The Instigator
asyetundefined
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
SuperPerfundo
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Irreducible subjectivity and consciousness

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
asyetundefined
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,449 times Debate No: 7757
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

asyetundefined

Con

Thomas Nagel, John Searle, and Jerry Fodor all postulate the notion that consciousness is 'irreducibly-subjective' - that is, consciousness has a property of privileged-access in that experience is decidedly or necessarily First-Person and cannot not be so.
I disagree.
I suggest that the 'subjectivists' of consciousness, et al, are wrong.
PRO will take up the position that consciousness is indeed irreducibly-subjective;
I await a great argument.
Let the contentions be raised!
SuperPerfundo

Pro

I'm not really sure where this debate is going exactly, so I'm just going to lay out a couple of basic arguments at what I think you are looking for. Since its your debate, I'll let you define the terms.

Consciousness is irreducibly subjective because we have no way of verifying our perception with the 'real world'. Our only interaction with the world, in fact our very state of being, is sensory experience. Since sensory experience is fallible and subjective, we have no way of accessing any kind of objective reality or consciousness. Essentially, we have no way of stepping outside of our individual world view, making it impossible to attain any objectivity.

Thanks. Looking forward to a good response.
Debate Round No. 1
asyetundefined

Con

Thank you immensely for joining the debate! Your response was fairly close to what could be expected, Descartes and Husserl would be most proud! On with the debate!

As I noticed in the comments, many people are not quite sure exactly is meant by 'Irreducible Subjectivity of Consciousness', so a slight bit of clarification is in order.
Consciousness is the "I" that each of us thinks of ourselves as. Irreducible Subjectivity has implications two-fold: (i) If consciousness is Subjective that means that it is ONLY your own - 'privileged access' - that is, your experiences are always your own, no one else can EVER feel exactly what you feel; (ii) Irreducibility of consciousness means that consciousness cannot be reduced to another sort of phenomena, properties, states, levels, what-have-you; consciousness is a thing-in-itself.

PRO suggests that consciousness IS irreducibly subjective for the following reasons: there is no way of verifying external experience, that is, the 'Real World' is actually unknowable since our sensory-capabilities are highly fallible - thus I cannot know either what other people's consciousness' could be, what constitutes them, or even if they exist - leaving one's own consciousness highly subjective and reducible to nothing. This view, set out by PRO, is perhaps best called the 'classical' view of the mind, and I have several objections.

I concede the point that our senses can indeed be deceived - I can hallucinate or be tricked; however I feel that this proposition does not necessarily entail inescapable skepticism which would also result in irreducible subjectivity for the following reason: RELIABILITY of experience. Although I can be tricked - most of the time my sensory perceptions are lucid and reliable. Although this does not immediately give us knowledge that an external world exists, it lays the foundations for knowing as-such. If our sensory experiences are even slightly reliable we can begin to verify science; we can verify scientific claims through simple, reliable, observation. Thus, although our perceptions themselves are fallible, the body of science we lay the foundations for through observation allow us to form objectivity.
At this point it should be conditionally accepted that Objectivity is possible which allows to advance.
Science, once established, does not need continual human verification to create Objectivity; Gravity continues to remain constant even without humans experiencing it, light travels continuously at the speed-of-light, and particles continue to behave in predictable ways - Objectivity has been established through only a small window -a snippet- of reliable sense-datum.
If we accept (at least temporarily) the points I have made I will also concede it does not yet remove the irreducible subjectivity of consciousness. So why do I suggest that I can remove it? Simple: functional equivalency. The "I" that I am is my consciousness - but its existence, or nature is not that mysterious, consciousness is a phenomena, an outcome, a result of what goes on in the brain; that is, the operations of the brain create the mind, create consciousness. To claim that consciousness is NOT an outcome or phenomena resulting from brain activity (as PRO could indeed do) creates a dilemma for the claimee. The claimee creates a problem of interaction; that is, how does a consciousness (the "I") connect to the body? If consciousness is NOT part of the body then it should be impossible to get drunk or get Alzheimer's disease since they are bodily things affecting consciousness! Thus one should likely concede that consciousness emerges from brain activity. If consciousness emerges from the brain then studying the brain gives us access to what creates your experiences (the neuronal interaction), which allows us insight into your experiences - which through extension removes Irreducible-Subjectivity, since I can explain what creates consciousness and what occurs within it.
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SuperPerfundo

Pro

SuperPerfundo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
asyetundefined

Con

Argument carries...
SuperPerfundo

Pro

SuperPerfundo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Sedylitz 8 years ago
Sedylitz
I really wished PRO would have kept up the debate...would have made a GREAT one!
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
"PRO will take up the position that consciousness is indeed irreducibly-subjective"
He's psychic!
Posted by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
ALTO2OSU:
You make a good point but are mistaken in claiming that your view is the accepted scientific outlook - when in fact it is quite far from! Within Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Philosophy of the Mind, there are a number of great theories in regards to consciousness and subjectivity - your view, which seems to be an attempt at mediation, is one of the many possible theories that needs to be expanded and defended.
Posted by Nail_Bat 8 years ago
Nail_Bat
I did a search on "Irreducible subjectivity" and this debate was the third link. I believe that means some clarification is in order.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Having some trouble pinning this down, esp. since modern psychologists have actually distinguished between the two and say that they exist simultaneously. You desperately need to define "irreducibly subjective," as to argue one or the other from a modern perspective is problematic.

Ex: modern psychologists claim that our objective consciousness is our sensory perception, which can possibly be shared by many, while our subjective consciousness is our interpretation of those perceptions as well as our individual experience of them, which may not be replicated. In other words, we have both at different stages of consciousness...It's phases, not one or the other.
Posted by mongeese 8 years ago
mongeese
Maybe you should add some definitions... because I have no clue what that even meant.
Posted by Puck 8 years ago
Puck
You are not exactly clear on your intent. Nagel at least argues non physicalism for consciousness, is that what you mean?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sedylitz 8 years ago
Sedylitz
asyetundefinedSuperPerfundoTied
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Vote Placed by asyetundefined 8 years ago
asyetundefined
asyetundefinedSuperPerfundoTied
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