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Conscious thought and the cognitive fine-tuning problem.

Goff, P. (2017) 'Conscious thought and the cognitive fine-tuning problem.', Philosophical quarterly., 68 (270). pp. 98-122.


Cognitive phenomenalism is the view that occurrent thoughts are identical with, or constituted of, cognitive phenomenology. This paper raises a challenge for (standard forms of) this view: the cognitive fine-tuning problem. In broad brushstrokes the difficulty is that, for the cognitive phenomenalist, there is a distinction between three kinds of fact: cognitive phenomenal facts, sensory phenomenal facts, and functional facts. This distinction gives rise to the challenge of explaining why, in actuality, these three phenomena tend to be matched together in ways that respect norms of rationality. Various solutions to this problem are explored – divine intervention, value-involving laws of nature, or basic capacities to respond to reasons – all of which are wildly at odds with naturalism. If cognitive phenomenalists want their view to be consistent with naturalism, as many do, they must come up with a naturalistic solution to the cognitive fine-tuning problem.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Philosophical Quarterly following peer review. The version of record: Goff, P. (2017). Conscious thought and the cognitive fine-tuning problem. Philosophical Quarterly 68(270): 98-122, is available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:01 May 2019
Date of first online publication:08 August 2017
Date first made open access:08 August 2020

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