The Causal Efficacy of Qualia
Abstract:Qualia are the elements of phenomenal consciousness -- the raw feels which constitute what it is like to be in a conscious mental state. Some claim that qualia are epiphenomenal properties -- mere by-products of brain function which are causally inert. Though this is an implausible theory, it is difficult to show that it is false. Here I present an ad hominem argument -- the argument from coincidence -- which shows that epiphenomenalism about qualia is explanatorily deficient because it leaves unexplained a highly improbable state of affairs, and so we have good reason to suppose that qualitative properties must be causally efficacious, and must be so in virtue of their qualitative nature.
Document Type: Research Article
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Publication date: January 1, 2011