Defending internalism about unconscious phenomenal character

Tomáš Marvan, Sam Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two important questions arise concerning the properties that constitute the phenomenal characters of our experiences: first, where these properties exist, and, second, whether they are tied to our consciousness of them. Such properties can either exist externally to the perceiving subject, or internally to her. This article argues that phenomenal characters, and specifically the phenomenal characters of colours, may exist independently of consciousness and that they are internal to the subject. We defend this combination of claims against a recent criticism according to which the unconscious phenomenal character of colours exists externally to the subject. We defend internalism about (potentially unconscious) phenomenal character by appealing to recent neuroscientific and behavioural evidence, and by rejecting the claim that externalism about phenomenal character is dialectically in a better position than internalism. In addition, we briefly present certain difficulties for externalist views of phenomenal character. These concern cases where the perceptual relation fails, but a perceptual experience still results. These points suffice to defuse the externalist critique of our view, and support the internalist variant of the consciousness-independence claim as the most plausible account of the unconscious phenomenal character of colours. © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2024.
Original languageEnglish
Article number169
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2024


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