I’m pleased to announce that Donnchadh O’Conaill will give us an online talk on “The Argument from Revelation and the Metaphysics of Properties” via Zoom, on the 6th of May at 17:15.
I’ll keep you updated about the details (like the username and password for joining the meeting).
A powerful argument against physicalism appeals to the special knowledge of phenomenal properties which one can have on the basis of having experiences. In a nutshell, the argument is that by having an experience one can come to know the nature or essence of certain phenomenal properties, and thereby learn that they are not physical. As Philip Goff summarises the basic line of thought, “we know what pain is through feeling pain, and hence if pain were c-fibers firing, we’d know about it. But we don’t, so it isn’t” (2017, 125).
The strength of this argument lies in its intuitive appeal. It appears obvious to many that a subject can enjoy special knowledge of her own experiences, including knowledge of their essence. But the argument relies on substantive assumptions, concerning how we discover which properties exist, how we determine the essence of a property, and the criteria of identity governing properties. And many of the critical responses to the argument involve questioning or denying some of these assumptions. By spelling out these assumptions and showing how they relate both to the argument from revelation and to criticisms of it, I shall clarify the deepest disagreements between proponents of the argument and its critics.