What is the nature of conscious sensory experience? In The Metaphysics of Sensory Experience David Papineau sets out to answer this question. He argues for the qualitative view: conscious sensory experiences are “intrinsic qualitative properties of people that are only contingently representational” (6).
This book is instructive, engaging, original, full of argument, straight-talking, and it defends an interesting view! I enthusiastically recommend it to philosophers of mind and perception.
Papineau’s central argument is a last view standing argument: wading through the detritus left after his assault on competitor views—naive realism and representationalism—one finds the qualitative view, standing strong. It is “the only option that makes good metaphysical sense” (8). Given this, I focus my critical attention in what follows on Papineau’s main negative arguments. First, a brief overview.
The book has an introduction and four chapters. In chapter 1, Papineau argues against naive realism and begins a detailed...