I have a crush on the post “Qualia: The Real Thing” by Keith Frankish, guest-blogging on the Splintered Mind.
Drawing a distinction between classic qualia and diet qualia (though not under those terms) is a common move in the literature, but I’m suspicious of it. I’m just not convinced that there is any distinctive content to the notion of diet qualia. To make the point, let me introduce a third concept, which shall I call zero qualia. Zero qualia are those properties of an experience that lead its possessor to judge that the experience has classic qualia and to make certain judgements about the character of those qualia. Now I assume that diet qualia are supposed to be different from zero qualia: an experience could have properties that dispose one to judge that it has classic qualia without it actually being like anything to undergo it. But what exactly would be missing? Well, a subjective feel. But what is that supposed to be, if not something intrinsic, ineffable, and private? I can see how the properties that dispose us to judge that our experiences have subjective feels might not be intrinsic, ineffable, and private, but I find it much harder to understand how subjective feels themselves might not be.
Now, if we moved in a direction even further from classic qualia, what would the resulting position be (and what would be the appropriate soft-drink inspired name for it)? The position might involve, instead of identifying qualia with properties of experiences that constitute the dispositional basis toward such-and-such judgments, an identification of qualia with some non-dispositional feature of the judgments themselves or, alternately, the contents of the judgments themselves. But, what to call it?