Temperamentally, I am strongly inclined toward materialist reductive explanation, and I have no strong spiritual or religious inclinations. For a number of years, I hoped for a materialist theory; when I gave up on this hope, it was quite reluctantly. It eventually seemed plain to me that these conclusions were forced on anyone who wants to take consciousness seriously. Materialism is a beautiful and compelling view of the world, but to account for consciousness, we have to go beyond the resources it provides.
By now, I have grown almost happy with these conclusions. They do not seem to have any fearsome consequences, and they allow a way of thinking and theorizing about consciousness that seems more satisfactory in almost every way. And the expansion in the scientific worldview has had a positive effect, at least for me: it has made the universe seem a more interesting place.
David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford, 1996, p. xiv
It is an ironic fact that the felt qualities of conscious experience, perhaps the only things that ultimately matter to us, are often relegated in the rest of philosophy to the status of ‘secondary qualities,’ in the shadowy zone between the real and the unreal, or even jettisoned outright as artifacts of confused minds.
Jaegwon Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, Princeton, 2005, p. 12
It is in their purely physical aspect, as complex processes of corporeal change, that [physical processes] are means to the maintenance of life: but so long as we confine our attention to their corporeal aspect,—regarding them merely as complex movements of certain particles of organised matter—it seems impossible to attribute to these movements, considered in themselves, either goodness or badness. I cannot conceive it to be an ultimate end of rational action to secure that these complex movements should be of one kind rather than another, or that they should be continued for a longer rather than a shorter period. In short, if a certain quality of human Life is that which is ultimately desirable, it must belong to human Life regarded on its psychical side, or, briefly, Consciousness.
Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, 7th ed., London, 1907, bk. 3, chap. 14, sect. 3
Do we value ‘life’ even if unconscious, or do we value life only as a vehicle for consciousness? Our attitude to the doctrine of the sanctity of life very much depends on our answer to this question.
Jonathan Glover, Causing Death and Saving Lives, London, 1990, p. 45