The Phenomenal Qualities Project

Investigating the nature of consciousness and its place in the physical world…

Scheduled Events

Phenomenal Qualities Project:

09-10 Seminars and Workshops, Schedule:

(Events are at De Havilland Campus, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, unless otherwise stated)


22nd October, 2-4pm, (Room N101):

Paul Coates, David Papineau

Symposium on the Nature of Phenomenal Concepts

– Centred on David Papineau’s Phenomenal and Perceptual Qualities (in Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge (eds.) T. Alter and S. Walter, Oxford: OUP, 2007) and Ch. 9 of Paul Coates’ The Metaphysics of Perception, New York: Routledge, 2007.

Discussion will be led by Paul Coates:

‘In his article ‘Phenomenal and Perceptual Qualities’, David Papineau puts forward a theory of phenomenal concepts. Papineau’s account starts out from a consideration of the nature of perceptual concepts. One example Papineau appeals to is that of the concept of a bird the subject is able to perceive. Such concepts he takes to involve ‘stored sensory templates’ which have certain functions in accumulating information about their referents (with which we have perceptually contact), and guiding future interactions with them. The stored sensory template is activated when the subject deploys, or exercises, the relevant concept – there is some conscious experience (e.g., of a bird) or an imaginatively recreated image which guides action and thought (see, e.g. p.117).

Papineau then goes on to develop an account of phenomenal concepts. He claims (p.122): ‘Phenomenal concepts [are] simply a further deployment of the same sensory templates, but in this case to think about the experiences themselves, rather than about the objects of those experiences.’

There are things I like in this account, but I believe it also contains flaws. I want to argue that the notion of a ‘stored sensory template’ is unclear, that Papineau’s account begs certain questions, and that an alternative account of phenomenal concepts is preferable.’

David Papineau will respond.


5th November, 4-6pm, (The Boardroom N212):

Fiona Macpherson

A Disjunctive Theory of Introspection

‘Reflection on skeptical scenarios in the philosophy of perception, made vivid in the arguments from illusion and hallucination, have led to the formulation of theories of the metaphysical and epistemological nature of perceptual experience. In recent times, the locus of the debate concerning the nature of perceptual experience has been the dispute between disjunctivists and common-kind theorists. Disjunctivists have held that there are substantial dissimilarities (either metaphysical or epistemological or both) between veridical perceptual experiences occurring when one perceives and perceptual experiences involved in hallucination. Common-kind theorists have denied this.
In this paper, I examine the nature of introspection – a faculty that has often been compared and contrasted to perception. I reflect on cases where introspection goes wrong in ways analogous to that in which our perceptual faculties can go wrong, and formulate, what I take to be, an attractive theory of introspection. The cases that I focus on in which things go wrong are the case of zombies and the case of subjects with Anton’s syndrome. (Anton’s syndrome is a condition in which people who are blind claim that they can see.) I suggest that, just as it is possible to be a disjunctivist about perception, it is possible to be a disjunctivist about introspection.
I argue that this is a good view of one type of introspection, namely, introspection of states that have phenomenal character, such as perceptual experiences. It has a good account to give of the cases in which such introspection seems to go wrong and it yields a plausible metaphysical and epistemological view of the nature of introspection. However, while I favour a disjunctivist view of introspection, I do not favour a disjunctive view of perception. And, I suspect, that many disjunctivists about perception would not wish to condone my disjunctivist theory of introspection. I therefore go on to examine to what extent disjunctivsim about perception and disjunctivism about introspection are compatible, and thus to establish whether one must choose between the theories or not. I also identify why I favour a disjunctive theory of introspection but not of perception.’

19th Nov, 1:30-7pm, (Central Committee Room, MacLaurin Building):

Tim Crane Galen Strawson, Sam Coleman

Workshop: The Phenomenal and the Intentional

1-1:30pm Coffee. (lunch own arrangements)

1:30-3pm Galen Strawson

Cognitive Experience and the Stopping Problem: Determinate Intentionality and the Power of Thought

3:05-4:35pm Sam Coleman

Intentionality, Phenomenality and Panexperientialism

4:35-5pm Coffee

5-6:30pm Tim Crane

On the relationship between the phenomenal qualities of experience and the qualities of the objects of experience

6:30-7pm – Closing Discussion


15th January: David Papineau, Andreas Hutteman, Philip Goff, Jerry Valberg

Phenomenal Qualities Project One-day Conference,  at Senate House, co-hosted with the Institute of Philosophy:



9.30  Coffee, Registration

10.00  Philip Goff

‘Consciousness as the foundation for Metaphysics: A Neo-Cartesian Manifesto’

11.30 David Papineau
Can We Really Perceive a Million Colours?

1.00  Lunch: own arrangements

2.00 Andreas Hutteman
Spelling Out Non-reductive Physicalism

3.30  Tea

4.00 Jerry Valberg

5.30-6.30: Closing Panel: Phenomenal Qualities, Mind, and Brain.

11th February: 4-6pm, N212 The Boardroom, De Havilland Campus

Barry Smith

What Taste Can Teach Us

25th February: 2-6pm, Room Evolution2,  MacLaurin Building, De Havilland Campus

Workshop:  Wilfrid Sellars and Phenomenal Qualities

2.00 Introduction: Paul Coates ‘Myths about the Given

2.15 Aude Bandini:  “Phenomenal Qualities and the Clash Between the Images

3.45  Tea/Coffee

4.15  Jim O’Shea:  “Conceptualism, Perceptual Content, and Sensible Qualities: The Case of McDowell and Sellars

6.00  – 6.45  Plenary Session (Chair: Sam Coleman)

11th March: 4-6pm

James Trafford

Are Zombies still Conceivable?

25th March

31st March: 10:00am-6:30pm, Rooms G22/26, Senate House, London

Workshop on Sensory Substitution

10.00  Nick Humphrey  (Cambridge)  ‘Sensation and Perception: the Double Province of the Senses

11.30 Jamie Ward   (Sussex)  ‘Sensory Substitution

1.00  Lunch Break

2.00  Michael Sollberger (Lausanne)  ‘Synaesthesia and the Structural Approach to Perceptual Content

3.30 tea/Coffee

4.00 Ophelia Deroy (Paris) and Malika Auvray (CNRS) ‘A New Look on Sensory Extensions

5.30 – 6.30 Plenary session

21st May: 09:30am-6:30pm Senate House, University of London

Workshop on Phenomenal Qualities and Perceptual Experience


9.30 Coffee

10.00 Howard Robinson (Central European University)

“What is a Phenomenal Quality?”

11.30 Matthew Nudds (Edinburgh)

“The Phenomenology of Auditory Perception”

1.00 – 2.00 pm Lunch (Own arrangements)

2.00 Alan Thomas (Kent)

“McDowell’s Disjunctivism: Neither Metaphysical nor Epistemic”

3.30 Tea/Coffee

4.00 Susanna Siegel (Harvard)

“The Perceptual Significance of Cognitive Penetration”

5.30 – 6.30 Plenary session, Chair: Paul Coates.


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