Generally speaking, philosophers suck — or at least the contemporary ones, as most of the “classical” philosophers can be considered “naïve” and “having too much time to spend on non-issues” –, but the so-called thought experiments suck the most.
I recently ran over “Mary’s Room” in three places — on ScienceBlogs, on Wikipedia, and in Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Color me stupid but, as with many other thought experiments (the mild term for intellectual masturbation), I fail to see where the sophism (or whatever the problem is) arises!
As she exits her monochrome (with shades of gray) small universe, Mary is allegedly facing this issue:
(1) Mary has all the physical information concerning human color vision before her release.
(2) But there is some information about human color vision that she does not have before her release.
(3) Not all information is physical information.
I totally fail to understand the logic of the above “reasoning”. What exactly is “physical information”?
Suppose nobody ever dropped anything heavy on your foot, and you only experienced mild pains in your life, but you’re a physician. You have the “theoretical information” about how it is to have a 50 kg hammer dropping on someone’s foot — but unless you physically experience such an event on your own foot, you don’t have all the “physical information” about how such an event is!
Knowing “everything” about having sex is not the same as having sex.
Knowing “everything” about seeing a color is not the same as seeing the color.
Knowing “everything” about childbirth pains is not the same as giving birth.
Mary couldn’t have had “all the physical information concerning human color vision” without having experienced color vision herself! It’s not that experiencing something is not “physical information” — because this is exactly what it is! –, it’s that some information has to be conveyed through the respective nerves, not as a theoretical concept!
Therefore, assertion (1) is false. Mary can’t possibly have etc. etc. in the absence of the colors. From false you can derive anything — so this allegedly paradoxical thought experiment is 100% garbage.
No, really, does someone pay these “philosophers”, as professors, or for their published “works”? They seem to be a bunch of defective Turing machines. I’d rather prefer to have fun with the “classical” ones.