Colour simplicity

2017-02-23T02:12:14Z (GMT) by du Preez, Warren
This dissertation addresses the metaphysics of conscious experience. I defend a thesis labelled Colour Simplicity, according to which the properties constitutive of what it is like to have visual sensory experiences of colour – colour qualia – are simple, in that they lack more basic constituent properties. I develop a valid argument for Colour Simplicity, drawing on the premises that (P1) ‘colour qualia appear to be simple under introspection’, and (P2) ‘if colour qualia appear to be simple under introspection then they are so’ (in Ch.2). P1 is relatively uncontroversial, and if P2 is to be rejected, an appearance/reality distinction must be made for colour qualia as introspectible. I find that only one sort of appearance/reality distinction will be sufficient to reject P2, and that it is implausible. Chris Hill has developed three challenges for Colour Simplicity so defended, each of which I address (in Ch.3). The first is a representationalist account of awareness that involves an appearance/reality distinction for qualia as introspectible. As above, this appearance/reality distinction fails as a means of rejecting P2, or it is implausible. The second is an argument to the effect that qualia are complex (external) relational properties. The third is a deflationary explanation for the apparent simplicity of certain qualia, based on the idea that for every subject of experience there will be some ‘most basic’ experiencable properties which may thereby appear to be metaphysically simple even if they are not so. Like the first, the second and third challenges may be met by the proponent of Colour Simplicity. Colour Simplicity is also powerfully motivated on (at least) three independent counts. Firstly, I show (in Ch.2) that it provides a primitivist solution to Daniel Stoljar’s logical problem of experience, in opposition to the anti-primitivist solution that Stoljar develops on the basis of the ignorance hypothesis (which I discuss in Ch.1). Secondly, I show (in Ch.2) that Colour Simplicity succeeds in facilitating a primitivist reaction to the (anti-primitivist) ignorance hypothesis where the more traditional modal arguments for primitivism fail. Thirdly, I show (in Ch.5) that when aligned with panpsychism, Colour Simplicity enables an account of how qualia interface with non-qualitative properties that may neatly accommodate the explanatory gap between qualitative and non-qualitative properties (unlike physicalism), as well as mental-to-physical causation (unlike dualism). James Van Cleve and Philip Goff have argued that panpsychism faces a different – yet no less serious – explanatory gap, in the light of its characteristic combination problem. Fortunately, I find (in Ch.5) that the sort of panpsychism that is compatible with Colour Simplicity may survive this argument, even if the sort that isn’t – panprotopsychism – may not. Panpsychism has been thought radical on account of a commitment to the ubiquity of experience, due to a conception of qualia as essentially experienced properties. However, by appeal to cases of inattentive awareness and blindsight, I develop an argument to the effect that qualia are plausibly separable from experience (in Ch.4), such that panpsychists may eschew the ubiquity of experience while maintaining the ubiquity of (unexperienced) qualia.