Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia’ based on a loose analogy with Newton's three laws of classical mechanics. First, (...) they are irrevocable: I cannot simply decide to start seeing the sunset as green, or feel pain as if it were an itch; second, qualia do not always produce the same behaviour: given a set of qualia, we can choose from a potentially infinite set of possible behaviours to execute; and third, qualia endure in short-term memory, as opposed to non-conscious brain states involved in the on-line guidance of behaviour in real time. We suggest that qualia have evolved these and other attributes because of their role in facilitating non-automatic, decision-based action. We also suggest that the apparent epistemic barrier to knowing what qualia another person is experiencing can be overcome simply by using a ‘bridge’ of neurons; and we offer a hypothesis about the relation between qualia and one's sense of self. (shrink)
In the field of machine consciousness, it has been argued that in order to build human-like conscious machines, we must first have a computational model of qualia. To this end, some have proposed a framework that supports qualia in machines by implementing a model with three computational areas (i.e., the subconceptual, conceptual, and linguistic areas). These abstract mechanisms purportedly enable the assessment of artificial qualia. However, several critics of the machine consciousness project dispute this possibility. For instance, (...) Searle, in his Chinese room objection, argues that however sophisticated a computational system is, it can never exhibit intentionality; thus, would also fail to exhibit consciousness or any of its varieties. This paper argues that the proposed architecture mentioned above answers the problem posed by Searle, at least in part. Specifically, it argues that we could reformulate Searle’s worries in the Chinese room in terms of the three-stage artificial qualia model. And by doing so, we could see that the person doing all the translations in the room could realize the three areas in the proposed framework. Consequently, this demonstrates the actualization of self-consciousness in machines. (shrink)
Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which (...) does not motivate as a force, but as a control signal. From brain research and the locality principle of physics, I surmise that qualia are a fundamental, biological form of energy generated in specialized neurons. Subjectivity is explained as thermodynamically necessary on the supposition that, by converting action potentials to feelings, the neural cells avert damage from the electrochemical pulses. In exchange for this entropic benefit, phenomenal energy is spent as and where it is produced - which precludes the objective observation of qualia. (shrink)
In this paper, we describe four broad ‘meta-methods’ (as we shall call them) employed in scientific and philosophical research of qualia. These are the theory-centred meta-method, the property-centred meta-method, the argument-centred meta-method, and the event-centred meta-method. Broadly speaking, the theory-centred meta-method is interested in the role of qualia as some theoretical entities picked out by our folk psychological theories; the property-centred meta-method is interested in some metaphysical properties of qualia that we immediately observe through introspection (e.g. intrinsic, (...) non-causal, ineffable); the argument-centred meta-method is interested in the role of qualia in some arguments for non-physicalism; the event-centred meta-method is interested in the role of qualia as some natural events whose nature is hidden and must be uncovered empirically. We will argue that the event-centred meta-method is the most promising route to a comprehensive scientific conception of qualia because of the flexibility of ontological and methodological assumptions it can provide. We also reveal the hidden influences of the different meta-methods and in doing so show why consideration of meta-methods has value for the study of consciousness. (shrink)
Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected. The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are contents of experiential states which cannot be fully captured in natural language. I will pinpoint the difference between (...) the innocuous and dangerous scenarios that matters for the argument for qualia, give arguments in favor of the coherence and possibility of the dangerous scenario, and try to show that some standard arguments against inverted spectra are ineffective against the version of the dangerous scenario I will be advocating. The leading idea of the paper is that an argument for qualia based on spectrum inversion does not require that the inversion be behaviorally indistinguishable. At one crucial point, I will rely on a less controversial version of an argument I gave in Block. Wittgenstein's views provide a convenient starting point for a paper that is much more about qualia than about Wittgenstein. (shrink)
