The Knowledge Argument

Consider once again the Martian Super-Scientist. . . . The Martian would not know what colors look like what musical tones sound like what joy, grief, elation or depression, etc., etc. feel like. . . . Now the question arises Is there something about human beings that the Martian does not (and never could) know Herbert Feigl, The Mental and the Physical The Essay and a Postscript Let's review. In the first chapter, I introduced an intuitive argument, which I called the experience gap argument....

Raising Suspicions

It is not easy to say what Mary's new knowledge is. I try to do so in the next two chapters. The point I want to make in the remainder of this chapter is that there is no reason to think that the difficulties involved are special problems for physicalism. The culprit, I believe, is a certain doctrine about knowledge, one that crept into the problem with the remark in setting up the problem. As I put it Mary learns everything there is to know about the physical world, for after all, what is...

Marys New Knowledge

Recall that the antecedent physicalist holds that there is a way of attending to a subjective character that is possible only when one is having an experience of which it is the subjective character. Attending to subjective characters in this way and remembering having done so provides a demon-strative recognitional core, a Humean idea of the sensation at the heart of many of our concepts of types of sensations. There is a way of attending to delightful aspects of the experience of eating of...

The Epistemology of Experience

I assume that our minds, whatever else they may be or may do, provide us with a way of keeping track of things. We pick up information about things through perception we store the information, draw inferences, speculate, anticipate, plan, and the like, as well as imagine and fantasize, the capacities for which may not be required to keep track of things but simply are certainly a nice dividend we are provided in virtue of having the necessary capacities. I assume our minds incorporate some...

The Inverted Spectrum

After his exposition of the zombie argument, Chalmers notes that such a dramatic possibility as a zombie world is not required for the dualist argument It suffices to establish the logical possibility of a world physically identical to ours in which the facts about conscious experience are merely different from the facts in our world, without conscious experience being absent entirely. As long as some positive fact about experience in our world does not hold in a physically identical world,...

Supervenience and Epiphenomenalism

I've oversimplified Chalmers so far, in an important way, by leaving out the topic of supervenience. If we go back to the quote with which I opened the chapter, we find that the conditions on the zombie world seem to shift a bit from the first paragraph to the second. In the first he says the zombie world is physically identical to ours, but in the second paragraph he says, L et us consider my zombie twin. This creature is molecule for molecule identical to me, and identical in all the...

Recognitional Knowledge and Know How

Laurence Nemirow has claimed, against the knowledge argument, that knowing what it is like is a species of knowing how (Nemirow 1979, 1980, 1989). According to Nemirow, Mary does acquire new knowledge, but it is not knowledge of a fact, hence not knowledge of a new fact, hence not an argument for nonphysical facts. It is a matter of know-how. Mary learns how to recognize red things by sight, how to recognize when she is having a red experience, and how to imagine seeing red things. Nemirow's...

Lewis and Eliminating Possibilities

In his essay What Experience Teaches, David Lewis defines phenomenal information as irreducibly nonphysical (Lewis 1990, 583). Given this, he sees no hope for physical-ism except to deny that there is phenomenal information. He sees the ability hypothesis as the only alternative and takes it to imply that phenomenal information is an illusion (593). I think this approach is unfortunate, a sort of begging the question against oneself. The antecedent physicalist simply identifies phenomenal...

Antecedent Physicalism

With the exception of headaches, there is nothing at all about what it is like to have experiences, in and of itself, that would suggest to one that they are states of the brain. Focusing on our experiences and mental states and asking the question of what sort of things they might be is something we may do for the first time in an introductory philosophy class perhaps reading Descartes' Meditations. It does not seem that we are encountering our own brains' states. But that does not mean that...

Dualism and Epiphenomenalism

What may be somewhat surprising, though, is that the possibility of a Chalmers zombie world really has virtually nothing at all to do with the issue of physicalism versus dualism. It is a test for epiphenomenalism versus the efficacy of the Conscious states are physical nomological danglers, in principle publically observable conscious. The two issues are independent. Table 4.1 shows the various possibilities. Epiphenomenalism is usually considered to be a form of dualism. But we defined it...

The Zombie Argument

The zombie argument, on which I focus in chapter 4, maintains that there is a possible world inhabited by beings that are physically indiscernible from us but are not conscious. It is a key argument of an important recent book by David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind Chalmers 1996 . What zombies lack and we have are the subjective characters of our experience, to which Ewing calls our attention. Chalmers uses the term qualia and conceives of qualia as a nonphys-ical, causally impotent layer of...