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The Case for Qualia$
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Edmond Wright

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262232661

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262232661.001.0001

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Phenomenal Knowledge without Experience

Phenomenal Knowledge without Experience

(p.247) 13 Phenomenal Knowledge without Experience
The Case for Qualia

Torin Alter

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses phenomenal knowledge and how some thinkers, such as Daniel Dennett and Pete Mandik, suggest that it undermines the knowledge argument against physicalism. Phenomenal knowledge is knowledge that usually comes from experience. For example, one knows what it is like to see red because one has already done so or has already had an experience of red before. Dennett and Mandik take this definition as the knowledge argument’s main epistemic premise—that no amount of physical knowledge is sufficient for phenomenal knowledge of color experiences. If this is the case, then the problem is not only for antiphysicalists. Dennett’s and Mandik’s arguments threaten all versions of David Chalmers’ phenomenal realism, the view that there are phenomenal properties or qualia that are not conceptually reducible to physical or functional properties. It is argued here that this threat is not real, with the net result of strengthening the case for physically inexplicable qualia.

Keywords:   phenomenal knowledge, Daniel Dennett, Pete Mandik, knowledge argument, physicalism, antiphysicalists, David Chalmers, phenomenal realism, functional properties, phenomenal properties

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