, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 225-244

What’s so Transparent about Transparency?

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Abstract

Representationalists often use intuitions about the transparency ofexperience to defend their view that qualitative content isrepresentational content. According to these intuitions, wecannot attend to our experience except by attending to theobject of that experience. Although the transparency intuitionappears to be widely shared, even among non-representationalists,in this paper I suggest that there are two ambiguities inherent indiscussions of transparency. One concerns the strength of thetransparency intuition, while the other concerns its scope. Oncewe bring these two ambiguities to the surface, we can see that therepresentationalists’ claim that experience is transparent turnsout to be considerably more controversial than ordinarily supposed.While the phenomenological data may support some kind of experientialtransparency, I argue that it does not support the kind of transparencyneeded for representationalism.