Chapter 3 of The Subjective Brain is up now, and it’s called Beware the Unicorn: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Inexistence.
In case you think you’ve heard it (and hated it) all before, pause and appreciate this: you haven’t. There’s new stuff peppered throughout. See, for instance, the brand-spanking-new section 7. Enjoy!
The conclusion of the Unicorn argument is incompatible with HOT and FOR. HOT and FOR derive much of their plausibility from Transitivity and Transparency, respectively. If the lesson of the Unicorn is something that we can live with, then perhaps we must either (1) learn to live without Transitivity and Transparency or (2) find a way of accepting Transitivity and Transparency while rejecting HOT and FOR. Option (1) is the best option. Option (2) is unwelcome because it is hard to see how Transitivity and Transparency donâ€™t just lead relatively directly to HOT and FOR, respectively. Further, a direct case for (1) can be made, and it is the aim of this section to make it. Resistance to abandonment of Transitivity and Transparency may be due to the fact that both theses are prima facie plausible and arguably useful. However, I think that their plausibility can be explained away and their utility can be had by much more plausible substitutes.
My case against Transitivity will have three parts: (1) its plausibility can be explained away, that is, its plausibility can be explained without supposing it true, (2) if Transitivity is supposed to be analytic, then a certain situation which is not obviously incoherent would be obviously incoherent, and (3) if Transitivity is not supposed to be analytic, but instead defended on grounds of theoretical utility, then it may just as well be replaced by what Iâ€™ll call Deflationary Transitivity.
Origami unicorn from Blade Runner. A non-existent representation of a non-existent.