Capacitism as a New Solution to Mary's puzzle

Journal of Philosophical Investigations 14 (32):252-263 (2020)
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In this paper, I argue for a new solution to Mary’s puzzle in Jackson’s famous knowledge argument. We are told that imprisoned Mary knows all facts or truths about color and color vision. On her release, she learns something new according to B-type of materialism and according to property dualism. I argue that this cognitive improvement can only be accounted for in terms of what Schellenberg has recently called “capacitism,” namely the claim that that experience is constitutively a matter of discriminating and singling out particulars by employing perceptual capacities. Of course, I am not claiming that knowing the phenomenal character is simply the possession of abilities, let alone that the phenomenal character is a sort of know-how. That is why my claim is not affiliated with Lewis and Nemirow's ability hypothesis position. I take for granted here a sort of property-representationalism, according to which the phenomenal character of experience supervenes on the cluster of properties that the respective experiences represent. On her release, Mary acquires those perceptual abilities on the basis of which she learns to discriminate all shades of color. And after applying her old physical concept RED to the shade of red, she comes to know what it is like to experience red (propositional knowledge).

Author's Profile

Roberto Horácio De Pereira
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


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