Shoemaker’s Moderate Qualia Realism and the Transparency of Qualia

Disputatio 2 (22):1 - 13 (2007)
Renee J. Smith
Coastal Carolina University
Qualia realists hold that experience’s phenomenal character is a non-representational property of experience, what they call qualia. Representationalists hold that phenomenal character is a representational property of experience—there are no qualia (in this particular sense of the word). The transparency of qualia to introspection would seem to count as reason for rejecting qualia realism and favoring representationalism. Sydney Shoemaker defends a middle ground, call it moderate qualia realism, which seems to provide a response to the problem of transparency that in consistent with qualia realism. According to this view, while phenomenal character is a representational property of experience, it is determined by certain non-representational properties of experience, namely qualia. Shoemaker explains the apparent transparency of qualia by claiming that, while qualia are not directly introspectable, they are indirectly introspectable. I argue that neither Shoemaker’s moderate qualia realism nor his account of indirect introspection provide the qualia realist with a plausible solution to the problem of transparency.
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