Revelation and Physicalism

Synthese 194 (7):2345-2366 (2017)
Authors
Kelly Trogdon
Virginia Tech
Abstract
According to experiential revelation, phenomenal concepts reveal the nature of the phenomenal properties they refer to. Some see experiential revelation as posing a direct challenge to physicalism. The basic idea is this: given experiential revelation, were phenomenal properties physical/functional in nature they would be presented as such when you think of them under phenomenal concepts, but phenomenal concepts don’t present their referents in this way. I argue that, while this argument on a plausible reconstruction fails, the thesis of experiential revelation nevertheless indirectly challenges physicalism. In particular, it potentially undermines the so-called phenomenal concept strategy, a key defense maneuver of the physicalist for responding to dualist arguments concerning experience. The moral is that issues concerning revelation do indeed pose a problem for physicalism, but not for the reasons you might think.
Keywords phenomenal concepts  physicalism  essence
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1055-7
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