In this paper, I address the issue of the ontological status of qualitative properties. I discuss the prevalent approaches to the problem of qualia in philosophy of mind, in relation to the various attempts at naturalizing the mind and the various theories of perception. I compare these views with Husserl's phenomenology, highlighting the phenomenological distinction between phenomenal contents of mental states and sensory properties of the perceived objects. I present some open issues of this view, in order to show (...) how they can be addressed in the light of some developments of the phenomenological inquiry in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. (shrink)
The claim that behaviourally undetectable inverted spectra are possible has been endorsed by many physicalists. I explain why this starting point rules out standard forms of scientific explanation for qualia. The modern ‘phenomenal concept strategy’ is an updated way of defending problematic intuitions like these, but I show that it cannot help to recover standard scientific explanation. I argue that Chalmers is right: we should accept the falsity of physicalism if we accept this problematic starting point. I further argue (...) that accepting this starting point amounts to at least implicitly endorsing certain theoretical claims about the nature of introspection. I therefore suggest that we allow ourselves to be guided, in our quest to understand qualia, by whatever independently plausible theories of introspection we have. I propose that we adopt a more moderate definition of qualia, as those introspectible properties which cannot be fully specified simply by specifying the non-controversially introspectible ‘propositional attitude’ mental states (including seeing x, experiencing x, and so on, where x is a specification of a potentially public state of affairs). Qualia thus defined may well fit plausible, naturalisable accounts of introspection. If so, such accounts have the potential to explain, rather than explain away, the problematic intuitions discussed earlier; an approach that should allow integration of our understanding of qualia with the rest of science. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that conscious experience has a physical basis. That is, the properties of experience (phenomenal properties, or qualia) systematically depend on physical properties according to some lawful relation. There are two key questions about this relation. The first concerns the strength of the laws: are they logically or metaphysically necessary, so that consciousness is nothing "over and above" the underlying physical process, or are they merely contingent laws like the law of gravity? This question about the (...) strength of the psychophysical link is the basis for debates over physicalism and property dualism. The second question concerns the shape of the laws: precisely how do phenomenal properties depend on physical properties? What sort of physical properties enter into the laws' antecedents, for instance; consequently, what sort of physical systems can give rise to conscious experience? It is this second question that I address in this paper. (shrink)
In this paper we advocate the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. The main advantage of the thesis is that we can accept both the Wittgensteinian and Sellarsian assault on the given and the claim that only subjective and private states can do justice to the qualitative character of experience. We hint that if we take qualia to be tropes, we dissolve the problem of inverted qualia. We develop an account of sensory (...) concept acquisition that takes the presence of qualia as an enabling condition for learning. We argue that qualia taken to be qualitons are part of our mechanism of sensory concept acquisition. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes two types of qualia theory, which I call Galilean and non-Galilean qualia theories. It also offers considerations against each type of theory. To my mind the considerations are powerful. In any case, they bring out the importance of distinguishing the two types of theory. For they show that different considerations come into play—or considerations come into play in quite different ways—in assessing the two types of theory.
How should we characterize the nature of perceptual experience? Some theorists claim that colour experiences, to take an example of perceptual experiences, have both intentional properties and properties called 'colour qualia', namely, mental qualitative properties which are what it is like to be conscious of colour. Since proponents of colour qualia hold that these mental properties cannot be explained in terms of causal relations, this position is in opposition to a functionalist characterization of colour experience.
