Panqualityism as a Solution to the Mind-Body Problem

Hello!  My name is Cody Turner and I am a philosophy major here at the college.  I am very excited to start working on my honor’s thesis this summer in the form of an Honor’s fellowship.  This opportunity would not have been possible without the generosity of friends, family, and alums.  The research that I am doing will be building off of the research I did as a part of my Monroe scholarship.

For my honor’s thesis I plan to study the position in philosophy of mind known as panqualityism with the specific intention of examining how the position is related to issues in philosophy of perception.

Panqualityism is a metaphysical thesis that addresses the mind-body problem.  The mind-body problem, one of the most fundamental issues in philosophy, is the question of how consciousness is related to the brain.  The problem is so fundamental because it seeks to understand how human minds fit into the physical world.  

The two most common solutions to the mind-body problem are physicalism and dualism.   This past summer I researched an alternative view to these common solutions called panpsychism.  According to panpsychism, fundamental physical entities are embedded with minds.  In my research paper, I argued that panpsychism fails because tiny minds cannot ‘combine’ to yield larger minds.  This issue facing the view is known as the combination problem. Panqualityism is a position a lot like panpsychism that avoids the combination problem.  Essentially, panqualitiysm denies that fundamental physical entities are embedded with minds, but maintains that said entities are embedded with specific mental properties.  As has bee noted, it is my intention to study the position with the specific focus of examining how it is related to issues in philosophy of perception. 

Ultimately, I want my honor’s thesis to accomplish two main goals: (i) explain what kind of perceptual theory panqualityism entails and (ii) make an argument for or against panqualityism based on this explanation.   In order to accomplish these goals, I will obviously have to do a lot of research in philosophy of perception.  I plan to begin this research by reading the following books: Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction by William Fish,  Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception by Alva Noe.  In conjunction with this research, I will also have to seriously examine panqualityism’s contentious claim that mental properties can exist in physical entities without having minds.  Examining this claim will entail reading the contemporary literature on higher-order theories of consciousness and mental representation.  I plan to begin this research by reading the following titles: Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology by Rocco J. Gennaro,  Eden benumbed: A Critique of Russellian Panqualityism by Itay Shani, Subjective Consciousness: A Self-Representational Theory by Uriah Kriegel, and Consciousness in the Physical World: Perspectives on Russellian Monism by Torin Alter and Yujin Nagasawa.