How Do We Differ When We Differ In Taste?

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


My partner loves the experiences she gets from eating olives. I, on the other hand, hate the experiences I get from eating olives. We differ in tastes. But how exactly do we differ? In particular: do our taste experiences differ phenomenologically—do my olive-experiences feel different than my partner’s olive-experiences? Some philosophers have assumed that the answer is “no,” and have advanced important arguments which turn on this assumption. I argue that, contrary to what these philosophers assume, ordinary taste differences do involve differences in phenomenology. My olive-experiences feel different than my partner’s olive-experiences. I argue for this phenomenal thesis in stages. First, I argue that there is a link between our attitudes and our pleasures; second, I argue that there is a link between our pleasures and our phenomenology. Together, my conclusions link our attitudes and phenomenology in a way that vindicates the phenomenal thesis. Along the way, I fend off various worries about what the phenomenal thesis might entail. I show that it does not entail any form of radical subjectivism, nor does it entail that there is a “distinctive feeling of pleasure.” I close by considering how opponents of the phenomenal thesis might retreat to a weaker thesis: one which concerns extraordinary taste differences, as opposed to ordinary taste differences. I argue that there are no obviously sound arguments for even this weaker thesis, which should make us all the more confident in the phenomenal thesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages30
JournalErgo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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