"Epiphenomenal Qualia" - Michael Johnson

"Epiphenomenal Qualia" - Michael Johnson

Epiphenomenal Qualia Book is in the Bookstore! Frank Jackson Australian philosopher. Distinguished Professor at the ANU.

Awarded the Order of Australia. Delivered the 1995 John Locke Lectures. THE KNOWLEDGE ARGUMENT FOR QUALIA

Trichromatic Vision Normal human retinas contain three types of light-sensitive cone cells (they also contain lightsensitive rods that are not part of color vision). The brain uses the stimulation of these cells to discriminate visual stimuli by color. Trichromatic Vision

Trichromatic Vision Most mammals have only 2 types of cone cells, but primates like monkeys, apes and humans have 3. One evolutionary suggestion is that 3 types of cells helps for finding

ripe fruit. Trichromatic Vision Most mammals have only 2 types of cone cells, but primates like monkeys, apes and humans have 3. One evolutionary

suggestion is that 3 types of cells helps for finding ripe fruit. Tetrachromatic Vision The ancestors of mammals, and the cousins of mammals (like birds)

have 4 types of cones. Tetrachromatic Vision Scientists think that some human women also have 4 cones and thus see about 100 times more colors than normal

people. This is because women can carry two different versions of one cone on their two X chromasomes. Fred Jackson asks us to imagine a person named Fred

who has the following ability. He can sort any pile of red things (like tomatoes) that all look the same to us into two piles. If you mix the piles up again, Fred can sort them back into the exact same two piles. Fred Fred claims that the things in the two piles

appear to be two different colors (to him). He calls them both red because thats what other people do, but he says that look to him as different as yellow and blue. Fred Supporting Freds claim is the fact that he has 4 cones in his retinas, not just 3 like normal

humans. Scientists discover that the lightsensitivity of his additional cone matches the wavelengths of light reflected by some red things. The Knowledge Argument We know all the science behind Freds brain states, how he has different cones, how theyre sensitive to different wavelengths, etc.

We know the functional roles of the brain states: how those states work to discriminate between wavelengths that we cant discriminate between. We know everything that physicalist theories of mental states appeal to. The Knowledge Argument

We do not know what the color Fred sees is like. We do not know what Freds color experience is like. Therefore, since we know all the (relevant) physical facts, these other facts we do not know must be non-physical facts.

Mary The same point can be made with normal people and familiar colors. Mary Brilliant scientist.

Locked in a room with nothing red-colored since birth. Has never seen her own blood or anything else thats red. Knows everything about color science and brain

science. Mary 1. Mary knows all the physical facts (about others). 2. There is something that Mary does not

know: what seeing red is like (for others). 3. Therefore the fact that seeing red is like this is not a physical fact. Clarification #1 Its doubtful that not having seen red makes it

impossible for you to imagine what red is like. Jackson is not saying this. He is saying that one person, Mary, cannot imagine what seeing red is like. Clarification #2 We saw before that arguments like this are bad:

Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly. Lois Land does not believe that Clark Kent can fly.__________________________________ Therefore, Superman Clark Kent. Clarification #2 Isnt Jackson just saying: Mary knows that Georges L-cones are active.

Mary doesnt know that George is experiencing red.________________________________ Therefore, Georges L-cones being active George experiencing red. Clarification #2 No. Jackson is arguing that L-cones fire when one experiences red

cannot be a physical fact. If its a physical fact then since Mary knows all the physical facts, she knows that L-cones fire when one experiences red. Clarification #2 Then we can argue: Mary knows that Georges L-cones are firing.

Mary knows that L-cones fire when one experiences red.______________________ Therefore, Mary knows that George is experiencing red. Recap 1. Mary knows all the physical facts (about

others). 2. There is something that Mary does not know: what seeing red is like (for others). 3. Therefore the fact that seeing red is like this is not a physical fact.

THE MODAL ARGUMENT The Modal Argument 1. It is possible for there to be someone exactly like me in all physical properties who has no conscious mental states (a zombie). 2. Therefore mental states cant be the same as

physical properties. (Because having the same physical properties does not necessitate having the same mental states.) 3. Therefore, there are non-physical properties. Problems Some philosophers dont think that claim #1 is true.

