Mary Meets Molyneux: The Explanatory Gap and the Individuation of Phenomenal Concepts

Noûs 38 (3):503-524 (2004)
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It is widely accepted that physicalism faces its most serious challenge when it comes to making room for the phenomenal character of psychological experience, its so-called what-it-is-like aspect. The challenge has surfaced repeatedly over the past two decades in a variety of forms. In a particularly striking one, Frank Jackson considers a situation in which Mary, a brilliant scientist who knows all the physical facts there are to know about psychological experience, has spent the whole of her life in a black and white room. He asks, What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a colour television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then it is inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. (Jackson 1986: 130)

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Cynthia Macdonald
University of Manchester


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