David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):603-627 (2004)
A wave of recent work in metaphysics seeks to undermine the anti-reductionist, functionalist consensus of the past few decades in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. That consensus apparently legitimated a focus on what systems do, without necessarily and always requiring attention to the details of how systems are constituted. The new metaphysical challenge contends that many states and processes referred to by functionalist cognitive scientists are epiphenomenal. It further contends that the problem lies in functionalism itself, and that, to save the causal significance of mind, it is necessary to re-embrace reductionism. We argue that the prescribed return to reductionism would be disastrous for the cognitive and behavioral sciences, requiring the dismantling of most existing achievements and placing intolerable restrictions on further work. However, this argument fails to answer the metaphysical challenge on its own terms. We meet that challenge by going on to argue that the new metaphysical skepticism about functionalist cognitive science depends on reifying two distinct notions of causality (one primarily scientific, the other metaphysical), then equivocating between them. When the different notions of causality are properly distinguished, it is clear that functionalism is in no serious philosophical trouble, and that we need not choose between reducing minds or finding them causally impotent. The metaphysical challenge to functionalism relies, in particular, on a naïve and inaccurate conception of the practice of physics, and the relationship between physics and metaphysics. Key Words: explanation; functionalism; mental causation; metaphysics; reductionism
|Keywords||explanation functionalism mental causation metaphysics reductionism|
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Citations of this work BETA
Fred A. Keijzer & Maurice K. D. Schouten (2007). Embedded Cognition and Mental Causation: Setting Empirical Bounds on Metaphysics. [REVIEW] Synthese 158 (1):109 - 125.
Simon Saunders & David Wallace (2008). Saunders and Wallace Reply. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):315-317.
Marc Champagne (2013). Choosing Between the Long and Short Informational Routes to Psychological Explanation. Philosophical Psychology 26 (1):129-138.
Yakir Levin & Itzhak Aharon (2011). What's on Your Mind? A Brain Scan Won't Tell. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (4):699-722.
William A. Rottschaefer (2008). Biological and Physicochemical Explanations in Experimental Biology. Biological Theory 3 (4):380-390.
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