Physicalism and phenomenal concepts

Daniel Stoljar*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    128 Citations (Scopus)


    A phenomenal concept is the concept of a particular type of sensory or perceptual experience, where the notion of experience is understood phenomenologically. A recent and increasingly influential idea in philosophy of mind suggests that reflection on these concepts will play a major role in the debate about conscious experience, and in particular in the defense of physicalism, the thesis that psychological truths supervene on physical truths. According to this idea-I call it the phenomenal concept strategy-phenomenal concepts are importantly different from other concepts, and arguments against physicalism fatally neglect to take this difference into account. This paper divides the phenomenal concept strategy into a number of different versions, and argues that no version of the strategy is successful. The paper ends by contrasting the phenomenal concept strategy with a rival strategy-I call it the missing concept strategy. I suggest that the missing concept strategy presents a more plausible response to the issues about physicalism and experience.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)469-494
    Number of pages26
    JournalMind and Language
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


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