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Paul Prae 8th of November, 2011 PHIL 3550 with Jagnow

Second Report: A Clear Explication of the Arguments Presented by Frank Jackson in His Paper, What Mary Didnt Know. Jacksons paper presents and clarifies a thought experiment that exemplifies the knowledge argument against physicalism. This paper also provides a rebuttal against some replies to the knowledge argument that intended to defend physicalism. Here physicalism is the belief that everything in existence, when broken down to its most basic properties, is physical. If physicalism is true, anything that can be known can be understood in terms of some set of fundamental physical properties. Jackson argues that there are non-physical properties that arise when analyzing the world that are not explained by physicalism. Therefor physicalism is not true. He argues that there are certain properties to existence, namely qualia, that cannot be defined or explained in terms of physical properties. Qualia are subjective in the sense that they are exclusively and qualitatively perceived in first-person. Qualia are unique parts of the human experience of environmental sensations and are not physical entities. Because physicalism states that everything is physical, if Jackson is able to show that qualia do exist and that qualia are not physical, then Jackson has successfully proven physicalism to be false.

In the thought experiment that Jackson presents to his readers, he describes a scenario of this girl named Mary. Mary knows everything that can be known according to the terms set out by the definition of physicalism. She has one sensual and experiential limitation. All her life, Mary was never given an opportunity to perceive color. Jackson explains that she knows everything there is to know about the physical properties of color but has never experienced color. At one point, her limits are lifted and Mary sees her first thing in color. She then realizes what it is like for her, and what it might be like for others, to experience color. At this moment Mary has learned something new i.e. she has gained new knowledge. This means that Mary knew everything according to physicalism and was still able to make a new addition to her knowledge base. This would mean that physicalism is not sufficient to explain all knowledge in existence. If these premises are complete and true then physicalism is false. There are three clarifications to the knowledge argument. The first is to mention that imagination is of no relevance to the validity of the argument. It is not of discussion whether or not Mary can imagine experiencing color but whether or not she

knows what it is like for her to experience color. The second clarification explains that
Mary does understand every relationship between what anything is and what anything could be equivalent to. Also, she is not lacking any ability to process even the most complex of logical deductions or inferential reasoning needed to find any relationships between all things in existence. Finally, there is the most troubling point for physicalism. Before Mary experienced color, she was convinced by her knowledge

of all things physical that she knew everything there was to know about other people. After she experienced color, she immediately realized that she was lacking information regarding the experiences of others all along. This missing knowledge of the experiences of others is what cannot be explained by physical facts. The last items to explicate are the three objections that were made by Churchland, all of which were nullified by a further clarification of the argument and its context. First, there is Churchlands tightened version of the knowledge argument. Churchland believes that the knowledge argument is claiming that Mary does understand everything there is to know about brain states but does not understand everything there is to know about sensations. Churchland concludes that sensations must not be brain states. This is corrected by stating that Mary does not know everything there is to know about brain states because she does not know about some of the qualia associated with some of these brain states. So Churchlands first premise is wrong. In the second objection, Churchland states that Jacksons argument proves too much. If it disproves physicalism, then it disproves something such as dualism. It is shown that this cannot be so unless Mary knew everything there is to know according to that other thing. In this particular case of dualism, this is impossible and does not even make sense. The last objection is precisely what was described previously with the first clarification. Imagination is of no concern to this knowledge argument. The knowledge argument is correct in some ways though I do not know that it disproves physicalism. A big issue in this discussion has to do with the definitions and

understanding of many concepts e.g., understanding, knowledge, qualia, experience, physical properties, etc. There are many details that need to be drilled down to a foundational level and explained. Some epistemological assessments are of great need. For example, it absolutely makes sense to me that each person perceives (experiences) reality (knowledge) in a different way. It is possible that a person may perceive reality or store knowledge in the same manner in which another does, but it is impossible to prove this or that any two people have the same experiences of this same reality or knowledge. For that matter, it is not obvious to me that any other person is in the same reality as some other person. If qualia do exist, they have proven to be a mysterious thing to try and discuss. Neuroscience will shed light on this issue I am sure. It seems clear to me that physicalism and the knowledge argument are both wrong to some degree. A longer paper would be in order to attempt a proof.