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Summary Qualia (singular: quale) are those properties of conscious mental states or events that determine 'what it is like' for the subject of those states or events to undergo them. Paradigm examples of qualia include the particular painfulness of some pain state, the sensation of being tickled, the taste of lemon, or the smell of fresh mown grass. Somewhat more contested examples might include 'primary qualities' presented in perception, such as shape or number; emotions such as feelings of elation or a sensation of creeping depression; or qualititive features that may accompany cognition (such as one's 'internal monologue', or the feeling of something being 'on the tip of one's tongue'). Even within the canonical range of qualia the notion is contested, and some argue that we cannot make clear sense of it at all. If it can be made sense of, then a key question is whether qualia are irreducibly nonphysical, or alternatively can be naturalised through reduction to or identification with some physical or functional property. Questions also arise about our knowledge of qualia (our own and others), and about the relationship between qualia and intentional content: qualia have often been thought of as non-intentional features of mental states, although this position has recently been widely challenged.
Key works C.I. Lewis is generally thought to have coined the term 'qualia' in Lewis 1956, while Dennett 1991 attempts to cast doubt on the coherence of the notion (and see also Rey 1998). Searle 1992 is a well known argument that all conscious mental states, including thoughts and occurrent beliefs, have a qualitative character (and see also Strawson 1994). Several lines of argument have been advanced to try and show that qualia cannot be physical, including the conceivability argument (Kripke 1980, Chalmers 1996), the knowledge argument (Nagel 1974Jackson 1982) and the explanatory gap argument (Levine 1983). Important physicalist responses include the proposal that qualia are naturalisable as a species of intentional property (e.g. Byrne 2001), and the 'phenomenal concepts' strategy that argues that the appearance of a gap between the physical and the phenomenal is merely conceptual and not ontological (Loar 1990).
Introductions Block 2004; Chalmers 1995Nagel 1974Harman 1990Dennett 1988; Shoemaker 1982
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  1. Robert Merrihew Adams (1995). Qualia. Faith and Philosophy 12 (4):472-474.
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  2. Robert F. Allen, The Subject is Qualia.
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  3. Robert F. Allen, The Subject is Qualia: Paronyms and Temporary Identity.
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  4. Torin Alter (2003). Qualia. In L. Nadel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
    Introduction Qualia and causation Do qualia exist? Qualia and cognitive science Qualia and other mental phenomena Knowledge of qualia Are qualia irreducible?
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  5. Andrew R. Bailey, Qualia and the Argument From Illusion.
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  6. Andrew R. Bailey (1998). Phenomenal Properties: The Epistemology and Metaphysics of Qualia. Dissertation, University of Calgary
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  7. Alexander Batthyany & Avshalom C. Elitzur (eds.) (2009). Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Winter.
  8. Clare Batty (2010). Scents and Sensibilia. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):103-118.
    This paper considers what olfactory experience can tell us about the controversy over qualia and, in particular, the debate that focuses on the alleged transparency of experience. The appeal to transparency is supposed to show that there are no qualia—intrinsic, non-intentional and directly accessible properties of experience that determine phenomenal character. It is most commonly used to motivate intentionalism—namely, the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is exhausted by its representational content. Although some philosophers claim that transparency holds (...)
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  9. Hilan Bensusan & Eros de Carvalho (2011). Qualia Qua Qualitons: Mental Qualities as Abstract Particulars. [REVIEW] Acta Analytica 26 (2):155-163.
    In this paper we advocate the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. The main advantage of the thesis is that we can accept both the Wittgensteinian and Sellarsian assault on the given and the claim that only subjective and private states can do justice to the qualitative character of experience. We hint that if we take qualia to be tropes, we dissolve the problem of inverted qualia. We develop an account of sensory concept acquisition that (...)
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  10. Ned Block (2007). Wittgenstein and Qualia. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
    (Wittgenstein, 1968) endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed (the "innocuous" inverted spectrum hypothesis) is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected (the "dangerous" kind). The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are (for the purposes of this paper) contents of (...)
