The Combination Problem: Russellian Monism, Panpsychism, and Panqualityism

Cody Turner, College of William and Mary


Russellian monism is a metaphysical theory about the relationship between consciousness and the physical world that has been increasingly discussed in analytic philosophy as a solution to the mind-body problem. Constitutive panpsychism and constitutive panqualityism are the two most attractive versions of Russellian monism. This paper considers a recent debate between Sam Coleman and Kevin Morris that features these two versions. Coleman argues that ‘the combination problem’ for panpsychism poses an insurmountable challenge for the view and then goes on to endorse panqualityism. Morris, in response to Coleman, defends panpsychism and its potential ability to solve the combination problem by raising different objections to Coleman’s argument. In this paper, I contend that while Morris’ objections successfully undermine Coleman’s argument against panpsychism, they fail to undermine a similar argument against panpsychism that I put forth. The discussion of my argument against panpsychism (and how Morris would response to it) ultimately serves to elucidate the importance of the concept of unexperienced qualitative properties in the debate between panpsychism and panqualityism as the most promising version of Russellian monism. I offer convincing reasons for thinking that qualitative properties can be instantiated in the absence of conscious subjects. These reasons, taken in conjunction with the claim that subjects cannot constitute further subjects because points of view are essentially discrete, form the basis of a positive argument according to which panqualityism should be favored over panpsychism.