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Summary The knowledge argument against physicalism centers on the claim that complete physical knowledge does not enable knowledge of consciousness.  In Frank Jackson's formulation, Mary is brought up in a black-and-white room and learns the complete neuroscience of color processing in humans, but she still does not know what it is like to see red: she learns a new fact about color experience when she leaves her room and sees red for the first time.  Jackson argues that Mary knows all the physical facts but not all the facts about color experience, so some facts about color experience are not physical facts.  Physicalists have replied in many different ways.  Some argue that Mary gains an ability without learning a new fact.  Others argue that she gains acquaintance with a property without learning a new facts.  Others argue that she learns a fact she already knew under a new mode of presentation.
Key works Jackson's original papers on the knowledge argument are Jackson 1982 and Jackson 1986 (he changes his mind in 2003).  Nemirow 1990 and Lewis 1990 give the ability reply: on leaving the black-and-white room, Mary gains an ability without learning a new fact.  Loar 1990 gives the old-fact reply: Mary learns a fact she already knew under a new mode of presentation.  Conee 1985 gives the acquaintance reply: Mary gains acquaintance with a property without learning new facts.  Dennett 2006 argues that Mary could know about color experience from inside her room.  Two excellent collections of papers on the topic are Nagasawa et al 2004 and Alter & Walter 2007.
Introductions Encyclopedia articles include Nida-Rumelin 2002, Alter 2005, and Gertler 2005Stoljar & Nagasawa 2003 is a thorough introduction including a historical discussion.
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  1. Torin Alter (2013). Social Externalism and the Knowledge Argument. Mind 122 (486):fzt072.
    According to social externalism, it is possible to possess a concept not solely in virtue of one’s intrinsic properties but also in virtue of relations to one’s linguistic community. Derek Ball (2009) argues, in effect, that (i) social externalism extends to our concepts of colour experience and (ii) this fact undermines both the knowledge argument against physicalism and the most popular physicalist response to it, known as the phenomenal concept strategy. I argue that Ball is mistaken about (ii) even granting (...)
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  2. Torin Alter (2008). 13 Phenomenal Knowledge Without Experience. In Edmond L. Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. Mit Press. 247.
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  3. Torin Alter (2007). The Knowledge Argument. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell.
    The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the doctrine that the world is entirely physical. Physicalism (also known as materialism) is widely accepted in contemporary philosophy. But some doubt that phenomenal consciousness.
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  4. Torin Alter (2006). Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument? In Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press. 65--76.
    The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism, the view that the world is entirely physical. The argument first establishes the existence of facts (or truths or information) about consciousness that are not a priori deducible from the complete physical truth, and then infers the falsity of physicalism from this lack of deducibility. Frank Jackson (1982, 1986) gave the argument its classic formulation. But now he rejects the argument (Jackson 1998b, 2003, chapter 3 of this volume). On his view, it relies (...)
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  5. Torin Alter, Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  6. Torin Alter (2001). Know-How, Ability, and the Ability Hypothesis. Theoria 67 (3):229-39.
    David Lewis (1983, 1988) and Laurence Nemirow (1980, 1990) claim that knowing what an experience is like is knowing-how, not knowing-that. They identify this know-how with the abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize experiences, and Lewis labels their view ‘the Ability Hypothesis’. The Ability Hypothesis has intrinsic interest. But Lewis and Nemirow devised it specifically to block certain anti-physicalist arguments due to Thomas Nagel (1974, 1986) and Frank Jackson (1982, 1986). Does it?
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  7. Torin Alter, The Knowledge Argument. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.
    Frank Jackson first presented the Knowledge Argument (henceforth KA) in "Epiphenomenal Qualia" 1982). The KA is an argument against physicalism, the doctrine that (very roughly put) everything is physical. The general thrust of the KA is that physicalism errs by misconstruing or denying the existence of the subjective features of experience. Physicalists have given numerous responses, and the debate continues about whether the KA ultimately succeeds in refuting any or all forms of physicalism. Jackson himself has recently.
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  8. Torin Alter (1998). A Limited Defense of the Knowledge Argument. Philosophical Studies 90 (1):35-56.
    Mary learns all the physical facts that one can learn by watching lectures on black-on-white television. According to Jackson, Mary learns new facts when she leaves the room and has color experiences, and that this undermines physicalism. Physicalists have responded by denying the new facts thesis; they argue, she acquires abilities, acquaintance knowledge, or new guises. I argue that the NFT is more plausible than any of the proposed alternatives. I also argue that the NFT does not undermine physicalism unless (...)
