Scents and Sensibilia

American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):103-118 (2010)
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 for all of the sense modalities, any detailed discussion of it focuses on vision. But transparency seems unintuitive for olfactory experience. This paper argues that olfactory experience is indeed transparent and that explanations of what transparency is have been obscured by a reliance on the visual model. In this way, the paper clarifies and advances the debate about transparency.
Keywords olfaction  perception  qualia  olfactory experience
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Louise Richardson (2013). Sniffing and Smelling. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):401-419.
Clare Batty (2009). What's That Smell? Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):321-348.
Casey O'Callaghan (2011). Hearing Properties, Effects or Parts? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):375-405.

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