Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

Emergence and panpsychism

The paper examines an argument sometimes used to support panpsychism. Qualities of complex objects are explained in two ways. First, as in the case of mass, wholes have some characteristic because their parts do. Second, as in the case of liquidity, characteristics of wholes are not characteristics of their parts but ‘emerge’ intelligibly from characteristics of those parts. We lack an intelligible story as to how conscious qualities could emerge in assemblages of parts that themselves lack such qualities. Therefore, either the fundamental particles (or some of them) have conscious qualities or consciousness is wholly mysterious. The paper calls this line of reasoning into question and suggests that its plausibility rests on largely unexamined assumptions that should be rejected.