Letter responding to comments on Dawkins article

Responses to my article on Dawkins and God have fallen into two classes: those that challenge my criticism of Dawkins’ atheism, and those that challenge my criticism of the morality on display in some Bible stories. I will briefly respond to those in the first class, and then those in the second class. P. J. Moss suggests I am attracted to “the Cartesian notion of mind body dualism,” and do not have regard to “the work of those philosophers of mind who … see the task of the philosopher as posing the problem into a precise enough form so that it admits of scientific resolution;” and he commends the work of John Searle. I am indeed attracted to a kind of dualism. However, it is not the Cartesian dualism of “two distinct realms” rejected by Searle, but rather a dualism that accepts, as Searle does, that there are two categories of empirical reality, subjective and objective, which are mutually irreducible The Rediscovery of the Mind, pp19, 98), and that there are features of subjective reality that cannot be fully understood in terms of objective reality. In a major work published in 2001, Rationality in Action, Searle even leaves open as a reasonable possibility a view I support, namely that consciousness may be able to cause things that cannot be fully explained by the causal behaviour of neurons, and he also supports a non Humean notion of the self, as an entity that can, as a whole, consciously try to do things: see my review in Journal of Consciousness Studies 9, 92 94. In any event, my argument against Dawkins does not depend on acceptance of dualism, just on the undoubted fact that science does not yet have the first idea what objective features are necessary and sufficient to give rise to subjectivity. Robert McLaughlin makes out a reasoned case against my three suggested errors in Dawkins. It would take a book to deal fully with points of the kind he raises, but I have to be brief here.
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