"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.

Philosophical Studies. Online First DOI: 10.1007/s11098-011-9748-8. 27 May.