Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

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ReasonMadeFlesh
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Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

Post by ReasonMadeFlesh » January 6th, 2014, 9:07 am

It has occurred to me that many people often invoke absence of knowledge regarding brain states while still knowing about mental states to prove somehow that mental states aren't brain states.

This is of course, based on a fallacy. Many fallacies actually.

Firstly, it presupposes that knowledge of brain states cannot satisfy knowledge of mental states. Even if that is not the case, it is an unwarranted leap to claim that the brain is incapable of of generating such. How do you know? You can't switch your brain off to check can you?

Secondly, it undercuts a distinction between knowledge that and knowledge how by committing an equivocation fallacy.

Knowledge of what it is like to be conscious through something is knowledge how, whereas knowledge that regards brain states.

Knowledge itself, is in fact a brain state, and it is one thing to describe a brain state, and another thing to be in a brain state. If I describe a brain state, that doesn't mean that I can't account for what it is like to be that brain state, which is the common objection from non-physicalists. Even if I couldn't, it is unfounded to say that physicalism is false on this basis, because there is nothing in physicalism which says that there cannot be anything it is like to be something, and knowledge of something, doesn't let me be in that state itself. Observing a brain state =/= experiencing a brain state and we are trying to use our very brains to deduce the origins of such, and we have no reason to presuppose that what goes on in the brain is anything like how things seem because seeming itself, is produced there.

Another fallacy that often occurs is the phenomenological fallacy. It basically appeals to qualia and says that because we experience qualia, then therefore, there must be some real mental theatre where qualia actually exists and because we don't find it in the brain, then the brain is therefore incapable of generating such. It is utter non-sense, because we are using our brain to look at itself and there is no reason to expect finding either qualia or even something remotely like it. What we do is we seek patterns between the mental and the physical and it appears to converge in the brain, and I believe the properties of the mental to be ontologically identical to functional states. We have no reason to think that the brain is incapable and in fact, a good reason to believe that it is so.
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Fafner88
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Re: Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

Post by Fafner88 » January 6th, 2014, 10:45 am

You should at least present the original argument and say explicitly which premises you reject.

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ReasonMadeFlesh
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Re: Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

Post by ReasonMadeFlesh » July 29th, 2017, 4:45 pm

Fair enough mate. Lol 3 and a half years later. Mary does not gain new knowledge she gains an ability
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Gertie
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Re: Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

Post by Gertie » July 29th, 2017, 6:04 pm

RMF
t has occurred to me that many people often invoke absence of knowledge regarding brain states while still knowing about mental states to prove somehow that mental states aren't brain states.
Not an argument I've come across in that form, but for me the issue is that if mental processes and physical processes (in brains) are the same processes, how can they have different characteristics, some of which are directly known (mental experience) and some of which might be unknown (neural states)? It seems illogical to say the same thing can be simultaneously known and unknown.

It's at root a problem associated with claiming two processes which have different types of descriptors (eg neuronal interactions and what it's like to experience seeing a yellow banana or feeling hungry) are the same process.

Not sure you've addressed that.

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Re: Refuting the "Knowledge Argument" to Save Physicalism

Post by Bohm2 » July 31st, 2017, 12:00 am

ReasonMadeFlesh wrote:Even if I couldn't, it is unfounded to say that physicalism is false on this basis...
I think the problem is deeper than this. The problem is that term "physicalism" is vacuous, since it's not clear what it means as argued by Hempel. Unless one has some clear and definite concept on what they mean by physicalism, it's neither false or true but vacuous. Unfortunately we don't know what physical/matter/body means because it seems to change as our physics/science changes:
The usual assumption is that we have a clear understanding of what matter is, and that the difficulty has to do with explaining how thoughts, sensations, and other mental phenomena relate to material processes in the nervous system. Are the former identical to or supervenient upon the latter?...In any event, the “body” side of the mind-body problem is usually taken to be unproblematic; it is mind that raises the puzzles, or so it is thought...Chomsky rejects this assumption. In his view, “body” is as problematic as mind; so much so that we do not even have a clear idea of what the mind-body problem is.
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2010/06/ ... oblem.html

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