Phenomenalknowledge is knowledge of what it is like to be in conscious states, such as seeing red or being in pain. According to the knowledge argument (Jackson 1982, 1986), phenomenalknowledge is knowledge that, i.e., knowledge of phenomenal facts. According to the ability hypothesis (Nemirow 1979; Lewis 1983), phenomenalknowledge is mere practical knowledge how, i.e., the mere possession of abilities. However, some phenomenalknowledge also (...) seems to be knowledge why, i.e., knowledge of explanatory facts. For example, someone who has just experienced pain for the first time learns not only that this is what pain is like, but also why people tend to avoid it. Some philosophers have claimed that experiencing pain gives knowledge why in a normative sense: it tells us why pain is bad and why inflicting it is wrong (Kahane 2010). But phenomenalknowledge seems to explain not (only) why people should avoid pain, but why they in fact tend to do so. In this paper, I will explicate and defend a precise version of this claim and use it as a basis for a new version of the knowledge argument, which I call the explanatory knowledge argument. According to the argument, some phenomenalknowledge (1) explains regularities in a distinctive, ultimate or regress-ending way, and (2) predict them without induction. No physical knowledge explains and predicts regularities in the same way. This implies the existence of distinctive, phenomenal explanatory facts, which cannot be identified with physical facts. I will show that this argument can be defended against the main objections to the original knowledge argument, the ability hypothesis and the phenomenal concept strategy, even if it turns out that the original cannot. In this way, the explanatory knowledge argument further strengthens the case against physicalism. (shrink)
: Phenomenalknowledge usually comes from experience. But it need not. For example, one could know what it’s like to see red without seeing red—indeed, without having any color experiences. Daniel Dennett (2007) and Pete Mandik (forthcoming) argue that this and related considerations undermine the knowledge argument against physicalism. If they are right, then this is not only a problem for anti‐physicalists. Their argument threatens to undermine any version of phenomenal realism— the view that there are (...)phenomenal properties, or qualia, that are not conceptually reducible to physical or functional properties. I will argue that this threat is illusory. Explaining why will clarify what is and is not at issue in discussions of the knowledge argument and phenomenal realism. This will strengthen the case for physically and functionally irreducible qualia. 2 Phenomenalknowledge usually comes from experience. For example, I know what it’s like to see red because I have done so. Does knowing what it’s like to have an experience with phenomenal character X require having an experience with X? No. A famous counterexample is Hume’s missing shade of blue, in which one can extrapolate from phenomenally similar experiences (A Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. I, Pt. I, Sec. I).1 One might think that a weaker version of the no‐phenomenal‐knowledge‐without‐experience thesis remains tenable, e.g., that knowing what it’s like to see in color requires having or having had color experiences. But this thesis also seems doubtful. Peter Unger (1966) devised plausible counterexamples over four decades ago, and since then others (e.g., Lewis 1988, Alter 1998, Stoljar 2005) have done the same. One could have phenomenalknowledge of color experiences without having such experiences. Indeed, one could have such knowledge without having experiences that are remotely like color experiences. What is the significance of this observation for contemporary debates about consciousness and physicalism? Daniel Dennett (2007) and Pete Mandik (forthcoming) suggest that it undermines the knowledge argument against physicalism.2 That is because they take the claim that someone who has never seen in color could not know what it’s like to see in color to be the basis of the knowledge argument’s main epistemic premise: the premise that (roughly put) 3 no amount of physical knowledge is sufficient for phenomenalknowledge of color experiences. If they are right, then this is not only a problem for anti‐ physicalists. Many physicalists (e.g., Loar 1990/97, Papineau 2002, 2007) accept the knowledge argument’s epistemic premise. Dennett’s and Mandik’s arguments threaten all versions of what David Chalmers (2003) calls phenomenal realism, the view that there are phenomenal properties, or qualia, that are not conceptually reducible to physical or functional properties.3 I will argue that this threat is illusory. Explaining why will clarify what is and is not at issue in discussions of the knowledge argument and phenomenal realism. The net result will be to strengthen the case for physically inexplicable qualia. (shrink)
