Abstract for Kornblith’s talk

Quite a number of philosophers have discussed features of the first-person perspective that might seem to create problems for naturalism. According to some, it is qualitative character which creates a problem for the naturalist. According to others, it is consciousness itself which is the source of the real problem for naturalism. And according to still others, it is the fact that we are capable of thinking of ourselves from a first-person point of view which naturalists cannot capture. All of these suggestions create interesting problems for naturalism, and they have all been deservedly discussed at length. But I will not be discussing any of these problems here, for in this lecture, I am not interested in the ways in which the first-person perspective might create problems for naturalism. I am interested, instead, in how it is that naturalism creates problems for the first-person perspective.

In my view, the first-person perspective gets far more respect than it deserves. There are serious problems with the view which the first-person perspective affords, and naturalism nicely brings these out. The first-person perspective needs to be taken down a notch, and naturalism is well-placed to do the job. Or so I will argue.