This paper argues for the reality of qualia as aspects of phenomenal experience. The argument focuses on color vision and develops a dispositionalist, subjectivist account of what it is for an object to be colored. I consider objections to dispositionalism on epistemological, metaphysical, and 'ordinary' grounds. I distinguish my representative realism from sense-data theories and from recent 'representational' or 'intentional' theories, and I argue that there is no good reason to adopt a physicalist stance that denies the reality of (...)qualia as phenomenally available intentional contents in Brentano's original sense of 'intentionality'. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that those who reject higher-order theories of consciousness should not rule out the possibility of having conscious experiences that they cannot introspect. I begin by offering four arguments that such non-introspectible conscious experiences are possible. Next, I offer two arguments for thinking that we actually have such experiences. According to the first argument, it is unlikely that evolution would have furnished us with a faculty of introspection that worked flawlessly. According to the second argument, there (...) are many plausible potential sources of non-introspectible experiences. Given that all of these sources are at least somewhat plausible, it is fairly probable that we have some kind or other. Finally, I consider whether we might be justified in believing that we can introspect all of our conscious experiences if in fact we can. I show that current approaches to justifying belief in epiphenomenal qualia do not carry over. The upshot of these arguments is that we should be less certain that we really know what it feels like to be us. There may be much more to our experiences than we are aware of. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
According to representionalists, qualia-the introspectible properties of sensory experience-are exhausted by the representational contents of experience. Representationalists typically advocate an informational psychosemantics whereby a brain state represents one of its causal antecedents in evolutionarily determined optimal circumstances. I argue that such a psychosemantics may not apply to certain aspects of our experience, namely, our experience of space in vision, hearing, and touch. I offer that these cases can be handled by supplementing informational psychosemantics with a procedural psychosemantics whereby a (...) representation is about its effects instead of its causes. I discuss conceptual and empirical points that favor a procedural representationalism for our experience of space. (shrink)
Within recent discussions in the Philosophy of Mind, the nature of conscious phenomenal states or qualia (also called ‘raw feels’ or the feel of ‘what it is like to be’) has been an important focus of interest. Proponents of Mind-Body Type-Identity theories have claimed that mental states can be reduced to neurophysiological states of the brain. Others have denied that such a reduction is possible; for them, there remains an explanatory gap. In this paper, functionalist, physicalist, epiphenomenalist, and biological (...) models of the mind are discussed and compared. Donald Davidson’s Anomalous Monism is proposed as a unifying framework for a non-reductive theory of qualia and consciousness. Downward Causation, Emergence through Symmetry-breaking, and Dynamical Systems Theory are used to show how consciousness and qualia emerge from their neural substrate and can also be causally efficacious. (shrink)
Epiphenomenalism has been criticized with several objections. It has been argued that epiphenomenalism is incompatible with the alleged causal relevance of mental states, and that it renders knowledge of our own conscious states impossible. In this article, it is demonstrated that qualia-epiphenomenalism follows from some well- founded assumptions, and that it meets the cited objections. Though not free from difficulties, it is at least superior to its main competitors, namely, physicalism and interactionism.
David Chalmers' dancing qualia argument is intended to show that phenomenal experiences, or qualia, are organizational invariants. The dancing qualia argument is a reductio ad absurdum, attempting to demonstrate that holding an alternative position, such as the famous inverted spectrum argument, leads one to an implausible position about the relation between consciousness and cognition. In this paper, we argue that Chalmers' dancing qualia argument fails to establish the plausibility of qualia being organizational invariants. Even stronger, (...) we will argue that the gap in the argument cannot be closed. (shrink)
Whether or not qualia are ways things seem, the view that qualia have the properties typically attributed to them is unjustified. Ways things seem do not have many of the properties commonly attributed to them. For example, inverted ways things seem are impossible. If ways things seem do not have the features commonly attributed to them, and qualia do have those same features, this looks like good reason to distinguish the two. But if your reasons for believing (...) that qualia have the features are epistemically on a par with reasons for believing that ways things seem have the features, and you know that ways things seem do not have the features, then those reasons cannot justify your belief that qualia have the features. I argue that the reasons are epistemically on a par in this way. (shrink)
In this paper we put forward the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. Further, we maintain that Wittgenstein hints in this direction. We also find in Wittgenstein elements of an account of language acquisition that takes the presence of qualia as an enabling condition. We conclude by pointing out some difficulties of this view.
