Qualitative Inaccuracy and Recent Objections to Conceivability Arguments

Derk Pereboom

in Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199764037
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895243 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Qualitative Inaccuracy and Recent Objections to Conceivability Arguments

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Chapter 4 contends that evaluation of a number of criticisms of conceivability arguments against physicalism highlights the advantages of the challenge to arguments of this kind based on the qualitative inaccuracy hypothesis. This challenge crucially involves the claim that we introspectively represent phenomenal properties as having certain qualitative features, while it is an open possibility that they actually lack them. Robert Stalnaker, John Hawthorne, and David Braddon-Mitchell each contend that the apparent conceivabilities at issue in these arguments presuppose the falsity of physicalism, and as a result they fail to pose a strong objection to the physicalist. Daniel Stoljar has argued that due to our ignorance, the conception of the physical operative in these arguments is in effect not ideal, and that this undercuts their force. Stephen Yablo calls into question the Kripke-inspired thought that once it is established that conceivability arguments are not subject to confusion about which propositions are being conceived, then they are in the clear. In his analysis, a defect that may still persist is a failure of the ideality condition on conceivability. I argue that in each case the qualitative inaccuracy hypothesis can correct or embellish these contentions profitably. In the discussion of Yablo’s contribution, I develop a more comprehensive diagnosis of why conceivability arguments might be compelling while at the same time unsound.

Keywords: conceivability; possibility; ignorance; physicalism; Robert Stalnaker; John Hawthorne; David Braddon-Mitchell; Daniel Stoljar; Stephen Yablo

Chapter.  9087 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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