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Non-eliminative Reductionism: Reconciling Qualia and Physicalism

By Dennis Nicholson


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
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    1. 98–101) which most of us would, I think, intuitively agree with.
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