materialism, the other with promiscuous materialism.
  4. I have also argued that similar moves can be made in the case of the Thinking Parts Argument.
  5. I conclude that materialists of all stripes have reason to rejoice.


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