About this topic
Summary The mind-brain identity theory (or identity thesis) is the assertion that mental states/events/processes are identical to brain states/events/processes. The type identity theory (often called just the "identity theory") says that mental types are physical types, while the token identity theory says that mental tokens are physical tokens.  Over the years the thesis has been successively understood as involving a contingent identity relation, an analytic identity relation, and then an posteriori necessary identity relation.  The most common objection to the type identity theory is the objection from multiple realizability.
Key works The thesis is explicitly defended in seminal articles by Place 1956Feigl 1958Smart 1959. This is the early stage, when the thesis is understood as an empirical and contingent one. A powerful attack on this version is put forward by Kripke 1980.  The analytic identity thesis appears for the first time in Lewis 1970, then in Armstrong 1968. Criticism of this version appears appears in Nagel 1979Jackson 1982, and Chalmers 1996. Defences appear in Braddon-Mitchell 2003 and Jackson 2003. A more recent defence, based on probability theory, appears in Aranyosi 2011.  The empirical necessary identity thesis is defended, among others, by Loar 1990 and Papineau 2002. Criticism of this approach is to be found in Chalmers 1996 and Chalmers 2009.  The multiple realizability objection to all forms of the type identity theory can be found in Putnam 1963.
Introductions A 30-year retrospective of the transformations of the thesis appears in Place 1988. A more recent introduction to and history of the thesis appears in Smart 2007.
Related categories

495 found
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  1. added 2018-09-04
    Flat Physicalism: Some Implications.Orly Shenker - 2017 - Iyyun 66:211-225.
    Flat Physicalism is a theory of through and through type reductive physicalism, understood in light of recent results in the conceptual foundations of physics. In Flat Physicalism, as in physics, so-called "high level" concepts and laws are nothing but partial descriptions of the complete states of affairs of the universe. "Flat physicalism" generalizes this idea, to form a reductive picture in which there is no room for levels, neither explanatory nor ontological. The paper explains how phenomena that seem to be (...)
  2. added 2018-07-30
    Contribution à la Théorie de la Conscience, Conçue comme Activite du Cerveau.Gilberto Gomes - 1998 - Dissertation, Université Paris 7
    This thesis explores the possibility of theoretically conceiving consciousness as an activity of the brain. Objections, based on the concept of qualia, to the identification of consciousness with a brain activity are refuted. Phenomenal consciousness is identified with access-consciousness. Consciousness is conceived as a higher order processing of informational states of the brain. The state of consciousness represents an integration of prior nonconscious states. Libet’s research on the timing of conscious experience is reviewed and analyzed. His hypothesis of backward referral (...)
  3. added 2018-07-06
    Further Thoughts on the Identity Theory.J. J. C. Smart - 1972 - The Monist 56 (2):149-162.
  4. added 2018-07-06
    The Identity Thesis: A Reply to Prof. Garnett.J. J. C. Smart - 1965 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 43:82.
  5. added 2018-06-07
    Multiple Realization and Compositional Variation.Kevin Morris - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    It has often been thought that compositional variation across systems that are similar from the point of view of the special sciences provides a key point in favor of the multiple realization of special science kinds and in turn the broadly nonreductive consequences often thought to follow from multiple realization. Yet in a series of articles, and culminating in The Multiple Realization Book, Tom Polger and Larry Shapiro argue that an account of multiple realization demanding enough to yield such nonreductive (...)
  6. added 2018-05-27
    Fizikalizam.Neven Sesardić - 1984 - Belgrade: Istraživačko-izdavački centar SSO Srbije.
  7. added 2018-05-26
    The Chaology of Mind.Adam Morton - 1988 - Analysis 48 (3):135.
    I explore the possibility that mentality can be characterized as a level in between the functional and the neurological, namely as a physical system exhibiting a specific kind of chaos. The argument is meant to make a case for this kind of characterization rather than giving one in specific detail.
  8. added 2018-05-10
    The Correlation Argument for Reductionism.Christopher Clarke - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (1):76-97.
    Reductionists say things like: all mental properties are physical properties; all normative properties are natural properties. I argue that the only way to resist reductionism is to deny that causation is difference making (thus making the epistemology of causation a mystery) or to deny that properties are individuated by their causal powers (thus making properties a mystery). That is to say, unless one is happy to deny supervenience, or to trivialize the debate over reductionism. To show this, I argue that (...)
