Philosophy TV Managing Editors

David Killoren (Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University)

Jonathan Lang (Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Justin Sytsma and Adam Arico

Justin Sytsma and Adam Arico on folk intuitions about phenomenal experience.

Note: This is the final entry in a series of PTV discussions involving contributors to Machery and O’Neill (eds.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy (2014)

Sytsma and Arico begin with an overview of empirical investigations of folk intuitions about phenomenal consciousness. Then (15:03) they consider the landmark 2010 study by Sytsma and Machery, which produced evidence that the folk are largely willing to ascribe perceptual experience (“seeing red”) to a simple robot, but unwilling to ascribe bodily sensation (“feeling pain”) to the robot. (Interestingly, the same study also probed philosophers’ responses, which turned out to differ from those of the folk.) After that, they discuss (20:15) whether the Agency Model developed by Arico and colleagues can adequately account for the Sytsma and Machery results, and consider a range of other interpretations and follow-up studies. They conclude (53:58) by considering possibilities for future empirical work on folk views of phenomenal consciousness.

Related works

by Sytsma:
“Revisiting the Valence Account” (2013)
with Machery: “Two Conceptions of Subjective Experience” (2010)
with Machery: “How to Study Folk Intuitions about Phenomenal Consciousness” (2008)

by Arico:
with Phelan and Nichols: “Thinking Things and Feeling Things: On an Alleged Discontinuity in Folk Metaphysics of Mind” (2013)
with Fiala, Goldberg, and Nichols: “The Folk Psychology of Consciousness” (2011)

See also:

Buckwalter and Phelan, with commentary from Sytsma, at the 2012 Online Consciousness Conference
Knobe and Prinz, “Intuitions about Consciousness” (2008)