Explain the ability hypothesis as an objection to the knowledge argument. Does it block the knowledge argument as a threat to physicalism?
The ability hypothesis fails to block out the knowledge argument as a threat against physicalism. I shall firstly explain Jackson’s knowledge argument and then conclude with the reasons as to why I believe that the ability hypothesis fails to object against it. I will then conclude as to why the knowledge argument still remains a challenge to the physicalists.
To explain both sides of the argument I am going to use Jacksons Mary scenario.i Mary is a super brainy female who knows all the physical facts about the world. She has been captured by scientists and trapped in a black and white room, full of only black and white objects for the whole of her life so far. As Mary is incredibly clever, she is aware that there are colours in the outside world, although she has not come into contact with any. One day the scientists decide to free her from captivity. Upon her exit Mary stumbles across a red rose for the first time. The question is, what does Mary learn and does it show that physicalism is false?
Jackson’s knowledge argument claims that Mary did learn something, she gained new knowledge, as before Mary left the black and white room she did not know what it would be like to see the colour red. However the ability hypothesis, which was founded by Lewis.D, (1983),ii is an objection to Jackson’s knowledge argument. The ability hypothesis is the theory that Mary’s new experience of the colour red was a gain in abilities and not factual knowledge. Therefore Mary simply gained a new ability rather than new factual knowledge.
The knowledge that Mary gains according to the ability hypotheses is knowledge how and not knowledge that. “Knowing what it is like is the possession of abilities: abilities to recognize, abilities to imagine,“ (Lewis.D, 2004).iii Mary has simply gained an ability not actual factual knowledge. She...