About this topic
Summary Qualia are sometimes taken to pose a significant barrier to physicalism about the mental. Because qualia are usually thought of as intrinsically qualitative properties that are immediately apprehensible in consciousness, and also sometimes as being essentially first-personal (and hence essentially private), epiphenomenal, and ineffable (richer than any possible conceptual scheme), the postulation of qualia is a prima facie challenge to the project of giving a naturalist account of the conscious mind.
Key works Chalmers 1996 and Kim 2005 present two different lines of argument for the conclusion that qualia are a challenge to thorough-going physicalism. Some representative responses to the qualia challenge to materialism are Lewis 1995Austen 1985Hardcastle 1996 and Hardin 1987.
Introductions Block 2004; Nagel 1974; Levine 1983; Chalmers 1995McGinn 1989
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  1. Social Externalism and the Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 2013 - Mind 122 (486):fzt072.
    According to social externalism, it is possible to possess a concept not solely in virtue of one’s intrinsic properties but also in virtue of relations to one’s linguistic community. Derek Ball (2009) argues, in effect, that (i) social externalism extends to our concepts of colour experience and (ii) this fact undermines both the knowledge argument against physicalism and the most popular physicalist response to it, known as the phenomenal concept strategy. I argue that Ball is mistaken about (ii) even granting (...)
  2. A New Argument for Mind-Brain Identity.István Aranyosi - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):489-517.
    In this article, I undertake the tasks: (i) of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality; and (ii) of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, (...)
  3. Physical Constituents of Qualia.István Aranyosi - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 116 (2):103-131.
    ABSTRACT. In this paper I propose a defense of a posteriori materialism. Prob- lems with a posteriori identity materialism are identi?ed, and a materialism based on composition, not identity, is proposed. The main task for such a proposal is to account for the relation between physical and phenomenal properties. Compos- ition does not seem to be ?t as a relation between properties, but I offer a peculiar way to understand property-composition, based on some recent ideas in the literature on ontology. (...)
  4. Qualia Ain't in the Head.David M. Armstrong - 1996 - Psyche 2 (1):31--4.
  5. Multiple Realizability, Qualia, and Natural Kinds.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
    Are qualia natural kinds? In order to give this question slightly more focus, and to show why it might be an interesting question, let me begin by saying a little about what I take qualia to be, and what natural kinds. For the purposes of this paper, I shall be assuming a fairly full-blooded kind of phenomenal realism about qualia: qualia, thus, include the qualitative painfulness of pain (rather than merely the functional specification of pain states), the qualitative redness in (...)
  6. Qualia and the Argument From Illusion: A Defence of Figment. [REVIEW]Andrew R. Bailey - 2007 - Acta Analytica 22 (2):85-103.
    This paper resurrects two discredited ideas in the philosophy of mind. The first: the idea that perceptual illusion might have something metaphysically significant to tell us about the nature of phenomenal consciousness. The second: that the colours and other qualities that ‘fill’ our sensory fields are occurrent properties (rather than representations of properties) that are, nevertheless, to be distinguished from the ‘objective’ properties of things in the external world. Theories of consciousness must recognize the existence of what Daniel Dennett mockingly (...)
  7. Critical Notice: Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism, by Derk Pereboom.Derek Ball - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (1):118-129.
    Critical notice of Derk Pereboom's "Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism". Discusses Pereboom's idea that conscious states might be misrepresented in introspection, and his idea that instantiations of mental properties are composed of instantiations of physical properties.
  8. Hard, Harder, Hardest.Katalin Balog - manuscript
    In this paper I discuss three problems of consciousness. The first two have been dubbed the “Hard Problem” and the “Harder Problem”. The third problem has received less attention and I will call it the “Hardest Problem”. The Hard Problem is a metaphysical and explanatory problem concerning the nature of conscious states. The Harder Problem is epistemological, and it concerns whether we can know, given physicalism, whether some creature physically different from us is conscious. The Hardest Problem is a problem (...)
  9. In Defense of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy1.Katalin Balog - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):1-23.
    During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, on this proposal, involve unique (...)
  10. Review of Torin Alter, Sven Walter , Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism[REVIEW]Katalin Balog - 2008 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (5).
    The book under review is a collection of thirteen essays on the nature phenomenal concepts and the ways in which phenomenal concepts figure in debates over physicalism. Phenomenal concepts are of special interest in a number of ways. First, they refer to phenomenal experiences, and the qualitative character of those experiences whose metaphysical status is hotly debated. There are recent arguments, originating in Descartes’ famous conceivability argument, that purport to show that phenomenal experience is irreducibly non-physical. Second, phenomenal concepts are (...)
