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Summary The mind-brain identity theory (or identity thesis) is the assertion that mental states/events/processes are identical to brain states/events/processes. The type identity theory (often called just the "identity theory") says that mental types are physical types, while the token identity theory says that mental tokens are physical tokens.  Over the years the thesis has been successively understood as involving a contingent identity relation, an analytic identity relation, and then an posteriori necessary identity relation.  The most common objection to the type identity theory is the objection from multiple realizability.
Key works The thesis is explicitly defended in seminal articles by Place 1956Feigl 1958Smart 1959. This is the early stage, when the thesis is understood as an empirical and contingent one. A powerful attack on this version is put forward by Kripke 1980.  The analytic identity thesis appears for the first time in Lewis 1970, then in Armstrong 1968. Criticism of this version appears appears in Nagel 1979Jackson 1982, and Chalmers 1996. Defences appear in Braddon-Mitchell 2003 and Jackson 2003. A more recent defence, based on probability theory, appears in Aranyosi 2011.  The empirical necessary identity thesis is defended, among others, by Loar 1990 and Papineau 2002. Criticism of this approach is to be found in Chalmers 1996 and Chalmers 2009.  The multiple realizability objection to all forms of the type identity theory can be found in Putnam 1963.
Introductions A 30-year retrospective of the transformations of the thesis appears in Place 1988. A more recent introduction to and history of the thesis appears in Smart 2007.
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  1. Raziel Abelson (1970). A Refutation of Mind-Body Identity. Philosophical Studies 18 (December):85-90.
    An elementary mathematical proof is offered that mental states cannot be either intensionally or extensionally identical with brain states. the proof consists in taking a subset of mental states, namely, possible thoughts of integers and showing that this set has the cardinal number aleph null; then taking the largest physically possible set of brain states k and the number of subsets of k which is 2 to the power k, and which, no matter how large, is necessarily finite. it follows (...)
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  2. Frederick R. Adams (1979). Properties, Functionalism, and the Identity Theory. Eidos 1 (December):153-79.
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  3. István Aranyosi (2011). A New Argument for Mind-Brain Identity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):489-517.
    In this article, I undertake the tasks: (i) of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality; and (ii) of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, (...)
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  4. David M. Armstrong (1973). Epistemological Foundations for a Materialist Theory of Mind. Philosophy of Science 40 (June):178-93.
    A philosophy might take its general inspiration from (1) commonsense; (2) careful observation; (3) philosophical argumentation; (4) the sciences; (5) "higher" sources of illumination. It is argued in this paper that it is bedrock commonsense, and the sciences, which are the most reliable foundations for a philosophy. This result is applied to the discussion and defense of a materialist theory of the mind.
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  5. David M. Armstrong (1968). The Headless Woman and the Defense of Materialism. Analysis 29:48-49.
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  6. David Malet Armstrong (1968). The Headless Woman Illusion and the Defence of Materialism. Analysis 29 (2):48--9.
    The paper tries to rebut an objection to materialism. Anti-Materialists have argued that mental processes do not appear to be mere physical processes in the brain, And that secondary qualities such as sounds do not appear to be mere vibrations in the air. So materialists must admit that introspection and perception involve at least the illusion of the falsity of materialism. Using the headless woman illusion as a model, It is shown how the illusion is generated, And that it is (...)
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  7. Bruce Aune (1966). Feigl on the Mind-Body Problem. In Paul K. Feyerabend & Grover Maxwell (eds.), Mind, Matter, and Method: Essays in Philosophy and Science in Honor of Herbert Feigl. University of Minnesota Press.
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  8. Kurt Baier (1962). Smart on Sensations. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 40 (May):57-68.
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  9. Steven Baldner (2006). Neither Brain nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind-Brain Identity Theory. Review of Metaphysics 60 (2):419-421.
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  10. George Bealer (1994). Mental Properties. Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):185-208.
    It is argued that, because of scientific essentialism, two currently popular arguments against the mind-body identity thesis -- the multiple-realizability argument and the Nagel-Jackson knowledge argument -- are unsatisfactory as they stand and that their problems are incurable. It is then argued that a refutation of the identity thesis in its full generality can be achieved by weaving together two traditional Cartesian arguments -- the modal argument and the certainty argument. This argument establishes, not just the falsity of the identity (...)
