Metalinguistic dualism and the mark of the mental

Synthese 66 (March):339-359 (1986)
Abstract
In this paper I argue against the view, defended by some philosophers, that it is part of the meaning of mental that being mental is incompatible with being physical. I call this outlook metalinguistic dualism (MLD for short), and I distinguish it from metaphysical theories of the mind-body relation such as Cartesian dualism. I argue that MLD is mistaken, but I don't try to defend the contrary view that mentalistic terms can be definitionally reduced to nonmental ones. After criticizing arguments by certain philosophers which purport to establish MLD, I formulate a criterion for a phenomenon's being mental. I then show that this criterion is neutral between monistic and dualistic theories of the mind-body relation. Since if MLD were true it should be impossible to construct such a criterion, I conclude that it is false (i.e., if it is intended as a descriptive thesis about our language). The significance of my paper is that if I am right then I remove one important type of objection to aposteriori, noneliminative forms of the identity theory of mind, namely that such theories ought to be rejected merely on the basis of semantical considerations about the word mental. Beyond that, I believe that my criterion of mental phenomena correctly captures our intuitions about the nature of the distinction between mental and nonmental phenomena.
Keywords Dualism  Language  Mental Event  Metalanguage  Rorty, R
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