Knowing What It's Like

Philosophical Perspectives 37 (1):187-209 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

David Lewis—famously—never tasted vegemite. Did he have any knowledge of what it's like to taste vegemite? Most say 'no'; I say 'yes'. I argue that knowledge of what it’s like varies along a spectrum from more exact to more approximate, and that phenomenal concepts vary along a spectrum in how precisely they characterize what it’s like to undergo their target experiences. This degreed picture contrasts with the standard all-or-nothing picture, where phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge lack any such degreed structure. I motivate the degreed picture by appeal to (1) limits in epistemic abilities such as recognition, imagination, and inference, and (2) the semantics of ‘knows what it’s like’ expressions. I argue that approximate phenomenal knowledge cannot be explained merely via determinable or vague phenomenal concepts. I develop a framework for systematizing approximate knowledge of phenomenal character. And I explain how my view challenges some standard assumptions about the acquisition conditions, requirements for mastery, and referential mechanisms of phenomenal concepts.

Similar books and articles

Something Like Ability.P. Noordhof - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):21-40.
Something like ability.Paul Noordhof - 2003 - Australian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):21-40.
There are no phenomenal concepts.Derek Ball - 2009 - Mind 118 (472):935-962.
Phenomenal concepts, color experience, and Mary's puzzle.Diana I. Pérez - 2011 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy (3):113-133.
Phenomenal and perceptual concepts.David Papineau - 2006 - In Torin Andrew Alter & Sven Walter (eds.), Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 111--144.
Metaphysics of Quantity and the Limit of Phenomenal Concepts.Derek Lam - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (3):1-20.
Conceptual mastery and the knowledge argument.Gabriel Rabin - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (1):125-147.
Phenomenal concepts: Neither circular nor opaque. E. Diaz-Leon - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (8):1186-1199.

Analytics

Added to PP
2023-03-15

Downloads
432 (#42,141)

6 months
174 (#14,507)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Andrew Y. Lee
University of Toronto at Scarborough

Citations of this work

Metaethical Experientialism.Andrew Y. Lee - forthcoming - In Geoffrey Lee & Adam Pautz (eds.), The Importance of Being Conscious. Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Individualism and the mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
The content and epistemology of phenomenal belief.David Chalmers - 2002 - In Aleksandar Jokic & Quentin Smith (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 220--72.
Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap.Joseph Levine - 1983 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October):354-61.
A Study of Concepts.Christopher Peacocke - 1992 - Studia Logica 54 (1):132-133.

View all 53 references / Add more references