Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Amy Kind

Reader 2

Brian Keeley

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© 2019 Connor C Bowen


The purpose of this thesis is to explore a thought-provoking consequence of the functionalist theory of mind. Given the current organizational structure of Earth and field theories of consciousness in neuroscience, Earth is probably conscious. The argument is explored through an examination of the current organizational structure of Earth and field theories of consciousness in neuroscience, which leads to the conclusion that Earth is conscious. Various theories of mind have been proposed by neuroscientists and philosophers alike in an attempt to qualify what consciousness is and what provides the basis for consciousness to occur. Support, in the form of data and information, for this thesis was found through reviews of philosophic and neuroscientific literature. Using a functionalist argument and field theories of consciousness, I argue for the possibility of Earth’s consciousness due to its organization. Based on the likelihood of human consciousness being spatially distributed, I illustrate how Earth’s organization is sufficiently similar. However, there is controversy surrounding functionalist theories of mind. This is detailed with Ned Block’s (1978) objection to functionalism, the Chinese Nation thought experiment. I place this objection in conversation with Paul and Patricia Churchland’s (1981) work on inverted qualia, absent qualia, and the method to identify systems with and without qualia. A further objection to my conclusion is explored with Kammerer’s (2015) Sophisticated Anti-Nesting Principle is addressed. Finally, this thesis draws some inspiration from Eric Schwitzgebel’s (2014) paper “If Materialism is True, the United States is Probably Conscious,” but the conclusion is projected to a larger scale, resulting in implications for morality, politics, and theories of mind.