WEBSITE(S)| Robert J. Howell | Philpapers

Although I have interests across the board and have published in a number of fields, the majority of my work has been on issues surrounding consciousness, subjectivity and the metaphysics of mind.  My most recent book, Self-Knowledge and the Elusive Subject (Oxford University Press, 2023) attempts to explain how we can have cogito-level self-awareness despite the fact that we do not directly perceive the subject of experience.  Before that, Consciousness and the Limits of Objectivity (OUP, 2013) developed a version of subjective physicalism according to which everything is physical but some physical states cannot be fully grasped unless they are occupied in a certain way. 

I currently have several projects on the burner.  First, I am interested in continuing my investigation into the nature of subjectivity by looking into the nature of the self.  I’m currently inclined to think that conscious states require us to posit a more robust subject of experience than is often countenanced.  Second, I am interested in the general commitments of monism in philosophy of mind.  While there has been a lot of discussion about the nature of physicalism and the physical, there has been less focus on the question of what is required of monism—a more general type of view that would include both idealism and physicalism, but would exclude substance and property dualism.  Torin Alter and I are currently working on a manuscript on this question.  Finally, I am interested in the philosophy and ethics of technology.  It is clear that our technological projects—from social media to artificial intelligence—are leaping ahead of our careful thought about their impacts.  I’m convinced philosophy has an important role in correcting some of the mistakes we have made and in helping us avoid potentially devastating pitfalls in the future.

Research Areas

Philosophy of Mind; Epistemology; Metaphysics ; Ethics of Technology


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