They argue, for example, that just because we can imagine people so-described doesnt mean that they are actually possible. Even some philosophers*** who are nonphysicalists disagree with #1. They say that consciousness is closely linked with physical states, even though not identical to them. The Knowledge Argument

Jackson claims that the knowledge argument is not the modal argument. Nowhere does Jackson assume that philosophical zombies are possible. He does not claim that Mary is physically the same as someone who does know what red is like. He uses normal people and familiar colors.

NAGELS ARGUMENT Jacksons Misrepresentation Jackson interprets Nagel as arguing that we cant imagine what its like to experience batexperience tokens. Nagel was clear that he meant types.

Jacksons Misinterpretation No amount of knowledge about Fred, be it physical or not, amounts to knowledge from the inside concerning Fred. We are not Fred. There is thus a whole set of items of knowledge expressed by forms of words like that it is I myself who is which Fred has and we simply

cannot have because we are not him. p. 276 The Ability Objection Next, Jackson takes the ability line on Nagel It is hard to see an objection to Physicalism here. Physicalism makes no special claims about the imaginative or extrapolative powers of human beings, and it is hard to see why it need

do so. p. 276 The Upshot Jacksons argument is not Nagels argument. Jackson does not appeal to the fact that Mary cant imagine what its like for me to see red. He doesnt need to assume that she can imagine anything at all.

Jacksons argument rests on the claim that there is a fact that Mary does not know, even though she knows all the physical facts. THE BOGEY OF EPIPHENOMENALISM Epiphenomenalism

Epiphenomenalism (as Jackson wants to defend it): some properties of mental states are perhaps causally efficacious. BUT, the property of being conscious, or having a certain qualitative feel never causes anything. Objection #1 The conscious feel of my pain is what causes me

to say ouch! or it hurts! The conscious experience of red causes me to think theres something its like for me to see red. Marys experience of red on leaving the room causes her to believe that she lacked knowledge of other peoples mental lives. Etc.

Jackson Responds Correlation does not imply causation. Saying it hurts usually comes after/ during feeling pain. But that doesnt mean that it causes the pain. Example When we watch a movie, it seems like the image

of someone pulling a gun trigger causes the image of a bullet firing. But the images on the film have no causal relation to one another. Objection #2 According to the theory of evolution by natural selection, complex functions evolve only when they confer a reproductive advantage. Conscious

mental states seem to have evolved, they fulfill a complex function, and yet according to epiphenomenalism they cannot covey any advantage at all (they are causally inefficacious). Jackson Responds Traits can be evolutionarily selected for either because they convey an advantage or because

they are necessary consequences of something that conveys an advantage. Example: Spandrels Why do spandrels exist? It seems like on many old buildings they served an artistic purpose. But thats

not why theyre there. They have to be there to hold the building up. Evolutionary Spandrels A polar bear has a heavy coat. Why? Doesnt this make the bear slower and

require that it spend more energy to move? The explanation is that the coat isnt there because its heavy, its there because its warm. Warmth requires heaviness.

Jacksons Idea Conscious mental states arent around because they are conscious. They are around for other purposes they serve (functional role, for example). However, there is a close connection between having a certain functional role and being conscious.

Objection #3 Obviously, how things behave is evidence for what conscious mental states they are in. Rocks dont howl or squeal when you kick them, and thats a good reason to think they are not conscious. Dogs do howl and squeal when you kick them, and thats a good reason to think that they are conscious.

Is Evidence For Causes Causes Is Evidence For

Causes Causes Occams Razor We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient

to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes. Isaac Newton Objection #4 We shouldnt believe in things that dont cause anything that we can observe, and dont explain anything we can observe. According to the

epiphenomenalist, qualia are such things. So we shouldnt believe in them. Jacksons Slugists Jackson wants us to imagine intelligent slugs who live at the bottom of the sea.

They have an advanced science that explains everything theyve observed. But theres so much more to the world than that! Jacksons Slugists

The idea is that we are the slug philosophers (slugists). Theres more than what our science has or can discover. We shouldnt assume that because qualia dont fit into our scientific

explanatory scheme that therefore they dont exist.

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