Frank Jackson Knowledge Argument

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In my paper, I am going to analyze Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument, a proposal that renders physicalism false, by breaking it down into two simple premises. Soon after, I will consider two possible objections to Jackson’s argument, and finally conclude my paper with probable responses on behalf of Jackson. While I attempt to do all of the above, I will question Jackson’s argument and provide reasons for why I think he fails to proffer a convincing argument. Since physicalism renders everything in physical terms, Frank Jackson explains that he believes in the existence of “epiphenomenal qualia” i.e. non-physical features of the human brain that are necessary in explaining human experiences, and whose existence can be understood by differentiating…show more content…
David Lewis formulated such an objection in his paper What Experience Teaches. He phrased his ability hypothesis in the following manner: “[…] knowing what it’s like is the possession of abilities: abilities to recognize, abilities to imagine, abilities to predict one's behavior by imaginative experiments.”(Pg 131). This hypothesis discredits Jackson’s second premise as Lewis argues that what Jackson calls “epiphenomenal knowledge” is really just the ability to place oneself in a state representative of an experience. This means that, rather than gaining some sort of non-physical qualia, when Mary experiences a color for the first time she gains the ability to visualize the color at will. The underlying thought here is that the experience affords her the knowledge of how to visualize a color (while Jackson claims it affords her the epiphenomenal knowledge of what it is like to see color). Lewis agrees that Mary knew everything about the physical processes involved in experiencing color, but maintains that she simply lacked the ability to recall them for herself; this ability can only be gained from experience. Thus, it is not the case that she learns a new fact about what it’s like to see red, rather it is merely the acquisition of certain abilities that come into play and as a result are employed by Mary during her visual perception of the color

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