, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 877–883

Is the United States Phenomenally Conscious? Reply to Kammerer


DOI: 10.1007/s11406-016-9725-8

Cite this article as:
Schwitzgebel, E. Philosophia (2016) 44: 877. doi:10.1007/s11406-016-9725-8


In Schwitzgebel (Philosophical Studies 172:1697-1721, 2015) I argued that the United States, considered as a concrete entity with people as some or all of its parts, meets plausible materialistic criteria for consciousness. Kammerer (Philosophia 43:1047-1057, 2015) defends materialism against this seemingly unintuitive conclusion by means of an “anti-nesting principle” according to which group entities cannot be literally phenomenally conscious if they contain phenomenally conscious subparts (such as people) who stand in a certain type of functional relation to the group as a whole. I raise three concerns about Kammerer’s view. First, it’s not clear that it excludes the literal phenomenal consciousness of actually existing groups of people, as one might hope such a principle would do. Second, Kammerer’s principle appears to make the literal phenomenal consciousness of a group depend in an unintuitive way on internal structural details of individuals within the group. Third, the principle appears to be ad hoc.


Consciousness Group consciousness Collective consciousness Group minds Functionalism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California at RiversideRiversideUSA

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