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  • Topic: Physicalism, Qualia, Thought experiment
  • Pages : 3 (1088 words )
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  • Published : May 8, 2013
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An objection to Jackson’s Knowledge Argument in Mary’s Thought Experiment  1. In "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (1982), Jackson creates the Knowledge Argument about a woman called Mary who is subjected to a monochrome life resulting in new experiences when she enters the real world. Jackson uses this 'Thought Experiment' to illustrate his remonstration against Physicalism. After explaining what Physicalism is and how Jackson postulates his opposing argument, I shall determine what I believe to be the main objection to Jackson, namely the Ability Hypothesis and how it undermines Jackson's premise that Mary gains new knowledge after leaving the room.  2. Physicalism, also known as Materialism, states that everything that exists is ultimately physical. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (published 2001)  "Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on, or is necessitated by, the physical." Coined by Otto Neurath in the early twentieth century in a series of papers, it is stated that "According to physicalism, the language of physics is the universal language of science and, consequently, any knowledge can be brought back to the statements on the physical objects." (Keith, J.F 2010). With regards to the mind-body problem, a physicalist would argue that responses and thoughts are purely mechanisms of the brain i.e., chemical reactions through neurotransmitters across synapses leading to an equally physical response.  Jackson's response to physicalism was to formulate a 'Thought Experiment' about Mary. After years of entrapment in a black and white room, studying black and white books, Mary has gained all the physical knowledge of the world; from how muscles work to the mechanics behind a computer. When she is let out of the room, she is able to experience things for the first time, such as seeing colour. She then learns what it is actually like to experience colour as...
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