Abstract

Within this paper a physicalist account of phenomenal experience is presented in a roughly four part process. First, Levine's "explanatory gap" and Kripke's argument against type-identity physicalism are presented as examples of anti-physicalist arguments to be countered. Kripke's arguments request an explanation for the felt contingency of the statement 'pain is C-fiber firing.' Levine's explanatory gap is the inability of statements like 'pain is C-fiber firing' to explain within physicalist theories why C-fiber firing feels like pain. In the second part a physicalist account ofphenomenal experience is presented. This account relies upon a formalization of the mereological structure of events. A relation between events called the 'observation relation' is introduced and used to formalize observations made in everyday life. In the third step this account of events is used to defeat Kripke's argument and Levine's explanatory gap. Kripke's argument is overcome by providing an explanation for the felt contingency ofthe statement 'pain is C-fiber firing.' Levine's explanatory gap is defeated by clarifying the question "Why do C-fiber firings feel like pain?" and showing that asking this question is essentially inappropriate. Thus, the physicalist's inability to explain why C-fiber firings feel like pain is not a failing of physicalism. In the fourth part the physicalist theory of phenomenal experience is compared to some classic views of phenomenal experience from Rosenthal, Nagel, and Dennett.

Disciplines

Philosophy



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