This is a review of "The Case for Qualia" (Ed., Edmund Wright). The review is in three parts. In Part 1, I briefly lay out the general metaphysic in which the debate on qualia has been unfolding. I term it the classical or spatial metaphysic. In Part 2, we traverse the essays and relate them – the problems with which they grapple, the pitfalls they encounter – to this classic metaphysic. In Part 3, I will briefly sketch out (...) a transformed metaphysic – a temporal metaphysic – along with the model of the origin of the image of the external world, with all its qualia, that this model entails. It happens to be both the metaphysic and the concrete model of the brain developed by Bergson (1896/1912), and it happens to be an approach to the subject neglected, with nary a reference, in the collection. (shrink)
Representationism is the view that the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on its representational content. Synaesthesia is a condition in which the phenomenal character of the experience produced in a subject by stimulation of one sensory modality contains elements characteristic of a second, unstimulated sensory modality. After reviewing some of the recent psychological literature on synaesthesia and one of the leading versions of representationism, I argue that cases of synaesthesia, as instances of what I call the extra qualia (...) problem, are counterexamples to externalist versions of representationism. (shrink)
Dennett provides a much discussed argument for the nonexistence of qualia, as conceived by philosophers like Block, Chalmers, Loar and Searle. My goal in this paper is to vindicate Dennett's argument, construed in a certain way. The argument supports the claim that qualia are constitutively representational. Against Block and Chalmers, the argument rejects the detachment of phenomenal from information-processing consciousness; and against Loar and Searle, it defends the claim that qualia are constitutively representational in an externalist understanding (...) of this. The core of the argument is contained in section 3. In the first part, I contrast a minimal conception of qualia, relative to which their existence is not under dispute, with the sort of view to which I will object. In the second part I set the stage by presenting the facts about qualia on which a Dennett-like argument can be based. (shrink)
Nearly all listeners consider the subjective aspects of music, such as its emotional tone, to have primary importance. But contemporary philosophers often downplay, ignore, or even deny such aspects of experience. Moreover, traditional philosophies of music try to decontextualize it. Using music as an example, this paper explores the structure of qualitative experience, demonstrating that it is multi-layer emergent, non-compositional, enacted, and situation dependent, among other non-Cartesian properties. Our explanations draw on recent work in cognitive science, including blending, image schemas, (...) and sensory memory, as well as on phenomenology. A hierarchical structure transformation based complexity theory is applied to obtain a non-linear dynamical systems explanation of qualia and emotion that respects phenomenological insights about time, including retention and protention. The complexity measure provides both a metric structure and a potential function, on spaces of pieces that are constructed using given elements and transformations, with weights that reflect their cognitive difficulty. However, the approach is not reductionist; using improvisation and the evolution of musical notation as data, we argue that situatedness, especially enactment and social context, are key aspects of musical consciousness. (shrink)
In this paper I present two arguments against the thesis that we experience qualia. I argue that if we experienced qualia then these qualia would have to be essentially vague entities. And I then offer two arguments, one a reworking of Gareth Evans' argument against the possibility of vague objects, the other a reworking of the Sorites argument, to show that no such essentially vague entities can exist. I consider various objections but argue that ultimately they all (...) fail. In particular I claim that the stock responses to the Sorites argument fail against my reworking of the argument because they require us to make a distinction between a determinate reality and how that reality appears to us, whereas in the case of qualia we can make no such distinction. I conclude that there can be no such things as qualia. (shrink)
The central attempt of this paper is to explain the underlying intuitions of Frank Jackson’s “Knowledge Argument” that the epistemic gap between phenomenal knowledge and physical knowledge points towards a corresponding ontological gap. The first step of my analysis is the claim that qualia are epistemically special because the acquisition of the phenomenal concept of a quale x requires the experience of x. Arguing what is so special about phenomenal concepts and pointing at the inherence-relation with the qualia (...) they pick out, I give compelling reasons for the existence of ontologically distinct entities. Finally I conclude that phenomenal knowledge is caused by phenomenal properties and the instantiation of these properties is a specific phenomenal fact, which can not be mediated by any form of descriptive information. So it will be shown that phenomenal knowledge must count as the possession of very special information necessarily couched in subjective, phenomenal conceptions. (shrink)
Philosophers who advocate the possibility of spectrum inversion often conclude that the qualitative content of experiential states pose a serious problem for functionalism. I argue that in order for the inversion hypothesis to support this conclusion one needs to show that it generalizes to all species of qualia. By examining features of touch, taste, and olfactory sensations, I show there is good reason to resist this generalization, in which case appeals to the possibility of spectral inversion are considerably less (...) effective than they may initially appear. (shrink)
If we are to preserve qualia, one possibility is to take the current academic, philosophical, and theoretical notion less seriously and current natural science and some pre-theoretical intuitions about qualia more seriously. Dennett (1997) is instrumental in showing how ideas of the intrinsicalness and privacy of qualia are misguided and those of ineffability and immediacy misinterpreted. However, by combining ideas of non-mechanicalness used in contemporary natural science with the pre-theoretical idea that qualia are special because they (...) are unique, we get a notion of qualia that is acceptable to naturalistic philosophy. The notion of unique qualia is not opposed to the idea that some of the characterizations of qualia have to be qualified. It is the folk-philosophical, academic, notions of theoreticity and conceptuality that have to be modified. (shrink)
Blindsight is a hot topic in philosophy, especially in discussions of consciousness. Here I critically examine various attempts to bring blindsight to bear on debates about qualia -- the raw constituents of consciousness. I argue that blindsight does not unequivocally support any particular theory of qualia. It does, however, vindicate the view that there are qualia, despite arguments -- most notably by Daniel Dennett -- to the contrary.
