Maximality and Consciousness
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 150-158
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In "Merricks (Trenton) - Against the Doctrine of Microphysical Supervenience", I oppose the following:
      Microphysical Supervenience1 (MS): Necessarily, if atoms A1 through An compose an object that exemplifies intrinsic qualitative properties Q1 through Qn, then atoms like A1 through An (in all their respective intrinsic qualitative properties), related to one another by all the same [causal and spatiotemporal] relations as A1 through An, compose an object that exemplifies Q1 through Qn.
  2. My argument against MS can be summarized as follows.
    1. Being conscious is intrinsic. Suppose P, a conscious human being, "shrinks" by losing an atom from her left index finger. Suppose that at the very first instant at which P has lost that atom, the atoms that then compose her remain just as they were (intrinsically and in all their spatiotemporal and causal interrelations) immediately before "the loss." This implies – assuming MS for reductio – that, just as those atoms compose a conscious object (P) after the loss, so they composed a conscious object before the loss. Name that latter object 'the atom-complement'.
    2. The pre-loss atom-complement is not identical with P. (Proof: P had a part, the lost atom, that the atom-complement lacked.) So before amputation, if MS is true, there were two conscious entities, P and the atom-complement, sitting in P's chair and wearing P's shirt. Indeed, similar reasoning shows that, if MS is true, there were many, many such entities. But there was exactly one. So MS is false.
  3. I shall here address objections to the above argument raised by "Sider (Ted) - Maximality and Microphysical Supervenience".

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