, 72:37 | Cite as

The Knowledge Argument and Epiphenomenalism

Original Article


Frank Jackson endorses epiphenomenalism because he thinks that his knowledge argument undermines physicalism. One of the most interesting criticisms of Jackson’s position is what I call the ‘inconsistency objection’. The inconsistency objection says that Jackson’s position is untenable because epiphenomenalism undermines the knowledge argument. The inconsistency objection has been defended by various philosophers independently, including Michael Watkins, Fredrik Stjernberg, and Neil Campbell. Surprisingly enough, while Jackson himself admits explicitly that the inconsistency objection is ‘the most powerful reply to the knowledge argument’ he knows of, it has never been discussed critically. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the objection and to identify and consider its implications. The objection is alleged to be based on a causal theory of knowledge. I argue that the objection fails by showing that any causal theory of knowledge is such that it is either false or does not support the inconsistency objection. In order to defend my argument, I offer a hypothesis concerning phenomenal knowledge.


Causal Connection Brain State Causal Theory Colour Experience Phenomenal Experience 



I presented earlier versions of this paper at the Australian National University, the Open University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Ljubljana, the University of Rijeka, the University of Kyoto and the 2006 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association at the University of Southampton. I would like to thank all in the audience for enjoyable discussions. I am particularly grateful to Torin Alter, David Chalmers, Daniel Stoljar and anonymous referees for constructive comments and useful suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

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