Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?

Torin Alter

in Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780195171655
Published online January 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199871339 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

  Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?

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The knowledge argument aims to refute physicalism — the view that the world is entirely physical. The argument first establishes the existence of facts (or truths or information) about consciousness that are not a priori deducible from the complete physical truth, and then infers the falsity of physicalism from this lack of deducibility. Frank Jackson gave the argument its classic formulation, but has since rejected the argument claiming that it relies on a false conception of sensory experience, which should be replaced with representationalism (also known as intentionalism) — the view that phenomenal states are just representational states. This chapter argues that Jackson's representationalist response to the knowledge argument fails. Physicalists face a representationalist version of the knowledge argument that inherits the force of the original. Reformulating the challenge in representationalist terms does little to help physicalists answer it.

Keywords: physicalism; facts; consciousness; Frank Jackson; representationalist; physicalist

Chapter.  5886 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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