This essay is a defence of the traditional notion of qualia - as properties of consciousness that are ineffable, intrinsic, private and immediately apprehensible - against the eliminative attempts of Daniel Dennett in the influential article "Quining Qualia." It is suggested that a thorough exploration of the concept is an appropriate starting point for future explanations of qualia, and the essay ends with some possible explanations of the four traditional properties.
We define qualia space Q to be the space of all possible conscious experience. For simplicity we restrict ourselves to perceptual experience only, though other kinds of experience could also be considered. Qualia space is a highly idealized concept that unifies the perceptual experience of all possible brains. We argue that Q is a closed pointed cone in an infinite-dimensional separable real topological vector space. This quite technical structure can be explained for the most part in a simple, (...) intuitive way. The structure of qualia space allows us to consider and even answer in a precise way such questions as: Is there a continuous path from the sensation of blue to the sensation of pain? Once we fix a desired accuracy of approximation, do there exist finitely many perceptual experiences such that any possible perceptual experience is approximately equal to one of them? What should be meant by ‘fundamentally different’ perceptual experiences? There is the possibility of additional structure, such as a Hilbert space structure on the vector space in which Q is embedded. (shrink)
This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “ qualia ” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: looking at the history of the conception of pain; raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology of (...) pain; considering evidence from the neurophysiological systems of pain; investigating the possible biological role or roles of pain; and considering methodological questions of the comparable status of the results of the sciences of pain in contrast to certain intuitions underpinning “the explanatory gap” in the case of pain. Skepticism concerning the crucial underlying intuitions seems justified by these considerations. (shrink)
Hans Muller has recently attempted to show that Frank Jackson cannot assert the existence of qualia without thereby falsifying himself on the matter of such mental states being epiphenomenal with respect to the physical world. I argue that Muller misunderstands the commitments of qualia epiphenomenalism and that, as a result, his arguments against Jackson do not go through.
Representational theorists identify experiences’ phenomenal properties with their representational properties. Qualia theorists reject this identity, insisting that experiences’ phenomenal properties can come apart from and completely outrun their representational properties. Qualia theorists account for phenomenal properties in terms of “qualia,” intrinsic mental properties they allege experiences to instantiate. The debate between representational theorists and qualia theorists has focused on whether phenomenal properties really can come apart from and completely outrun representational properties. As a result, qualia (...) theorists have failed (1) to explain how experiences owe their phenomenal properties to their instantiation of qualia and (2) to clarify the nature of subjects’ epistemic access to qualia. I survey qualia theorists’ options for dealing with each issue and find them all wanting. (shrink)
I present a theory of the nature and basis of the conscious experience characteristic of occurent propositional attitudes: thinking this or that. As a preliminary I offer an extended criticism of Paul Schweizer's treatment of such consciousness as unexplained secondary qualities of neural events. I also attempt to rebut arguments against the possibility of functionalist accounts of conscious experience and qualia.
