Do Phenomenal Concepts Misrepresent?

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Many contemporary physicalists concede to dualists that conscious subjects have distinctive “phenomenal concepts” of the phenomenal qualities of their experiences. Indeed, they contend that idiosyncratic characteristics of these concepts facilitate responses to influential anti-physicalist arguments. Like some some other critics of this approach, James Tartaglia maintains that phenomenal concepts express contents that conflict with physicalism, but as a physicalist, the moral he distinctively draws from this is that phenomenal concepts misrepresent. He contends further that the contemporary physicalists’ account cannot accommodate this feature, and that in consequence, physicalists should abandon phenomenal concepts and return to the “Identity Theory” championed by Place and Smart in the 1950s. I respond to Tartaglia by identifying lacunae in his interpretation of contemporary physicalism, and arguing that phenomenal concepts as conceived by the contemporary physicalists do not express contents that support either dualist or physicalist metaphysics: they are “metaphysically neutral”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-678
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date22 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2016


  • Consciousness
  • Phenomenal Concepts
  • Phsyicalism


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