Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 7, pp 1697–1721

If materialism is true, the United States is probably conscious

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11098-014-0387-8

Cite this article as:
Schwitzgebel, E. Philos Stud (2015) 172: 1697. doi:10.1007/s11098-014-0387-8

Abstract

If you’re a materialist, you probably think that rabbits are conscious. And you ought to think that. After all, rabbits are a lot like us, biologically and neurophysiologically. If you’re a materialist, you probably also think that conscious experience would be present in a wide range of naturally-evolved alien beings behaviorally very similar to us even if they are physiologically very different. And you ought to think that. After all, to deny it seems insupportable Earthly chauvinism. But a materialist who accepts consciousness in weirdly formed aliens ought also to accept consciousness in spatially distributed group entities. If she then also accepts rabbit consciousness, she ought to accept the possibility of consciousness even in rather dumb group entities. Finally, the United States would seem to be a rather dumb group entity of the relevant sort. If we set aside our morphological prejudices against spatially distributed group entities, we can see that the United States has all the types of properties that materialists tend to regard as characteristic of conscious beings.

Keywords

Metaphysics Consciousness Phenomenology Group mind Superorganism Collective consciousness Metaphilosophy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California at RiversideRiversideUSA