What Counts as Cheating? Deducibility, Imagination, and the Mary Case

Philosophia:1-10 (forthcoming)
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In The Matter of Consciousness, in the course of his extended discussion and defense of Frank Jackson’s famous knowledge argument, Torin Alter dismisses some objections on the grounds that they are cases of cheating. Though some opponents of the knowledge argument offer various scenarios in which Mary might come to know what seeing red is like while still in the room, Alter argues that the proposed scenarios are irrelevant. In his view, the Mary case is offered to defend the claim that phenomenal facts cannot be a priori deduced from physical facts. Thus, a proposed scenario constitutes an objection to the knowledge argument only if it presents a case in which Mary’s learning inside the room comes about via a priori deduction from physical facts. Call this the deducibility standard. In what follows, I’ll explore a series of relevant cases in an effort to clarify this standard. Doing so enables us to better understand how cheating should be assessed in this context and thereby also to get clearer on the argumentative dialectic surrounding the Mary case.

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Amy Kind
Claremont McKenna College


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