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Unsensed phenomenal qualities

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In Lockwood (1989), I defended a conception of phenomenal qualities (sense-data or qualia), according to which they can exist unsensed. Edward Feser (1998) points out that a key argument to which I appealed, in support of my claim that phenomenal qualities can ‘outrun awareness’, fails to show that there are phenomenal qualities of which we are unaware; rather, it shows only that phenomenal qualities have attributes of which we are unaware. This may be granted. But I argue that we can certainly imagine experimental data which would provide support for my thesis. Moreover, the conception of unsensed phenomenal qualities is, so I claim, a perfectly meaningful one, and anyone who is prepared (as Feser apparently is) to entertain the idea of phenomenal qualities having attributes of which the subject is unaware, can have no principled objection to the idea of there being phenomenal qualities of which the subject is unaware.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, UK.

Publication date: 01 April 1998

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