Monday, March 30, 2009

Deniers of qualia

Do deniers of qualia have qualia? Suppose I believe in qualia (I am not committed either way). If Martha is a denier of qualia, can I argue that Martha has qualia, just because I do? I can use an argument by analogy to argue that she has beliefs, thoughts, etc.: she behaves like I do who has beliefs, thoughts, etc., and has the same kind of brain structure as I do (the latter is kind of fishy, because we say this so confidently even without actually scanning Martha's head and my head). But what about qualia? I could say that she behaves like she has qualia. That's only going to be very plausible as an argument for qualia if qualia are causally efficacious, but I think that if there are qualia, they are causally efficacious. However, does she really behave like she has qualia? After all, unlike me (who, we are supposing, believes in qualia), when Martha has been aware of a red object, she denies that she has had a quale of red, and so on in other cases. Isn't that enough to sink the analogical argument?


Heath White said...

I have long thought that the best evidence for actual zombies is the writings of Daniel Dennett and other qualia-deniers. Isn't the obvious hypothesis that they are right about their own experience, and wrong about ours?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Descartes jokes to a correspondent who says that he never experiences himself as voliting freely that maybe the correspondent doesn't.