Matching and Qualitative Identity

Austen Clark

in Sensory Qualities

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236801
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679360 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Matching and Qualitative Identity

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A successful explanation of why two stimuli are indiscriminable seems to say nothing about how either of them looks. The third stage in this explanatory schema is to show how indiscriminability ensures the identity of qualitative contents. A few minutes of philosophical reflection seem to prove a priori that the project is impossible. It seems easy to imagine a robot that has all of a person's discriminative responses but no qualia, so it seems impossible to capture qualitative content by appealing to facts about discriminations. This chapter shows how the roadblock can be avoided. It is true that a particular qualitative content — such as the smell of lilacs — cannot be defined directly in terms of particular discriminations. It does not follow that there is no relation between the concepts.

Keywords: stimuli; qualitative content; discriminations; indiscriminability; qualia; identity

Chapter.  7672 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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