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Philosophical Topics

Volume 40, Issue 2, Fall 2012


Justin Sytsma
Pages 179-198
DOI: 10.5840/philtopics201240219

Revisiting the Valence Account

The existence of phenomenally conscious mental states is often taken to be obvious from first-person experience. Sytsma and Machery (2010) argued that if that is the case, then laypeople should classify mental states in the same way that philosophers typically do, treating states like seeing red and feeling pain similarly. We then presented evidence that they do not. This finding is interesting in its own right, however, outside of any implications for the philosophical debates concerning phenomenal consciousness. As such, we attempted to explain our finding, presenting evidence that lay mental state ascriptions depend on valence judgments (that the mental states have a hedonic value for the subject). In this paper, I present new evidence that suggests against this valence account. I then provide evidence for a new explanation based on previous findings that laypeople tend to view both colors and pains as mind-independent qualities of objects outside the mind/brain.