"Consciousness and the Superfunctionality Claim."
The superfunctionality claim is that phenomenal experiences
are more than functional (objective, causal) relations. This is one
of the most widely used but least attacked claims in the
anti-physicalist literature on consciousness. Coupled with one form
of structuralism, the view that science only explains functional
relations, the superfunctionality claim entails that science will not
explain phenomenal experience. The claim is therefore essential to
many anti-physicalist arguments. I identify an open question argument
for the superfunctionality claim that expresses an intuition deserving
of explanation. Using the experience of fear as an example, I show
that this intuition cannot distinguish between whether conscious
experiences are more than functional relations, or whether instead
they are just very complex (including, constituted by very complex
functional relations). I give reasons to suspect that the latter is
more likely the case. This renders physicalism safe from the
superfunctionality claim. This also provides a challenge to the
proponents of the superfunctionality claim: they should explain why
paradigmatically mysterious phenomenal experiences are correlated with
extensive and complex physical correlates.
Online First DOI: 10.1007/s11098-011-9748-8. 27 May.