One of the strongest objections to epiphenomenalism is that it precludes any kind of knowledge of qualia, since empirical knowledge has to include a causal relationship between the respective belief and the object of knowledge. It is argued that this objection works only if the causal relationship is understood in a very specific sense (as a 'direct' causal relationship). Epiphenomenalism can, however, live well with other kinds of causal relationships ('indirect' causal relationships) or even with a reliability account of (...) knowledge which does not invoke causation at all. Michael Pauen has argued extensively (this volume of Journal of Consciousness Studies), however, that this line of defence doesn't work because it presupposes the existence of psychophysical laws connecting qualia with physical phenomena which cannot be established under epiphenomenalist presuppositions. It is argued that Pauen's arguments lead to sceptical consequences which threaten not only interactionist alternatives to epiphenomenalism but finally his own account. (shrink)
Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia ’ based on a loose analogy with Newton’s three laws of classical mechanics. (...) First, they are irrevocable: I cannot simply decide to start seeing the sunset as green, or feel pain as if it were an itch; second, qualia do not always produce the same behaviour: given a set of qualia, we can choose from a potentially infinite set of possible behaviours to execute; and third, qualia endure in short-term memory, as opposed to non-conscious brain states involved in the on-line guidance of behaviour in real time. We suggest that qualia have evolved these and other attributes (e.g. they are ‘filled in’) because of their role in facilitating non-automatic, decision-based action. We also suggest that the apparent epistemic barrier to knowing what qualia another person is experiencing can be overcome simply by using a ‘bridge ’ of neurons; and we offer a hypothesis about the relation between qualia and one’s sense of self. (shrink)
Frank Jackson (1982) famously argued, with his so-called Knowledge Argument (KA), that qualia are non-physical. Moreover, he argued that qualia are epiphenomenal. Some have objected that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of KA. One way of developing this objection, following Neil Campbell (2003; 2012), is to argue that epiphenomenalism is at odds with the kind of behavioral evidence that makes the soundness of KA plausible. We argue that Campbell’s claim that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of (...) KA is false. (shrink)
Dennett has maintained that a careful examination of our intuitive notion of qualia reveals that it is a confused notion, that it is advisable to accept that experience does not have the properties designated by it and that it is best to eliminate it. Because most scientists share this notion of qualia, the major line of attack of his project becomes that of raising objections against the ability of science to answer some basic questions about qualia. I (...) try to show that science appeals to qualia and that it in fact adheres to a notion of qualia different from the one that Dennett has attributed to it. It is argued that qualia are amenable to scientific investigation and that this is the reason why science contributes toward the clarification of the notion of qualia. I also try to show that Dennett's skepticism about the abilities of science in answering questions posited by one of his thought experiments is unwarranted. I conclude that we need not accept Dennett's eliminativism about qualia. (shrink)
Qualia are phenomenal properties of sensations and perceptual states: they are whatever it is that gives such states their “felt,” qualitative character. (In speaking of sensations, I speak of course not of mental objects or mental contents, but of mental events—of sensings, not sensa.).
