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. Tantas Puertas Para Tebas: Sentidos y Qualia Pra Una Epistemología.Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar - 2010 - In María G. Navarro, Betty Estévez & Antolín Sánchez Cuervo (eds.), Claves Actuales de Pensamiento. Csic/Plaza y Valdés.
  2. 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 (...)
  3. How Much Work Can a Quale Do?William P. Banks - 1996 - Consciousness and Cognition 5 (3):368-80.
    It is argued that theoretical models cannot use qualia as explanatory tools, and cannot explain them either; thus, there is no way to make qualia do any useful work at all, at least in a theory. However, qualia do occur in both imagery and perception, and this article presents some ways of thinking about qualia from a functional perspective. Imagery differs from perception in its function. It is not a faded copy of perception. It is less distinct than perception because (...)
  4. 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 (...)
  5. Qualia From the Point of View of Language.Luca Berta - 2011 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (3).
    What is the difference between the discriminations made by a home appliance able to distinguish salt from sugar, and my sensations of salty and sweet? It is never taken into consideration that, in contrast to the appliance, I can have offline sensations, i.e., phenomenal experiences in the absence of direct environmental stimuli, mainly evoked by words occurring into thought, conversation, reading, etc. If we put this detachment stimuli/sensations in relation with the correlative detachment signs/referents inaugurated by the cognitive revolution of (...)
  6. Reductionism and Qualia.Piotr Boltuc - 1998 - Epistemologia 4 (1):111.
  7. 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.
  8. The Causal Efficacy of Qualia.Mark Bradley - 2011 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):11-12.
    Qualia are the elements of phenomenal consciousness -- the raw feels which constitute what it is like to be in a conscious mental state. Some claim that qualia are epiphenomenal properties -- mere by-products of brain function which are causally inert. Though this is an implausible theory, it is difficult to show that it is false. Here I present an ad hominem argument -- the argument from coincidence -- which shows that epiphenomenalism about qualia is explanatorily deficient because it leaves (...)
  9. Dancing Concepts.Bart Brands - 2008 - Topos 65:59.
  10. The Foundations of Cognitive Science.Branquinho Joao (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, (...)
  11. The Natural Course of Light Inverted: An Impresa in Chapman's Bussy D'Ambois.Albert R. Braunmuller - 1971 - Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34:356-360.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 (1979), 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 (...)
  14. Subjective Qualia From a Materialist Point of View.Paul M. Churchland - 1984 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:773 - 790.
    The aim of the paper is to defeat some standard anti-reductionist arguments concerning sensory qualia. Initially conditions on intertheoretic reduction in general are established. The standard arguments are then shown to presuppose a false conception of what reduction requires; or to commit a familiar intensional fallacy; or to be unsound; or to equivocate on crucial terms. An exploration of our making direct introspective contact with our neurophysiological states concludes the paper.
  15. A Case Where Access Implies Qualia.A. Clark - 2000 - Analysis 60 (1):30-38.
  16. Inversions Spectral and Bright: Comments on Melinda Campbell.Austen Clark - manuscript -
    Spectrum inversion is a thought experiment, and I would wager that there is no better diagnostic test to the disciplinary affiliation of a randomly selected member of the audience than your reaction to a thought experiment. It is a litmus test. If you find that you are paying close attention, subvocalizing objections, and that your heart-rate and metabolism go up, you have turned pink: you are a philosopher. If on the other hand the thought experiment leaves you cold, and you (...)
  17. The Origins of Qualia.Tim Crane - unknown -
  18. Why It Doesn't Matter to Metaphysics What Mary Learns.Robert Cummins, Martin Roth & Ian Harmon - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):541-555.
    The Knowledge Argument of Frank Jackson has not persuaded physicalists, but their replies have not dispelled the intuition that someone raised in a black and white environment gains genuinely new knowledge when she sees colors for the first time. In what follows, we propose an explanation of this particular kind of knowledge gain that displays it as genuinely new, but orthogonal to both physicalism and phenomenology. We argue that Mary’s case is an instance of a common phenomenon in which something (...)
