Research Group in Analytic Philosophy

Phenomenal Concepts: Revisiting the Recognitional Account

    Esa Díaz-León (Manitoba)

Date: 16 May 2012

Time: 15:00

Place: Seminari de Filosofia UB


Phenomenal concepts are those concepts that we use to think and talk about our phenomenal states, in virtue of what they feel like, and whose reference is typically fixed by means of introspection. In this talk I would like to focus on an influential account of phenomenal concepts, namely, the recognitional account, and defend it from some recent challenges. According to this account, phenomenal concepts are recognitional concepts that we use when we recognize some experiences as "another one of those". Michael Tye (2009) has argued that this account is viciously circular, because the relevant recognitional abilities seem to involve descriptions of the form "another experience of the same type", which is also a phenomenal concept. Tye argues that we could perhaps avoid the circularity worry if we explain the reference-fixing of phenomenal concepts in terms of dispositions to discriminate and re-identify tokens of the same type, without appealing to any further phenomenal concept. However, he argues, this account faces another problem, namely, it seems incompatible with the intuitive claim that phenomenal concepts seem to involve rich modes of presentation of their referents. Philip Goff (2011) has similarly argued that most versions of a posteriori physicalism seem committed to the claim that phenomenal concepts are opaque, that is, they cannot reveal anything about their nature of their referents, which seems problematic. In this talk, I will try to provide a reconstruction of the recognitional account of phenomenal concepts so that it can avoid the circularity worry without entailing that phenomenal concepts are opaque.