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  11. Ned Block (2004). Qualia. In Richard L. Gregory (ed.), Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Qualia include the ways things look, sound and smell, the way it feels to have a pain; more generally, what it's like to have mental states. Qualia are experiential properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions and, in my view, thoughts and desires as well. But, so defined, who could deny that qualia exist? Yet, the existence of qualia is controversial. Here is what is controversial: whether qualia, so defined, can be characterized in intentional, functional or purely (...)
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  12. Robert Briscoe (2008). Vision, Action, and Make‐Perceive. Mind and Language 23 (4):457-497.
    In this paper, I critically assess the enactive account of visual perception recently defended by Alva Noë (2004). I argue inter alia that the enactive account falsely identifies an object’s apparent shape with its 2D perspectival shape; that it mistakenly assimilates visual shape perception and volumetric object recognition; and that it seriously misrepresents the constitutive role of bodily action in visual awareness. I argue further that noticing an object’s perspectival shape involves a hybrid experience combining both perceptual and imaginative elements (...)
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  13. R. Buck (1993). What is This Thing Called Subjective Experience? Reflections on the Neuropsychology of Qualia. Neuropsychology 7:490-99.
  14. Roberto Casati (2003). Qualia Domesticated. In Amita Chatterjee (ed.), Perspectives on Consciousness. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
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  15. Marc Champagne (2009). Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification. Dialogue 48 (01):145-183.
    This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the "explanatory gap" that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel's revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block's controversial claim that we should countenance a "phenomenal module" which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy (...)
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  16. Amita Chatterjee (ed.) (2003). Perspectives on Consciousness. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
  17. Austen Clar (ed.) (2000). A Theory of Sentience. Oxford University Press.
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  18. Austen Clark (2010). Color, Qualia, and Attention : A Non-Standard Interpretation. In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. Mit Press. 203.
    A standard view in philosophy of mind is that qualia and phenomenal character require consciousness. This paper argues that various experimental and clinical phenomena can be better explained if we reject this assumption. States found in early visual processing can possess qualitative character even though they are not in any sense conscious mental states. This non-standard interpretation bears the burden of explaining what must be added to states that have qualitative character in order to yield states of sensory awareness or (...)
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  19. Austen Clark (2000). Quality Space. In Austen Clar (ed.), A Theory of Sentience. Oxford University Press.
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  20. Austen Clark (1985). Qualia and the Psychophysical Explanation of Color Perception. Synthese 65 (December):377-405.
    Can psychology explain the qualitative content of experience? A persistent philosophical objection to that discipline is that it cannot. Qualitative states or "qualia" are argued to have characteristics which cannot be explained in terms of their relationships to other psychological states, stimuli, and behavior. Since psychology is confined to descriptions of such relationships, it seems that psychology cannot explain qualia.
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  21. Bowman L. Clarke (1986). Qualia, Extension and Abstraction. The Monist 69 (2):216-234.
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  22. Jonathan Cohen (2001). Whither Visual Representations? Whither Qualia? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):980-981.
    This commentary makes two rejoinders to O'Regan & Noë. It clarifies the status of visual representations in their account, and argues that their explanation of the (according to them, illusory) appeal of <span class='Hi'>qualia</span> is unsatisfying.
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  23. Ed Cooke & Erik Myin (2011). Is Trilled Smell Possible? How the Structure of Olfaction Determines the Phenomenology of Smell. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):59-95.
    Smell 'sensations' are among the most mysterious of conscious experiences, and have been cited in defense of the thesis that the character of perceptual experience is independent of the physical events that seem to give rise to it. Here we review the scientific literature on olfaction, and we argue that olfaction has a distinctive profile in relation to the other modalities, on four counts: in the physical nature of the stimulus, in the sensorimotor interactions that characterize its use, in the (...)
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  24. Tim Crane (2000). The Origins of Qualia. In Tim Crane & Sarah A. Patterson (eds.), The History of the Mind-Body Problem. Routledge.
