• 100 E. Miller Dr. Apt 60
  • Bloomington, Indiana 47401
  • 785-766-2945
  • dylblack@indiana.edu

Areas of Specialization

  • philosophy of mind, consciousness studies, philosophy of cognitive science

Areas of Competence

  • philosophy of biology (evolution), epistemology, philosophy of language


  • Indiana University Department of Philosophy, Associate Instructor, 2011-2017
  • Northern Illinois University Department of Philosophy, Grader, 2009-2011


  • PhD, Philosophy, minor in History and Philosophy of Science, May 2018 (expected)
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • MA, Philosophy, May 2011
  • Northern Illinois University
  • BA, Philosophy, May 2009
  • University of Kansas


  • Title: Finding Unity in the Science of Consciousness
  • Committee: Colin Allen (chair), Gary Ebbs, Kirk Ludwig
  • Summary: Philosophers of mind have levied several major objections against the science of consciousness. In order to meet their objections, I advance a philosophical framework for the science of consciousness. In particular, I pursue three related projects. First, I challenge the widely-held view that the term consciousness expresses multiple concepts that scientists commonly conflate and I argue, alternately, that the science of consciousness is organized around a single target of explanation. Second, I argue on introspective grounds that conscious mental states play certain necessary functional roles that can help scientists to isolate their neural correlates and evaluate among theories. Third, I show that evolutionary biology can expand scientific knowledge of the functional structure of consciousness by revealing that some of its functions are more central to its etiology than others.


  • CAHI Travel Award 2017 (Indiana University, Bloomington)
  • Clark Essay Prize 2016 (Indiana University, Bloomington): “What Assertion Conveys: a Non-Normative Account of Assertion”
  • Rafalson Essay Contest Winner 2011 (Northern Illinois University): “Knowledge, Assertion, and the Belief that one Knows”


  • Graduate and Professional Student Organization Representative (2015-2016)


  • The Science of Consciousness 2017: "The Concept of Consciousness and the Bogeyman of Conflation"
  • Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology 2017: "The Concept of Consciuosness and the Bogeyman of Conflation"
  • Central States Philosophical Association 2016: "Challenging the Conflation View of Consciousness"
  • American Society for Aesthetics 2015: “Imaginative Resistance, Analyticity, and Intelligibility”
  • Central States Philosophical Association 2011: “Knowledge, Assertion, and the Belief that One Knows”


  • Central States Philosophical Association 2016: Joshua Johnson, "A Critique of Strong Emergence"


  • “The Concept of Consciousness and the Bogeyman of Conflation” Journal of Consciousness Studies, Journal of Consciousness Studies 24: 28-50 (2017).
  • A Non-Normative Account of Assertion.” Ratio. Forthcoming.

Works in Progress

  • "Phenomenal Concepts and the Science of Consciousness" 
  • “A Strategy for Investigating the Adaptive Origins of Consciousness”
  • “Imaginative Resistance, Analyticity, and Intelligibility”

Teaching Experience

Courses Taught

  • P100 Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2014, Spring 2016)
  • P140 Introduction to Ethics (Spring 2017, 2018)
  • P145 Liberty and Justice (Fall 2017)

Teaching Assistant

  • P100 Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2011, Luke Phillips; Spring 2012, Frederick F. Schmitt; Fall 2012, Frederick F. Schmitt; Spring 2013, Gary Ebbs; Spring 2014, Kirk Ludwig; Fall 2015, Gary Ebbs)
  • P140 Introduction to Ethics (Spring 2015, Sandra Shapshay)


  • P101 Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2009, Matthew Pamental; Spring 2010, John Beaudoin)
  • P205 Symbolic Logic (Fall 2011, John Beaudoin)
  • P336 Biomedical Ethics (Fall 2011, Sharon Sytsma)

Courses I am Prepared to Teach

Introductory Courses

Intermediate and Advanced Courses (*Courses I could teach at the graduate level)

  • *Philosophy of Mind
  • *Consciousness
  • Epistemology
  • Speech Act Theory
  • Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy of Science

Courses I Can Teach with Advanced Notice

Introductory Courses

  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Philosophy and Time Travel

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

  • Metaphysics
  • Minds and Machines
  • Modern Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Language

Courses and Reading Groups (*Courses audited **Reading groups)