  19. 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 (...)
  20. The Notion of a Recognitional Concept and Other Confusions.Malte Dahlgrün - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):139 - 160.
    The notion of a recognitional concept (RC) is stated precisely and shown to be unrelated to the proper notion of a perceptually based concept, defining of concept empiricism. More fundamentally, it is argued that the notion of an RC does not reflect a potentially sensible candidate theory of concepts at all and therefore ought to be abandoned from concept-theoretical discourse. In the later parts of the paper, it is shown independently of these points that Fodor's attacks on RCs are in (...)
  21. Qualia Compression.Lieven Decock & Igor Douven - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):129-150.
    Color qualia inversion scenarios have played a key role in various philosophical debates. Most notably perhaps, they have figured in skeptical arguments for the fundamental unknowability of other persons’ color experiences. For these arguments to succeed, it must be assumed that a person's having inverted color qualia may go forever unnoticed. This assumption is now generally deemed to be implausible. The present paper defines a variant of color qualia inversion—termed ‘‘color qualia compression’’—and argues that the possibility of undetectable color qualia (...)
  22. From Quanta to Qualia: How a Paradigm Shift Turns Into Science.Menas C. Kafatos Deepak Chopra - 2014 - Philosophy Study 4 (4).
  23. The Spectrum of Knowledge.Raphael Demos - 1947 - Philosophical Review 56 (3):237-257.
  24. 26 Quining Qualia.Daniel C. Dennett - 2002 - In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press. pp. 226.
  25. Being in Time.Shimon Edelman & Tomer Fekete - 2012 - In Shimon Edelman, Tomer Fekete & Neta Zach (eds.), Being in Time: Dynamical Models of Phenomenal Experience. John Benjamins. pp. 88--81.
  26. Explaining Representation: A Reply to Matthen.Frances Egan - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (1):1-6.
    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 (...)
  27. Preconditions of Predication: From Qualia to Quantum Mechanics.Malcolm Forster - 1991 - Topoi 10 (1):13-26.
    Although in every inductive inference, an act of invention is requisite, the act soon slips out of notice. Although we bind together facts by superinducing upon them a new Conception, this Conception, once introduced and applied, is looked upon as inseparably connected with the facts, and necessarily implied in them. Having once had the phenomena bound together in their minds in virtue of the Conception men can no longer easily restore them back to the detached and incoherent condition in which (...)
  28. Qualia Fest Rocks.Carl A. Fox - 2013 - The Philosophers' Magazine 61 (61):6-6.
  29. Introspection and Qualia: A Defense of Infallibility.Robert Francescotti - 2000 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 33 (3-4):161-173.
  30. Qualia and Phenomenal Concepts as Basis of the Knowledge Argument.Martina Fürst - 2004 - Acta Analytica 19 (32):143-152.
    The central attempt of this paper is to explain the underlying intuitions of Frank Jackson’s “Knowledge Argument” that the epistemic gap between phenomenal knowledge and physical knowledge points towards a corresponding ontological gap. The first step of my analysis is the claim that qualia are epistemically special because the acquisition of the phenomenal concept of a quale x requires the experience of x. Arguing what is so special about phenomenal concepts and pointing at the inherence-relation with the qualia they pick (...)
  31. Qualia, intentionale Zustände und menschliches Selbstverständnis.Volker Gadenne - 2007 - Facta Philosophica 9 (1):103-118.
  32. Res-Qualia: Could Consciousness Evolve?Raquel Paricio Garcia - 2007 - Technoetic Arts 5 (1):35-44.
  33. 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 work I address the issue of the ontological status of qualitative properties. First of all, I analyse the prevalent approach to the problem of qualia in philosophy of mind, within the project of naturalization of the mind. I highlight, in particular, that this project is based on a specific conception of material nature (mathematic-quantitative naturalism). Then, I thematize the epistemological presuppositions of this view, discussing them in relation to the so-called problem of perception. I do so taking into (...)
