Arguments About Phenomenal Character

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Puetz, Zachary, Philosophy - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Langsam, Harold, Philosophy, University of Virginia

The phenomenal character of an experience is what it is like to have it. This dissertation investigates the nature of phenomenal character, with a focus on the character of experiences of a certain sort: perceptual experiences. Most theorists agree that perceptual phenomenal character involves the presentation of various things or “contents,” but they disagree about what exactly this presentation consists in and what the presented contents are. Here, I map out the space of available theories and then marshal a series of arguments for and against different options based on what they say on these points. My tentative conclusion is that the top prospect is a kind of physicalist representationalism, according to which phenomenal character is a matter of perceptual representation, where both the relation of representation and the represented contents are ultimately cashed out in physical terms.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
phenomenal character, perception, representationalism
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