  9. added 2018-03-31
    Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism.Richard Brown - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.
    In this paper I argue that a priori arguments fail to present any real problem for physicalism. They beg the question against physicalism in the sense that the argument will only seem compelling if one is already assuming that qualitative properties are nonphysical. To show this I will present the reverse-zombie and reverse-knowledge arguments. The only evidence against physicalism is a priori arguments, but there are also a priori arguments against dualism of exactly the same variety. Each of these parity (...)
  10. added 2018-03-15
    Mind-Body Identity, the Property Objection and Events.Luca Malatesti - 1997 - Anthropology and Philosophy 2 (1):69-85.
  11. added 2018-02-18
    Identity, Language, and Mind. An Introduction to the Philosophy of John Perry.Albert Newen & Raphael van Riel (eds.) - 2012 - CSLI.
  12. added 2018-02-18
    Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson.Ernest Lepore & Brian P. McLaughlin (eds.) - 1985 - Blackwell.
  13. added 2018-02-16
    Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind.Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan Cohen (eds.) - 2007 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  14. added 2018-01-19
    Conceptions of the Human Mind: Essays in Honor of George A. Miller.George A. Miller & Gilbert Harman (eds.) - 1993 - L. Erlbaum Associates.
    This volume is a direct result of a conference held at Princeton University to honor George A. Miller, an extraordinary psychologist. A distinguished panel of speakers from various disciplines -- psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and artificial intelligence -- were challenged to respond to Dr. Miller's query: "What has happened to cognition? In other words, what has the past 30 years contributed to our understanding of the mind? Do we really know anything that wasn't already clear to William James?" Each participant tried (...)
  15. added 2017-11-14
    The Mind/Brain Identity Theory: A Critical Appraisal.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The materialist version of the mind/brain identity theory has met with considerable challenges from philosophers of mind. The author first dispenses with a popular objection to the theory based on the law of indiscernibility of identicals. By means of discussing the vexatious problem of phenomenal qualities, he explores how the debate may be advanced by seeing each dualist and monist ontology through the lens of an evolutionary epistemology. The author suggests that by regarding each ontology as the core of a (...)
  16. added 2017-10-02
    Neural Activation, Information, and Phenomenal Consciousness.Max Velmans - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):172-173.
    This is an open peer commentary on O’Brien & Opie (1999) “A connectionist theory of phenomenal experience”, published as a target article in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. O’Brien & Opie defend a “vehicle” rather than a “process” theory of consciousness largely on the grounds that only conscious information is “explicit”. I argue that preconscious and unconscious representations can be functionally explicit (semantically well-formed and causally active). I also suggest that their analysis of how neural activation space mirrors the information (...)
  17. added 2017-09-14
    Physicalism, Psychism, and Phenomenalism.Lei Zhong - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (11):572-590.
    The dominant way to define physical entities is by appeal to ideal physics (as opposed to current physics). However, it has been worried that physicalism understood in terms of ideal physics would be too liberal to rule out “psychism”, the view that mentality exists at the fundamental metaphysical level. In this article, I argue that whereas physicalism is incompatible with some psychist cases, such as the case of “phenomenalism” in which ideal physics adopts mental concepts to denote fundamental entities, physicalism (...)
  18. added 2017-08-21
    Consciousness, Origin Of.Gregory Nixon - 2016 - In Harold L. Miller Jr (ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: Sage Publications. pp. 172-176.
    To seek an answer to the question “What is the origin of consciousness?” one must first assume a perspective within the most fundamental ontological questions in philosophy. These questions include: What is ultimate reality? Is it ultimately one thing (monism, say, matter or spirit), two things (dualism, say, matter and spirit or mind), or many things? Is it timeless and unchanging or a process of continual change? Is the universe God-created, self-created, or perhaps an accident?
  19. added 2017-08-17
    Review of Richard E. Cytowic, *The Man Who Tasted Shapes*. [REVIEW]G. Nixon - 1999 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (1):122-123.
    The Warner Books back cover proclaims: In the tradition of Oliver Sachʼs [sic] bestselling *The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat...* The manner and misspellingsignify that Cytowic himself had nothing to do with such publishing hucksterism. However, one thing is clear upon reading this book: Richard Cytowic, M.D., is no Oliver Sacks. Though, as will be seen, there is much in here to recommend itself, his stilted reproduction of conversations which or may not have taken place and his (...)
