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Summary The phrase "what it is like" is often used to invoke phenomenal consciousness.  For example, one can ask what it is like to be a bat, or what it is like to see red, in effect asking about the associated conscious states.  "Knowing what it is like" is often used to invoke knowledge of conscious states.  Some have argued that no amount of physical knowledge suffices to know what it is like to be in these states.
Key works The locus classicus here is Nagel 1974, though predecessors using the phrase include Farrell 1950 and Maxwell 1966.  Analyses of the phrase are given by Lormand 2004 and Hellie 2007.  Critics of this usage include Hacker 2002 and Mellor 1993.  A positive discussion of what it is like to be a bat is given by Akins 1993.
Introductions Nagel 1974.
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  1. Kathleen Akins (1993). A Bat Without Qualities? In Martin Davies & Glyn W. Humphreys (eds.), Consciousness: Psychological and Philosophical Essays. Blackwell. 345--358.
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  2. Kathleen Akins (1993). What is It Like to Be Boring and Myopic? In B. Dahlbom (ed.), Dennett and His Critics. Blackwell.
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  3. Torin Alter (2002). Nagel on Imagination and Physicalism. Journal of Philosophical Research 27:143-58.
    In "What is it Like to be a Bat?" Thomas Nagel argues that we cannot imagine what it is like to be a bat or presently understand how physicalism might be true. Both arguments have been seriously misunderstood. I defend them against various objections, point out a problem with the argument against physicalism, and show how the problem can be solved.
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  4. David Beisecker (2005). Phenomenal Consciousness, Sense Impressions, and the Logic of 'What It's Like'. In Ralph D. (Ed) Ellis & Natika (Ed). Newton (eds.), Consciousness & Emotion: Agency, Conscious Choice, and Selective Perception. John Benjamins.
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  5. Susan J. Blackmore (2003). What is It Like to Be...? In , Consciousness: An Introduction. Oxford University Press.
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  6. Laurence BonJour (2013). What is It Like to Be Human (Instead of a Bat). American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):373-386.
    My purpose in this paper is to discuss and defend an objection to physicalist or materialist accounts of the mind.
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  7. 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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  8. Jason Costanzo (2014). Shadows of Consciousness: The Problem of Phenomenal Properties. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-15.
    The aim of this essay is to show that phenomenal properties are contentless modes of appearances of representational properties. The essay initiates with examination of the first-person perspective of the conscious observer according to which a “reference to I” with respect to the observation of experience is determined. A distinction is then drawn between the conscious observer and experience as observed, according to which, three distinct modifications of experience are delineated. These modifications are then analyzed with respect to the content (...)
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  9. Andreas Elpidorou (2013). Having It Both Ways: Consciousness, Unique Not Otherworldly. Philosophia 41 (4):1181-1203.
    I respond to Chalmers’ (2006, 2010) objection to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) by showing that his objection is faced with a dilemma that ultimately undercuts its force. Chalmers argues that no version of PCS can posit psychological features that are both physically explicable and capable of explaining our epistemic situation. In response, I show that what Chalmers calls ‘our epistemic situation’ admits either of a phenomenal or of a topic-neutral characterization, neither of which supports Chalmers’ objection. On the one (...)
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  10. Simon J. Evnine (2008). Kinds and Conscious Experience: Is There Anything That It is Like to Be Something? Metaphilosophy 39 (2):185–202.
    In this article I distinguish the notion of there being something it is like to be a certain kind of creature from that of there being something it is like to have a certain kind of experience. Work on consciousness has typically dealt with the latter while employing the language of the former. I propose several ways of analyzing what it is like to be a certain kind of creature and find problems with them all. The upshot is that even (...)
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  11. B. A. Farrell (1950). Experience. Mind 59 (April):170-98.
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  12. Owen J. Flanagan (1985). Consciousness, Naturalism and Nagel. Journal of Mind and Behavior 6 (3):373-90.
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  13. Jeffrey E. Foss (1989). On the Logic of What It is Like to Be a Conscious Subject. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (June):305-320.
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  14. P. M. S. Hacker (2002). Is There Anything It is Like to Be a Bat? Philosophy 77 (300):157-174.
    The concept of consciousness has been the source of much philosophical, cognitive scientific and neuroscientific discussion for the past two decades. Many scientists, as well as philosophers, argue that at the moment we are almost completely in the dark about the nature of consciousness. Stuart Sutherland, in a much quoted remark, wrote that.
