Emergence, Colour and the Knowledge Argument: So What if Mary Didn't Know?
Document Type:ASSC Conference Item
Keywords:Knowledge Argument; materialism; emergence; color vision
Deposited by:Glenn Carruthers
Date of Issue:2007
Event Location:Los Vegas, USA
Event Title:11th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Event Type:ASSC Conference
Number of Pages:1
Abstract:One of the strongest and most problematic intuitions we have concerning consciousness is that the only way to know what an experience is like is to have the experience. It seems obvious that the blind person does not know what it is like to see red. In this paper I argue that this “knowledge intuition” is compatible with materialism. In particular I suggest that facts that can be known only via experience can be accommodated in the proper scientific metaphysics. This argument has three parts: a) the development of an account of the facts that are known in color experience; b) a characterisation of the emergentist metaphysics that captures what well established sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology have already told us about the world; and c) the development of an account of scientific explanation which can account for how the scientist can explain phenomena that they do not, strictly speaking, know. We will see that what is required to put consciousness on a par with other obviously physical phenomena is not a denial of our intuitions about consciousness, but rather a proper understanding of the metaphysics and epistemology of other obviously physical phenomena.