  20. added 2017-08-10
    Some Concerns with Polger and Shapiro’s View.Mark Couch - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (3):419-430.
    This paper provides some responses to Tom Polger and Larry Shapiro’s The Multiple Realization Book (2016). I first provide a description of the authors’ framework for thinking about multiple realization and the conditions they claim this involves. I explain what I think they get right and what they get wrong with this framework. After this, I then consider a few examples of multiple realization they discuss and the interpretations they offer. While I am sympathetic to several things they say about (...)
  21. added 2017-07-30
    HIT and Brain Reward Function: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Theory).Cory Wright, Matteo Colombo & Alexander Beard - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64:28–40.
    This paper employs a case study from the history of neuroscience—brain reward function—to scrutinize the inductive argument for the so-called ‘Heuristic Identity Theory’ (HIT). The case fails to support HIT, illustrating why other case studies previously thought to provide empirical support for HIT also fold under scrutiny. After distinguishing two different ways of understanding the types of identity claims presupposed by HIT and considering other conceptual problems, we conclude that HIT is not an alternative to the traditional identity theory so (...)
  22. added 2017-05-24
    Review of The Multiple Realization Book by Thomas W. Polger & Lawrence A. Shapiro (Oxford: Oxford University Press). [REVIEW]Tuomas K. Pernu - 2017 - Metapsychology Online Reviews 21.
  23. added 2017-04-26
    The Realization of Mind.Karl H. Pribram - 1971 - Synthese 22 (3-4):313 - 322.
  24. added 2017-03-14
    Worlds 3 Popper 0. [REVIEW]Ray Scott Percival - 1995 - New Scientist (19th May).
    THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM: A GUIDE TO THE CURRENT DEBATE (EDITED BY RICHARD WARNER AND TA D E U S Z SZUBKA) contains recent essays by the key players in the the field of the Mind-Body problem: Searle, Fodor, Problem Honderich, Nagel, McGinn, Stich, Rorty and others. But there are a few interesting exceptions, for example Edelman, Popper, Putnam and Dennett. Nevertheless, these thinkers do get a mention here and there, and nearly all the exciting topical issues are dealt with, including (...)
  25. added 2017-03-10
    In de ban van de metafysica: de identiteitstheorieën van Place, Smart en Armstrong.Allard Tamminga - 2009 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 71 (3):553-575.
    We investigate the genesis of metaphysical physicalism and its influence on the development of Place's, Smart's, and Armstrong's ideas on the relation between the mental and the physical. We first reconstruct the considerations that led Armstrong and Smart to a 'scientific' world view. We call 'metaphysical physicalism' the comprehensive theory on reality, truth, and meaning which ensued from this world view. Against the background of this metaphysical physicalism we study Armstrong's and Smart's analyses of secondary properties and the genesis of (...)
  26. added 2017-02-15
    Feigl, Sellars, and the Idea of a 'Pure Pragmatics'.Matthias Neuber - manuscript
  27. added 2017-02-15
    Mind and Brain: A Contribution From Microgenetic Theory.Jason Brown - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (1-2):54-73.
    Study of symptoms with focal brain lesions reveals a microtemporal transition that elaborates the mind/brain state. The pattern of this transition corresponds with that of developmental growth , which can be characterized in terms of whole-part relations. This correspondence is interpreted as indicating that the cognitive process is an extension of growth trends in pre- and post-natal life. The continuum of ontogenetic growth into the cognitive process is a transition from exuberance of form to specificity or from generality to precision, (...)
  28. added 2017-02-15
    Smart Grid: Communication-Enabled Intelligence for the Electric Power Grid.Stephen F. Bush - 2014 - Wiley-Ieee Press.
  29. added 2017-02-15
    Are Mental Events Preceded by Their Physical Causes?Celia Green & Grant Gillett - 1995 - Philosophical Psychology 8 (4):333-340.
    Libet's experiments, supported by a strict one-to-one identity thesis between brain events and mental events, have prompted the conclusion that physical events precede the mental events to which they correspond. We examine this claim and conclude that it is suspect for several reasons. First, there is a dual assumption that an intention is the kind of thing that causes an action and that can be accurately introspected. Second, there is a real problem with the method of timing the mental events (...)
  30. added 2017-02-15
    Science, Mind, and Psychology: Essays in Honor of Grover Maxwell.Mary Lou Maxwell & Wade C. Savage - 1989 - Upa.