  11. Review: Thinking About Consciousness. [REVIEW]Katalin Balog - 2004 - Mind 113 (452):774-778.
    Papineau in his book provides a detailed defense of physicalism via what has recently been dubbed the “phenomenal concept strategy”. I share his enthusiasm for this approach. But I disagree with his account of how a physicalist should respond to the conceivability arguments. Also I argue that his appeal to teleosemantics in explaining mental quotation is more like a promissory note than an actual theory.
  12. Conceivability, Possibility, and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
    This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...)
  13. Qualia and Introspection.Michael Beaton - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):88-110.
    The claim that behaviourally undetectable inverted spectra are possible has been endorsed by many physicalists. I explain why this starting point rules out standard forms of scientific explanation for qualia. The modern ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ is an updated way of defending problematic intuitions like these, but I show that it cannot help to recover standard scientific explanation. I argue that Chalmers is right: we should accept the falsity of physicalism if we accept this problematic starting point. I further argue that (...)
  14. Précis of "E-physicalism-a physicalist theory of phenomenal consciousness".Reinaldo Bernal Velasquez - 2013 - Ideas Y Valores 152 (152):268-297.
    El libro E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de laconciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experiencia subjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real,y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
  15. E-Physicalism. A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness.Reinaldo J. Bernal - 2012 - Ontos Verlag.
    This work advances a theory in the metaphysics of phenomenal consciousness, which the author labels “e-physicalism”. Firstly, he endorses a realist stance towards consciousness and physicalist metaphysics. Secondly, he criticises Strong AI and functionalist views, and claims that consciousness has an internal character. Thirdly, he discusses HOT theories, the unity of consciousness, and holds that the “explanatory gap” is not ontological but epistemological. Fourthly, he argues that consciousness is not a supervenient but an emergent property, not reducible and endowed with (...)
  16. Re-Acquaintance with Qualia.John C. Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):353 – 378.
    Frank Jackson argued, in an astronomically frequently cited paper on 'Epiphenomenal qualia '[Jackson 1982 that materialism must be mistaken. His argument is called the knowledge argument. Over the years since he published that paper, he gradually came to the conviction that the conclusion of the knowledge argument must be mistaken. Yet he long remained totally unconvinced by any of the very numerous published attempts to explain where his knowledge argument had gone astray. Eventually, Jackson did publish a diagnosis of the (...)
  17. Acquaintance with Qualia.John C. Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 1990 - Theoria 61 (3):129-147.
  18. Quantity of Experience: Brain-Duplication and Degrees of Consciousness. [REVIEW]Nick Bostrom - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (2):185-200.
    If a brain is duplicated so that there are two brains in identical states, are there then two numerically distinct phenomenal experiences or only one? There are two, I argue, and given computationalism, this has implications for what it is to implement a computation. I then consider what happens when a computation is implemented in a system that either uses unreliable components or possesses varying degrees of parallelism. I show that in some of these cases there can be, in a (...)
  19. Qualia and Analytical Conditionals.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):111-135.
  20. Editorial: Standing on the Verge: Lessons and Limits From the Empirical Study of Consciousness.Richard Brown - 2012 - Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):597-599.
    The papers in this special issue are all descended from papers presented at the second Online Consciousness Conference. I founded the Online Consciousness Conference at Consciousness Online (http://consciousnessonline.wordpress.com) in 2008 mostly because no one else would. Being inspired by the Online Philosophy Conference, I mentioned to several people that it would be great if we had something like that in Consciousness Studies. People I talked to were very enthusiastic but no one seemed like they wanted to initiate the process. I (...)
  21. Can Science Explain Consciousness? Toward a Solution to the 'Hard Problem'.Dan J. Bruiger - manuscript
    For diverse reasons, the problem of phenomenal consciousness is persistently challenging. Mental terms are characteristically ambiguous, researchers have philosophical biases, secondary qualities are excluded from objective description, and philosophers love to argue. Adhering to a regime of efficient causes and third-person descriptions, science as it has been defined has no place for subjectivity or teleology. A solution to the “hard problem” of consciousness will require a radical approach: to take the point of view of the cognitive system itself. To facilitate (...)
  22. Still Epiphenomenal Qualia: Response to Muller.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):105-107.
    Hans Muller has recently attempted to show that Frank Jackson cannot assert the existence of qualia without thereby falsifying himself on the matter of such mental states being epiphenomenal with respect to the physical world. I argue that Muller misunderstands the commitments of qualia epiphenomenalism and that, as a result, his arguments against Jackson do not go through.
  23. Knowing Qualia: A Reply to Jackson.Paul M. Churchland - 1989 - In Yujin Nagasawa, Peter Ludlow & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), A Neurocomputational Perspective. MIT Press. pp. 163--178.
