Metaphysics of Quantity and the Limit of Phenomenal Concepts

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (3):1-20 (2018)
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Quantities like mass and temperature are properties that come in degrees. And those degrees (e.g. 5 kg) are properties that are called the magnitudes of the quantities. Some philosophers (e.g., Byrne 2003; Byrne & Hilbert 2003; Schroer 2010) talk about magnitudes of phenomenal qualities as if some of our phenomenal qualities are quantities. The goal of this essay is to explore the anti-physicalist implication of this apparently innocent way of conceptualizing phenomenal quantities. I will first argue for a metaphysical thesis about the nature of magnitudes based on Yablo’s proportionality requirement of causation. Then, I will show that, if some phenomenal qualities are indeed quantities, there can be no demonstrative concepts about some of our phenomenal feelings. That presents a significant restriction on the way physicalists can account for the epistemic gap between the phenomenal and the physical. I’ll illustrate the restriction by showing how that rules out a popular physicalist response to the Knowledge Argument.

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Derek Lam
California State University, Sacramento

Citations of this work

Призначення Метафізики: Апологія Надлишкового.Олена Яценко - 2021 - Вісник Харківського Національного Університету Імені В. Н. Каразіна. Серія «Філософія. Філософські Перипетії» 65:51-62.

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References found in this work

Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
The Contents of Visual Experience.Susanna Siegel - 2010 - , US: Oxford University Press USA.
Knowledge and the flow of information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.
Mental causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.

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