Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Richard A. Fumerton
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Defenders of the Knowledge Argument contend that physicalism is false because knowing all the physical truths is not sufficient to know all the truths about the world. In particular, proponents of the Knowledge Argument claim that physicalism is false because the truths about the character of conscious experience are not knowable from the complete set of physical truths. This dissertation is a defense of the Knowledge Argument. Chapter one characterizes what physicalism is and provides support for the claim that if knowing all the physical truths is not sufficient to know all the truths about the world, then physicalism is false. In chapter two, I defend the claim that knowing all the physical truths is not sufficient for knowing all the truths about the world. In addition to mounting a prima facie case for the knowledge intuition, I present and defend an epistemology grounded in direct acquaintance to provide a more substantive argument to accept it.
Chapters three through five address the physicalist objections to the Knowledge Argument. The first set of objections advocates that knowing all the physical truths is, in fact, sufficient for knowing all the truths about the world. The next set of objections admits that there is some sense in which knowing all the physical truths is not sufficient for knowing all the truths about the world. However, these objections maintain that the kind of knowledge that is absent from the complete set of physical truths is know-how or knowledge by acquaintance, and not factual or propositional knowledge. The final set of objections maintain that the kind of propositional knowledge that is left out of the complete set of physical truths is compatible with physicalism. My response to these objections is part of advancing my prima facie case for the Knowledge Argument.
The final chapter addresses a structural question that pertains to the Knowledge Argument. Some philosophers have maintained that the structure of the Knowledge Argument invites a kind of self-refutation of any systematic account of reality. The concern is that the Knowledge Argument proves too much, and that the dualist who uses the argument to refute physicalism risks the argument defeating his own position. I will argue that the Knowledge Argument does not refute dualism.
consciousness, direct acquaintance, foundationalism, knowledge argument, mind, physiclaism
v, 253 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 234-253).
Copyright 2010 John M. DePoe
DePoe, John Martin. "A defense of the knowledge argument." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2010.