Monism, dualism, pluralism

Mind and Language 13 (1):76-97 (1998)
Abstract
1. Consider the basic outlines of the mind-body debate as it is found in contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy. The central question is “whether mental phenomena are physical phenomena, and if not, how they relate to physical phenomena.”1 Over the centuries, a wide range of possible solutions to this problem have emerged. These are the various “isms” familiar to any student of the debate: Cartesian dualism, idealism, epiphenomenalism, central state materialism, non- reductive physicalism, anomalous monism, and so forth. Each purports to specify, among other things, the metaphysical relationship between the mental and the physical. They do so by specifying whether, or in what way, mental entities are identical to, reducible to, realized by, supervenient upon, or in causal interaction with physical entities. Thus, a convenient way to survey the range of positions is to enter them in a table (see Table 1). Rows correspond to the major kinds of metaphysical relation which might obtain between mental and physical entities. Each columns corresponds to one of the generic positions available in the debate. The particular theories defended by individual philosophers are usually just specific versions of generic positions. Thus Malebranche’s occasionalism is a version of causal dualism, distinguished by a peculiar account of the way in which causal interaction between mental and physical is actually effected. The central philosophical challenge is to determine which of these positions correctly describes the mental/physical relationship. Positions are evaluated for internal consistency, their fit with “intuitions,” their compatibility with scientific developments, and so forth. The mind-body debate, in this simple form, is set out in any number of..
Keywords Dualism  Language  Metaphysics  Monism  Pluralism
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