Philosophy of Mind

  • Philosophy of Mind (Carl Gillett)
  • Seminar in Philosophy of Mind & Language (Kevan Edwards & Teresa Robertson)
  • *Philosophy of Mind (Rosa Cao)
  • **Mind and Cognition Reading Group

Cognitive Science / Philosophy of Cognitive Science

  • Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science (Colin Allen)
  • The Evolution of Consciousness (Colin Allen)
  • *Embodied Cognition (Geoffrey Bingham)
  • **Studygroup for the Philosophy/Psychology of Animal Cognition, Knowledge, Learning, Evolution, and
  • Development

Philosophy of Science

  • Philosophy of Science (Valia Allori)
  • Philosophy of Science (Elisabeth Lloyd)
  • Philosophy of Biology (Elisabeth Lloyd)


  • Intermediate Logic (David J. Buller)
  • Logical Theory I (Gary Ebbs)


  • Epistemology (Geoff Pynn)
  • Epistemology and the Illusion of Philosophical Distance (Mark Kaplan)

Philosophy of Language

  • Philosophy of Language (Geoff Pynn)
  • Quine and Davidson (Gary Ebbs & Kirk Ludwig)
  • Philosophy of Language (Kirk Ludwig)
  • Analyticity, Truth, Logical Consequence, and Logical Truth (Gary Ebbs)
  • *Propositions (Kirk Ludwig)


  • David Lewis Intensive Reading (Timothy O’Connor)
  • Metaphysics (Tomis Kapitan)
  • Metaphysics (Timothy O’Connor)
  • Social Metaphysics (Frederick F. Schmitt)

Value Theory

  • Global Justice (Steven Daskal)
  • Contemporary Ethical Theories (Marcia Baron)
  • *Paternalism, Moralism, Coercion (Jason Hanna)
  • Philosophy of Art (Sandra Shapshay)


  • 17th and 18th Century Rationalism (Tomis Kapitan)
  • 20th Century Analytic (David J. Buller)
  • American Philosophy (Matthew Pamental)
  • Aristotle on Explanation (Pieter Hasper)
  • Kant’s First Critique (Allen Wood)
  • *Aristotle (Alicia Finch)


  • Professor Colin Allen
  • Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
  • Cognitive Science Program
  • Indiana University
  • 812-855-8916
  • colallen@indiana.edu
  • Professor Gary Ebbs
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Indiana University
  • 812-855-7800
  • gebbs@indiana.edu
  • Professor Kirk Ludwig
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Indiana University
  • 812-855-2494
  • ludwig@indiana.edu

Dissertation Abstract

Philosophers of mind raise several major objections to the science of consciousness. My dissertation advances a philosophical framework for the science of consciousness in order to meet those objections and pave the way for more productive collaboration between philosophers and scientists.

I begin by addressing the objection that the term consciousness expresses different concepts that scientists inadvertently conflate. To substantiate this claim, philosophers argue that scientists begin their investigations by selecting phenomenal character, or what is experience is “like,” as their target of explanation, but then proceed to offer theories that only appropriately apply to certain cognitive capacities and not phenomenal character. I argue, alternately, that philosophers should take scientists at their word: their theories are not theories of certain cognitive capacities, but rather cognitive theories of consciousness. The upshot is that the source of the disagreement between philosophers and the scientists they criticize is not semantic, but rather a substantive theoretical dispute about the nature of consciousness.

Next, I address the objection that the science of consciousness is not in a position to isolate unique neural correlates for conscious mental states. I argue that conscious mental states necessarily play certain functional roles. In particular I argue that, because conscious mental states are mental representations, they must make their content available to the cognitive systems to which they belong. This imposes significant functional constraints on what sort of neural processes can do the job, especially given the richness of phenomenal content. These functional constraints, I argue, help to position scientists to isolate neural correlates for conscious mental states.

To arrive at further constraints, I propose that scientists can learn more about the detailed functional structure of consciousness by appealing to the resources of evolutionary biology. The trouble is that, with a few notable exceptions, researchers propose such theories only to buttress whatever theory of consciousness they antecedently accept. To address this problem, I argue that there is an emerging consensus about the basic features of consciousness that offers a relatively theory-neutral basis for defending theories of the evolutionary origins of consciousness.