SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

Mary meets Mike: In defense of the Knowledge Argument
(Philosophy of Mind, Englisch)

Jackson (1982) proposes the knowledge argument to reject reductive physicalism by showing that all knowledge is not physical. The knowledge argument has two main premises: one epistemic that Mary would learn something new when she comes out of the room; and the second metaphysical that what she will learn is not physical. Dennett (1991, 2007) objects to the first premise and tries to show that Mary would not "learn" anything new. Churchland (1985,1990) Lewis (1983, 1988) and Nemirow (1980, 1990, 2007) object to the second premise and argue that Mary would learn something new but this new information would be physical. Churchland argues that Mary would learn the new mode of accessing the same knowledge that she already had inside the room. Lewis and Nemirow present the ability hypothesis as a criticism to the knowledge argument. According to this view, Mary would learn an ability (know-how) to remember, recognise or imagine the already possessed propositional knowledge (know-that). Mary would simply gain an ability on coming out of the room, not new knowledge. In this paper, I present a criticism of the ability thesis by using the indirect proof method. I propose a thought experiment to show that if we accept the ability thesis to hold true, it is not able to account for the fact that the ability to remember, recognise and imagine something is categorically different in the case of phenomenal knowledge. Know-how in the case of phenomenal knowledge cannot be explained by a thesis that only accommodates only physical knowledge. Gaining an ability would amount to gaining new knowledge in case of phenomenally accessible content. Thus, given our experience of the scope and possibility of knowledge which is non-physical, we conclude against a strict physicalist stance and in favour of phenomenalism. Mary learnt something new and phenomenal indeed!


Chair: Daniel Weger
Zeit: 11:20-11:50, 09. September 2022 (Freitag)
Ort: HS E.002
Anmerkung: (Online Talk)

Abhishek Yadav
(Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai India, India)



Testability and Meaning deco