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  11. William P. Bechtel & Robert N. McCauley (1999). Heuristic Identity Theory (or Back to the Future): The Mind-Body Problem Against the Background of Research Strategies in Cognitive Neuroscience. In Martin Hahn & S. C. Stoness (eds.), Proceedings of the 21st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum. 67-72.
    Functionalists in philosophy of mind traditionally raise two major arguments against the type identity theory: (1) psychological states are _multiply realizable_ so that there are no one-to-one mappings of psychological states onto neural states and (2) the most that evidence could ever establish is the _correlation_ of psychological and neural states, not their identity. We defend a variant on the traditional type identity theory which we call _heuristic identity theory_ (HIT) against both of these objections. Drawing its inspiration from scientific (...)
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  12. John Beloff (1965). The Identity Hypothesis: A Critique. In J. R. Smythies (ed.), Brain and Mind. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
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  13. Jonathan Bennett (1981). Spinoza's Mind-Body Identity Thesis. Journal of Philosophy 78 (10):573-584.
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  14. Ned Block (forthcoming). Consciousness, Big Science and Conceptual Clarity. In Gary Marcus & Jeremy Freeman (eds.), in The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists. Princeton University Press.
  15. J.-B. Blumenfeld (1985). Phenomenal Properties and the Identity Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 (December):485-93.
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  16. Clive V. Borst (ed.) (1970). The Mind/Brain Identity Theory. Macmillan.
  17. Clive Vernon Borst (1970). The Mind-Brain Identity Theory: A Collection of Papers. New York,St Martin's P..
    Mind body, not a pseudo-problem, by H. Feigl.--Is consciousness a brain process? by U. T. Place.--Sensations and brain processes, by J. J. C. Smart.--The nature of mind, by D. M. Armstrong.--Materialism as a scientific hypothesis, by U. T. Place.--Sensations and brain processes: a reply to J. J. C. Smart, by J. T. Stevenson.--Further remarks on sensations and brain processes, by J. J. C. Smart.--Smart on sensations, by K. Baier.--Brain processes and incorrigibility, by J. J. C. Smart.--Could mental states be brain (...)
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  18. M. C. Bradley (1969). Two Arguments Against the Identity Thesis. In Robert Brown & C.D. Rollins (eds.), Contemporary Philosophy In Australia. London: Allen & Unwin.
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  19. M. C. Bradley (1963). Sensations, Brain-Processes, and Colours. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 41 (December):385-93.
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  20. R. Brandt (1960). Doubts About the Identity Theory. In Sidney Hook (ed.), Dimensions of Mind. New York University Press.
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  21. R. Brandt & Jaegwon Kim (1967). The Logic of the Identity Theory. Journal of Philosophy 66 (September):515-537.
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  22. Bill Brewer (1998). Levels of Explanation and the Individuation of Events: A Difficulty for the Token Identity Theory. Acta Analytica 20 (20):7-24.
    We make how a person acts intelligible by revealing it as rational in the light of what she perceives, thinks, wants and so on. For example, we might explain that she reached out and picked up a glass because she was thirsty and saw that it contained water. In doing this, we are giving a causal explanation of her behaviour in terms of her antecedent beliefs, desires and other attitudes. Her wanting a drink and realizing that the glass contained one (...)
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  23. May Brodbeck (1966). Mental and Physical: Identity Versus Sameness. In Paul K. Feyerabend & Grover Maxwell (eds.), Mind, Matter, and Method: Essays in Philosophy and Science in Honor of Herbert Feigl. University of Minnesota Press.
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  24. Richard Brown, Saying 'I Do' to Identity.
    The only sensible solution to the mind-body problem is a type-type identity theory. I wish to argue for a version of Type-Type identity theory that withstands the usual seemingly fatal objections, which I call ‘R-Type Identity Theory’ and which has three claims. First, an identity theory does not entail ‘reducing’ or ‘eliminating’ one set of things to or in favor of another set of things and introduces epidentity (treating identified relata as distinct). Secondly, pain and what-it-is-like to be in pain (...)
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  25. Robert Brown (1969). Contemporary Philosophy in Australia. New York, Humanities P..
    First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  26. Neil Campbell (1999). Putnam on the Token-Identity Theory. Philosophia 27 (3-4):567-574.