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 phenomenalknowledge and phenomenal concepts--knowledge of consciousness and the associated concepts--have come to play increasingly prominent roles in this debate. Consider Frank Jackson's famous case of Mary, the super-scientist who learns all the physical information while confined in a black-and-white room. According to Jackson, if physicalism is true, then Mary's physical knowledge should allow her to deduce what it's like to see in color. Yet it seems intuitively clear that she learns something when she leaves the room. But then how can consciousness be physical? Arguably, whether this sort of reasoning is sound depends on how phenomenal concepts and phenomenalknowledge are construed. For example, some argue that the Mary case reveals something about phenomenal concepts but has no implications for the nature of consciousness itself. Are responses along these lines adequate? Or does the problem arise again at the level of phenomenal concepts? The papers in this volume engage with the latest developments in this debate. The authors' perspectives range widely. For example, Daniel Dennett argues that anti-physicalist arguments such as the knowledge argument are simply confused; David Papineau grants that such arguments at least reveal important features of phenomenal concepts; and David Chalmers defends the anti-physicalist arguments, arguing that the "phenomenal concept strategy" cannot succeed. (shrink)
Knowledge of what it’s like to have perceptual experiences, e.g. of what it’s like to see red or taste Turkish coffee, is phenomenalknowledge; and it is knowledge the substantial or significant nature of which is widely assumed to pose a challenge for physicalism. Call this the New Challenge to physicalism. The goal of this paper is to take a closer look at the New Challenge. I show, first, that it is surprisingly difficult to spell out (...) clearly and neutrally what the New Challenge is in fact urging the physicalist to explain. What initially look like plausible or promising ways of making sense of it turn out to be either question begging or insufficient to generate a challenge to physicalism at all. I go on to suggest that what the New Challenge may be asking the physicalist to explain may be the fact that we come to token certain higher-order judgments about the significance of phenomenalknowledge. I end with a discussion of the implications of this interpretation of the New Challenge—which turns out to be as much a challenge for the anti-physicalist as it is for the physicalist. (shrink)
Deviant phenomenalknowledge is knowing what it's like to have experiences of, e. g., red without actually having had experiences of red. Such a knower is a deviant. Some physicalists have argued and some anti-physicalists have denied that the possibility of deviants undermines anti-physicalism and the Knowledge Argument. The current paper presents new arguments defending the deviant-based attacks on anti-physicalism. Central to my arguments are considerations concerning the psychosemantic underpinnings of deviant phenomenalknowledge. I argue (...) that physicalists are in a superior position to account for the conditions in virtue of which states of deviants constitute representations of phenomenal facts. (shrink)
A comprehensive theory of implicit and explicit knowledge must explain phenomenalknowledge (e.g., knowledge regarding one's affective and motivational states), as well as propositional (i.e., “fact”-based) knowledge. Findings from several research areas (i.e., the subliminal mere exposure effect, artificial grammar learning, implicit and self-attributed dependency needs) are used to illustrate the importance of both phenomenal and propositional knowledge for a unified theory of implicit and explicit mental states.
A familiar story about phenomenalknowledge likens it to indexical knowledge, i.e. knowledge about oneself typically expressed with sentences containing indexicals or demonstratives. The popularity of this sort of story owes in part to its promise of resolving some longstanding puzzles about phenomenalknowledge. One such puzzle arises from the compelling arguments that we can have full objective knowledge of the world while lacking some phenomenalknowledge. I argue that the widespread (...) optimism about the indexical account on this score is unwarranted. (shrink)
This volume presents thirteen new essays on phenomenal concepts and phenomenalknowledge: twelve by philosophers and one by a scientist. In this introduction, we provide some background and summarize the essays.
*[[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 . The main ideas of the last three sections are drawn from Chalmers 1996, 1999, and 2002a, although with considerable revision and elaboration. ]].
