qualities from the experiencing subject's perspective. What is the nature of suchknowledge and concepts? What are their distinctive characteristics? How are their contents determined? What is required for their possession? In what does possessingthem consist? How are they related to abilities, such as the ability to visualize? How arethey related to physical
and physical concepts? These are just a few of thequestions that the essays in this volume address.Why are such questions important? One reason concerns the debate over consciousnessand physicalism.
(also known as
) is the view that the world ismerely physical.
This view implies that consciousness is physical or, as it is sometimes put, that there are no truths about consciousness over and above the physical truths. Manyembrace this implication, partly because it accords well with a naturalistic outlook inwhich the physical sciences, ideally conceived, completely describe reality. But theimplication is controversial even among those otherwise sympathetic to naturalism. Thecontroversy has gained focus over the last few decades, partly because of the refinementof certain antiphysicalist arguments and physicalist replies. In this debate, phenomenalconcepts and phenomenal knowledge have come to play increasingly prominent roles. Tosee why, consider two widely discussed antiphysicalist arguments: the knowledgeargument and the conceivability argument.The classic statement of the knowledge argument comes from Frank Jackson (1982,1986). Jackson formulates the argument in terms of his well-known thought experiment:the case of Mary the super-scientist. Mary is raised in a black-and-white room and has nocolor experiences. She learns everything in the completed science of color vision bywatching lectures on black-and-white television. What she learns includes “everything incompleted physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about thecausal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles”(Jackson 1986: 291). Then she leaves the room or is given a color television.Jackson uses the Mary case to argue roughly as follows. Before she leaves the room, sheknows all the physical truths. Intuitively, when she leaves and sees colors for the firsttime, she learns new truths about what it's like to see in color, truths she cannot deducefrom those conveyed by black-and-white lectures. These new truths must be nonphysical;otherwise, she would have known them before leaving the room. If such nonphysicaltruths exist, then physicalism is false. Therefore, physicalism is false. That, in brief, is theknowledge argument.
The conceivability argument is often formulated in terms of another thought experiment,one involving zombies. Zombies are defined as creatures that lack phenomenalconsciousness but are physically identical to conscious human beings. Given thisdefinition, the conceivability argument runs roughly as follows. Intuitively, zombies areconceivable. Their conceivability does not derive from our ignorance or cognitivelimitations; rather, they are conceivable because they are metaphysically possible. If theyare metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false. Therefore, physicalism is false.
Both arguments comprise three main steps. The first step is to establish an
:the thesis that phenomenal concepts/knowledge cannot be deduced a priori from physicalconcepts/knowledge. In terms of the knowledge argument, the claim is that Mary gainsfactual knowledge when she leaves the room: knowledge of truths that cannot be a priorideduced from her comprehensive physical knowledge. In terms of the conceivabilityargument, the claim is that it is possible to form a coherent positive conception of