Conscious Experiences as Ultimate Seemings: Renewing the Phenomenal Concept Strategy

Argumenta 1 (2):233-243 (2016)

Authors
François Kammerer
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Abstract
The Phenomenal Concept Strategy is a popular strategy used to support physicalism in the realm of conscious experience. This Strategy accounts for dualist intuitions but uses the ways in which we think about our experiences to explain these intuitions in a physicalist framework, without any appeal to ontological dualism. In this paper, I will raise two issues related to the currently available versions of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. First, most of the theories belonging to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy posit that phenomenal concepts are exceptional and sui generis concepts, and these theories can be shown to be largely ad hoc. Second, these theories may explain the existence of anti-physicalist intuitions, but they do not explain their persistence. My aim is to put forward a new theory of phenomenal concepts that can rise up to these challenges to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. In my view, phenomenal concepts are not independent and sui generis concepts. On the contrary, they are closely related to our other epistemic concepts, especially our concepts of “justification”. Thinking about an experience means thinking about a specific kind of justification – an unjustified justification, or, in other words, an “ultimate seeming”. I will show why this explains the existence and the persistence of antiphysicalist intuitions in a non-ad hoc way.
Keywords consciousness  phenomenal concepts  explanatory gap  phenomenal consciousness  dualist intuitions  physicalism  justification  dualism
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