Sense Experience

Mohan Matthen

in Seeing, Doing, and Knowing

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199268504
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602283 | DOI:
Sense Experience

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This chapter examines the role and character of sensory experience. Sensory classification can lead to action by means of direct manipulation of the effector system; when this is so, the output of the sensory system must be causally apt to coerce the effector system. However, either when a sensory system feeds into many effector systems, or when many sensory systems feed into a single effector, it is simpler for the sensory systems to be non-coercive. Their output will simply signal that a particular situation obtains, leaving the effector system to do whatever it determines to be appropriate. In order to issue such signals, non-coercive systems need as many signs as there are response-demanding situations. In conscious systems, sensory qualia play this role. In the sense developed by David Lewis, it is a matter of convention which quale attaches to which state of affairs. The conventionality of sensory content is overlooked by philosophers who allege an Aexplanatory gap@ with regard to sensory qualia.

Keywords: consciousness; convention; David Lewis; explanatory gap; meaning; qualia; representation; sensation; sensory content; sensory response; signalling theory; teleosemantics

Chapter.  5321 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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