Russellian Physicalism, Phenomenal Concepts, and Revelation

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Abstract

This paper responds to an argument from Botin which claims that Russellian physicalism is committed to the view that either (i) our phenomenal concepts do not reveal anything essential about phenomenal properties (following Goff, Botin calls this the ‘opaque’ account of phenomenal concepts), or that (ii) phenomenal concepts are capable of revealing at least some of the essence of phenomenal properties—making phenomenal concepts ‘translucent’ if some-but-not-all-revealing or ‘transparent’ if all-revealing—but this entails that phenomenal properties are fundamental, which violates physicalism. I argue that Botin is wrong that Russellian physicalists are committed to the view that physical and phenomenal concepts must have similarly qualitative/phenomenal modes of presentation or contents, since Russellian physicalists assume that we do not possess concepts which specifically refer to non-phenomenal categorical properties. If we were to acquire concepts for non-phenomenal categorical properties, they would need to have categorical contents and modes of presentation, but need not have qualitative/phenomenal contents and modes of presentation. Given this, Russellian physicalists can embrace a translucent account of phenomenal concepts, and hold that our phenomenal concepts more-or-less accurately tell us about certain sorts of non-fundamental properties which are both physical and categorical.

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References found in this work

Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism.David Chalmers - 2013 - Amherst Lecture in Philosophy 8.
Consciousness and its Place in Nature.David J. Chalmers - 2003 - In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell. pp. 102–142.
Thinking about Consciousness.David Papineau - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (215):333-335.
Two Conceptions of the Physical.Daniel Stoljar - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (2):253-281.
What is Russellian Monism?Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa - 2012 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):67–95.

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