Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Physical-Effect Epiphenomenalism and Common Underlying Causes


Qualia epiphenomenalism is the view that qualitative properties of events, such as the raw feel of tastes or painfulness, lack causal efficacy. One common objection to qualia epiphenomenalism is the epistemic argument, which states that this loss of causal efficacy undermines our capacity to know about these epiphenomenal qualitative properties (Sterjnberg, 1999; Watkins, 1989). A number of rejoinders have been offered up to insulate qualia epiphenomenalism from the epistemic argument. In this paper I consider and ultimately reject two such replies, namely, the common underlying cause reply and the appeal to physical-effect epiphenomenalism.

L’épiphénoménalisme des qualia est la thèse voulant que les propriétés qualitatives des événements, comme les sensations de goût ou de douleur, soient dénuées d’efficacité causale. On objecte souvent à cette forme d’épiphénoménalisme l’argument épistémique, selon lequel cette absence d’efficacité causale nous rendrait incapables de connaître ces mêmes propriétés qualitatives épiphénoménales (Sterjnberg, 1999; Watkins, 1989). Plusieurs réponses ont été proposées pour isoler l’épiphénoménalisme des qualia de l’argument épistémique. J’étudie dans cet article, pour finalement les rejeter, deux de ces réponses, soit l’appel à la cause sous-jacente commune (Common Underlying Cause Reply) et l’appel à l’épiphénoménalisme des événements physiques.

Hide All
L. Antony 1989Anomalous Monism and the Problem of Explanatory Force”, Philosophical Review 98: 153–87.

A. Bailey 2006Zombies, Epiphenomenalism and Physicalist Theories of Consciousness”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36, 4: 481510.

K. Bennett 2003Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable, and How, Just Maybe, to Tract it”, Noûs 37: 471497.

P. Bieri 1992Trying Out EpiphenomenalismErkenntnis 36: 283309.

N. Campbell 2003An Inconsistency in the Knowledge Argument”, Erkenntnis 58: 261–66.

D. Cavedon-Taylor 2008Still Epiphenominal Qualia”, Philosophia 37, 1: 105107.

J. Fodor 1989Making Mind Matter More”, Philosophical Topics 17, 1: 5979.

E. Fricker 1993The Threat of Eliminativism”, Mind and Language 8, 2: 254281.

D. Hutto 1999A Cause For Concern”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59, 2: 381401.

B. Gertler 2001Introspecting Phenomenal States”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63, 2: 305328.

T. Horgan 1987Supervenient Qualia”, Philosophical Review 96: 491520.

A. Hyslop 1998Methodological EpiphenomenalismAustralasian Journal of Philosophy 76, 1: 6170.

F. Jackson 1982Epiphenomenal Qualia”, Philosophical Quarterly 32: 127–36.

F. Jackson 1986What Mary Didn’t Know”. The Journal of Philosophy 83: 291295.

R. Kirk 2008The Inconceivability of Zombies”, Philosophical Studies 139: 7389.

B. Loewer 2002Comments on Jaegwon Kim’s Mind and the Physical World”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65: 655662.

M. Martin 1993The Rational Role of Experience”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series 93: 7188.

H. Muller 2008Why Qualia are Not Epiphenomenal”, Ratio 21: 8590.

H. Muller 2009More Troubles for EpiphenomenalismPhilosophia 37: 109112

Y. Nagasawa 2010The Knowledge Argument and Epiphenomenalism”, Erkenntnis 72: 3756.

U. T Place . 1988Thirty Years On—Is Consciousness Still a Brain Process”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66, 2: 208219.

D. Pritchard 2005 Epistemic Luck. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

W. Robinson 2004 Understanding Phenomenal Consciousness, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

S. Tammelleo 2008A Limited Defense of Epiphenomenalism”, South African Journal of Philosophy 27: 4051

M. Watkins 1989The Knowledge Argument Against the Knowledge Argument”, Analysis 49: 158–60

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 19 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 121 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.