Fine-grained functionalism: Prospects for defining qualitative states

Philosophical Psychology 22 (6):765 – 783 (2009)
Inverted spectrum and absent-qualia arguments have at least shown that giving the functional role of a qualitative state is challenging, as it is arguable that the same functional organization among one's inputs, outputs, and mental states can be preserved despite having one's qualia radically altered or eliminated. Sydney Shoemaker has proposed a promising strategy for the functionalist: defining a given qualitative state as being disposed to cause a belief that one is in such a state. Such beliefs would be different or not obtain should the qualitative state be altered or absent—showing that the qualitative state is in fact functionally relevant. I will argue that this approach, and a similar one by David Chalmers, face a difficulty in accounting for qualia at a fine grain, particularly those that do not readily fit our linguistic concepts and/or occur in peripheral awareness. I then show how the problem can be solved by incorporating certain conditional statements into functional definitions of qualia, and by relying on two theoretical resources I will discuss: qualitative beliefs with nonlinguistic content and QSMs (qualia-structuring mental phenomena)
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    John Haugeland (1978). The Nature and Plausibility of Cognitivism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1 (2):215-26.

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