Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument

1300 WordsDec 8, 20096 Pages
The knowledge argument is an argument against physicalism that was first formulated by Frank Jackson in 1982. While Jackson no longer endorses it, it is still regarded as one of the most important arguments in the philosophy of mind. Physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that, basically, everything in this world-including cars, humans, animals, research papers, even our sensations-are ultimately physical. The knowledge argument attempts to refute this thesis by appealing to the following made-up scenario known as “Mary’s Room”: Mary is confined to a black-and-white room, is educated through black-and-white books and through lectures relayed on black-and white television. In this way she learns everything there is to know about the…show more content…
Using this analysis, Churchland argues an argument which is parallel would also denounce dualism, because of the fact Mary would not hold sufficient “knowledge by acquaintance” even if she had extensive propositional knowledge concerning the nonphysical. Jackson responded to Churchland’s refutes in 1986 saying that one may actually know all of the physical facts about what it is like to see the color red without actually knowing what it’s like, but that one could not know all of the facts (physical and nonphysical) about seeing red without knowing what it is like. A third objection to the argument, which also denies the third premise claims that the gains Mary receives by leaving the room is not a knowledge of the fact, but it is actually an ability. This objection first came about by Laurence Nemirow’s review of Nagel’s argument (1980). David Lewis (1988) also defended this objection. When discussing this “ability” that Mary has gained, it is said that Mary learns how to recognize, as well as remember a “seeing red” experience. Because of the fact experience is a requirement for these abilities, it also means that it carries no anti-physicalist consequences. Furthermore extensive propositional knowledge doesn’t actually guarantee that a person possesses the significant ability. If this were true, masters of craft such as engineers would be able to hold any profession such as a basketball player, simply because of the fact the engineer could master all
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