Actually, I think most people accept the existence of qualia.
Sense data are much more controversial than qualia, because they are associated with a controversial theory of perception – that one perceives the world by perceiving one’s sense-data, or something like that.
I never expected this to catch on in the way it did! Of course similar observations have been made by any number of people, and the distinction is obvious to anyone who thinks about the subject a little.
Even when I was studying mathematics, physics, and computer science, it always seemed that the problem of consciousness was about the most interesting problem out there for science to come to grips with.
Things are still in early stages, but one can imagine that as we build up and systematize our theories of these associations, and try to boil them down to their core, the result might point us toward the sort of fundamental principles I advocate.
My interests started about in science and in mathematics; I always thought I was going to be a mathematician.
It probably helps that my background is in the sciences and I can speak the scientists’ language.
There’s certainly nothing original about the observation that conscious experience poses a hard problem.
I think the existence of zombies would contradict certain laws of nature in our world. It seems to be a law of nature, in our world, that when you get a brain of a certain character you get consciousness going along with it.
Because the idea of zombies seems to make sense, and seems to, in a certain sense, be possible, I think one can use that to argue against the thesis that everything is purely physical. Now many people, I think, agree that the idea of zombies are conceivable, including people who want to be physicalists.