How Do We Differ When We Differ In Taste?

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8 (2021)
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My partner loves the experiences she gets from eating olives. I, on the other hand, hate the experiences I get from eating olives. We differ in tastes. But how exactly do we differ? In particular: do our taste experiences differ phenomenologically—that is, do my olive-experiences feel different than my partner’s olive-experiences? Some philosophers have assumed that the answer is “no,” and have advanced important arguments which turn on this assumption. I argue that, contrary to what these philosophers assume, ordinary taste differences do involve differences in phenomenology. My olive-experiences feel different than my partner’s olive-experiences. I argue for this phenomenal thesis in stages. First, I argue that there is a link between our attitudes and our pleasures; second, I argue that there is a link between our pleasures and our phenomenology. Together, my conclusions link our attitudes and phenomenology in a way that vindicates the phenomenal thesis. Along the way, I fend off various worries about what the phenomenal thesis might entail. I show that it does not entail any form if radical subjectivism, nor does it entail that there is a “distinctive feeling of pleasure.” I close by considering how opponents of the phenomenal thesis might retreat to a weaker thesis: one which concerns extraordinary taste differences, as opposed to ordinary taste differences. I argue that there are no obviously sound arguments for even this weaker thesis, which should make us all the more confident in the phenomenal thesis.

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Daniel Pallies
Lingnan University

Citations of this work

The Pleasure Problem and the Spriggean Solution.Daniel Pallies - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (4):665-684.

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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press UK.
What makes pains unpleasant?David Bain - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):69-89.

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