Friday, January 11, 2008

A Quick Note on Chalmers on the Phenomenal Concept Strategy

Chalmers (in numerous places) objects to the phenomenal concept strategy as a response to his explanatory gap argument against mainstream forms of physicalism. On most versions, he says, they make phenomenal concepts out to be indexicals or demonstratives. Yet indexicals and demonstratives have different 1- and 2-intensions whereas phenomenal concepts do not (hence why, from a third person point of view - according to Chalmers - when considering the truth conditions of someone else's indexical or demonstrative thoughts or other representations, the indexicality disappears, whereas this is not the case for pure phenomenal representations).

However, I think Chalmers is way too quick. If phenomenal concepts or representations are at least partially self-reflexive or represent phenomenal properties with those very same properties then we will have phenomenal concepts which do not have differing 1- and 2-intensions after all. And the phenomenal concept strategy will still work fine for physicalists of most stripes. It is simply a mistake for Chalmers to think that any sort of reflexivity or being recognitional makes a concept somehow automatically indexical or demonstrative. If it is essential to the concept that it has the content it does and hence does not have differing intensions then it will not be an indexical or demonstrative concept, contra Chalmers. So more work would need to be done to defend Chalmers' arguments agains this popular strategy.

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