About this topic
Summary Qualia (singular: quale) are those properties of conscious mental states or events that determine 'what it is like' for the subject of those states or events to undergo them. Paradigm examples of qualia include the particular painfulness of some pain state, the sensation of being tickled, the taste of lemon, or the smell of fresh mown grass. Somewhat more contested examples might include 'primary qualities' presented in perception, such as shape or number; emotions such as feelings of elation or a sensation of creeping depression; or qualititive features that may accompany cognition (such as one's 'internal monologue', or the feeling of something being 'on the tip of one's tongue'). Even within the canonical range of qualia the notion is contested, and some argue that we cannot make clear sense of it at all. If it can be made sense of, then a key question is whether qualia are irreducibly nonphysical, or alternatively can be naturalised through reduction to or identification with some physical or functional property. Questions also arise about our knowledge of qualia (our own and others), and about the relationship between qualia and intentional content: qualia have often been thought of as non-intentional features of mental states, although this position has recently been widely challenged.
Key works C.I. Lewis is generally thought to have coined the term 'qualia' in Lewis 1956, while Dennett 1991 attempts to cast doubt on the coherence of the notion (and see also Rey 1998). Searle 1992 is a well known argument that all conscious mental states, including thoughts and occurrent beliefs, have a qualitative character (and see also Strawson 1994). Several lines of argument have been advanced to try and show that qualia cannot be physical, including the conceivability argument (Kripke 1980, Chalmers 1996), the knowledge argument (Nagel 1974Jackson 1982) and the explanatory gap argument (Levine 1983). Important physicalist responses include the proposal that qualia are naturalisable as a species of intentional property (e.g. Byrne 2001), and the 'phenomenal concepts' strategy that argues that the appearance of a gap between the physical and the phenomenal is merely conceptual and not ontological (Loar 1990).
Introductions Block 2004; Chalmers 1995Nagel 1974Harman 1990Dennett 1988; Shoemaker 1982
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  1. On the Big Bang, Qualia, Einstein’s Train, Temporal Flow Rates, Existence, Free Will, Hard Problems, Etc.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    On Einstein's Train and the Big Bang in Fragmental Presentism, Temporal Flow Rates, Existence, Free Will, Qualia, Hard Problems, etc.
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  2. Qualities and the Galilean View.Michelle Liu - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):147-162.
    It is often thought that sensible qualities such as colours do not exist as properties of physical objects. Focusing on the case of colour, I discuss two views: the Galilean view, according to which colours do not exist as qualities of physical objects, and the naive view, according to which colours are, as our perception presents them to be, qualities instantiated by physical objects. I argue that it is far from clear that the Galilean view is better than the naive (...)
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  3. Physics, Time, and Qualia.M. Cortes & L. Smolin - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):36-51.
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  4. Do Qualia Exist Necessarily?Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Why is there something rather than nothing? I don't know. But I give an argument that qualia exist *necessarily*. The *possibility* of the existence of red qualia requires actual red qualia to specify what the possibility is a possibility *of*.
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  5. On the Solutions to the Hard Problems.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    There is a profound difference between asking a 'hard problem' and asking a 'hard problem' that has qualia in the question. There are plausible answers to the former that are nevertheless clearly not answers to the latter. I give a method by which hard problems will be able to be solved, if possible. I speculate on the (possible) causal efficaciousness of consciousness in evolution and in quantum mechanics.
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  6. The Archeology of Qualia.Cosmin Visan - 2021 - Journal Of Anthropological And Archeological Sciences 4 (5):565-569.
    Researching into our past, scientists use different methods, from looking at the night sky to digging traces of our past and analyzing DNA. I propose here another method, that can have the potential of shedding more light into our history and the type of entities that we are. Working under philosophical idealism, I propose that evolution is in the first place the evolution of consciousness, and thus the traces of evolution are mostly not to be found in our physical bodies, (...)
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  7. Fragmental Presentism and Quantum Mechanics.Paul Merriam - 2021
    This paper develops a Fragmentalist theory of Presentism and shows how it can help to develop a interpretation of quantum mechanics. There are several fragmental interpretations of physics. In the interpretation of this paper, each quantum system forms a fragment, and fragment f1 makes a measurement on fragment f2 if and only if f2 makes a corresponding measurement on f1. The main idea is then that each fragment has its own present (or ‘now’) until a mutual quantum measurement—at which time (...)
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  8. The Consumer Society by Baudrillard : A Sociological Approach to Capitalism.Irfan Ajvazi - 2021 - Germany: Heisenberg Academy and Idea Books.
