Qualia Realism

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Claremont McKenna College, Philosophy (CMC)

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The last few decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in qualia, with a heated debate being waged over their existence and nature. As philosophers on both sides of the debate would agree, the stakes are high; no less than the fate of functionalism hangs in the balance. Though issues relating to qualia had arisen in connection with the identity theory, it was with the emergence of functionalism in the 1970s that qualia were brought into the limelight. In particular, it was through the inverted and absent qualia thought experiments that qualia were ushered onto the philosophical stage. These thought experiments, both of which purport to establish that there can be beings who are functionally identical to one another yet different qualitatively, have continued to pose a major threat to functionalist theories. In response, functionalists have had to argue that qualia are functionalizable, a counterintuitive claim that has often seemed tantamount to the denial of the existence of qualia

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© 2001 Philosophical Studies