Whatley_whole_thesis.pdf (790.99 kB)
Experience, reality and representation : on the implications of a maximally non-deflationary phenomenal realism
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 10:04 authored by Whatley, JP
This thesis is dedicated to uncovering the conceptual and metaphysical entailments of a form of phenomenal realism I call Robust Realism. I argue that a maximally non-deflationary phenomenal realism of this kind constitutes the only principled form of resistance to Daniel Dennett's eliminativist strategy. I also argue that while Robust Realists constitute a minority within the philosophical community, the deflationist majority have reason to be interested in the results of such a project, as it promises a way beyond the dialogical impasse marking the current qualia debate. I begin by arguing that the definitive commitments of Robust Realism entail a thesis regarding the constitutive nature of phenomenal property instances, that their constitutive nature is exhausted by their experienced nature. From here, I argue that spatiotemporal inclusion and causal interaction, the two principal means of forging a metaphysical connection between experiences and a metaphysically real world, aren't available to Robust Realists. I then argue for a thesis regarding the nature of relations, roughly, that relations necessarily implicate their relata. This thesis forms the basis for my case against the nascent Phenomenal Intentionality Research Program, and combines with other considerations to constitute a case for the impossibility of the kind of transcendentally real representation of phenomenal properties that Robust Realism is founded upon.
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