Fred’s red: on the objectivity and physicality of mental qualities

Synthese 200 (4):1-27 (2022)
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Frank Jackson's case of Mary the colour scientist, and the knowledge argument against physicalism built upon it, are well known. This paper starts from Jackson's other, more neglected, thought experiment, about Fred, who sees a unique shade of red. It explores two senses in which properties are said to be 'objective', roughly corresponding to the ideas of a property's being intersubjectively accessible, on the one hand, and its being knowable without the need for special experiences, on the other. These senses of the objective are contrasted, and their links to the doctrine of physicalism explored, and it is argued that, in the sense of objectivity we should embrace, mental qualities come out as objective and physical properties. The paper ends up by proposing a novel theory about how mental qualities fit into the world—as determinates of determinable physical properties, a view that is distinguished from the closely related 'Russellian monism'.



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Sam Coleman
University of Hertfordshire

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The character of consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
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Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Don Ross, David Spurrett & John G. Collier.
The Rediscovery of the Mind.John Searle - 1992 - MIT Press. Edited by Ned Block & Hilary Putnam.

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