The Case for Qualia

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Edmond Wright, "The Case for Qualia"

English | 2008 | ISBN: 0262232669 | 400 pages | PDF | 1,4 MB

Philosophical and scientific defenses of Indirect Realism and counterarguments to the attacks of qualiaphobes.


"The Case for Qualia presents a lucid, convincing defense of the phenomenal character of experience. The contributors put forward strong philosophical arguments, backed up with solid empirical evidence, to show that phenomenal qualitative subjectivity is an undeniably real---and probably the most significant---feature of our conscious minds. The case for qualia is now stronger than ever: with this volume, qualia make the long-awaited comeback into the very center of philosophical debate on the mind."-- Antti Revonsuo, Professor of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland, and author of Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon (MIT Press, 2006)

Many philosophers and cognitive scientists dismiss the notion of qualia, sensory experiences that are internal to the brain. Leading opponents of qualia (and of Indirect Realism, the philosophical position that has qualia as a central tenet) include Michael Tye, Daniel Dennett, Paul and Patricia Churchland, and even Frank Jackson, a former supporter. Qualiaphiles apparently face the difficulty of establishing philosophical contact with the real when their access to it is seen by qualiaphobes to be second-hand and, worse, hidden behind a "veil of sensation"--a position that would slide easily into relativism and solipsism, presenting an ethical dilemma. In The Case for Qualia, proponents of qualia defend the Indirect Realist position and mount detailed counterarguments against opposing views. The book first presents philosophical defenses, with arguments propounding, variously, a new argument from illusion, a sense-datum theory, dualism, "qualia realism," qualia as the "cement" of the experiential world, and "subjective physicalism." Three scientific defenses follow, discussing color, heat, and the link between the external object and the internal representation. Finally, specific criticisms of opposing views include discussions of the Churchlands' "neurophilosophy," answers to Frank Jackson's abandonment of qualia (one of which is titled, in a reference to Jackson's famous thought experiment, "Why Frank Should Not Have Jilted Mary"), and refutations of Transparency Theory. ContributorsTorin Alter, Michel Bitbol, Harold I. Brown, Mark Crooks, George Graham, C. L. Hardin, Terence E. Horgan, Robert J. Howell, Amy Kind, E. J. Lowe, Riccardo Manzotti, Barry Maund, Martine Nida-Rümelin, John O'Dea, Isabelle Peschard, Matjaz Potrc, Diana Raffman, Howard Robinson, William S. Robinson, John R. Smythies, Edmond Wright Edmond Wright is the editor of New Representationalisms: Essays in the Philosophy of Perception and the author of Narrative, Perception, Language, and Faith.

"Though not a lover of qualia myself, I think that this volume is a valuable collection of arguments for the other side."--Jack Smart, School of Philosophy and Bioethics, Monash University

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