The Logic of Qualia


Logic is useful as a neutral formalism for expressing the contents of mental representations. It can be used to extract crisp conclusions regarding the higher-order theory of phenomenal consciousness developed in (McDermott 2001, 20007). A key aspect of conscious perceptions is their connection to the distinction between appearance and reality. Perceptions must often be corrected. To do so requires that the logic of perception be able to represent the logical structure of judgment events, that is, to include the formulas of the logic as objects to be reasoned about. However, there is a limit to how finely humans can examine their own representations. Terms representing primary and secondary qualities seemed to be _locked,_ so that the numbers (or levels of neural activation) that are their essence are not directly accessible. Humans feel a need to invoke ``intrinsic,'' ``nonrelational'' properties of many secondary qualities --- their _qualia_ --- to ``explicate'' how we compare and discriminate among them, although this is not actually how the comparisons are accomplished. This model of qualia explains several things: It accounts for the difference between ``normal'' and ``introspective'' access to a perceptual module in terms of quotation. It dissolves Jackson's knowledge argument by explaining what Mary learns as a fictional but undoubtable belief structure. It makes spectrum inversion logically impossible by providing a degree of freedom between the physical structure of the brain and the representations it contains that redescribes putative cases of spectrum inversion as alternative but equivalent ways of mapping physical states to representational states.

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Author's Profile

Drew McDermott
Yale University

References found in this work

What Mary Didn't Know.Frank Jackson - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (5):291-295.
What Might Nonconceptual Content Be?Robert Stalnaker - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:339-352.
What Might Nonconceptual Content Be?Robert Stalnaker - 2003 - In York H. Gunther (ed.), Essays on Nonconceptual Content. MIT Press. pp. 95-106.

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