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Acquaintance and Phenomenal Knowledge

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 3:30 pm – 5:10 pm

Michael Tye has recently argued that when a subject is conscious of an entity, she knows that entity, even if she does not know any truth about it, that is, she knows the entity by acquaintance. For example, if I am conscious of a particular shade of red, I know that shade of red, that is, I am acquainted with it, even if I do not know any truths about that phenomenal quality. He argues that consciousness is epistemically enabling, and that the best explanation of this fact is by appeal to his notion of knowledge by acquaintance. In response, I will argue that it is not incoherent to suppose that I might be genuinely conscious of an entity and yet not know it. Therefore, more is needed to motivate Tye’s claim that in being conscious of a quality, one knows that quality by acquaintance. In addition, I will argue that there are some central intuitions about our knowledge of our phenomenal states that the acquaintance model cannot capture, and I will present an alternative view (i.e. the recognitional model), which I will argue can better capture those intuitions.