Dennett on qualia: The case of pain, smell and taste

Philosophical Psychology 13 (4):505 – 522 (2000)
Abstract
Dennett has maintained that a careful examination of our intuitive notion of qualia reveals that it is a confused notion, that it is advisable to accept that experience does not have the properties designated by it and that it is best to eliminate it. Because most scientists share this notion of qualia, the major line of attack of his project becomes that of raising objections against the ability of science to answer some basic questions about qualia. I try to show that science appeals to qualia and that it in fact adheres to a notion of qualia different from the one that Dennett has attributed to it. It is argued that qualia are amenable to scientific investigation and that this is the reason why science contributes toward the clarification of the notion of qualia. I also try to show that Dennett's skepticism about the abilities of science in answering questions posited by one of his thought experiments is unwarranted. I conclude that we need not accept Dennett's eliminativism about qualia.
Keywords Eliminativism  Epistemology  Intuition  Pain  Psychology  Qualia  Smell  Taste  Dennett, D
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