If I understand the basic idea, naturalistic dualism holds that consciousness:
- Is not a reducible phenomenon
- Cannot be explained in terms of function
- Is fundamentally different from anything physical or any function of anything physical, and is therefore a qualitatively different entity from anything else in the known universe
Here are some sections from Chalmers paper. See if this makes sense:
Purely physical explanation is well-suited to the explanation of physical structures, explaining macroscopic structures in terms of detailed microstructural constituents; and it provides a satisfying explanation of the performance of functions, accounting for these functions in terms of the physical mechanisms that perform them. This is because a physical account can entail the facts about structures and functions: once the internal details of the physical account are given, the structural and functional properties fall out as an automatic consequence. But the structure and dynamics of physical processes yield only more structure and dynamics, so structures and functions are all we can expect these processes to explain. The facts about experience cannot be an automatic consequence of any physical account, as it is conceptually coherent that any given process could exist without experience. Experience may arise from the physical, but it is not entailed by the physical.I don't get how it is "conceptually coherent" that any given process could exist without experience. The process that gives rise to experience cannot exist without giving rise to experience.
Look, we can't explain how consciousness works. But every single phenomenon that we now understand in physical terms was once thought to be some utterly mysterious, qualitatively different stuff, usually couched in supernatural terms. The history of science is the account of the majority of people thinking that phenomenon from lightning bolts to disease was some mysterious result of supernatural workings. A few brave, skeptical people thought, "Wait a minute...maybe there's a reasonable explanation for that." And then they did the hard work to try to figure it out.
Now Chalmers has a response to this:
It is tempting to note that all sorts of puzzling phenomena have eventually turned out to be explainable in physical terms. But each of these were problems about the observable behavior of physical objects, coming down to problems in the explanation of structures and functions. Because of this, these phenomena have always been the kind of thing that a physical account might explain, even if at some points there have been good reasons to suspect that no such explanation would be forthcoming. The tempting induction from these cases fails in the case of consciousness, which is not a problem about physical structures and functions. The problem of consciousness is puzzling in an entirely different way. An analysis of the problem shows us that conscious experience is just not the kind of thing that a wholly reductive account could succeed in explaining.This is if you buy his argument that conscious experience is not the kind of thing that can be explained in terms of physical structures and their function. Which I don't.
This seems to me to be a very counterproductive agenda, especially to a scientist, and especially to a scientist bent on trying to figure out how the mind works.