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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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 Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?

 Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?

(p.65) four Does Representationalism Undermine the Knowledge Argument?
Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge

Torin Alter (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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