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Fara, Delia Graff, and . Phenomenal Continua and the Sorites

2001, Mind 110(440): 905-935.

Abstract: I argue that, contrary to widespread philosophical opinion, phenomenal indiscriminability is transitive. For if it were not transitive, we would be precluded from accepting the truisms that if two things look the same then the way they look is the same and that if two things look the same then if one looks red, so does the other. Nevertheless, it has seemed obvious to many philosophers (e.g. Goodman, Armstrong and Dummett) that phenomenal indiscriminability is not transitive; and, moreover, that this non-transitivity is straightforwardly revealed to us in experience. I show this thought to be wrong. All inferences from the character of our experience to the non-transitivity of indiscriminability involve either a misunderstanding of continuity, a mistaken interpretation of the idea that we have limited powers of discrimination, or tendentious claims about what our experience is really like; or such inferences are based on inadequately supported premisses, which though individually plausible are jointly implausible.

Comment: A very good paper for an interesting and controversial claim. Very logically rigorous, well-presented and easy to follow, even if not necessarily convincing. Interesting in philosophy of mind in its own right, and is also a good illustration of use of logic in constructing an argument. It does require skill in quantificational logic to understand.