    The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are (...)
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  25. Tim Crane & Sarah Patterson (eds.) (2000). History of the Mind-Body Problem. New York: Routledge.
    This collection of new essays put the debates on the mind-body problem into historical context.
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  26. Geert Crombez & Chris Eccleston (2002). To Express or Suppress May Be Function of Others' Distress. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):457-458.
    We argue that pain behaviour cannot be wholly accounted for within the operant model of Fordyce (1976). Many pain behaviours, including facial expression, are not socially reinforced but are evolutionarily predetermined. We urge researchers to take into consideration other learning accounts. Building on the idea that pain sufferers learn to suppress the expression of pain, we begin the development of a framework for a relational understanding of pain complaint.
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  27. Bryon Cunningham (2001). Capturing Qualia: Higher-Order Concepts and Connectionism. Philosophical Psychology 14 (1):29-41.
    Antireductionist philosophers have argued for higher-order classifications of qualia that locate consciousness outside the scope of conventional scientific explanations, viz., by classifying qualia as intrinsic, basic, or subjective properties, antireductionists distinguish qualia from extrinsic, complex, and objective properties, and thereby distinguish conscious mental states from the possible explananda of functionalist or physicalist explanations. I argue that, in important respects, qualia are intrinsic, basic, and subjective properties of conscious mental states, and that, contrary to antireductionists' suggestions, these (...)
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  28. Jules Davidoff & Debi Roberson (1997). Empirical Evidence for Constraints on Colour Categorisation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):185-186.
    The question of whether colour categorisation is determined by nontrivial constraints (i.e., universal neurophysiological properties of visual neurons) is an empirical issue concerning the organisation of the internal colour space. Rosch has provided psychological evidence that categories are organised around focal colours and that the organisation is universal; this commentary reconsiders that evidence.
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  29. Raffaella de Rosa (2007). The Myth of Cartesian Qualia. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):181�207.
    The standard view of Cartesian sensations (SV) is that they present themselves as purely qualitative features of experience (or qualia). Accordingly, Descartes view would be that in perceiving the color red, for example, we are merely experiencing the subjective feel of redness rather than seeming to perceive a property of bodies. In this paper, I establish that the argument and textual evidence offered in support of SV fail to prove that Descartes held this view. Indeed, I will argue that (...)
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  30. Sam M. Doesburg & Lawrence M. Ward (2007). Corticothalamic Necessity, Qualia, and Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (1):90-91.
    The centrencephalic theory of consciousness cannot yet account for some evidence from both brain damaged and normally functioning humans that strongly implicates thalamocortical activity as essential for consciousness. Moreover, the behavioral indexes used by Merker to implicate consciousness need more development, as, besides being somewhat vague, they lead to some apparent contradictions in the attribution of consciousness. (Published Online May 1 2007).
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  31. Fabian Dorsch, Conceptual Qualia and Communication.
    The claim that consciousness is propositional has be widely debated in the past. For instance, it has been discussed whether consciousness is always propositional, whether all propositional consciousness is linguistic, whether propositional consciousness is always articulated, or whether there can be non-articulated propositions. In contrast, the question of whether propositions are conscious has not very often been the focus of attention.
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  32. Edward Feser (2001). Qualia: Irreducibly Subjective but Not Intrinsic. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):3-20.
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  33. Ivan Fox (1989). On the Nature and Cognitive Function of Phenomenal Content -- Part One. Philosophical Topics 17 (1):81-103.
  34. Keith Frankish, Qualia: The Real Thing.
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  35. Matthew Frise (2014). What God Only Knows: A Reply to Rob Lovering. Religious Studies 50 (2):245-254.
    Rob Lovering has recently argued that God is not omniscient on the grounds that (1) in order to be omniscient a subject must not only know all truths always but also know what it's like not to know a truth, and (2) God cannot fulfil both of these requirements. I show that Lovering's argument is unsuccessful since he inadequately supports (1) and (2), and since there are several serious doubts about (2). I also show that Lovering does not otherwise indicate (...)
