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. 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 (...)
  2. Does the Explanatory Gap Rest on a Fallacy?François Kammerer - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-19.
    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 (...)
  3. 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 (...)
  4. 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 (...)
  5. 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 – (...)
  6. 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 (...)
  7. 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 (...)
  8. Red is the Hardest Problem.William 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, (...)
  9. 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 (...)
  10. From Quanta to Qualia: How a Paradigm Shift Turns Into Science.Menas C. Kafatos Deepak Chopra - 2014 - Philosophy Study 4 (4).
  11. 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 (...)
  12. The Epistemic View of Subjectivity.Scott Sturgeon - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (5):221-235.
  13. A Case Where Access Implies Qualia.Andy Clark - 2000 - Analysis 60 (1):30-38.
  14. 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 (...)
  15. The Engelsian Inversion.Norman Levine - 1983 - Studies in Soviet Thought 25 (4):307-321.
  16. 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?
  17. 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 (...)
  18. A. J. Ayer: Memorial Essays.A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.) - 1992 - Cambridge University Press.
    A. J. Ayer, who died in 1989, was acknowledged as one of Britain's most distinguished philosophers. In this memorial collection of essays leading Western philosophers reflect on Ayer's place in the history of philosophy and explore aspects of his thought and teaching. The volume also includes a posthumous essay by Ayer himself: 'A defence of empiricism'. These essays are undoubtedly a fitting tribute to a major figure, but the collection is not simply retrospective; rather it looks forward to present and (...)
  19. Sensazioni o proprietà sensibili? Lo statuto ontologico dei qualia in fenomenologia.Andrea Pace Giannotta - 2015 - In Roberta Lanfredini (ed.), Architettura della conoscenza e ontologia. Mimesis. pp. 157-187.
    In this paper, I address the issue of the ontological status of qualitative properties. I discuss the prevalent approaches to the problem of qualia in philosophy of mind, in relation to the various attempts at naturalizing the mind and the various theories of perception. I compare these views with Husserl's phenomenology, highlighting the phenomenological distinction between phenomenal contents of mental states and sensory properties of the perceived objects. I present some open issues of this view, in order to show how (...)
  20. The Foundations of Cognitive Science.Joao Branquinho (ed.) - 2001 - Oxford University Press UK.
    The Foundations of Cognitive Science is a set of thirteen new essays on key topics in this lively interdisciplinary field, by a stellar international line-up of authors. Philosophers, psychologists, and neurologists here come together to investigate such fascinating subjects as consciousness; vision; rationality; artificial life; the neural basis of language, cognition, and emotion; and the relations between mind and world, for instance our representation of numbers and space. The contributors are Ned Block, Margaret Boden, Susan Carey, Patricia Churchland, Paul Churchland, (...)
  21. Smelling Phenomenal.Benjamin D. Young - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
    Qualitative-consciousness arises at the sensory level of olfactory processing and pervades our experience of smells to the extent that qualitative character is maintained whenever we are aware of undergoing an olfactory experience. Building upon the distinction between Access and Phenomenal Consciousness the paper offers a nuanced distinction between Awareness and Qualitative-consciousness that is applicable to olfaction in a manner that is conceptual precise and empirically viable. Mounting empirical research is offered substantiating the applicability of the distinction to olfaction and showing (...)
  22. Revisiting Turing and His Test: Comprehensiveness, Qualia, and the Real World.Vincent C. Müller & Aladdin Ayesh (eds.) - 2012 - AISB.
    Proceedings of the papers presented at the Symposium on "Revisiting Turing and his Test: Comprehensiveness, Qualia, and the Real World" at the 2012 AISB and IACAP Symposium that was held in the Turing year 2012, 2–6 July at the University of Birmingham, UK. Ten papers. - http://www.pt-ai.org/turing-test --- Daniel Devatman Hromada: From Taxonomy of Turing Test-Consistent Scenarios Towards Attribution of Legal Status to Meta-modular Artificial Autonomous Agents - Michael Zillich: My Robot is Smarter than Your Robot: On the Need for (...)
