On Behalf of Cognitive <i>Qualia</i>

Christopher Shields

in Cognitive Phenomenology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199579938
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731112 | DOI:
On Behalf of Cognitive Qualia

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Philosophers of mind have shown a marked reluctance to countenance cognitive qualia; they deny the existence of mental states which are both intentional and available to phenomenal consciousness. This reluctance is surprising: if we think that being curious as to whether p is true qualifies as a single mental state, as we should, then on the assumption that curiosity has a distinctive phenomenology, as it seems to have, then we should need a special reason for thinking that there are no states—that there cannot be states—appropriately regarded as exhibiting cognitive qualia. Needless to say, eliminativists about qualia in general will be unimpressed with the putatively qualitative character of such states. In this, they are wholly consistent and also wholly extreme. Still, they occupy a perfectly stable position. By contrast, those philosophers, the vast majority, who countenance at least some qualia, for perceptual and emotional states, do not enjoy the stability purchased by extremity. They are thus liable to a series of parity arguments which establish that any reason we might have for countenancing non‐cognitive qualia equally counts as a reason for countenancing cognitive qualia.

Keywords: qualia; curiosity; propositional attitudes; willing; eliminativism

Chapter.  11028 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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