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  15. Patricia Hanna (1992). If You Can't Talk About It, You Can't Talk About It: A Response to H.O. Mounce. Philosophical Investigations 15 (2):185-190.
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  16. Patricia Hanna (1990). Must Thinking Bats Be Conscious? Philosophical Investigations 13 (October):350-55.
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  17. Benj Hellie (2007). 'There's Something It's Like' and the Structure of Consciousness. Philosophical Review 116 (3):441--63.
    I discuss the meaning of 'There's something e is like', in the context of a reply to Eric Lormand's 'The explanatory stopgap'. I argue that Lormand is wrong to think it has a specially perceptual meaning. Rather, it has one of at least four candidate meanings: (a) e is some way as regards its subject; (b) e is some way and e's being that way is in the possession of its subject; (c) e is some way in the awareness of (...)
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  18. Christopher S. Hill (1977). Of Bats, Brains, and Minds. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (September):100-106.
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  19. William Hirstein (2012). Mindmelding: Consciousness, Neuroscience, and the Mind's Privacy. OUP Oxford.
    Can consciousness and the human mind be understood and explained in sheerly physical terms? Materialism is a philosophical/scientific theory, according to which the mind is completely physical. This theory has been around for literally thousands of years, but it was always stymied by its inability to explain how exactly mere matter could do the amazing things the mind can do. Beginning in the 1980s, however, a revolution began quietly boiling away in the neurosciences, yielding increasingly detailed theories about how the (...)
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  20. Greg Janzen (2011). In Defense of the What-It-is-Likeness of Experience. Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (3):271-293.
    It is common parlance among philosophers who inquire into the nature of consciousness to speak of there being something it is like for the subject of a mental state to be in it. The popularity of the ‘what-it-is-like’ phrase stems, in part, from the assumption that it enables us to distinguish, in an intuitive and illuminating way, between conscious and unconscious mental states: conscious mental states, unlike unconscious mental states, are such that there is something it is like for their (...)
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  21. Greg Janzen (2007). Subjectivity and Selfhood. [REVIEW] Psyche 13 (1).
  22. John Kulvicki (2007). What is What It's Like? Introducing Perceptual Modes of Presentation. Synthese 156 (2):205 - 229.
    The central claim of this paper is that what it is like to see green or any other perceptible property is just the perceptual mode of presentation of that property. Perceptual modes of presentation are important because they help resolve a tension in current work on consciousness. Philosophers are pulled by three mutually inconsistent theses: representational externalism, representationalism, and phenomenal internalism. I throw my hat in with defenders of the first two: the externalist representationalists. We are faced with the problem (...)
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  23. David Lewis (1983). Postscript to "Mad Pain and Martian Pain&Quot;. Philosophical Papers 12:122-133.
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  24. Eric Lormand (2004). The Explanatory Stopgap. Philosophical Review 113 (3):303-57.
    Is there an explanatory gap between raw feels and raw material? Some philosophers argue, and many other people believe, that scientific explanations of conscious experience cannot be as satisfying as typical scientific explanations elsewhere, even in our wildest dreams. The underlying philosophical claims are.
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  25. Luca Malatesti (2004). Knowing What It is Like and Knowing How. In Alberto Peruzzi (ed.), Mind and Causality. John Benjamins. 55--119.
    Physicalism in philosophy of mind is the doctrine that mental states and processes, if they are something, are physical states and processes. Notoriously, Frank Jackson has attacked physicalism with the knowledge argument. This paper does not consider whether the knowledge argument is successful. Instead, the author argues that the ability reply to the knowledge argument fails. The central assumption of this objection is that Mary, by having colour experiences, acquires a set of abilities rather than new beliefs as required by (...)
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  26. J. Christopher Maloney (1986). About Being a Bat. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 64 (March):26-49.
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  27. Gregory McCulloch (1988). What It is Like. Philosophical Quarterly 38 (January):1-19.
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  28. C. McMullen (1985). 'Knowing What It's Like' and the Essential Indexical. Philosophical Studies 48 (September):211-33.
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  29. D. H. Mellor (1993). Nothing Like Experience. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 63:1-16.
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  30. Yujin Nagasawa (2003). Thomas Versus Thomas: A New Approach to Nagel's Bat Argument. Inquiry 46 (3):377-395.
    i l l ustrat es t he di ffi cul t y of providing a purely physical characterisation of phenomenal experi ence wi t ha vi vi d exampl e about a bat ’ s sensory apparatus. Whi l e a number of obj ect i ons have al ready been made to Nagel..
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  31. Norton Nelkin (1987). What is It Like to Be a Person? Mind and Language 2 (3):220-41.