    Consumer society, by Jean Baudrillard, is a major contribution to contemporary sociology and philosophy, at the height of the Division of Labor Durkheim or The Protestant Ethic and the Ethics of Capitalism Weber.
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  9. The Possibility of Emergent Conscious Causal Powers.Lok-Chi Chan & Andrew James Latham - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Lewtas [2017] recently articulated an argument claiming that emergent conscious causal powers are impossible. In developing his argument, Lewtas makes several assumptions about emergence, phenomenal consciousness, categorical properties, and causation. We argue that there are plausible alternatives to these assumptions. Thus, the proponent of emergent conscious causal powers can escape Lewtas’s challenge.
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  10. Quantum Information in Neural Systems.Danko D. Georgiev - 2021 - Symmetry 13 (5):773.
    Identifying the physiological processes in the central nervous system that underlie our conscious experiences has been at the forefront of cognitive neuroscience. While the principles of classical physics were long found to be unaccommodating for a causally effective consciousness, the inherent indeterminism of quantum physics, together with its characteristic dichotomy between quantum states and quantum observables, provides a fertile ground for the physical modeling of consciousness. Here, we utilize the Schrödinger equation, together with the Planck-Einstein relation between energy and frequency, (...)
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  11. What's the Story With Blue Steak? On the Unexpected Popularity of Blue Foods.Charles Spence - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    Is blue food desirable or disgusting? The answer, it would seem, is both, but it really depends on the food in which the color happens to be present. It turns out that the oft-cited aversive response to blue meat may not even have been scientifically validated, despite the fact that blue food coloring is often added to discombobulate diners. In the case of drinks, however, there has been a recent growth of successful new blue product launches in everything from beer (...)
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  12. Equations, Qualia, and Qualations.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Abstract to Equations, Qualia, and Qualations -/- With regard to consciousness, we could write an equation B = black. But it is possible to rewrite this using a quale, namely, B = █. This latter equation might be called a ‘qualation’. It has the same meaning regardless of the physiology that apprehends it. This article argues a whole theory of qualations could be developed. Further, to a Dualist, it could be that a materialist is convinced by materialist arguments involving the (...)
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  13. An Introduction to Dualism: The Mental to the Fore?Filippo Pelucchi - manuscript
    The contemporary debate around consciousness presents us (and often leads us to embrace) a specific current of thought: physicalism, which states that everything in our reality is physical1. In this paper I want to introduce the main points of the opposite view, dualism, according to which there are two different realms of reality: the mental and the physical one. In the introduction I give the main idea and sketch the general intuition behind dualism. In Section 1 I present substance dualism (...)
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  14. Quantum Information Theoretic Approach to the Mind–Brain Problem.Danko D. Georgiev - 2020 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 158:16-32.
    The brain is composed of electrically excitable neuronal networks regulated by the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. Further portraying the molecular composition of the brain, however, will not reveal anything remotely reminiscent of a feeling, a sensation or a conscious experience. In classical physics, addressing the mind–brain problem is a formidable task because no physical mechanism is able to explain how the brain generates the unobservable, inner psychological world of conscious experiences and how in turn those conscious experiences steer the (...)
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  15. Quantum Information Theoretic Approach to the Mind–Brain Problem.Danko D. Georgiev - 2020 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 158:16-32.
    The brain is composed of electrically excitable neuronal networks regulated by the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. Further portraying the molecular composition of the brain, however, will not reveal anything remotely reminiscent of a feeling, a sensation or a conscious experience. In classical physics, addressing the mind-brain problem is a formidable task because no physical mechanism is able to explain how the brain generates the unobservable, inner psychological world of conscious experiences and how in turn those conscious experiences steer the (...)
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  16. Motivation and Synopsis of the New Theory of Time.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    The motivation comes from the analogy (equivalence?) of the A-series to ontologically private qualia in Dualism. This leads to the proposal that two quantum systems, no matter how small, mutually observe each other when and only when they come to share the same A-series. McTaggart's A-series and B-series can be varied independently so they cannot be the same temporal variable.
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  17. Observations.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Observations on qualia, death, free will, why there is something rather than nothing, and the Star Trek vs. the Star Wars debate.
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  18. A New Theory of Time 2 29 2020.Paul Merriam & Jeremy Horne - manuscript
    We motivate and develop a new theory of time and apply it to a few thought experiments in physics.
