Solving the mind-body problem - the real significance of the knowledge argument

Abstract

The Knowledge Argument is misconstructed. Knowing that it is ‘just obvious’ that Mary will learn something new on leaving her black and white room, we nevertheless assume she can acquire a complete knowledge of the physical inside it – thereby predetermining the outcome of the thought experiment in favour of a refutation of physicalism. If we reformulate the argument to leave the question of what she can learn in the room open, it becomes clear, not only that physicalism can survive the Knowledge Argument, but also that there is only one perspective on the relationship between qualia and the physical that will permit it to do so. If physicalism is true, this perspective must be the correct view of the qualia-physical relationship – the solution to the mind-body problem, a conclusion supported by its ability to resolve a number of associated difficulties, including Kripke’s problem for proposed identities and Chalmers’ Hard Problem

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