A Kantian account of the knowledge argument

Kant-e-Print 13 (3):32-55 (2018)
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This paper is a new defense of type-B materialism against Jackson’s knowledge argument (1982) inspired by the Kantian main opposition between concepts and sensible intuitions. Like all materialists of type B, I argue that on her release from her black-and-white room, Mary makes cognitive progress. However, contrary to the so-called phenomenal concept strategy (henceforth PCS), I do not think that such progress can be accounted for in terms of the acquisition of new concepts. I also reject Tye’s recent account of Mary’s cognitive progress as the acquisition of a “thing-knowledge.” What is crucial is not the Russellian opposition between knowing things and knowing truths but rather the Kantian opposition between conceptual and nonconceptual representations of the same thing (property). Mary’s phenomenal knowledge is here accounted for as the result of the cooperation of her newly acquired nonconceptual representation of the same phenomenal redness (the same thing) she had a conceptual representation before. As that new nonconceptual representation carries information about the same physical property she already represented but is now coded in analog rather than in digital form (Dretske, 1981), that nonconceptual representation can be accounted for in physical terms as Chalmers’s Master argument requires. Nevertheless, that representation can account for Mary’s cognitive progress since it carries information coded in analog form, something that the imprisoned she could never possess.

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Roberto Horácio De Pereira
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


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