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  19. The Super Justification Argument for Phenomenal Transparency.Kevin Morris - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, Philip Goff argues that the case against physicalist views of consciousness turns on “Phenomenal Transparency”, roughly the thesis that phenomenal concepts reveal the essential nature of phenomenal properties. This paper considers the argument that Goff offers for Phenomenal Transparency. The key premise is that our introspective judgments about current conscious experience are “Super Justified”, in that these judgments enjoy an epistemic status comparable to that of simple mathematical judgments, and a better epistemic status than run (...)
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  20. Does the Explanatory Gap Rest on a Fallacy?François Kammerer - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):649-667.
    Many philosophers have tried to defend physicalism concerning phenomenal consciousness, by explaining dualist intuitions within a purely physicalist framework. One of the most common strategies to do so consists in interpreting the alleged “explanatory gap” between phenomenal states and physical states as resulting from a fallacy, or a cognitive illusion. In this paper, I argue that the explanatory gap does not rest on a fallacy or a cognitive illusion. This does not imply the falsity of physicalism, but it has consequences (...)
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  21. Locating Consciousness: Why Experience Can't Be Objectified.T. W. Clark - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (11-12):60-85.
    The world appears to conscious creatures in terms of experienced sensory qualities, but science doesn't find sensory experience in that world, only physical objects and properties. I argue that the failure to locate consciousness in the world is a function of our necessarily representational relation to reality as knowers: we won't discover the terms in which reality is represented by us in the world as it appears in those terms. Qualia -- arguably a type of representational content -- will therefore (...)
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  22. Qualia.David Villena Saldaña - 2016 - Escritura y Pensamiento 39 (39):79-103.
    This paper shows why qualia constitute a problem for any theory of mental phenomena. We use the term ‘qualia’ in reference to non-intentional features of mental states which are eminently qualitative, i.e. perceptions, emotions, moods and body sensations. These non-intentional features are usually described as intrinsic, ineffable, infallible, atomic, private, direct and irreducible to the physical. The paper also explains the absent qualia argument which is addressed as a critique to functionalism.
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  23. Bayesing Qualia: Consciousness as Inference, Not Raw Datum.A. Clark, K. Friston & S. Wilkinson - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):19-33.
    The meta-problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 2018) is the problem of explaining the behaviours and verbal reports that we associate with the so-called 'hard problem of consciousness'. These may include reports of puzzlement, of the attractiveness of dualism, of explanatory gaps, and the like. We present and defend a solution to the meta-problem. Our solution takes as its starting point the emerging picture of the brain as a hierarchical inference engine. We show why such a device, operating under familiar forms of (...)
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  24. Welcome to Strong Illusionism.Daniel C. Dennett - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):48-58.
    David Chalmers underestimates the possibility that actually answering the 'hard question' will make both the hard problem and the meta-problem of consciousness evaporate.
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  25. Editorial Introduction: Debates on the Meta-Problem of Consciousness.F. Kammerer - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):8-18.
  26. A Short Solution to the Hard Problem.A. T. Bollands - 2019 - The Philosophical Society Review 41.
    This very short paper provides a panpsychic solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness. It was presented to the Philosophical Society of the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education (OUDCE) on 18th August 2019, and posted on Twitter (@ATBollands) on the 20th August, 2019. It solves the Hard Problem by 1) making the case for Panpsychism, and 2) solving the Combination Problem (Panpsychism's equivalent of the Hard Problem). -/- The paper aims to be clear, concise, to-the-point and accessible to the (...)
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  27. Explaining Representation: A Reply to Matthen.Frances Egan - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (1):137-142.
    Mohan Matthen has failed to understand the position I develop and defend in “How to Think about Mental Content.” No doubt some of the fault lies with my exposition, though Matthen often misconstrues passages that are clear in context. He construes clarifications and elaborations of my argument to be “concessions.” Rather than dwell too much on specific misunderstandings of my explanatory project and its attendant claims, I will focus on the main points of disagreement.RepresentationalismMy project in the paper is to (...)
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  28. I Am.Cosmin Visan - 2019 - New York, Statele Unite ale Americii: Amazon.
    Consciousness is arguably the greatest mystery in science, still being unsolved after millennia of thinking. This book is one further attempt at trying to bring new insights regarding consciousness. While certainly the mystery will continue, the ideas in this book will raise awareness regarding an aspect of the phenomenology of consciousness that has been overlooked by past thinkers, and that is the emergent structure of consciousness, which in the end will be shown to be realized by the nature of self-reference (...)
