Fred’s red: on the objectivity and physicality of mental qualities

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Frank Jackson's case of Mary the colour scientist, and the knowledge argument against physicalism built upon it, are well known. This paper starts from Jackson's other, more neglected, thought experiment, about Fred, who sees a unique shade of red. It explores two senses in which properties are said to be 'objective', roughly corresponding to the ideas of a property's being intersubjectively accessible, on the one hand, and its being knowable without the need for special experiences, on the other. These senses of the objective are contrasted, and their links to the doctrine of physicalism explored, and it is argued that, in the sense of objectivity we should embrace, mental qualities come out as objective and physical properties. The paper ends up by proposing a novel theory about how mental qualities fit into the world—as determinates of determinable physical properties, a view that is distinguished from the closely related 'Russellian monism'.
Original languageEnglish
Article number301
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022


  • Consciousness · Knowledge argument · Physicalism · Objective/subjective · Mental qualities · Structuralism · Frank Jackson


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