Phenomenal Concepts and PhenomenalKnowledge is an edited volume of new essays relating to the debates around phenomenal experience in philosophy of mind. Alter and Walter provide an excellent introduction to the volume, producing a well edited collection of papers that represent some of the most interesting and cutting edge work in the field, and together provide a subtle and complex overview of the contemporary theoretical landscape. In addition, as many of the papers refer to others (...) within the volume, they provide an excellent opportunity for in depth and complex debate between some of the leading theorists at work today. This review concentrates on ways in which papers in the volume further debates around the construal of phenomenal consciousness as physical or non-physical, and also on new responses to the infamous knowledge argument. (shrink)
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 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 concepts are widely thought to be special and unique among concepts. Both the anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist replies to these arguments turn on views about the nature of phenomenal concepts. In this review I survey the many ways in which the essays in this volume are engaged with anti-physicalist arguments and the role phenomenal concepts play in these arguments. (shrink)
In God and Phenomenal Consciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides objections to them. He then presents a parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenal consciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel objections to (...) Jackson's and Nagel's arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls 'non-theoretical physicalism'. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences. (shrink)
The central attempt of this paper is to explain the underlying intuitions of Frank Jackson’s “Knowledge Argument” that the epistemic gap between phenomenalknowledge 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 they pick out, I give compelling reasons for the existence of ontologically distinct entities. Finally I conclude that phenomenalknowledge is caused by phenomenal properties and the instantiation of these properties is a specific phenomenal fact, which can not be mediated by any form of descriptive information. So it will be shown that phenomenalknowledge must count as the possession of very special information necessarily couched in subjective, phenomenal conceptions. (shrink)
It has often been thought that our knowledge of ourselves is _different_ from, perhaps in some sense _better_ than, our knowledge of things other than ourselves. Indeed, there is a thriving research area in epistemology dedicated to seeking an account of self-knowledge that would articulate and explain its difference from, and superiority over, other knowledge. Such an account would thus illuminate the descriptive and normative difference between self-knowledge and other knowledge.<sup>1</sup> At the same time, (...) self- knowledge has also encountered its share of skeptics – philosophers who refuse to accord it any descriptive, let alone normative, distinction. In this paper, we argue that there is at least one _species_ of self-knowledge that is different from, and better than, other knowledge. It is a specific kind of knowledge of one’s concurrent phenomenal experiences. Call knowledge of one’s own phenomenal experiences _phenomenal knowledge_. Our claim is that some (though not all) phenomenalknowledge is different from, and better than, non-phenomenalknowledge. In other. (shrink)
There is widespread debate in contemporary philosophy of mind over the place of conscious experiences in the natural world – where the latter is taken to be broadly as described and explained by such sciences as physics, chemistry and biology; while conscious experiences encompass pains, bodily sensations, perceptions, feelings and moods. Many philosophers and scientists, who endorse physicalism or materialism, maintain that these mental states can be completely described and explained in natural terms. Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument is a (...) very influential objection to physicalism and, thus, to such an optimistic view about the scientific treatability of conscious experiences. According to the knowledge argument, we can know facts about our colour experiences that are not physical facts. -/- At the heart of this book lies a response to the knowledge argument that aims to defend a version of physicalism, that the author calls modest reductionism. This reply is based on the endorsement of the phenomenal concept strategy. According to this response, the knowledge argument cannot prove that there are non-physical facts. Instead, it can only show that there are ways of thinking about colour experiences that are based on phenomenal concepts that differ from scientific concepts. The author argues for the superiority of the phenomenal concept strategy over other influential physicalist replies to the knowledge argument. However, he criticises some recent physicalist accounts of phenomenal concepts and develops his own distinctive theory of these concepts. -/- . (shrink)
This paper defends a novel account of how we introspect phenomenal states, the Demonstrative Attention account (DA). First, I present a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for phenomenal state introspection which are not psychological, but purely metaphysical and semantic. Next, to explain how these conditions can be satisfied, I describe how demonstrative reference to a phenomenal content can be achieved through attention alone. This sort of introspective demonstration differs from perceptual demonstration in being non-causal. DA nicely (...) explains key intuitions about phenomenal self-knowledge, makes possible an appealing diagnosis of blindsight cases, and yields a highly plausible view as to the extent of our first-person epistemic privilege. Because these virtues stem from construing phenomenal properties as non-relational features of states, my defense of DA constitutes a challenge to relational construals of phenomenal properties, including functionalism and representationalism. And I provide reason to doubt that they can meet this challenge. (shrink)
In some philosophical arguments an important role is played by the claim that certain situations differ from each other with respect to phenomenology. One class of such arguments are minimal pair arguments. These have been used to argue that there is cognitive phenomenology, that high-level properties are represented in perceptual experience, that understanding has phenomenology, and more. I argue that facts about our mental lives systematically block such arguments, reply to a range of objections, and apply my critique to some (...) examples from the literature. (shrink)
Phenomenal consciousness can be conceptualized innocently enough that its existence should be accepted even by philosophers who wish to avoid dubious epistemic and metaphysical commitments such as dualism, infallibilism, privacy, inexplicability, or intrinsic simplicity. Definition by example allows us this innocence. Positive examples include sensory experiences, imagery experiences, vivid emotions, and dreams. Negative examples include growth hormone release, dispositional knowledge, standing intentions, and sensory reactivity to masked visual displays. Phenomenal consciousness is the most folk-psychologically obvious thing or (...) feature that the positive examples possess and that the negative examples lack, and which preserves our ability to wonder, at least temporarily, about antecedently unclear issues such as consciousness without attention and consciousness in simpler animals. As long as this concept is not empty, or broken, or a hodgepodge, we can be phenomenal realists without committing to dubious philosophical positions. (shrink)
Confronted with the apparent explanatory gap between physical processes and consciousness, there are many possible reactions. Some deny that any explanatory gap exists at all. Some hold that there is an explanatory gap for now, but that it will eventually be closed. Some hold that the explanatory gap corresponds to an ontological gap in nature.