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  29. The Illusion of Conscious Experience.François Kammerer - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Illusionism about phenomenal consciousness is the thesis that phenomenal consciousness does not exist, even though it seems to exist. This thesis is widely judged to be uniquely counterintuitive: the idea that consciousness is an illusion strikes most people as absurd, and seems almost impossible to contemplate in earnest. Defenders of illusionism should be able to explain the apparent absurdity of their own thesis, within their own framework. However, this is no trivial task: arguably, none of the illusionist theories currently on (...)
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  30. Color Relationism and Enactive Ontology.Andrea Pace Giannotta - 2018 - Phenomenology and Mind 14:56-67.
    In this paper, I present the enactive theory of color that implies a form of color relationism. I argue that this view constitutes a better alternative to color subjectivism and color objectivism. I liken the enactive view to Husserl’s phenomenology of perception, arguing that both deconstruct the clear duality of subject and object, which is at the basis of the other theories of color, in order to claim the co-constitution of subject and object in the process of experience. I also (...)
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  31. Jaké to je, nebo o čem to je? Místo vědomí v materiálním světě.Tomas Hribek - 2017 - Praha, Česko: Filosofia.
    [What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] Summary: The book is both a survey of the contemporary debate and a defense of a distinctive position. Most philosophers nowadays assume that the focus of the philosophy of consciousness, its shared explanandum, is a certain property of experience variously called “phenomenal character,” “qualitative character,” “qualia” or “phenomenology,” understood in terms of what it is like to undergo the experience in question. Consciousness as defined in (...)
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  32. Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs: How Peircean Semiotics Combines Phenomenal Qualia and Practical Effects.Marc Champagne - 2018 - Cham: Springer.
    It is often thought that consciousness has a qualitative dimension that cannot be tracked by science. Recently, however, some philosophers have argued that this worry stems not from an elusive feature of the mind, but from the special nature of the concepts used to describe conscious states. Marc Champagne draws on the neglected branch of philosophy of signs or semiotics to develop a new take on this strategy. The term “semiotics” was introduced by John Locke in the modern period – (...)
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  33. Qualia, Properties, Modality.Brian Loar - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):113-129.
  34. Quality-Space Theory in Olfaction.Benjamin D. Young, Andreas Keller & David Rosenthal - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
    Quality-space theory (QST) explains the nature of the mental qualities distinctive of perceptual states by appeal to their role in perceiving. QST is typically described in terms of the mental qualities that pertain to color. Here we apply QST to the olfactory modalities. Olfaction is in various respects more complex than vision, and so provides a useful test case for QST. To determine whether QST can deal with the challenges olfaction presents, we show how a quality space (QS) could be (...)
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  35. The Semiotic Mind: A Fundamental Theory of Consciousness.Marc Champagne - 2014 - Dissertation, York Universiy
    One of the leading concerns animating current philosophy of mind is that, no matter how good a scientific account is, it will leave out what its like to be conscious. The challenge has thus been to study or at least explain away that qualitative dimension. Pursuant with that aim, I investigate how philosophy of signs in the Peircean tradition can positively reshape ongoing debates. Specifically, I think the account of iconic or similarity-based reference we find in semiotic theory offers a (...)
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  36. Between Language and Consciousness: Linguistic Qualia, Awareness, and Cognitive Models.Piotr Konderak - 2017 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 48 (1):285-302.
    The main goal of the paper is to present a putative role of consciousness in language capacity. The paper contrasts the two approaches characteristic for cognitive semiotics and cognitive science. Language is treated as a mental phenomenon and a cognitive faculty. The analysis of language activity is based on the Chalmers’ distinction between the two forms of consciousness: phenomenal and psychological. The approach is seen as an alternative to phenomenological analyses typical for cognitive semiotics. Further, a cognitive model of the (...)
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  37. Red is the Hardest Problem.William S. Robinson - 2017 - Topoi 36 (1):5-16.
    Philip Pettit has advocated a “looks as powers” theory as an alternative to theories that rely on instances of qualia in their account of looking red. Andy Clark has offered a similar view. If these accounts are successful, the Hard Problem is moribund. This paper asks how red comes into cases of something’s looking red to someone. A likely suggestion leads to a conundrum for LAPT: the physical complexity that it attributes to the property red is not evident in experience, (...)
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  38. A Case Where Access Implies Qualia.Andy Clark - 2000 - Analysis 60 (1):30-37.