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  9. Torin Alter (1995). Mary's New Perspective. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73 (4):585-84.
    I wish to consider an objection to Frank Jackson's knowledge argument recently made by Derk Pereboom.
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  10. Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.) (2007/2009). Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press.
    What is the nature of consciousness? How is consciousness related to brain processes? This volume collects thirteen new papers on these topics: twelve by leading and respected philosophers and one by a leading color-vision scientist. All focus on consciousness in the "phenomenal" sense: on what it's like to have an experience. Consciousness has long been regarded as the biggest stumbling block for physicalism, the view that the mind is physical. The controversy has gained focus over the last few decades, and (...)
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  11. James T. Anderson, A Simple Refutation of the Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism.
    One of the most persuasive objections to the identity thesis.
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  12. István Aranyosi (2008). Review of Torin Alter and Sven Walter (Eds.) Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (467):665-669.
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  13. Jay E. Bachrach (1990). Qualia and Theory Reduction: A Criticism of Paul Churchland. Iyyun 281.
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  14. Derek Ball (2009). There Are No Phenomenal Concepts. Mind 118 (472):935-962.
    It has long been widely agreed that some concepts can be possessed only by those who have undergone a certain type of phenomenal experience. Orthodoxy among contemporary philosophers of mind has it that these phenomenal concepts provide the key to understanding many disputes between physicalists and their opponents, and in particular offer an explanation of Mary’s predicament in the situation exploited by Frank Jackson's knowledge argument. I reject the orthodox view; I deny that there are phenomenal concepts. My arguments exploit (...)
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  15. Katalin Balog (2008). Review of Torin Alter, Sven Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (5).
    The book under review is a collection of thirteen essays on the nature phenomenal concepts and the ways in which phenomenal concepts figure in debates over physicalism. Phenomenal concepts are of special interest in a number of ways. First, they refer to phenomenal experiences, and the qualitative character of those experiences (aka “qualia”) whose metaphysical status is hotly debated. There are recent arguments, originating in Descartes’ famous conceivability argument, that purport to show that phenomenal experience is irreducibly non-physical. Second, phenomenal (...)
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  16. Michael Beaton (2005). What RoboDennett Still Doesn't Know. Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (12):3-25.
    The explicit aim of Daniel Dennett’s new paper ‘What RoboMary Knows’ is to show that Mary (the hypothetical colour-blind neuroscientist) will necessarily be able to come to know what it is like to see in colour, if she fully understands all the physical facts about colour vision. I believe we can establish that Dennett’s line of reasoning is flawed, but the flaw is not as simple as an equivocation on ‘knows’. Rather, it goes to the heart of functionalism and hinges (...)
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  17. David Beisecker (2000). There's Something About Mary: Phenomenal Consciousness and its Attributions. Southwest Philosophy Review 16 (2):143-152.
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  18. Reinaldo Bernal Velasquez (2013). Précis of "E-physicalism-a physicalist theory of phenomenal consciousness". Ideas Y Valores 152:268-297.
  19. Reinaldo Bernal Velásquez (2012). E-Physicalism. A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness. Ontos Verlag.
    This work advances a theory in the metaphysics of phenomenal consciousness, which the author labels “e-physicalism”. Firstly, he endorses a realist stance towards consciousness and physicalist metaphysics. Secondly, he criticises Strong AI and functionalist views, and claims that consciousness has an internal character. Thirdly, he discusses HOT theories, the unity of consciousness, and holds that the “explanatory gap” is not ontological but epistemological. Fourthly, he argues that consciousness is not a supervenient but an emergent property, not reducible and endowed with (...)
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  20. J. Berntsen (2004). Why Physicalists Needn't Bother with Perry's Recent Response to the Knowledge Argument. Southern Journal of Philosophy 42 (2):135-148.
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  21. John C. Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (2006). Re-Acquaintance with Qualia. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):353 – 378.
    Frank Jackson argued, in an astronomically frequently cited paper on 'Epiphenomenal qualia'[Jackson 1982 that materialism must be mistaken. His argument is called the knowledge argument. Over the years since he published that paper, he gradually came to the conviction that the conclusion of the knowledge argument must be mistaken. Yet he long remained totally unconvinced by any of the very numerous published attempts to explain where his knowledge argument had gone astray. Eventually, Jackson did publish a diagnosis of the (...)
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  22. John C. Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1990). Acquaintance with Qualia. Theoria 61 (3):129-147.
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  23. Richard Brown (2014). David Chalmers on Mind and Consciousness. In Andrew Bailey (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: The Key Thinkers. Continuum. 283-292.
