Analysis Of David Lewis 'Knowledge Argument'

One of the main points of the Knowledge Argument is that one can have all of the physical information without having all of the information there is to have. Frank Jackson believes that this applies to any of the senses, such as sight, “taste, hearing, the bodily sensations and generally speaking for the various mental states which are said to have (as it is variously put) raw feels, phenomenal features or qualia” (130). To support this argument he gave examples of a man named Fred who could see two colors where we could only see one color and a woman named Mary who knew everything about color but had never experienced it. A Physicalist believes that there is nothing more to this world than the physical, but Jackson proves this wrong with …show more content…
David Lewis defended the Ability Hypothesis in an effort to prove physicalism is true in his 1988 paper titled What Experience Teaches. In this article, Lewis argues against the second premise of the Knowledge Argument. “The Ability Hypothesis says that knowing what an experience is like just is the possession of these abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize. It isn’t the possession of any kind of information, ordinary or peculiar. It isn’t knowing that certain possibilities aren’t actualized. It isn’t knowing-that. It’s knowing-how” (Lewis 18). This means, that Mary did not obtain any factual knowledge when she saw color, instead she just acquired abilities on how to imagine, remember, and recognize the experience (Lewis 20). For example, she gained the ability to imagine the color blue, to recognize the color red, and she gained experience with color. The Ability Hypothesis states that the only alternative is the Hypothesis of Phenomenal Information, which says that knowing what it is like is propositional in that it eliminates the other possibilities. The Hypothesis of Phenomenal Information is incompatible with physicalism, but the Ability Hypothesis is compatible and, therefore, should be preferred. A possible objection to physicalism may be that propositional knowledge can be acquired through first person experiences just like ability knowledge …show more content…
The Knowledge Argument is so often disputed that there are several approaches of philosophers to prove the Knowledge Argument wrong that I didn’t even get into and are just as convincing. The idea of someone growing up and never seeing color is so impossible to me that I just can’t accept the argument and choose a side. But let’s ignore that attention to small details and focus on Lewis’ Ability Hypothesis which states that Mary didn’t learn anything, she just gained abilities. This physicalist objection proves that physicalism is true since Mary really didn’t gain propositional knowledge. All of these arguments considered, I believe that in a hypothetical world where it is possible to grow up without ever seeing color, physicalism is true because Mary didn’t gain factual knowledge, she just gained

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