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  39. Consciousness or Qualia: What a Conversation From Leading Thinkers in the Field May Sound Like: Sweis Consciousness or Qualia.Khaldoun A. Sweis - 2009 - Think 8 (23):45-53.
    The following is an imaginary conversation on the ever elusive qualia, or the ‘what is it like’ feeling, or conscious experiences, that has left philosophers and cognitive scientists searching for answers. This article is meant to give the beginning reader an overall view of this phenomena. Qualia is the technical name for conscious experiences like seeing the colour red or listening to Handel's Messiah. The problem is that these conscious experiences are apparently nowhere to be found in our physical brains. (...)
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  40. Functionalism and the Qualia Wars.Ekai Txapartegi - 2006 - Abstracta 2 (2):180-196.
    The debate concerning the reality of qualia has stagnated. The dominant functionalist approach to qualia concentrates largely on the filter-strategy as applied to color experiences. The filter-strategy takes color experiences as material-to-be-functionally-filtered under the assumption that qualia as such cannot be filtered. However, despite the speculative efforts made in this direction, the debate between phenomenalists and representationalists remains unresolved. The main idea of this paper is to show that the lack of success settling “the qualia war” has to be understood (...)
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  41. Qualia and Meaning – Critique to Paul Churchland.Alberto Carrillo Canán & María Denisse Vásquez Recinos - 2006 - Abstracta 2 (2):197-207.
    In Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind, Paul Churchland defends semantic holism through a series of arguments and thought-experiments with which he seeks to prove that the intrinsic qualitative identity of sensation or qualia, have no semantic significance at all. He argues that the meaning of terms used to describe sensations is not related to the sensation itself, but that the network of sentences in which they are contained is what determines their position in semantic space. The thought-experiments with (...)
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  42. The Epistemic Role of Qualitative Content.Theodore W. Schick - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (2):383-393.
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  43. What Is It Like to See with Your Ears?: The Representational Theory of Mind.Dominic M. Mciver Lopes - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (2):439-453.
    Representational theories of mind cannot individuate the sense modalities in a principled manner. According to representationalism, the phenomenal character of experiences is determined by their contents. The usual objection is that inverted qualia are possible, so the phenomenal character of experiences may vary independently of their contents. But the objection is inconclusive. It raises difficult questions about the metaphysics of secondary qualities and it is difficult to see whether or not inverted qualia are possible. This paper proposes an alternative test (...)
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  44. From Quanta to Qualia: How a Paradigm Shift Turns Into Science.Menas C. Kafatos Deepak Chopra - 2014 - Philosophy Study 4 (4).
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  45. Seeing Qualia and Positing the World.Ted Honderich - 1991 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 30:129-151.
    It is the business of philosophy to deal without presupposition with the question of the general nature of the world and with the question of how or indeed whether we can know that nature. These are questions to which answers are given in the realism of ordinary belief, as it can be called, the phenomenalism of Berkeley, the pragmatism and the scientism of Quine, and the varieties of scepticism. The ontological and the epistemological questions are bound up with another, that (...)
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  46. The Epistemic View of Subjectivity.Scott Sturgeon - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (5):221-235.
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  47. A Vehicular Theory of Corporeal Qualia.Jonathan Waskan - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (1):103-125.
    I have argued elsewhere that non-sentential representations that are the close kin of scale models can be, and often are, realized by computational processes. I will attempt here to weaken any resistance to this claim that happens to issue from those who favor an across-the-board computational theory of cognitive activity. I will argue that embracing the idea that certain computers harbor nonsentential models gives proponents of the computational theory of cognition the means to resolve the conspicuous disconnect between the sentential (...)
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  48. The Engelsian Inversion.Norman Levine - 1983 - Studies in Soviet Thought 25 (4):307-321.
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  49. The Answer to the Hard Problem of Consciousness.Leibel Morosow - unknown
    Some people are dualists and some are materialists, but for some reason they can't convince each other, they always seem to be talking past each other, so what is going on?
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  50. Writing on the Page of Consciousness.Christoph Hoerl - 2015 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 115 (3pt3):187-209.
    I identify one particular strand of thought in Thomas Nagel's ‘What Is It Like to Be a Bat?’, which I think has helped shape a certain conception of perceptual consciousness that is still prevalent in the literature. On this conception, perceptual consciousness is to be explained in terms of a special class of properties perceptual experiences themselves exhibit. I also argue that this conception is in fact in conflict with one of the key ideas that supposedly animates Nagel's argument in (...)
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