I Me Mine: on a Confusion Concerning the Subjective Character of Experience

Abstract

In recent debates on phenomenal consciousness, a distinction is sometimes made, after Levine (2001) and Kriegel (2009), between the “qualitative character” of an experience, i.e. the specific way it feels to the subject (e.g. blueish or sweetish or pleasant), and its “subjective character”, i.e. the fact that there is anything at all that it feels like to her. I argue that much discussion of subjective character is affected by a conflation between three different notions. I start by disentangling the three notions in question, under the labels of “for-me-ness”, “me-ness” and “mineness”. Next, I argue that these notions are not equivalent; in particular, there is no conceptual implication from for-me-ness to me-ishness or mineness. Empirical considerations based on clinical cases additionally suggest that the three notions may also correspond to different properties (although the claim of conceptual non-equivalence does not depend on this further point). The aim is clarificatory, cautionary but also critical: I examine four existing arguments from subjective character that are fuelled by an undifferentiated use of the three notions, and find them to be flawed for this reason.

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Marie Guillot
University of Essex

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

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