  34. Self, Cognition, Qualia, and World in Quantum Brain Dynamics.Gordon G. Globus - 1998 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (1):34-52.
    If the brain has a level of quantum functioning that permits superposition of possibilities and nonlocal control of states, then new answers to the problem of the consciousness/brain relation become available. My discussion is based on Yasue and co-workers’ account of a quantum field theory of brain functioning, called ‘quantum brain dynamics’. In the framework developed each person can properly state: ‘I am nonlocal control and my meanings are control variables.’ Cognition is identified with a conjugate reality and perception is (...)
  35. Musical Qualia, Context, Time and Emotion.J. Goguen - 2004 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (3-4):117-147.
    Nearly all listeners consider the subjective aspects of music, such as its emotional tone, to have primary importance. But contemporary philosophers often downplay, ignore, or even deny such aspects of experience. Moreover, traditional philosophies of music try to decontextualize it. Using music as an example, this paper explores the structure of qualitative experience, demonstrating that it is multi-layer emergent, non-compositional, enacted, and situation dependent, among other non-Cartesian properties. Our explanations draw on recent work in cognitive science, including blending, image schemas, (...)
  36. November Qualia.Joseph Goguen - 2005 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (11):73.
  37. Real Action in a Virtual World.Melvyn A. Goodale - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):984-985.
    O'Regan & Noë run into some difficulty in trying to reconcile their “seeing as acting” proposal with the perception and action account of the functions of the two streams of visual projections in the primate cerebral cortex. I suggest that part of the problem is their reluctance to acknowledge that the mechanisms in the ventral stream may play a more critical role in visual awareness and qualia than mechanisms in the dorsal stream.
  38. How Are Qualia Coupled to Functions?Jeffrey Gray - 2003 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (5):192-194.
  39. Review of “Emotions, Qualia and Consciousness” by Alfred Kaszniak (Ed.). [REVIEW]L. S. Greenberg - 2003 - Consciousness and Emotion 4 (2):327-333.
  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. 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 (...)
  42. Pain, Qualia, and the Explanatory Gap.Don Gustafson - 1998 - Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):371-387.
  43. Pain, Qualia, and the Explanatory Gap.Donald F. Gustafson - 1998 - Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):371-387.
    This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “ qualia ” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: looking at the history of the conception of pain; raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology of pain; (...)
  44. Qualia and Conscious Machines.Pentti O. A. Haikonen - 2009 - International Journal of Machine Consciousness 1 (2):225-234.
  45. Qualia and Color Concepts.Gilbert Harman - 1996 - Philosophical Issues 7:75-79.
  46. 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 (...)
  47. Something More About Inversion: A Rejoinder.L. E. Hicks - 1912 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 9 (19):520-523.
  48. Qualia.David Hilbert - unknown -
    Perception and thought are often, although not exclusively, concerned with information about the world. In the case of perceiving though, unlike thinking, it is widely believed that there is an additional element involved, a subjective feeling or, as it is often put, something that it is like to be perceiving. Qualia are these characteristic feelings that accompany perceiving. One motivation for the idea that we experience qualia is that there is a clear difference between seeing a red tomato and thinking (...)
  49. Visual Awareness and Visual Qualia.Christopher S. Hill - manuscript -
    Department of Philosophy Brown University Providence, RI 02915.
  50. What Would It "Be Like" to Solve the Hard Problem?: Cognition, Consciousness, and Qualia Zombies.Greg P. Hodes - 2005 - Neuroquantology 3 (1):43-58.
    David Chalmers argues that consciousness -- authentic, first-person, conscious consciousness -- cannot be reduced to brain events or to any physical event, and that efforts to find a workable mind-body identity theory are, therefore, doomed in principle. But for Chalmers and non-reductionist in general consciousness consists exclusively, or at least paradigmatically, of phenomenal or qualia-consciousness. This results in a seriously inadequate understanding both of consciousness and of the “hard problem.” I describe other, higher-order cognitional events which must be conscious if (...)
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