Phenomenal Concepts and the Hard Problem

Martina Fürst


The Phenomenal-Concept-Strategy (PCS) is considered as a powerful physicalist
response to the hard problem (Chalmers 1995). The hard problem is caused by the
phenomenal aspect of consciousness and is contrasted with the alleged easy
problem to which its cognitive aspect gives rise. The hard problem has been
argumentatively elaborated in well-known arguments such as the knowledge
argument (Jackson 1986) or the conceivability argument (Block 1980).

The PCS aims at giving an answer to these anti-physicalist arguments. The basic
idea is to rely on phenomenal concepts which should explain why we draw
dualistic conclusions of these arguments. Therefore, the target of this strategy
is to give a satisfactory account of dualistic intuitions without drawing
ontological dualistic conclusions.

I elaborate the PCS concentrating on the knowledge argument and offer an account
of phenomenal concepts which captures their decisive uniqueness and explains
their cognitive role. Subsequently, I demonstrate that an adequate account of
phenomenal concepts implies phenomenal referents and hence the PCS fails to
solve the hard problem.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; hard problem; phenomenal concept; conceptual isolation; cognitive role; introspection; self-presentation

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