  24. A Physicalist Theory of Qualia.Clark Austen - 1985 - The Monist 68 (4):491-506.
    Although the capacity to discriminate between different qualia is typically admitted to have a definition in terms of functional role, the qualia thereby related are thought to elude functional definition. In this paper I argue that these views are inconsistent. Given a functional model of discrimination, one can construct from it a definition of qualia. The problem is similar in many ways to Goodman's definition of qualia in terms of 'matching', and I argue that many of his findings survive reinterpretation (...)
  25. In Defence of Antecedent Physicalism.Daniel Cohnitz - 2012 - In A. Newen & R. van Riel (eds.), Introduction to the Philosophy of John Perry. CSLI.
  26. Consciousness and The Prospects of Physicalism. [REVIEW]Coleman Sam - 2013 - Philosophical Quarterly 63 (253):824-827.
  27. Mind-Body Identity: Cross-Categorial or Not?James W. Cornman - 1977 - Philosophical Studies 32 (2):165 - 174.
  28. Materialism and Sensations.James W. Cornman - 1971 - Yale University Press.
  29. Reductive Physicalism and Phenomenal Properties: The Nature of the Problem.Brian Crabb - 2010 - Lambert Academic Publishers.
    This work examines and critically evaluates the proposal that phenomenal properties, or the subjective qualities of experience, present a formidable challenge for the mind-body identity theory. Physicalism per se is construed as being ontically committed only to phenomena which can be made epistemically and cognitively available in the third person; observed and understood from within an objective frame of reference. Further, the identity relation between the mental and the physical is taken to be strict identity; the mental phenomena in question (...)
  30. 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 (...)
  31. 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 (...)
  32. Revelation and Physicalism.Nic Damnjanovic - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (1):69-91.
    Revelation is the thesis that having an experience that instantiates some phenomenal property puts us in a position to know the nature or essence of that property. It is widely held that although Revelation is prima facie plausible, it is inconsistent with physicalism, and, in particular, with the claim that phenomenal properties are physical properties. I outline the standard argument for the incompatibility of Revelation and physicalism and compare it with the Knowledge Argument. By doing so, I hope to show (...)
  33. Recognitional Identification and the Knowledge Argument.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (3):325-340.
    Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge about experiences is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. Some physicalists (e.g., John Perry) have countered by arguing that what Jackson’s Mary, the perfect scientist who acquires all physical knowledge about experiencing red while being locked in a monochromatic room, lacks before experiencing red is merely a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity, and that since lacking a piece of recognitional knowledge of (...)
  34. The Puzzle of Consciousness.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Cilicia Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):76-85.
    In this article, I aim to present some of the reasons why consciousness is viewed as an intractable problem by many philosophers. Furthermore, I will argue that if these reasons are properly appreciated, then McGinn's mysterianism may not sound as far-fetched as it would otherwise sound.
  35. Physicalism and Phenomenal Concepts.Erhan Demircioglu - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):257-277.
    Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. In recent years, a consensus has emerged that the credibility of this and other well-known anti-physicalist arguments can be undermined by allowing that we possess a special category of concepts of experiences, phenomenal concepts, which are conceptually independent from physical/functional concepts. It is held by a large number of philosophers that since the conceptual independence of phenomenal (...)
  36. Chalmers' Fading and Dancing Qualla.Liam P. Dempsey - 2002 - Southwest Philosophy Review 18 (2):65-80.
    It has become popular to distinguish between phenomenal and non-phenomenal kinds of mentality and consciousness, for example, phenomenal and functional kinds of consciousness, or qualia and cognition. As Chalmers has so famously suggested, explaining mental phenomena like functionally “conscious” states constitutes some of the “easy problems” in philosophy of mind; explaining phenomenal consciousness, on the other hand, is the “hard problem.” One difficulty with this distinction is that it leaves open the nomological possibility of systems (“phenomenal zombies”) which are conscious (...)
  37. RoboMary, Blue Banana Tricks, and the Metaphysics of Consciousness: A Critique of Daniel Dennett's Apology for Physicalism.John M. DePoe - 2013 - Philosophia Christi 15 (1):119-132.
    Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to "pump" the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I will summarize Dennett's recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett's defense of (...)
  38. Phenomenal Properties.Richard Double - 1985 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45 (March):383-92.
  39. Embodied Conceivability: How to Keep the Phenomenal Concept Strategy Grounded.Guy Dove & Andreas Elpidorou - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (5):580-611.
    The Phenomenal Concept Strategy offers the physicalist perhaps the most promising means of explaining why the connection between mental facts and physical facts appears to be contingent even though it is not. In this article, we show that the large body of evidence suggesting that our concepts are often embodied and grounded in sensorimotor systems speaks against standard forms of the PCS. We argue, nevertheless, that it is possible to formulate a novel version of the PCS that is thoroughly in (...)
