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Non-eliminative Reductionism: Reconciling Qualia and Physicalism

By Dennis Nicholson

Abstract

A physicalist view of qualia labelled non-eliminative reductionism is outlined. If it is true, qualia and physicalism can co-exist without difficulty. First, qualia present no particular problem for reductionist physicalism - they are entirely physical, can be studied and explained using the standard scientific approach, and present no problem any harder than any other scientists face. Second, reductionist physicalism presents no particular problem for qualia – they can be encompassed within an entirely physicalist position without any necessity, either to reduce them to non-existence, or to treat them as new fundamental properties. It is suggested that the position also has sufficient explanatory power to successfully deal with the 'why like anything – why does experience exist at all' question and to counter both Chalmers' Conceivability Argument and Jackson's Knowledge Argument

Topics: Philosophy of Mind
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:cogprints.org:7172
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    Citations

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    2. (2005). for example, Horowitz and Jacobson–Horowitz
    3. (1992). For other first premise based counter–arguments see Flanagan
    4. (1994). In the paper, I use sensory states as quale examples, but I take qualia to include all mental states, including (with Strawson,
    5. it is assumed, may be either complex and spread out across the brain, or simple and of more limited locale. However, this makes no appreciable difference to the points argued and will largely be ignored in this paper.
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    11. (2009). The (multiple) realization of psychological and other properties in the sciences.
    12. (2005). The Knowledge argument And Higher–
    13. (1999). This is a widely held view of qualia (cf Tye,
    14. (2005). What is a Problem for All is a Problem for None: Substance Dualism, Physicalism, and the Mind–Body Problem.

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