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Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgeNew Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism$
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Torin Alter and Sven Walter

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195171655

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195171655.001.0001

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 So This Is What It's Like

 So This Is What It's Like

A Defense of the Ability Hypothesis

(p.32) two So This Is What It's Like
Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge

Laurence Nemirow

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the objective grounds for and against the ability hypothesis (AH), which was developed as a response to the Knowledge Argument (KA) — a purported proof of the existence of “phenomenal information”. It argues that while KA capitalizes on the mysticism inspired by “So this is what it's like” and embraces the existence of propositional knowledge that cannot be put into words, AH provides a more worldly account that explains both the cognitive role of knowing what it's like and its essential connection with firsthand experience. This approach engenders almost religious objection. But the test of a philosophical theory is not the fervor of the criticism it engenders, but the strength of the available rejoinders; and AH proves to be reasonably resilient to assault.

Keywords:   epistemic gap, Mary, color, learning, ability hypothesis, knowledge argument

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