Consciousness Science: A Science of What?

I am happy to announce that the title of this post is the title of the first book to be officially accepted in the Springer book series Studies in Brain and Mind under its new editor-in-chief and editorial board. I expect the book to be out later this year or next year at the latest.

In the book, Elizabeth Irvine argues for a kind of consciousness eliminativism:  there are serious enough methodological problems with the so-called scientific study of consciousness that “consciousness” is not a viable scientific concept. It’s a novel and provocative argument that deserves attention.

There are several other exciting book projects in the pipeline.  Meanwhile, new manuscripts and book proposals are welcome.


  1. Glenn Carruthers

    Indeed, Liz Irvine is a real talent and although her conclusions certainly are broadly Dennettian in spirit (well in previous papers anyway) there is *no* sense in which she simply recycles old arguments…

  2. Eric, you might take a look at her paper “Signal detection theory, the exclusion failure paradigm and weak consciousness — Evidence for the access/phenomenal distinction?”. E. Irvine / Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2009) 551–560.

    In a nutshell, her conclusion is that finding evidence of phenomenal consciousness without cognitive access is more difficult than imagined. I guess this supports her view that “consciousness” as a scientific concept might better be chucked. But this ignores the scientific approach that treats consciousness as the natural consequence of neuronal activity in a brain mechanism with a particular kind of structure and dynamics.

    Contra her conclusion, in the seeing-more-than-is-there (SMTT) experiments, a vivid phenomenal/conscious experience is reported without cognitive access in the sense of perceiving/detecting a corresponding stimulus.

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