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Naturalism and subjectivity

Lost in phenospace

Questioning the claims of popular neurophilosophy

Jan Slaby, Jan-Christoph Heilinger

pp. 83-100

We develop a two-pronged critique of a recent position statement of radical neurophilosophy, courtesy of Thomas Metzinger, who is but the most outspoken of a motley crowd of naturalist neurophiliacs. First, we argue against Metzinger’s metaphysical stance – which amounts to a thorough neurocentric subjectivism. We claim that the position is self-defeating and utterly at odds with a sensible understanding of scientific world-disclosure. Second, we illustrate the strangeness of Metzinger’s neuro-ethical position: The announced shift from actions to ‘states of consciousness’ as the unit of ethical concern makes little sense. Moreover, we reject Metzinger’s claim to the effect that progress in the neurosciences creates novel and urgent ethical concerns calling for a whole new approach to ethics. Overall, this paper is an exercise in critical neuroscience.

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