Re: qualia again (and again and again)

From: BillK (
Date: Wed Jul 07 2004 - 08:44:05 MDT

On Tue, 6 Jul 2004 22:52:40 -0700, Samantha Atkins <> wrote:
> How is it relevant for a bunch of decidedly amateur philosophers to
> chase what is morality or qualia and so on around in circles? If the
> problem of rational ethics is going to be solved I expect it will be
> solved by persons who dedicate more time and care to the subject than
> any of us are likely to. I also suspect that the solution will not be
> arrived at in an e-mail exchange.
> I know precisely why I am displeased with qualia based morality. It
> is devoid of any real connection to what I consider morality to be.
> It is also rather non-objective in that qualia are not even suitably
> defined and what are and are not "positive" qualia seems to be
> somewhat subjective to the sentients experiencing them.

Several posters (including me) have tried to make this point. Qualia is
a fictional entity, given whatever properties are needed to keep the
discussion going round in circles.

Can I refer those interested to a professional philosopher's site?
namely, Daniel Dennett.

Specifically to his lengthy paper, Quining Qualia, with references for
further reading, which opposes the qualia mystics.


"My claim--which can only come into focus as we proceed--is that
conscious experience has no properties that are special in any of the
ways qualia have been supposed to be special."

Final paragraph -
 "So when we look one last time at our original characterization of
qualia, as ineffable, intrinsic, private, directly apprehensible
properties of experience, we find that there is nothing to fill the
bill. In their place are relatively or practically ineffable public
properties we can refer to indirectly via reference to our private
property-detectors-- private only in the sense of idiosyncratic. And
insofar as we wish to cling to our subjective authority about the
occurrence within us of states of certain types or with certain
properties, we can have some authority--not infallibility or
incorrigibility, but something better than sheer guessing--but only if
we restrict ourselves to relational, extrinsic properties like the power
of certain internal states of ours to provoke acts of apparent re-
identification. So contrary to what seems obvious at first blush, there
simply are no qualia at all."


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