Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies presents a course of lectures by Timothy Bayne, a British-Australian philosopher specializing in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. The course was held at the Philosophy Faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2022.
The aim of this series of lectures is to introduce you to some of the many problems (and possible solutions) associated with our knowledge of other minds.
We begin with the traditional ‘problem of other minds’, which is concerned with our knowledge of the experiences and mental states of ordinary human beings. In these cases, we ordinarily assume that knowledge is within our reach, and the main question is whether that assumption can be justified and if so how.
We then turn to cases in which our access to the conscious states of other creatures is insecure and problematic. When it comes to contested cases, it’s arguably that we don’t really know what kinds of conscious states (if any) the individual has. One set of contested cases involves infants and individuals who are nonresponsive due to serious brain damage; another set of contested cases concerns non-human animals; and a third set of contested cases concerns AI systems and neural organoids. Some argue that we should take an axiomatic approach to these cases, while others argue that we can extrapolate from ordinary forms of consciousness in a theory-free manner. Bayne suggests that both of those approaches are problematic, and defends instead a natural kind approach to contested case.
We finish by focusing on questions about the contents of consciousness, and the issue of whether we can identify what it might be like to be a certain kind of creature.
Content of lectures: