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Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument: On Qualia, Physical Information, and the Supposed Falsity of Physicalism

Author:

Andrew Watters

Metropolitan State University, US
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Abstract

In “Epiphenomenal Qualia” Frank Jackson argues against Physicalism (the thesis that all correct information is physical information) and for the existence of qualia on the grounds that all of the physical information possible cannot explain the qualitative feel of experience (qualia). In “The Knowledge Argument for Qualia” Jackson partakes in a thought experiment using the examples of “Fred” and “Mary” to show that having all of the physical information about color; including all of the information about physical history, physiology, behavior, light waves, and the physical sciences fails to provide the information of what it is like for Fred and Mary to experience (see) color. Given that all of the physical information cannot provide all of the information available, Jackson concludes that Physicalism is false and that qualia exist, for some information is not physical. I argue against Jackson on the grounds that he assumes that physical information must be publicly accessible and that the experience of color (privately accessible information) cannot be physical information. Moreover, I argue that all information is contextually dependent upon one’s physical environment and physiological functions, thus it is possible that conscious experience is a kind of physical information and that Physicalism is true.

How to Cite: Watters, A., 2015. Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument: On Qualia, Physical Information, and the Supposed Falsity of Physicalism. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 7(2), pp.6 (36–43). DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1123
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Published on 29 May 2015.
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