What Acquaintance Teaches

In Thomas Raleigh & Jonathan Knowles (eds.), Acquaintance: New Essays. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Authors
Michael Tye
University of Texas at Austin
Alex Grzankowski
Birkbeck, University of London
Abstract
In her black and white room, Mary doesn’t know what it is like to see red. Only after undergoing an experience as of something red and hence acquainting herself with red can Mary learn what it is like. But learning what it is like to see red requires more than simply becoming acquainted with it. To be acquainted with something is to know it, but such knowledge, as we argue, is object-knowledge rather than propositional-knowledge. To know what it is like one must know an appropriate propositional answer to the question ‘what is it like?’. Despite this mismatch between object-knowledge and knowing an answer, we believe that acquaintance is crucial to Mary’s epistemic progress. When Mary leaves her black and white room, her new knowledge tempts one to think that she must come to know a candidate answer (a coarse-grained fact) that she didn’t know in her room. Since Mary already knows all the physical facts in her room, any additional facts she might learn appear to threaten physicalism. In reply, many physicalists have been attracted to the phenomenal concept strategy according to which Mary can come to have new knowledge and hence know a new answer to the question ‘what is it like to see red?’ by entertaining a coarse-grained fact under a concept she didn’t possess in her room – Mary learns a new fine-grained fact. We believe both of these accounts of Mary’s epistemic progress are mistaken. As we argue, Mary could know every fact (coarse-grained and fine-grained) that might serve as an answer to the question ‘what is it like to see red?’ and still not know what it is like. The physical world leaves no leftover coarse-grained facts for Mary to learn and because concepts are sharable, easy to possess, and easy to introduce, there are possible situations in which Mary, while in her black and white room, has every concept that might make a fine-grained difference. In short, even when Mary is granted a great deal of factual knowledge and vast conceptual resources, she may still not know an appropriate answer to the question ‘what is it like to see red?’. But in any such situation, Mary lacks acquaintance with red and on this basis we argue that in order to know what it is like, in order for Mary to know an appropriate answer, Mary’s propositional knowledge must be appropriately related to her acquaintance with red.
Keywords Knowledge Argument  Acquaintance  Physicalism  Consciousness
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Knowing How.Jason Stanley & Timothy Willlamson - 2001 - Journal of Philosophy 98 (8):411-444.
Phenomenal States.Brian Loar - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:81-108.

View all 45 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Limited Defense of the Knowledge Argument.Torin Alter - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 90 (1):35-56.
Conceptual Mastery and the Knowledge Argument.Gabriel Rabin - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (1):125-147.
Acquaintance, Parsimony, and Epiphenomenalism.Brie Gertler - 2019 - In Sam Coleman (ed.), The Knowledge Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 62-86.
Epistemological Physicalism and the Knowledge Argument.Jesper Kallestrup - 2006 - American Philosophical Quarterly 43 (1):1-23.
Why the Ability Hypothesis is Best Forgotten.Sam Coleman - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (2-3):74-97.
Introduction.Daniel Stoljar - 2003 - In Peter Ludlow, Yujin Nagasawa & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), There's Something About Mary. MIT Press.
Recognitional Identification and the Knowledge Argument.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (3):325-340.
Phenomenal Knowledge.Earl Conee - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (2):136-150.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-03-21

Total views
150 ( #56,851 of 2,310,439 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
55 ( #12,669 of 2,310,439 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature