'In spaceships they won't understand' : the knowledge argument, past, present and future
According to Jackson's Knowledge Argument, since one can know everything
physical about someone, without being able to know the quality of their experience,
this experience is more than physical. Jackson, now a physicalist, no longer accepts
the Argument. Through chronological treatment of his evolving position, I defend it
against objections, including his own. The Argument, properly understood and
reinforced, should still prompt Jackson - and us - away from physicalism.
The trajectory of Jackson's thought moves from presenting the Argument to refute
physicalism, through developing semantic apparatus to strengthen it and supply
arguments against non-reductive physicalism, to adopting reductive physicalism and
embracing the Ability Hypothesis. At each stage I propose changes to his view.
1. The Argument's formulation needlessly tempts towards the Ability Hypothesis. I
propose small changes to avoid this.
2. Jackson never adequately treats the Ability Hypothesis. I argue against it on two
i. Abilities to which Mary's are assimilated involve phenomenal knowledge.
Phenomenal knowledge being basic to abilities - not vice-versa - reduction of Mary's
knowledge to ability does not render it fact-free. This depends on prior judgement of
whether phenomenal knowledge involves factual knowledge. The hypothesis is
dialectically unhelpful therefore.
ii. I broadly endorse Tye's argument that phenomenal knowledge is factual.
3. Jackson attacks the a posteriori physicalist orthodoxy using two-dimensionalism,
i. His neo-descriptivism requires support. I sketch a theory of reference that would
provide the necessary foundations.
ii. His account as formulated offers a posteriori physicalists a loophole. I defend an
ambitious thesis about phenomenal/physical conceptual relations that prevents this.
4. Conceptual-dualist views, where we can't see that experience is physical due to
unusual behaviour of phenomenal concepts, are criticised. Considerations involving
concepts cannot have sufficient force here. The conceptual-dualist suggests that
phenomenal concepts mislead about the nature of their referents. But given popular
views of phenomenal concepts, there seems no room for us to be misled as required.
5. Jackson's current view, combining representationalism with the Ability Hypothesis
to yield reductive physicalism, is criticised. The representationalist component does
not make it conceivable that Mary could work out what it's like. And the Ability
Hypothesis cannot 'capture the cognitive novelty Mary encounters. Thus neither part,
nor the mixture of them, does its job, and Jackson's new position fails.
6. conclude that, the Knowledge Argument's puzzle undiminished,
panexperientialism is the best solution. The theory is first motivated on a Lewisian
basis: I emphasise its potential to give physicalists and anti-physicalists what they
want. Next, I address some common doubts about panexperientialism, such as its
initial implausibility, and the combination problem.