    To find more information on Rowman & Littlefield titles, please visit us at www.rowmanlittlefield.com.
  31. added 2017-02-15
    Philosophy, Science and Method. Essays in Honour of Ernest Nagel. [REVIEW]R. G. A. Dolby - 1973 - British Journal for the History of Science 6 (4):434-435.
  32. added 2017-02-14
    Type Identity.C. Smart - 2006 - In Maureen Eckert (ed.), Theories of Mind: An Introductory Reader. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 35.
  33. added 2017-02-14
    How Smart is a Neuron?Alwyn Scott - 2000 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (5):70-5.
  34. added 2017-02-14
    A Guide to Smart Growth: Shattering Myths, Providing Solutions.R. Thomas - 2000 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 13 (2):115-116.
  35. added 2017-02-14
    Albert Shalom, The Body/Mind Conceptual Framework and the Problem of Personal Identity: Some Theories in Philosophy, Psychoanalysis & Neurology Reviewed By.Aarre Laakso - 1994 - Philosophy in Review 14 (2):137-139.
  36. added 2017-02-14
    Cynthia Macdonald, Mind-Body Identity Theories Reviewed By.Stephen Downes - 1994 - Philosophy in Review 14 (6):409-410.
  37. added 2017-02-14
    Raziel Abelson, Lawless Mind Reviewed By.Clifford Williams - 1990 - Philosophy in Review 10 (2):45-47.
  38. added 2017-02-14
    Albert Shalom, The Body/Mind Conceptual Framework and the Problem of Personal Identity: Some Theories in Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and Neurology Reviewed By.L. Nathan Oaklander - 1987 - Philosophy in Review 7 (4):166-168.
  39. added 2017-02-13
    Cider: A Component-Based Toolkit for Creating Smart Diagram Environments.Anthony R. Jansen, Kim Marriott & Bernd Meyer - 2004 - In A. Blackwell, K. Marriott & A. Shimojima (eds.), Diagrammatic Representation and Inference. Springer. pp. 415--419.
  40. added 2017-02-11
    The Brain--A Mediating Organ.Thomas Fuchs - 2011 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (7-8):7-8.
    Cognitive neuroscience has been driven by the idea that by reductionist analysis of mechanisms within a solitary brain one can best understand how the human mind is constituted and what its nature is. The brain thus came to appear as the creator of the mind and the experienced world. In contrast, the paper argues for an ecological view of mind and brain as both being embedded in the relation of the living organism and its environment. This approach is crucially dependent (...)
  41. added 2017-02-09
    Mind and Brain, the Many-Faceted Problems.Mark Stone - 1987 - The Personalist Forum 3 (1):71-73.
  42. added 2017-02-09
    Matter and Mind, Two Essays in Epistemology.S. P. - 1976 - Review of Metaphysics 30 (1):125-126.
  43. added 2017-02-09
    Mind/Brain Identity and the Cartesian Framework.Antony Flew - 1974 - Journal of Critical Analysis 5 (2):45-55.
  44. added 2017-02-09
    Mind, Matter, and Method.E. A. R. - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 20 (3):556-556.
  45. added 2017-02-09
    Mind, Matter and Method.P. K. Bastable - 1967 - Philosophical Studies 16:332-333.
  46. added 2017-02-09
    The Theory of Psycho-Physical Parallelism as a Working Hypothesis in Psychology.H. Wildon Carr - 1910 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 11:129 - 143.
  47. added 2017-02-08
    Coupland and Gwyn's Collection on Discourse, Body, Identity.Gordon Alley-Young - 2005 - American Journal of Semiotics 21 (1/4):152-154.
  48. added 2017-02-08
    Philosophy, Science, and Method: Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel. Edited by S. Morgenbesser, P. Suppes, and Morton White. New York: St. Martin's Press; Toronto: Macmillan, 1969. Pp. Ix, 613. $12.50. [REVIEW]Michael Ruse - 1971 - Dialogue 10 (3):581-584.
  49. added 2017-02-07
    Smart, Materialism and Believing.Peter Glassen - 1983 - Philosophy 58 (223):95 - 101.
  50. added 2017-02-07
    J. J. C. Smart, Materialism and Occam's Razor.Peter Glassen - 1976 - Philosophy 51 (197):349 - 352.
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