  23. Phenomenal Qualities as Neurofunctional States.Gregory Cardwell Jarrett - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    My goal is to provide a friendly account of how phenomenal qualities fit with a realist, physicalist world view. I argue that neurofunctionalism is both the most intuitive, and the most respectable position available. Functionalists and type-materialists have been arguing across purposes, and the best motivation for either of these views is the manifest implausibility of the other. Neurofunctionalism, however, avoids the alleged chauvinism of materialism--as well its serious epistemological shortcomings--while at the same time avoiding the notorious qualia-based objections to (...)
  24. A Defense of Materialism Against Attacks Based on Qualia.Jeffrey Charles Beall - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    Qualia--the "what it's like features" of minds--pose a great challenge to a materialist view of the world. The two strongest and most popular objections to materialism based on qualia are the Zombie Argument and the Knowledge Argument. The current dissertation defends materialism against these two popular arguments. ;I argue that if zombie worlds exist, then qualia cause no physical events--they're epiphenomenal$\sb{\rm p},$ or epiphenomenal with respect to the physical domain of our world. I argue, however, that there is good reason (...)
  25. Subduing Subjectivity and Capturing Qualia: A Reply to First-Person Isolationism in the Philosophy of Mind.Bryon J. Cunningham - 2000 - Dissertation, Emory University
    The current orthodoxy in the philosophy of mind can be thought of as a kind of third-person imperialism, viz. the view that consciousness, like other natural phenomena, will yield to scientific explanation at some level of analysis. Among its dissenters are a group of antireductionists and antimaterialists who advocate a kind of first-person isolationism, viz. the view that consciousness, unlike other natural phenomena, will fail to yield to scientific explanation at any level of analysis. In its various forms, the latter (...)
  26. Are Qualia Incoherent?James John - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:235-252.
    The qualia theory says that experiences’ phenomenal properties can come apart from and completely outrun their representational properties and that phenomenal properties are to be accounted for in terms of “qualia,” intrinsic nonrepresentational mental properties of experience. In Consciousness and Cognition Michael Thau argues that QT is incoherent. Thau’s argument fails. It rests on an illegitimate assimilation of phenomenal differences to differences in “the way things seem.” It begs the question by assuming that representational content can suffice for phenomenal character. (...)
  27. Why Sensations Must Be Neurological Properties: A Defense of the Identity Theory.Nicholas Keith Simmons - unknown
    In this dissertation, I defend the thesis that qualitative mental states known as qualia are identical to physical properties. In Chapter 1, I argue that qualia have a functional role in the world, and that is to facilitate non-automatic mental processes. In Chapter 2, I demonstrate how non-reductive accounts of the mind fail. In Chapter 3, I demonstrate how my reductive account fares better than similar accounts with respect to common and contemporary objections. In Chapter 4, I address arguments against (...)
  28. Liar Paradox Monism: A Wildean Solution To The Explanatory Gap Between Materialism And Qualia.Douglas Robinson - 2010 - Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 14:66-106.
  29. Breaking the Spell: Materialism and the Qualia Intuition.R. Henderson - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (7-8):184-192.
    The paper consists of a simple argument in favour of reductive materialism. It is argued that the usual arguments for dualism all presuppose what I call the qualia intuition , the assumption that qualia are functionally undefinable . This assumption has given rise to a long-standing dilemma; irreducible qualia or no qualia . The contrary assumption, ~QI, however, gives rise to a different choice; reducible qualia or no qualia . The real question then is: QI or ~QI ? It is (...)
  30. Can Mary's Qualia Be Epiphenomenal?Daniel Lim & Wang Hao - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (3):503-512.
    Frank Jackson (1982) famously argued, with his so-called Knowledge Argument (KA), that qualia are non-physical. Moreover, he argued that qualia are epiphenomenal. Some have objected that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of KA. One way of developing this objection, following Neil Campbell (2003; 2012), is to argue that epiphenomenalism is at odds with the kind of behavioral evidence that makes the soundness of KA plausible. We argue that Campbell’s claim that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of KA is (...)