  40. A Posteriori Physicalism and Introspection.Andreas Elpidorou - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2).
    Introspection presents our phenomenal states in a manner otherwise than physical. This observation is often thought to amount to an argument against physicalism: if introspection presents phenomenal states as they essentially are, then phenomenal states cannot be physical states, for we are not introspectively aware of phenomenal states as physical states. In this article, I examine whether this argument threatens a posteriori physicalism. I argue that as along as proponents of a posteriori physicalism maintain that phenomenal concepts present the nature (...)
  41. Hypothetical Identities: Explanatory Problems for the Explanatory Argument.Markus I. Eronen - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (4):571-582.
    Recently, several philosophers have defended an explanatory argument that supposedly provides novel empirical grounds for accepting the type identity theory of phenomenal consciousness. They claim that we are justified in believing that the type identity thesis is true because it provides the best explanation for the correlations between physical properties and phenomenal properties. In this paper, I examine the actual role identities play in science and point out crucial shortcomings in the explanatory argument. I show that the supporters of the (...)
  42. Qualia and Brain Processes.Hans Flohr - 1992 - In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction? Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.
  43. 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 (...)
  44. In Defence of Qualia-Epiphenomenalism.Volker Gadenne - 2006 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (1-2):101-114.
    Epiphenomenalism has been criticized with several objections. It has been argued that epiphenomenalism is incompatible with the alleged causal relevance of mental states, and that it renders knowledge of our own conscious states impossible. In this article, it is demonstrated that qualia-epiphenomenalism follows from some well- founded assumptions, and that it meets the cited objections. Though not free from difficulties, it is at least superior to its main competitors, namely, physicalism and interactionism.
  45. Acquaintance, Parsimony, and Epiphenomenalism.Brie Gertler - forthcoming - In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument Then and Now. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Some physicalists (Balog 2012, Howell 2013), and most dualists, endorse the acquaintance response to the Knowledge Argument. This is the claim that Mary gains substantial new knowledge, upon leaving the room, because phenomenal knowledge requires direct acquaintance with phenomenal properties. The acquaintance response is an especially promising way to make sense of the Mary case. I argue that it casts doubt on two claims often made on behalf of physicalism, regarding parsimony and mental causation. I show that those who endorse (...)
  46. Consciousness and Qualia Cannot Be Reduced.Brie Gertler - 2006 - In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell. pp. 202-216.
  47. Are We Three?Raam Gokhale - 2012 - Philosophy Pathways (169).
    We may be tempted to compare physicalist attempts to understand consciousness with 18th century attempts to understand electricity. This may make us think that the former too though initially mysterious will ultimately be brought within the physicalist fold. But there’s a crucial disanalogy between the two: ‘What is consciousness?’ can be interpreted as two distinct questions: ‘What causes consciousness?’ And ‘what is it to be conscious?’ ‘What is electricity?’ can only be interpreted as ‘What causes electricity?’, ‘What is it to (...)
  48. Identifying Mental States: A Celebrated Hypothesis Refuted.Irwin Goldstein - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (1):46-62.
    Functionalists think an event's causes and effects, its 'causal role', determines whether it is a mental state and, if so, which kind. Functionalists see this causal role principle as supporting their orthodox materialism, their commitment to the neuroscientist's ontology. I examine and refute the functionalist's causal principle and the orthodox materialism that attends that principle.
  49. Type-Identity Conditions for Phenomenal Properties.Simone Gozzano - 2012 - In Simone Gozzano & Christopher S. Hill (eds.), New Perspective on Type Identity. The Mental and the Physical. Cambridge University Press. pp. 111.
    In this essay I shall argue that the crucial assumptions of Kripke's argument, i.e. the collapse of the appearance/reality distinction in the case of phenomenal states and the idea of a qualitatively identical epistemic situation, imply an objective principle of identity for mental-state types. This principle, I shall argue, rather than being at odds with physicalism, is actually compatible with both the type-identity theory of the mind and Kripke's semantics and metaphysics. Finally, I shall sketch a version of the type-identity (...)
  50. The Extension of Color Sensations: Reid, Stewart, and Fearn.Giovanni B. Grandi - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (Supplement 1):51-79.
    It seems to be a consequence of Reid’s views on sensations that colour sensations are not extended nor are they arranged in figured patterns. Reid further claimed that ‘there is no sensation appropriated to visible figure.’ As I show, Reid tried to justify these controversial claims by appeal to Cheselden’s report of the experiences of a young man affected by severe cataracts, and by appeal to cases of perception of visible figure without colour. While holding fast to the principle that (...)
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