Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2018


According to illusionism, phenomenal consciousness does not exist. There is nothing “it is like” to see red or feel pain. Most people find illusionism highly counterintuitive and it remains a minority view among philosophers. To increase its intuitive plausibility, we proponents of illusionism must solve what Keith Frankish (2016) has termed the illusion problem. We must explain why phenomenal consciousness seems to exist and why the illusion that it exists is so powerful. Focusing on introspective judgments about our color experiences, I propose a theory to solve the illusion problem.

I intend to show that we can understand the general causes of the illusion based on three principles. The first principle (section 1) is “Impenetrability,” according to which we have no introspective or conscious access to the processes in our brains, operating sub-doxastically, that engender our introspective judgments about our sensory experiences, nor do we have access to the non-phenomenal (functional, neural, or physical) properties of our experiences that our brains sub-doxastically apprehend to engender our introspective judgments about our sensory experiences. The second principle (section 2), the “Infallibility Intuition,” is our strong disposition to judge our introspective judgments about our sensory experiences to be infallible, or impervious to doubt. The third principle (section 4) is the “Justification Intuition,” an epistemic constraint on judgment/belief. For any agent a judging p, it must seem to a that she is justified in judging that p at the time she judges that p. Thus, the patent absurdity/incoherence of a saying or thinking: p, but I have no reason to judge/hold/believe p. In section 4, I show that we can explain the illusion of phenomenal consciousness based on these three principles.


As of 2/13/19, a substantially updated and revised, somewhat more technical version of this article can be found here:



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.