Place, U. T. (2000b). The causal potency of qualia: Its nature and its source. Brain and Mind, 1, 183-192. doi:10.1023/A:1010023129393
[Abstract]There is an argument (Medlin, 1967; Place, 1988) which shows conclusively that if qualia are causally impotent we could have no possible grounds for believing that they exist. But if, as this argument shows, qualia are causally potent with respect to the descriptions we give of them, it is tolerably certain that they are causally potent in other more biologically significant respects. The empirical evidence, from studies of the effect of lesions of the striate cortex (Humphrey, 1974; Weiskrantz, 1986; Cowey and Stoerig, 1995) shows that what is missing in the absence of visual qualia is the ability to categorize sensory inputs in the visual modality. This would suggest that the function of private experience is to supply what Broadbent (1971) calls the “evidence” on which the categorization of problematic sensory inputs are based. At the same time analysis of the causal relation shows that what differentiates a causal relation from an accidental spatio-temporal conjunction is the existence of reciprocally related dispositional properties of the entities involved which combine to make it true that if one member of the conjunction, the cause, had not existed, the other, the effect, would not have existed. The possibility that qualia might be dispositional properties of experiences which, as it were, supply the invisible “glue” that sticks cause to effect in this case is examined, but finally rejected.
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Download: 2000b The Causal Potency of Qualia.pdf