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Acquaintance With Colours: An Essay on Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument

Markunas, Michael Ernest; (2016) Acquaintance With Colours: An Essay on Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis, I outline and defend an acquaintance response to the knowledge argument. The knowledge argument was first presented by Frank Jackson in “Epiphenomenal Qualia” (1982). The argument seeks to demonstrate that physicalism is false. There have been numerous different responses defending physicalism, but which, if any, is sufficient, remains highly controversial and unsettled (Nida-Rümelin, 2015).I focus on one particular response on behalf of the physicalist: the acquaintance hypothesis. Recently, Michael Tye (2009) has provided a very sophisticated account of the acquaintance hypothesis. Tye argues that a proper theory of knowledge by acquaintance provides a cogent response to the knowledge argument. Tye’s view is informed by Russell’s theory of knowledge by acquaintance, which distinguished between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description (1910-11), but nevertheless Tye provides a large-scale overhaul. Perhaps most importantly, Tye argues that a proper theory of knowledge by acquaintance requires a proper theory of perception, which Russell lacked. While I agree with Tye that a proper understanding of knowledge by acquaintance provides the physicalist a way to response to the knowledge argument, I disagree that Tye himself has given us that understanding. I argue that his theory of acquaintance rests too heavily on a faulty theory of perceptual content. But rejecting Tye’s view does not force one to give up on the acquaintance hypothesis. Indeed, Tye seems on the right track in thinking that a theory of knowledge by acquaintance and a theory of perception are interdependent. To that end, I attempt to construct a theory of perception that does justice to the theory of acquaintance. To do this, I rely on relationists (or sometimes called ‘naive realists’) theories of perception. I argue that an understanding of a relationist theory of perception provides the best grounds for a theory of knowledge by acquaintance, and thereby provides the best response to the knowledge argument.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Acquaintance With Colours: An Essay on Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052818
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