The Nagel inspired “something-it-is-like” (SIL) conception of conscious experience remains a dominant approach in philosophy. In this paper I criticize a prevalent philosophical construal of SIL consciousness, one that understands SIL as a property of mental states rather than entities as a whole. I argue against thinking of SIL as a property of states, showing how such a view is in fact prevalent, under-warranted, and philosophically pernicious in that it often leads to an implausible reduction of conscious experience to qualia. I then develop a holistic conception of SIL for entities (not states) and argue that it has at least equal pre-empirical warrant, is more conservative philosophically in that it decides less from the a priori “armchair,” and enjoys a fruitful two-way relationship with empirical work.
Peressini, Anthony F., "There is Nothing It is Like to See Red: Holism and Subjective Experience" (2017). Philosophy Faculty Research and Publications. 640.
Accepted version. Synthese, (2017) online prior to print. DOI. © 2017 Springer International Publishing AG. Part of Springer Nature. Used with permission.