  31. Perceptual Transparency and Perceptual Constancy.Jan Almäng - 2014 - Husserl Studies 30 (1):1-19.
    A central topic in discussions about qualia concerns their purported transparency. According to transparency theorists, an experience is transparent in the sense that the subject having the experience is aware of nothing but the intended object of the experience. In this paper this notion is criticized for failing to account for the dynamical aspects of perception. A key assumption in the paper is that perceptual content has a certain temporal depth, in the sense that each act of perception can present (...)
  32. A Physicalist Theory of Qualia.T. Nagel - 1985 - The Monist 68 (4):491-506.
  33. Materialism and Qualia.Joseph Levine - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
  34. Res-Qualia: Could Consciousness Evolve?Raquel Paricio Garcia - 2007 - Technoetic Arts 5 (1):35-44.
  35. Pain, Qualia, and the Explanatory Gap.Don Gustafson - 1998 - Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):371-387.
  36. Knowledge: The Qualia Argument.Frank Jackson - 2002 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Martine Nida-Rümelin 3.
  37. Reductionism and Qualia.Piotr Boltuc - 1998 - Epistemologia 4 (1):111.
  38. A Higher-Order, Dispositional Theory of Qualia.John O'Dea - 2007 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 15 (2):81-93.
    Higher-order theories of consciousness, such as those of Armstrong, Rosenthal and Lycan, typically distinguish sharply between consciousness and phenomenal character, or qualia. The higher-order states posited by these theories are intended only as explanations of consciousness, and not of qualia. In this paper I argue that the positing of higher-order perceptions may help to explain qualia. If we are realists about qualia, conceived as those intrinsic properties of our experience of which we are introspectibly aware, then higher-order perception might have (...)
  39. Reductionism and Qualia.Sanela Ristić - 2006 - Theoria 49 (3):27-49.
  40. On Chalmers' Principle of Organizational Invariance and Hisdancing Qualia'andfading Qualia'thought Experiments.William M. Greenberg - 1998 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (1):53-58.
    David Chalmers has proposed several principles in his attack on the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. One of these is the principle of organizational invariance , which he asserts is significantly supported by two thought experiments involving human brains and their functional silicon-based isomorphs. I claim that while the principle is an intelligible hypothesis and could possibly be true, his thought experiments fail to provide support for it.
  41. Leopold Stubenberg, Consciousness and Qualia.Josh Weisberg - 1999 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 6:154-154.
  42. November Qualia.Joseph Goguen - 2005 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (11):73.
  43. If Qualia Evolved..A. G. Cairns-Smith - 1999 - In S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak & David Chalmers (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness Iii: The Third Tucson Discussions and Debates. MIT Press. pp. 3--271.
  44. Postscript on Qualia.Frank Jackson - 2004 - In Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), There's Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument. MIT Press. pp. 417-420.
  45. I: The Knowledge Argument for Qualia.Epiphenomenal Qualia - 2006 - In Maureen Eckert (ed.), Theories of Mind: An Introductory Reader. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 102.
  46. Qualia and the Structuring of Verb Meaning.Pierrette Bouillon & Federica Busa - 2001 - In Pierrette Bouillon & Federica Busa (eds.), The Language of Word Meaning. Cambridge University Press. pp. 149--167.
  47. 10 The Ontological Status of Qualia and Sensations: How They Fit Into the Brain.John Smythies - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. MIT Press. pp. 191.
  48. 9 A Process-Oriented View of Qualia.Riccardo Manzotti - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. MIT Press. pp. 175.
  49. 5 The World of Qualia.Matjaž Potrˇc - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. MIT Press. pp. 109.
  50. 14 A Refutation of Qualia-Physicalism.Michael McKinsey - 2007 - In Michael O'Rourke Corey Washington (ed.), Situating Semantics: Essays on the Philosophy of John Perry. pp. 469.
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