Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 11, pp 2991–3017 | Cite as

Panpsychism, intuitions, and the great chain of being

  • Luke RoelofsEmail author
  • Jed Buchanan


Some philosophical theories of consciousness imply consciousness in things we would never intuitively think are conscious—most notably, panpsychism implies that consciousness is pervasive, even outside complex brains. Is this a reductio ab absurdum for such theories, or does it show that we should reject our original intuitions? To understand the stakes of this question as clearly as possible, we analyse the structured pattern of intuitions that panpsychism conflicts with (what we call the ‘Great Chain of Being’ intuition). We consider a variety of ways that the tension between this intuition and panpsychism (or other counter-intuitive theories) could be resolved, ranging from complete rejection of the theory to complete dismissal of the intuition, but argue in favour of more nuanced approaches which try to reconcile the two.


Panpsychism Intuitions Consciousness Other minds Animal ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Philosophie IIRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.CanberraAustralia

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