Philosophy Index

Frank Jackson

Australian philosopher Frank Jackson (1943— ) has contributed to the areas of philosophy of mind, epistemology and metaphysics.

Jackson is a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University, and a regular visiting professor at Princeton University. His father, Allan Jackson, was a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Mary’s Room

Jackson is often cited for his knowledge argument against physicalism in philosophy of mind. Mary’s Room thought experiment in philosophy of mind.

The argument supposes that a woman, Mary, spends her life in a room where she was unable to see any colour, but nevertheless learns all of the physical facts about colour and colour perception. Jackson then considers what happens when Mary leaves the room and sees colour for the first time. Since it seems obvious that Mary learns something knew upon seeing colour, the existence of something apart from the physical world is demonstrated.

Initially, Jackson used Mary’s Room in order to support his dualist response to the mind-body problem, but later decided that the knowledge argument is more intuitive than it is scientific, and it is actually misleading.

Selected Works

  • Perception: A Representative Theory (1977)
  • “Epiphenomenal Qualia” (1982)
  • “Weakness of Will” (1984)
  • “What Mary didn't Know” (1986)
  • Conditionals (1987)
  • “Functionalism and Broad Content” (1988)
  • From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis (1997)


Name: Frank Cameron Jackson
Born: 1943
Degrees: Ph.D. (La Trobe University)