In Defense of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy1

During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, on this proposal, involve unique cognitive mechanisms, but none that could not be fully physically implemented. David Chalmers has recently presented a Master Argument to show that the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – not just this or that version of it, but any version of it – fails. Chalmers argues that the phenomenal concepts posited by such theories are either not physicalistically explicable, or they cannot explain our epistemic situation with regard to qualia. I argue that it is his Master Argument that fails. My claim is his argument does not provide any new reasons to reject the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. I also argue that, although the Phenomenal Concept Strategy is successful in showing that the physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up physicalism in the light of the anti-physicalist arguments, the anti-physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up the anti-physicalist argument in the light of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy either.
Keywords Consciousness  Conceivability  Mind-body problem  Dualism  Physicalism  Phenomenal Concept Strategy  Explanatory gap  Hard Problem of consciousness  David Chalmers
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2011.00541.x
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References found in this work BETA
Frank Jackson (1982). Epiphenomenal Qualia. Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Saul Kripke (2010). Naming and Necessity. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge 431-433.
David J. Chalmers (2002). Does Conceivability Entail Possibility? In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press 145--200.

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