Beetles and consciousness

‘Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a “beetle”. No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle.’ — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Sec. 293.

Behaviourism: People say there’s a beetle inside the box.

Cosmopsychism: […]

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Twitter question threads (Oct 18–Mar 19)

I have recently taken to posting questions on Twitter, asking for recommendations, advice, and ideas on philosophy-related themes. The replies have been fascinating, and in order to preserve them I have compiled a list of the most popular questions here. Click on the blue bird icon in the top right of a tweet to open […]

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The trolley problem murder

Moriarty wants to kill Holmes but doesn’t want to run the risk of being convicted for murder. So he plans to get an innocent person to do the dirty work for him. Here’s what he does.

First, he persuades Holmes (with whom he is ostensibly on good terms) and three of his Baker Street […]

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Self-deception in Basel

On 25 October 2017 I gave a keynote presentation at a conference on Self-Deception: What It Is and What It Is Worth, at the University of Basel. Family commitments prevented me from attending in person, so I spoke via Skype — which worked very smoothly, even for the Q&A. Many thanks to the organizers Anne […]

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The Evil Trolley Problem

On Tuesday I posted a question on Twitter (prompted by a remark by @bowmanthebard). The question involved a version of the trolley problem, in which one has to choose between letting die and actively killing, but with the twist that the motive for choosing the active option is not to minimize loss of life […]

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Chart topper

In February 2016, my Philosophy Bites interview on the Hard Problem and the Illusion of Qualia reached #1 on the US Top Episodes Podcasts Charts, as reported in this tweet by Steve Wilson, Marketing Manger at Apple Podcasts.


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Inner speech in Granada

From 1st to 3rd of July 2015 I was in Granada, Spain, as an invited speaker at an interdisciplinary workshop on inner speech, jointly organized by the University of Granada and the University of the Basque Country. It a friendly and stimulating event, with some fascinating presentations and discussions. I talked about the function of […]

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Something that it is like to be

‘[F]undamentally an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism — something it is like for the organism.’

So writes Thomas Nagel in his famous 1974 paper ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ (p.436). It is a compelling thought […]

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Is the Hard Problem an illusion?

Note: This is a revised version of a letter I sent to The Guardian, responding to a letter by Philip Goff, which itself commented on an article on consciousness by Oliver Burkeman. The letter was deemed too long for publication in the paper, so I am posting it here instead. It is written for […]

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Philosophy Bites interview on consciousness

Over the summer I recorded an interview for the ‘Philosophy Bites’ podcast series, created by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds. Nigel and I talked about the hard problem of consciousness and my own approach to it, which treats qualia as illusory. You can listen to the podcast below.

Another Philosophy Bites podcast on […]

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