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  24. Richard Brown (ed.) (2013). Consciousness Inside and Out: Phenomenology, Neuroscience, and the Nature of Experience. Springer Studies in Brain and Mind.
    This volume is product of the third online consciousness conference, held at http://consciousnessonline.com in February and March 2011. Chapters range over epistemological issues in the science and philosophy of perception, what neuroscience can do to help us solve philosophical issues in the philosophy of mind, what the true nature of black and white vision, pain, auditory, olfactory, or multi-modal experiences are, to higher-order theories of consciousness, synesthesia, among others. Each chapter includes a target article, commentaries, and in most cases, a (...)
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  25. Richard Brown (2010). Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.
    In this paper I argue that a priori arguments fail to present any real problem for physicalism. They beg the question against physicalism in the sense that the argument will only seem compelling if one is already assuming that qualitative properties are nonphysical. To show this I will present the reverse-zombie and reverse-knowledge arguments. The only evidence against physicalism is a priori arguments, but there are also a priori arguments against dualism of exactly the same variety. Each of these parity (...)
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  26. Alex Byrne (2006). Review of There's Something About Mary. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 21.
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  27. Alex Byrne (2002). Something About Mary. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):27-52.
    Jackson's black-and-white Mary teaches us that the propositional content of perception cannot be fully expressed in language.
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  28. Neil Campbell (2003). An Inconsistency in the Knowledge Argument. Erkenntnis 58 (2):261-266.
    I argue that Frank Jackson's knowledge argument cannot succeed in showing that qualia are epiphenomenal. The reason for this is that there is, given the structure of the argument, an irreconcilable tension between his support for the claim that qualia are non-physical and his conclusion that they are epiphenomenal. The source of the tension is that his argument for the non-physical character of qualia is plausible only on the assumption that they have causal efficacy, while his argument for the epiphenomenal (...)
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  29. Yuri Cath (2009). The Ability Hypothesis and the New Knowledge-How. Noûs 43 (1):137-156.
    What follows for the ability hypothesis reply to the knowledge argument if knowledge-how is just a form of knowledge-that? The obvious answer is that the ability hypothesis is false. For the ability hypothesis says that, when Mary sees red for the first time, Frank Jackson’s super-scientist gains only knowledge-how and not knowledge-that. In this paper I argue that this obvious answer is wrong: a version of the ability hypothesis might be true even if knowledge-how is a form of knowledge-that. To (...)
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  30. David J. Chalmers (2004). Phenomenal Concepts and the Knowledge Argument. In Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), There's Something About Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument. MIT Press. 269.
    *[[This paper is largely based on material in other papers. The first three sections and the appendix are drawn with minor modifications from Chalmers 2002c (which explores issues about phenomenal concepts and beliefs in much more depth, mostly independently of questions about materialism). The main ideas of the last three sections are drawn from Chalmers 1996, 1999, and 2002a, although with considerable revision and elaboration. ]].
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  31. Paul M. Churchland (1989). Knowing Qualia: A Reply to Jackson. In Yujin Nagasawa, Peter Ludlow & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), A Neurocomputational Perspective. MIT Press. 163--178.
  32. Paul M. Churchland (1985). Reduction, Qualia and the Direct Introspection of Brain States. Journal of Philosophy 82 (January):8-28.
  33. Daniel Cohnitz (2012). In Defence of Antecedent Physicalism. In A. Newen & R. van Riel (eds.), Introduction to the Philosophy of John Perry. CSLI.
  34. Sam Coleman (2009). Why the Ability Hypothesis is Best Forgotten. Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (2-3):74-97.
    According to the knowledge argument, physicalism fails because when physically omniscient Mary first sees red, her gain in phenomenal knowledge involves a gain in factual knowledge. Thus not all facts are physical facts. According to the ability hypothesis, the knowledge argument fails because Mary only acquires abilities to imagine, remember and recognise redness, and not new factual knowledge. I argue that reducing Mary’s new knowledge to abilities does not affect the issue of whether she also learns factually: I show that (...)
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  35. Earl Conee (1994). Phenomenal Knowledge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (2):136-150.
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  36. Earl Conee (1985). Physicalism and Phenomenal Properties. Philosophical Quarterly 35 (July):296-302.
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  37. Earl Conee (1985). Physicalism and Phenomenal Qualities. Philosophical Quarterly 35 (140):296-302.
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  38. Tim Crane (2003). Subjective Facts. In Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D. H. Mellor. New York: Routledge.
