The aim of this paper is to show that KimÕs ‘supervenience argumentÕ is at best inconclusive and so fails to provide an adequate challenge to nonreductive physicalism. I shall argue, ﬁrst, that KimÕs argument rests on assumptions that the nonreductive physicalist is entitled to regard as question-begging; second, that even if those assumptions are granted, it is not clear that irreducible mental causes fail to satisfy them; and, third, that since the argument has the overall structure of a reductio, which (...) of its various premises one performs the reductio on remains open to debate in an interesting way. I shall ﬁnally suggest that the issue of reductive vs. nonreductive physicalism is best contested not in the arena of mental causation but in that in which the issues pertaining to theory and property reduction are currently being debated. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that Kim’s ‚supervenience argument’ is at best inconclusive and so fails to provide an adequate challenge to nonreductive physicalism. I shall argue, first, that Kim’s argument rests on assumptions that the nonreductive physicalist is entitled to regard as question-begging; second, that even if those assumptions are granted, it is not clear that irreducible mental causes fail to␣satisfy them; and, third, that since the argument has the overall structure of a reductio, which of (...) its various premises one performs the reductio on remains open to debate in an interesting way. I shall finally suggest that the issue of reductive vs. nonreductive physicalism is best contested not in the arena of mental causation but in that in which the issues pertaining to theory and property reduction are currently being debated. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Jaegwon Kim’s view that emergent properties are irreducible to the base properties on which they supervene. Kim’s view assumes a model of ‘functional reduction’ which he claims to be substantially different from the traditional Nagelian model. I dispute this claim and argue that the two models are only superficially different, and that on either model, properly understood, it is possible to draw a distinction between a property’s being reductively identifiable with its base property and a (...) property’s being reductively explainable in terms of it. I propose that we should take as the distinguishing feature of emergent properties that they be truly novel properties, i.e., ontologically distinct from the ‘base’ properties which they supervene on. This only requires that emergent properties cannot be reductively identified with their base properties, not that they cannot be reductively explained in terms of them. On this conception the set of emergent properties may well include mental properties as conceived by nonreductive physicalists. (shrink)
among them Joseph Levine, David Chalmers, Frank Jackson and Jaegwon Kim?have claimed that there are conceptual grounds sufficient for ruling out the possibility of a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Their claim assumes a functional model of reduction (regarded by Kim as an alternative to the traditional Nagelian model) which requires an a priori entailment from the facts in the reduction base to the phenomena to be explained. The aim of this paper is to show that this is an unreasonable (...) requirement?a requirement that no reductive explanation in science should be expected to satisfy. I argue that the functional model is not substantively different from the Nagelian model properly understood, and that the question whether consciousness is reductively explainable?in a sense involving property identifications or in some weaker sense compatible with Nagelian reduction?is a fundamentally empirical question, not one that can be settled on conceptual grounds alone. Introduction Kim's critique of the Nagelian model of reduction The functional model of reduction Is consciousness reducible? Psychophysical reduction: concluding remarks. (shrink)
Multiple supervenience is a problematic notion whose role can well be served by a contextualized or properly restricted standard notion of supervenience. It is furthermore not needed to defend functionalism against Kim's charge that cross-classifying taxonomies imply a serious form of dualism; nor does Ross & Spurrett's (R&S's) Kitcherian account of the metaphysics of causation crucially depend on multiple supervenience.
In Mind in a Physical World (1998), Jaegwon Kim has recently extended his ongoing critique of `non-reductive materialist' positions in philosophy of mind by arguing that Nagel's model of reduction is the wrong paradigm in terms of which to contest the issue of psychophysical reduction, and that an altogether different model of scientific reduction – a functional model of reduction – is needed. In this paper I argue, first, that Kim's conception of the Nagelian model is substantially impoverished and potentially (...) misleading; second, that his own functional model is problematic in several respects; and, third, that the basic idea underlying his functional model can well be accommodated within a properly reinterpreted Nagelian model. I conclude with some reflections on the issue of psychophysical reduction. (shrink)
As part of his ongoing critique of metaphysical realism, Hilary Putnam has recently argued that current materialist theories of mind that locate mental phenomena in the brain can make no sense of the proposed identifications of mental states with physical (or physical cum computational) states, or of the supervenience of mental properties with physical properties. The aim of this paper is to undermine Putnam's objections and reassert the intelligibility – and perhaps the plausibility – of some form of mind-body identity (...) and supervenience. (shrink)
I argue that (strong) psychophysical supervenience, properly understood as a metaphysical dependence or determination relation, helps to account for the causal/explanatory relevance of mental properties because (1) it blocks a standard epiphenomenalist objection to the effect that an event's mental properties are 'screened off' by their physical properties: (2) it accounts for the _causal (and not merely _normative or merely _nomological) status of commonsense psychological generalizations; (3) it accounts for the _nonredundancy and _irreducibility of psychological explanations.
The aim of this paper is to defend a version of nonreductive materialism against the epiphenomenalist objection to which Davidson's anomalous monism has often been held to be vulnerable. After considering a number of options for dealing with the objection, I argue that an appeal to the notion of strong supervenience (properly explicated) can both rebut a common form of the "property" ("type") epiphenomenalist objection and provide a grounding for the causal relevance ("efficacy") of mental properties.
Jaegwon Kim and others have claimed that (strong) psychophysical supervenience entails the reducibility of mental properties to physical properties. I argue that this claim is unwarranted with respect to epistemic (explanatory) reducibility (either of a global or of a local sort), as well as with respect to ontological reducibility. I then attempt to show that a robust version of nonreductive materialism (which I call supervenient token-physicalism) can be defended against the charge that nonreductive materialism leads to epiphenomenalism in failing to (...) account for the causal or explanatory relevance of mental properties. (shrink)
This paper addresses a recent argument of the Churchlands against the "linguistic-rationalist" tradition exemplified by current cognitive-computational psychology. Because of its commitment to methodological solipsism--the argument goes--computational psychology cannot provide an account of how organisms are able to represent and "hook up to" the world. First I attempt to determine the exact nature of this charge and its relation to the Churchlands' long-standing polemic against 'folk psychology' and the linguistic-rationalist methodology. I then turn my attention to the Churchlands' account of (...) what it is for computational psychology to be methodologically solipsistic. I argue that there is no reason to suppose that methodological solipsism commits one to a purely syntactic theory of the mind (of the kind that Stephen Stich has recently advocated): the formality constraints that methodological solipsism imposes on psychological explanation do not exclude 'essential' reference to the representational content of mental states, as long as this content is construed in the 'narrow' sense. I conclude by raising a problem for computational psychology that may provide some real cause for concern. (shrink)
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