Gappiness and the Case for Liberalism About Phenomenal Properties

Tom Mcclelland, Tom McClelland

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Conservatives claim that all phenomenal properties are sensory. Liberals countenance non-sensory phenomenal properties such as what it’s like to perceive some high-level property, and what it’s like to think that p. A hallmark of phenomenal properties is that they present an explanatory gap, so to resolve the dispute we should consider whether experience has non-sensory properties that appear ‘gappy’. The classic tests for ‘gappiness’ are the invertibility test and the zombi�ability test. I suggest that these tests yield conflicting results: non-sensory properties lend themselves to zombie scenarios but not to inversion scenarios. Which test should we trust? Against Carruthers & Veillet, I argue that invertibility is not a viable condition of phenomenality. In contrast, being zombi�able is credibly necessary and suf�cient for phenomenality. I conclude that there are non-sensory properties of experience that are ‘gappy’ in the right way, and that liberalism is therefore the most plausible position.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2016


  • consciousness
  • cognitive phenomenology
  • high-level perception
  • the explanatory gap
  • conceivability argument


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