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What is it Like to be a Phenomenologist?

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In a recent paper, ‘On the Persistence of Phenomenology’ (in T. Metzinger (ed.), Conscious Experience, Paderborn, 1995), Diana Raffman presents a new argument for qualia, an argument that provides new focus for the qualia debate. We think Raffman's work relocates the debate to a better neighbourhood, a neighbourhood in which what tempts us to think that there must be qualia or phenomenal information is highlighted. Raffman, we argue, locates the core thought shared by many of the friends of qualia, namely, that our conceptual resources are inadequate for capturing the richness of experience. Experience is ineffably determinate. Moreover, Raffman's argument in support of this thought seems especially embarrassing to scientific-minded materialists, since the argument relies largely on well established empirical facts. We show, however, that Raffman's argument fails. So, if we are correct that her argument highlights what is tempting about qualia, then we have also shown that it is not tempting.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9213.00094

Affiliations: Auburn University

Publication date: April 1, 1998

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