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  32. Laurence Nemirow (1990). Physicalism and the Cognitive Role of Acquaintance. In William G. Lycan (ed.), Mind and Cognition. Blackwell.
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  33. Laurence Nemirow (1980). Review of Nagel's Mortal Questions. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 89:473-7.
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  34. David R. Pugmire (1989). Bat or Batman. Philosophy 64 (April):207-17.
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  35. Erich Rast (2012). De Se Puzzles, the Knowledge Argument, and the Formation of Internal Knowledge. Analysis and Metaphysics 11 (December):106-132.
    ABSTRACT. Thought experiments about de se attitudes and Jackson’s original Knowledge Argument are compared with each other and discussed from the perspective of a computational theory of mind. It is argued that internal knowledge, i.e. knowledge formed on the basis of signals that encode aspects of their own processing rather than being intentionally directed towards external objects, suffices for explaining the seminal puzzles without resorting to acquaintance or phenomenal character as primitive notions. Since computationalism is ontologically neutral, the account also (...)
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  36. David Roden (2013). NATURE's DARK DOMAIN: AN ARGUMENT FOR A NATURALIZED PHENOMENOLOGY. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 72 (1):169-88.
    Phenomenology is based on a doctrine of evidence that accords a crucial role to the human capacity to conceptualise or ‘intuit’ features of their experience. However, there are grounds for holding that some experiential entities to which phenomenologists are committed must be intuition-transcendent or ‘dark’. Examples of dark phenomenology include the very fine-grained perceptual discriminations which Thomas Metzinger calls ‘Raffman Qualia’ and, crucially, the structure of temporal awareness. It can be argued, on this basis, that phenomenology is in much the (...)
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  37. Anthony J. Rudd (1999). What It's Like and What's Really Wrong with Physicalism: A Wittgensteinian Perspective. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (4):454-63.
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  38. L. Russow (1982). It's Not Like That to Be a Bat. Behaviorism 10:55-63.
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  39. Nathaniel Sharadin (forthcoming). How You Can Reasonably Form Expectations When You're Expecting. Res Philosophica.
    L.A. Paul has argued that an ordinary, natural way of making a decision -- by reflecting on the phenomenal character of the experiences one will have as a result of that decision -- cannot yield rational decision in certain cases. Paul's argument turns on the (in principle) epistemically inaccessible phenomenal character of certain experiences. In this paper I argue that, even granting Paul a range of assumptions, her argument doesn't work to establish its conclusion. This is because, as I argue, (...)
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  40. Henry Simoni-Wastila (2000). Particularity and Consciousness: Wittgenstein and Nagel on Privacy, Beetles and Bats. Philosophy Today 44 (4):415-425.
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  41. Basil Smith (2012). A Dialogue on Consciousness, by Torin Alter and Robert Howell. [REVIEW] Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):247-252.
  42. Paul Snowdon (2010). On the What-It-is-Like-Ness of Experience. Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):8-27.
    It is common for philosophers to hold that experience can be characterized in a basic way as being something it is like for someone to undergo. In the paper it is argued that when this slogan is examined it is in some respects trivial and in others mistaken. It is concluded that the slogan should be abandoned.
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  43. Pär Sundström (2007). Colour and Consciousness: Untying the Metaphysical Knot. Philosophical Studies 136 (2):123 - 165.
    Colours and consciousness both present us with metaphysical problems. But what exactly are the problems? According to standard accounts, they are roughly the following. On the one hand, we have reason to believe, about both colour and consciousness, that they are identical with some familiar natural phenomena. But on the other hand, it is hard to see how these identities could obtain. I argue that this is an adequate characterisation of our metaphysical problem of colour, but a mischaracterisation of the (...)
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  44. Paul R. Teller (1992). Subjectivity and Knowing What It's Like. In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.
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  45. B. R. Tilghman (1991). What is It Like to Be an Aardvark? Philosophy 66 (July):325-38.
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  46. Simon van Rysewyk, Links Between the Intrauterine Theory of Gender Identity, Transsexualism and Mind-Brain-Body Identity.
  47. Simon van Rysewyk, Why Are Pain Patients All Unique? A Type-Token Identity Theory Answer.
  48. Kathleen Wider (1989). Overtones of Solipsism in Nagel's 'What is It Like to Be a Bat?' And 'the View From Nowhere'. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 49:481-99.
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  49. Edmond L. Wright (1996). What It Isn't Like. American Philosophical Quarterly 33 (1):23-42.
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