There is an argument whichshows conclusively that if qualia are causallyimpotent we could have no possible grounds forbelieving that they exist. But if, as this argumentshows, qualia are causally potent with respect to thedescriptions we give of them, it is tolerably certainthat they are causally potent in other morebiologically significant respects. The empiricalevidence, from studies of the effect of lesions of thestriate cortex shows that what is missing inthe absence of visual qualia is the ability tocategorize sensory (...) inputs in the visual modality. This would suggest that the function of privateexperience is to supply what Broadbent callsthe evidence on which the categorization ofproblematic sensory inputs are based. At the sametime analysis of the causal relation shows that whatdifferentiates a causal relation from an accidentalspatio-temporal conjunction is the existence ofreciprocally related dispositional properties of theentities involved which combine to make it true thatif one member of the conjunction, the cause, had notexisted, the other, the effect, would not haveexisted. The possibility that qualia might bedispositional properties of experiences which, as itwere, supply the invisible glue that sticks cause toeffect in this case is examined, but finallyrejected. (shrink)
First, I briefly characterize Dretske’s particular naturalization project, emphasizing his naturalistic reconstruction of the notion of representation. Second, I note some apparent similarities between his notion of representation and Husserl’s notion of intentionality, but I find even more important differences. Whereas Husserl takes intentionality to be an intrinsic, phenomenological feature of thought and experience, Dretske advocates an “externalist” account of mental representation. Third, I consider Dretske’s treatment of qualia, because he takes it to show that his representational account of (...) mind succeeds in naturalizing even the “subjective” features of experience. I claim that Dretske's argument for his account of qualia turns on an ambiguous characterization of qualia. I conclude that he succeeds in naturalizing qualia only if qualia are understood as nonphenomenological features of experience and that he therefore has less to say than he thinks about the subjective life of beings such as us. (shrink)
One standard objection to the view that phenomenal experience is functionally determined is based upon what has come to be called ‘The Absent Qualia Hypothesis’, the idea that there could be a person or a machine that was functionally exactly like us but that felt or consciously experienced nothing at all . Advocates of this hypothesis typically maintain that we can easily imagine possible systems that meet the appropriate functional specifications but that intuitively lack any phenomenal consciousness. Ned Block (...) , for example, asks us to suppose that a billion Chinese people are each given a two-way radio with which to communicate with one another and with an artificial body. The movements of the body are controlled by the radio signals, and the signals themselves are made in accordance with instructions the Chinese people receive from a vast display in the sky which is visible to all of them. The instructions are such that the participating Chinese people together realize whatever programs the functionalist supposes underlie human phenomenal experience. (shrink)
I argue that the inverted spectrum hypothesis is nota possibility we should take seriously. The principlereason is that if someone's qualia were inverted inthe specified manner there is reason to believe thephenomenal difference would manifest itself inbehaviour. This is so for two reasons. First, Isuggest that qualia, including phenomenal colours, arepartly constituted by an affective component whichwould be inverted along with the connected qualia. Theresulting affective inversions will, given theintimate connections that exist between emotions andbehaviour, likely manifest (...) themselves in behaviour, inwhich case the underlying phenomenal differences canbe functionally captured. Second, I argue that othersense modalities lack the structural featuresnecessary for undetectable inversion which, because oftheir analogy with colour qualia, weakens theplausibility of such an inversion in the original caseof vision. (shrink)
C. S. Peirce is often credited as a forerunner of the verificationist theory of meaning. In his early pragmatist papers, Peirce did say that if we want to make our ideas clear(er), then we should look downstream to their actual and future effects. For many who work in philosophy of mind, this is enough to endorse functionalism and dismiss the whole topic of qualia. It complexifies matters, however, to consider that the term qualia was introduced by the founder (...) of pragmatism himself. Peirce was adamant that only triadic relations can support language and cognition. Even so, he insisted on purely logical grounds that, when we analyze triadic signs all the way, we are left with a qualitative residue he called Firstness. Such an isolated relatum could never be studied experimentally. Yet, given that this primitive state can be confirmed by means of a formal or prescissive distinction, I believe the Peircean account can do justice to many of the intuitions that generate the so-called hard problem of consciousness. My goal, then, is to show that Peirce's semiotic commitment to qualia is compatible with his foundational statements about pragmatism. (shrink)
It seems that we could be physically the same as we are now, only we would lack conscious awareness. If so, then nothing about our physical world is necessary for qualitative experience. However, a proper analysis of psychological functionalism eliminates this problem concerning the possibility of zombies. ‘Friends of absent qualia’ rely on an overly simple view of what counts as a functional analysis and of the function/structure distinction. The level of thought is not the only level at which (...) one might perform a functional analysis; all that is required for some description of a state to be functional is that it be defined in terms of its causal relations. Insofar as functionalism is not restricted to a higher level of analysis , then successful theories of consciousness should include whatever it is that makes those states have a qualitative character. (shrink)