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Consciousness in Contemporary Science$
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A. J. Marcel and E. Bisiach

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198522379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198522379.001.0001

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Phenomenal experience and functionalism

Phenomenal experience and functionalism

(p.121) 6 Phenomenal experience and functionalism
Consciousness in Contemporary Science

Anthony J. Marcel

Oxford University Press

This chapter is about consciousness as phenomenal experience. Its contention is that reference to consciousness in psychological science is demanded, legitimate, and necessary. It is demanded since consciousness is a central (if not the central) aspect of mental life. It is legitimate since there are as reasonable grounds for identifying consciousness as there are for identifying other psychological constructs. It is necessary since it has explanatory value, and since there are grounds for positing that it has causal status. However, the relationship of certain aspects of consciousness to the functionalist approach, which currently dominates and unites natural science, is problematic. Those aspects discussed here are phenomenal experience and content. Either functionalism will be able to deal with the problems posed, or a purely functionalist psychology will be inadequate. Psychology without consciousness, without phenomenal experience or the personal level, may be biology or cybernetics, but it is not psychology.

Keywords:   consciousness, phenomenal experience, psychological science, functionalism, cybernetics

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