The order in which I have ranked Nagel, Kripke and Jackson is in no way due to the order in which I have read them, although it would appear so. I rank their arguments against physicalism in just that order, from weakest to strongest. First, Nagel’s paper explicitly says that it is not an argument against physicalism. It is merely an opening up of dialogue about the possible completeness of physics, and in it Nagel argues there will always be a certain subjective realm about which science is unable to talk about exhaustively. The subjective/objective distinction, while carrying with it the possibility of radical Pyrrhonistic skepticism, is usually interpreted to be a fairly mild explanation of why physicalism as a project of 'scientism' is inadequate and cannot know inner subjective experiences. Yet it is “hard to see any objection to physicalism here,” as
Saul Kripke’s paper is a bit more of a challenge, yet due to the nature of the argument, which is based on whether the reader shares the conviction of the author or not, it is difficult to see that it delivers a decisive blow to physicalism.
Frank Jackson’s argument is the most challenging, particularly since it is the most debatable. Nagel and Kripke are less debatable since either one shares the intuition or one doesn’t. Yet as I understand Mary’s Problem in particular, she is either lacking in relevant knowledge, or has not made the proper use of it. Assume, as Frank Jackson setup the problem, Mary really does know everything about the physics of light and the optics of color, etc. In that case she must know how the deep structures of the brain respond to information from the peripheral sense organs, such that these brain mechanisms give rise to -- qualia! If
While I believe