yesterday i posted this on twitter. didn't think of doing it here coz it's a rather simple point. basically i think some panpsychists have been making claims that i find less than intellectually honest, and i have made a complaint to SEP like i said i would. SEP responded promptly and made the author(s) change the text, so that's that.
the claim concerns whether panpsychism is taken seriously by neuroscientists these days. to my mind the obvious answer is no. but there is a tricky sense in which if you can find a couple of neuroscientists who support the view, the positive claim is logically satisfied
this was exactly what Dave Chalmers said on FB, when i brought up the issue in public first. yesterday i referred to the exchange as 'low rhetorics'. but i was promptly told that Dave was actually also part of the editorial process that lead to the change of the text. so he probably didn't intend for it to be a very serious or strong defense. i made a note of clarification and apologies on twitter then.
that said, i didn't know it back then. the point was something said in public. and others e.g. Neil Levy joined in to defend it. together with the lack of response from the author (Philip Goff; turns out he was busy; maybe i should have waited longer), i went ahead and shot SEP the email. just as expected, there wasn't much argument about the case.
so there's little to be surly about. but there's a small part of the argument that is perhaps interesting. so Dave's point was if X is taken seriously by a few members of Y, it is *logically* fine to say X is taken seriously by Ys. but many things are logical to say, yet silly, e.g. 'if 2+2=9, then I am a better philosopher than Dave Chalmers'. certainly for a place like SEP, we'd want the content to be not just logical but also non-silly.
in particular i suggested that it may make sense for one to at least restrict the statement to cases when X is taken seriously by 50% of members of Y or more. Dave and others suggested maybe that's too high a cutoff. perhaps 20% would pass the mark for non-silliness (or something like that).
but i'm not sure. let's say 20% of members of Y take X seriously. so we say 'X is taken seriously by Y'. but it also means 80% of Ys do NOT take X seriously. so certainly, it is just as logical to say 'X is not taken seriously by Y'. so we should allow people to say 'X is taken seriously by Y, and X is also not taken seriously by Y'. or we can say that 'X is taken seriously by Y; the negation of this statement is also true'. or: 'it is both true and untrue that X is taken seriously by Y'.
that's just ..... silly.
but anyway, silliness aside, i don't really feel so strongly about it; mostly just brought up the above for fun. in large part becoz i think it is already a lost cause. some authors will find other rhetorics to promote the view, as they already do. an easy way would be so say the view is endorsed by some 'leading neuroscientist'. again, leading is a pretty subjective thing. there is a sense in which e.g. Christof Koch is a 'leading' neuroscientist, just as Christof likes to unilaterally profess that his preferred theory is 'dominant', 'leading', etc. there's not much to do about it other than to shrug. i too think those old Crick and Koch papers are important and positively influential. but i am not sure many of us think that Christof these days still represents the field we're in. so the situation may be a bit like citing Eccles to say that some of the most accomplished neuroscientists (Nobel laureate no less) were dualists.
yes, yes, you can say that. there are only so many complaint emails i would care to write, and not all editors are reasonable. but why would you want to do that? if you have to cheat this much to promote your view it probably just isn't worth promoting or having, is it?
ok enough about sociology. i may eventually write a post about other problems of panpsychism too. most of us don't like it for scientific reasons, but over the past months i did dig into the philosophy a bit. but i must say, there i'm not so impressed either.....
ps - someone suggested that there may be a difference in standards between science and philo re: what count as being taken seriously. i think that's right, philosophers are meant to consider far-fetched ideas more carefully; that's part of their job. i ran some twitter polls which seem to confirm that too. but if that's so, they should still be careful in saying that certain *scientific* discipline takes their ideas seriously. that's not how it works for us. if we feel misrepresented, it will just get harder for us scientists to take them seriously. and this may be hurting not just panpsychism but philosophy the discipline as a whole.