    Putnam raises two objections against the token-identity theory in his _Dewey Lectures. (1) Token-physicalism invokes a mysterious or _sui generis concept of identity between mental and physical event tokens; (2) The theory suffers from explanatory failure because it cannot individuate mental events using physical criteria. I argue that the first claim is false, since Davidson adopts the same criterion of identity Quine employs for ordinary objects which invokes a concept of identity we understand clearly enough. I then show that Putnam's (...)
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  27. Stewart Candlish (1970). Mind, Brain, and Identity. Mind 79 (October):502-18.
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  28. James D. Carney (1971). The Compatibility of the Identity Theory with Dualism. Mind 80 (January):136-140.
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  29. James D. Carney (1971). The Compatibility of Mind-Body Identity with Dualism. Mind.
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  30. Gregg Caruso (2001). Review of Nicholas Humphrey’s How to Solve the Mind-Body Problem. [REVIEW] Metapsychology 5 (46).
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  31. Albert Casullo (1982). Phenomenal Properties. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 60 (June):165-169.
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  32. Chandana Chakrabarti (1975). James and the Identity Theory. Behaviorism 3 (2):152-155.
    The paper makes a comparative study of james' interpretation of mental acts in terms of the felt movements of the body and the identity theory presented and defended by j j c smart and u t place. some features of remarkable similarity as well as important differences between james' view and the identity theory are discussed. a special reference is made to james' view on the question of the alleged spatial location of mental events.
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  33. Charles L. Y. Cheng (ed.) (1975). Philosophical Aspects of the Mind-Body Problem. Hawaii University Press.
  34. Desmond M. Clarke (1973). Two Arguments Against the Identity Theory of Mind. Philosophical Studies 21:100-110.
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  35. J. J. Clarke (1971). Mental Structure and the Identity Theory. Mind 80 (October):521-30.
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  36. Kenneth C. Clatterbaugh (1972). A Reply to an Attempted Refutation of Mind-Body Identity. Philosophical Studies 23 (February):111-112.
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  37. Robert C. Coburn (1963). Shaffer on the Identity of Mental States and Brain Processes. Journal of Philosophy 60 (February):89-92.
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  38. David Coder (1973). The Fundamental Error of Central-State Materialism. American Philosophical Quarterly 10 (October):289-98.
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  39. James W. Cornman (1962). The Identity of Mind and Body. Journal of Philosophy 59 (August):486-92.
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  40. Brian Crabb (2010). Reductive Physicalism and Phenomenal Properties: The Nature of the Problem. Lambert Academic Publishers.
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  41. Sean Crawford (2013). The Myth of Logical Behaviourism and the Origins of the Identity Theory. In Michael Beaney (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The identity theory’s rise to prominence in analytic philosophy of mind during the late 1950s and early 1960s is widely seen as a watershed in the development of physicalism, in the sense that whereas logical behaviourism proposed analytic and a priori ascertainable identities between the meanings of mental and physical-behavioural concepts, the identity theory proposed synthetic and a posteriori knowable identities between mental and physical properties. While this watershed does exist, the standard account of it is misleading, as it is (...)
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  42. Charles Crittenden (1971). Ontology and Mind-Body Identity. Philosophical Forum 2:251-70.
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  43. Arthur C. Danto (1973). Representational Properties and Mind-Body Identity. Review of Metaphysics 26 (March):401-411.
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  44. Gabriele De Anna (2000). Mind-World Identity Theory and Semantic Realism: Haldane and Boulter on Aquinas. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (198):82-87.
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  45. R. de Boer (1976). Cartesian Categories in Mind-Body Identity Theories. Philosophical Forum 7:139-58.
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  46. Michael Della Rocca (1993). Spinoza's Argument for the Identity Theory. Philosophical Review 102 (2):183-213.
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  47. Richard Double (1981). Central State Materialism. Philosophical Studies 28:229-37.
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  48. Richard Double (1976). The Inconclusiveness of Kripke's Argument Against the Identity Theory. Auslegung 3 (June):156-65.
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  49. John C. Eccles (ed.) (1978). Mind and Brain. Paragon House.
  50. Terence Rajivan Edward, Defining Mind-Brain Token Identity.
    This paper disputes a common definition of token identity theory. It also observes that within the philosophical literature there are two significantly different definitions of token identity theory that are commonly used.
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