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Physicalism and Phenomenal Concepts

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A phenomenal concept is the concept of a particular type of sensory or perceptual experience, where the notion of experience is understood phenomenologically. A recent and increasingly influential idea in philosophy of mind suggests that reflection on these concepts will play a major role in the debate about conscious experience, and in particular in the defense of physicalism, the thesis that psychological truths supervene on physical truths. According to this idea—I call it the phenomenal concept strategy—phenomenal concepts are importantly different from other concepts, and arguments against physicalism fatally neglect to take this difference into account. This paper divides the phenomenal concept strategy into a number of different versions, and argues that no version of the strategy is successful. The paper ends by contrasting the phenomenal concept strategy with a rival strategy—I call it the missing concept strategy. I suggest that the missing concept strategy presents a more plausible response to the issues about physicalism and experience.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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