The explanatory gap and theknowledge argument are rooted in the conflationof propositional and phenomenalknowledge. Thebasic knowledge argument is based on theconsideration that ``physical information'' aboutthe nervous system is unable to provide theknowledge of a ``color experience'' . The implication is that physicalism isincomplete or false because it leaves somethingunexplained. The problem with Jackson'sargument is that physical information has theform of highly symbolic propositional knowledgewhereas phenomenalknowledge consists in innateneurophysiological processes. In addition totheir fundamental epistemological (...) differences,clinical, anatomical, pathological and brainimaging studies demonstrate that phenomenal andpropositional knowledge are fundamentallydifferent neurobiological processes. Propositional knowledge is phylogeneticallynew, highly symbolic, culturally acquired,exclusively human and expressible in differentnatural and artificial languages. By contrast,phenomenalknowledge consists inqualitative experiences and phenomenal conceptsthat provide an internal, language-independentreference to the properties of objects and theneeds of the organism. Language andpropositional knowledge are exclusively humanattributes implemented in specific regions ofthe dominant hemisphere. This contrastssharply with the phylogenicallysensory areas that are common to animals andhumans, which implement qualitativeexperiences. Experiences are hard-wiredneurobiological processes that can neither betransmitted nor re-created through thesymbolism of propositions. Thus, I concludethat the fallacy in the explanatory gap and inthe knowledge argument is a fallacy ofequivocation that results from ignoringfundamental neurobiological differences betweenphenomenal and propositional knowledge. (shrink)
Some analytic philosophers have recently been defending the thesis that there’s “something it’s like” to consciously think a particular thought, which is qualitatively different from what it’s like to be in any other kind of conscious mental state and from what it’s like to think any other thought, and which constitutes the thought’s intentional content. (I call this the “intentional phenomenology thesis”). One objection to this thesis concerns the introspective availability of such content: If it is true that intentional phenomenology (...) is constitutive of intentional content, and that conscious phenomenology is always introspectively available, then it ought to be true that the content of any concept consciously entertained is always introspectively available. But it is not. For example, one can know introspectively that one is thinking that one knows that p without knowing introspectively what the content of the concept of knowledge is. Hence, it cannot be that intentional content is constituted by cognitive phenomenology. -/- I explore three responses to this objection. First, it is not clear that all of the contents of consciousness must be equally available to introspection. The capacities for conscious experience and introspective attention to it are distinct. It is not implausible that the resolving power of the latter might be insufficient to discern all of the fine-grained details of the former, or that its scope might be limited. Second, it is possible that in cases of incomplete accessibility one is entertaining only part of the concept the relevant term expresses in one’s language. In the knowledge case, for example, perhaps one is thinking only that one has justified true belief that p (one’s self-attribution of a thought about knowledge is in fact false). Finally, in such cases one might be consciously entertaining only part of the relevant concept, the rest remaining unconscious, and so unavailable to conscious introspection. I conclude that the objection is not decisive against the intentional phenomenology thesis. (shrink)
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 concepts does not imply the metaphysical independence of phenomenal properties, physicalism is safe. This paper distinguishes between two versions of this novel physicalist strategy –Phenomenal Concept Strategy (PCS) – depending on how it cashes out “conceptual independence,” and argues that neither helps the physicalist cause. A dilemma for PCS arises: cashing out “conceptual independence” in a way compatible with physicalism requires abandoning some manifest phenomenological intuitions, and cashing it out in a way compatible with those intuitions requires dropping physicalism. The upshot is that contra Brian Loar and others, one cannot “have it both ways.”. (shrink)
Starting in the middle -- Epistemic possibilities and the knowledge argument -- Locating ourselves in the world -- Notes on models of self-locating belief -- Phenomenal and epistemic indistinguishability -- Acquaintance and essence -- Knowing what one is thinking -- After the fall.
