The logico-linguistic mind-brain problem and a proposed step towards its solution

Philosophy of Science 41 (March):1-14 (1974)
This paper argues that if a person's beliefs are idealized as a set of sentences then the device of Ramsey sentences provides a treatment, of the mind-brain problem, that has at least four noteworthy characteristics. First, sentences asserting correlations between one's own brain state and one's own "private" experiences are, on such treatment, reconstrued as neither causal, coreferential, nor as meaning postulates, but as clauses in an overall hypothesis whose only nonlogical constants have "private" meanings. Second, sentences asserting psycho-physical correlations in general, or in other individuals, remain theoretical and susceptible to scientific reduction, though not prejudged to be so. Third, communication between persons having mutually exclusive, "private," observational vocabularies can be made intelligible. Fourth, it becomes possible in principle that the world could ultimately be given a total description in a scientific language, $L_{\varnothing}$ , without mental primitives. However, such a language would be susceptible to interpretation by a given individual using a metalanguage whose primitives were privately observational to that individual. His procedure in accomplishing such an interpretation would be to construct a Tarskian truth definition in a metalanguage $ML_{\varnothing}$ and then to incorporate it, by Ramsifying its descriptive terms, in his own overall Ramsey sentence. The physical language, $L_{\varnothing}$ , while not containing a person's primitives, would, of course, be able to define their physical correlates, thus providing a certain sort of mutual mirroring, and a certain sort of relativity
Keywords Brain  Language  Metaphysics  Minds  Sentence
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DOI 10.1086/288567
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