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Objections to Pokropski's proposal to marry functional mechanistic explanation with phenomenology


Mechanisms and Consciousness (Pokropski, 2021) is the latest book-length instalment in the ongoing dialogue over the methodological marriage between phenomenology and naturalised cognitive science. This is an excellent work which makes an innovative and fruitful contribution to the literature. What is novel about the book is its detailed consideration of a topic that has garnered much attention in cognitive science and analytic philosophy over the last 70 years, but which remains (comparatively) understudied in the phenomenological movement: explanation. As the current special issue shows, the explanatory value of phenomenology and the question of explanatory integration is a vexed topic that affords many diverse lines of inquiry, going well beyond the worn dictum that phenomenology is descriptive and not explanatory. The detailed discussion of functional and mechanistic forms of explanation in Pokropski’s work is highly valuable. In this response to Pokropski’s book, I provide a bare, abridged outline of the work. I also offer three criticisms with the aim of opening critical exchange about this important book.

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