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  36. John Gibbons (2005). Qualia: They're Not What They Seem. Philosophical Studies 126 (3):397-428.
    Whether or not qualia are ways things seem, the view that qualia have the properties typically attributed to them is unjustified. Ways things seem do not have many of the properties commonly attributed to them. For example, inverted ways things seem are impossible. If ways things seem do not have the features commonly attributed to them, and qualia do have those same features, this looks like good reason to distinguish the two. But if your reasons for believing (...)
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  37. Paul Gilbert (1992). Immediate Experience. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 66:233-250.
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  38. Irwin Goldstein (1981). Cognitive Pleasure and Distress. Philosophical Studies 39 (January):15-23.
    Explaining the "intentional object" some people assign pleasure, I argue that a person is pleased about something when his thoughts about that thing cause him to feel pleasure. Bernard Williams, Gilbert Ryle, and Irving Thalberg, who reject this analysis, are discussed. Being pleased (or distressed) about something is a compound of pleasure (pain) and some thought or belief. Pleasure in itself does not have an "intentional object".
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  39. Richard L. Gregory (1996). Peculiar Qualia. Perception 25 (7):755-756.
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  40. Gary Hatfield (2007). The Reality of Qualia. Erkenntnis 66 (1-2):133--168.
    This paper argues for the reality of qualia as aspects of phenomenal experience. The argument focuses on color vision and develops a dispositionalist, subjectivist account of what it is for an object to be colored. I consider objections to dispositionalism on epistemological, metaphysical, and.
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  41. Z. Jakab (2000). Reply to Thomas Metzinger and Bettina Walde. Consciousness and Cognition 9 (3):363-369.
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  42. Zoltan Jakab (2000). Ineffability of Qualia: A Straightforward Naturalistic Explanation. Consciousness and Cognition 9 (3):329-351.
    In this paper I offer an explanation of the ineffability (linguistic inexpressibility) of sensory experiences. My explanation is put in terms of computational functionalism and standard externalist theories of representational content. As I will argue, many or most sensory experiences are representational states without constituent structure. This property determines both the representational function these states can serve and the information that can be extracted from them when they are processed. Sensory experiences can indicate the presence of certain external states of (...)
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  43. Greg Janzen (forthcoming). The Case for Qualia, E. Wright (Ed.), Oxford University Press, 2008. [REVIEW] Mind.
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  44. Brian L. Keeley (2009). The Early History of the Quale and Its Relation to the Senses. In John Symons & Paco Calvo (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge.
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  45. Amy Kind (2008). How to Believe in Qualia. In Edmond Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. The Mit Press. 285--298.
    in The Case for Qualia,ed. by Edmond Wright , MIT Press (2008), pp. 285-298.
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  46. Amy Kind (2001). Qualia Realism. Philosophical Studies 104 (2):143-162.
    Recent characterizations of the <span class='Hi'>qualia</span> debate construe the point at issue in terms of the existence of intrinsic properties of experience. I argue that such characterizations mistakenly ignore the epistemic dimension of the notion of <span class='Hi'>qualia</span>. Using Ned Block.
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  47. P. S. Kitcher (1979). Phenomenal Qualities. American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (April):123-9.
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  48. Uriah Kriegel (2003). Consciousness as Sensory Quality and as Implicit Self-Awareness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2 (1):1-26.
    When a mental state is conscious – in the sense that there is something it is like for the subject to have it – it instantiates a certain property F in virtue of which it is a conscious state. It is customary to suppose that F is the property of having sensory quality. The paper argues that this supposition is false. The first part of the paper discusses reasons for thinking that unconscious mental states can have a sensory quality, for (...)
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  49. Stephen Leeds (1993). Qualia, Awareness, Sellars. Noûs 27 (3):303-330.
  50. Joseph Levine (1995). Qualia: Intrinsic, Relational, or What? In Thomas Metzinger (ed.), Conscious Experience. Ferdinand Schoningh. 277--292.
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