How can one investigate phenomenal consciousness? As in other areas of science, the investigation of consciousness aims for a more precise knowledge of its phenomena, and the discovery of general truths about their nature. This requires the development of appropriate first-person, second-person and third-person methods. This book introduces some of the creative ways in which these methods can be applied to different purposes, e.g. to understanding the relation of consciousness to brain, to examining or changing consciousness as such, (...) and to understanding the way consciousness is influenced by social, clinical and therapeutic contexts. To clarify the strengths and weaknesses of different methods and to demonstrate the interplay of methodology and epistemology, the book also suggests a number of “maps” of the consciousness studies terrain that place different approaches to the study of consciousness into a broader, interdisciplinary context. (shrink)
In the philosophical literature on mental states, the paradigmatic examples of mental states are beliefs, desires, intentions, and phenomenal states such as being in pain. The corresponding list in the psychological literature on mental state attribution includes one further member: the state of knowledge. This article examines the reasons why developmental, comparative and social psychologists have classified knowledge as a mental state, while most recent philosophers--with the notable exception of Timothy Williamson-- have not. The disagreement is traced (...) back to a difference in how each side understands the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and belief, concepts which are understood in both disciplines to be closely linked. Psychologists and philosophers other than Williamson have generally have disagreed about which of the pair is prior and which is derivative. The rival claims of priority are examined both in the light of philosophical arguments by Williamson and others, and in the light of empirical work on mental state attribution. (shrink)
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 the sort of considerations that are typically used to motivate externalism about mental content. Although physicalists often appeal to phenomenal concepts to defend their view against the knowledge argument, I argue that this is a mistake. The knowledge argument depends on phenomenal concepts; if there are no phenomenal concepts, then the knowledge argument fails. (shrink)
Some contemporary discussion about the explanation of consciousness substantially recapitulates a decisive debate about reference, knowledge and justification from an earlier stage of the analytic tradition. In particular, I argue that proponents of a recently popular strategy for accounting for an explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal facts – the so-called “phenomenal concept strategy” – face a problem that was originally fiercely debated by Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath. The question that is common to both the older and (...) the contemporary discussion is that of how the presence or presentation of phenomenal experiences can play a role in justifying beliefs or judgments about them. This problem is, moreover, the same as what was classically discussed as the problem of acquaintance. Interestingly, both physicalist and non-physicalist proponents of the phenomenal concept strategy today face this problem. I consider briefly some recent attempts to solve it and conclude that, although it is prima facie very plausible that acquaintance exists, we have, as yet, no good account of it. (shrink)
1 Grasping Properties I will present an argument for property dualism. The argument employs a distinction between having a concept of a property and grasping a property via a concept. If you grasp a property P via a concept C, then C is a concept of P. But the reverse does not hold: you may have a concept of a property without grasping that property via any concept. If you grasp a property, then your cognitive relation to that property is (...) more intimate then if you just have some concept or other of that property. To grasp a property is to understand what having that property essentially consists in. (shrink)
This paper aims to uncover where the disagreement between illusionism and anti-illusionism about phenomenal consciousness lies fundamentally. While illusionists claim that phenomenal consciousness does not exist, many philosophers of mind regard illusionism as ridiculous, stating that the existence of phenomenal consciousness cannot be reasonably doubted. The question is, why does such a radical disagreement occur? To address this question, I list various characterisations of the term “phenomenal consciousness”: (1) the what-it-is-like locution, (2) inner ostension, (3) thought (...) experiments such as philosophical zombies, inverted qualia and Mary’s room, (4) scientific knowledge about secondary properties, (5) theoretical properties such as being ineffable and being intrinsic, and (6) appearance/reality collapse. Then I examine whether each characterization provides (i) a dubitable sense of phenomenal consciousness in which the existence of phenomenal consciousness can be reasonably doubted, (ii) an indubitable sense in which its existence cannot be reasonably doubted, or (iii) a gray sense in which it is controversial whether its existence can be reasonably doubted. By doing so, I show that there is no single sense of phenomenal consciousness in which illusionists and anti-illusionists disagree whether the existence of phenomenal consciousness can be reasonably doubted. I conclude that the disagreement between illusionists and anti-illusionists is fundamentally terminological: while illusionists adopt a dubitable sense of phenomenal consciousness, anti-illusionists adopt an indubitable sense of phenomenal consciousness. Because of the extreme vagueness and ambiguity of the term “phenomenal consciousness”, illusionists and anti-illusionists fail to see that they talk about different senses of phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)