    An important theme running through D.H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (...)(previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (the series of ‘dates’) is real. The A-series is something which is a product of our representation of the world, but not a feature of reality itself. And in other, less central, areas of his work, this kind of theme has been repeated: ‘Objective decision making’ (1980) argues that the right way to understand decision theory is as a theory of what is the objectively correct decision, the one that will actually as a matter of fact achieve your intended goal, rather than the one that is justified purely in terms of what you believe, regardless of whether the belief is true or false. ‘I and now’ (1989) argues against a substantial subjective conception of the self, using analogies between subjective and objective ways of thinking about time and subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self. And in the paper which shall be the focus of my attention here, ‘Nothing like experience’ (1992), Mellor.. (shrink)
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  39. Robert C. Cummins (1984). The Mind of the Matter: Comments on Paul Churchland. Philosophy of Science Association 1984:791 - 798.
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  40. Nic Damnjanovic (2012). Revelation and Physicalism. Dialectica 66 (1):69-91.
    Revelation is the thesis that having an experience that instantiates some phenomenal property puts us in a position to know the nature or essence of that property. It is widely held that although Revelation is prima facie plausible, it is inconsistent with physicalism, and, in particular, with the claim that phenomenal properties are physical properties. I outline the standard argument for the incompatibility of Revelation and physicalism and compare it with the Knowledge Argument. By doing so, I hope to show (...)
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  41. Erhan Demircioglu (2013). Physicalism and Phenomenal Concepts. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):257-277.
    Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. In recent years, a consensus has emerged that the credibility of this and other well-known anti-physicalist arguments can be undermined by allowing that we possess a special category of concepts of experiences, phenomenal concepts, which are conceptually independent from physical/functional concepts. It is held by a large number of philosophers that since the conceptual independence of phenomenal (...)
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  42. Daniel C. Dennett (2006). What Robomary Knows. In Torin Alter & Sven Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press.
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  43. Daniel C. Dennett (1991). &Quot;epiphenomenal" Qualia? In Yujin Nagasawa, Peter Ludlow & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Consciousness Explained. Little, Brown. 127-136.
  44. John M. DePoe (2013). RoboMary, Blue Banana Tricks, and the Metaphysics of Consciousness: A Critique of Daniel Dennett's Apology for Physicalism. Philosophia Christi 15 (1):119-132.
    Daniel Dennett has argued that consciousness can be satisfactorily accounted for in terms of physical entities and processes. In some of his most recent publications, he has made this case by casting doubts on purely conceptual thought experiments and proposing his own thought experiments to "pump" the intuition that consciousness can be physical. In this paper, I will summarize Dennett's recent defenses of physicalism, followed by a careful critique of his position. The critique presses two flaws in Dennett's defense of (...)
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  45. Max Deutsch, Subjective Physical Facts.
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  46. Andreas Elpidorou (forthcoming). Phenomenal Concepts. Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    Phenomenal concepts are the concepts that we deploy when – but arguably not only when – we introspectively examine, focus on, or take notice of the phenomenal character of our experiences. They refer to phenomenal properties (or qualities) and they do so in a subjective (first-personal) and direct (non-relational) manner. It is through the use of such concepts that the phenomenal character of our experiences is made salient to us. Discourse about the nature of phenomenal concepts plays an important role (...)
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  47. Ronald P. Endicott (1995). The Refutation by Analogous Ectoqualia. Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):19-30.
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  48. G. Furash (1989). Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument Against Materialism. Dialogue 32 (October):1-6.
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  49. Martina Fürst (2011). What Mary's Aboutness Is About. Acta Analytica 26 (1):63-74.
    The aim of this paper is to reinforce anti-physicalism by extending the hard problem to a specific kind of intentional states. For reaching this target, I investigate the mental content of the new intentional states of Jackson’s Mary. I proceed in the following way: I start analyzing the knowledge argument, which highlights the hard problem tied to phenomenal consciousness. In a second step, I investigate a powerful physicalist reply to this argument: the phenomenal concept strategy. In a third step, I (...)
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  50. Martina Fürst (2004). Qualia and Phenomenal Concepts as Basis of the Knowledge Argument. Acta Analytica 19 (32):143-152.
    The central attempt of this paper is to explain the underlying intuitions of Frank Jackson’s “Knowledge Argument” that the epistemic gap between phenomenal knowledge and physical knowledge points towards a corresponding ontological gap. The first step of my analysis is the claim that qualia are epistemically special because the acquisition of the phenomenal concept of a quale x requires the experience of x. Arguing what is so special about phenomenal concepts and pointing at the inherence-relation with the qualia (...)
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