Hidden Qualia

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In this paper, I propose that those who reject higher-order theories of consciousness should not rule out the possibility of having conscious experiences that they cannot introspect. I begin by offering four arguments that such non-introspectible conscious experiences are possible. Next, I offer two arguments for thinking that we actually have such experiences. According to the first argument, it is unlikely that evolution would have furnished us with a faculty of introspection that worked flawlessly. According to the second argument, there are many plausible potential sources of non-introspectible experiences. Given that all of these sources are at least somewhat plausible, it is fairly probable that we have some kind or other. Finally, I consider whether we might be justified in believing that we can introspect all of our conscious experiences if in fact we can. I show that current approaches to justifying belief in epiphenomenal qualia do not carry over. The upshot of these arguments is that we should be less certain that we really know what it feels like to be us. There may be much more to our experiences than we are aware of.
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Archival date: 2019-06-27
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