The book provides an overview of the contemporary discussion of the mind-body problem. This discussion takes its modern form during the 17th century in the works of René Descartes. The book covers the most important points of view in modern philosophy of mind. An important thesis of the book is that contemporary debates are still heavily influenced by Descartes’ arguments, especially those related to the nature of consciousness. (Google translate).
Some philosophers consider that some of their colleagues deny that consciousness exists. We shall call the latter ‘deniers’, adopting a term that was initially meant pejoratively. What do the deniers deny? In order to answer this question, we shall examine arguments, both of some deniers and of their critics, and present denialism as a systematic highly non-trivial position that has had some interesting achievements. We will show that the denialist project concerns the epistemology of the mind and specifically of consciousness: (...) what can be known about it, and how it can be known. The main argument of denialism is that first-person reports about the mental realm are not always the best source of information about that realm, and are certainly not reliable. This leads the deniers to realize that the reference and meaning of mental terms as used in standard philosophical literature are vague and call for clarification, and that what many take to be empirical data in the study of the mind are actually heavily laden with theory. Denialism thus makes scientific and philosophical research clearer and more fruitful. (shrink)
Conceivability arguments constitute a serious threat against reductive physicalism. Recently, a number of authors have proven and characterized a devastating logical truth, centered on these arguments: namely, that their soundness entails the inconceivability of reductive physicalism. In this paper, I demonstrate that is only a logical truth when reductive physicalism is interpreted in its stronger, intrinsic sense, as opposed to its weaker—yet considerably more popular—extrinsic sense. The basic idea generalizes: perhaps surprisingly, stronger forms of reduction are uniquely resistant to the (...) conceivability arguments opposing them. So far as the modal epistemology of reduction is concerned, therefore, it pays to go intrinsic. (shrink)
We develop a partial solution to the meta-problem of consciousness that builds on our previous psychological account of an apparent explanatory gap. Drawing from empirical work on explanatory cognition and conceptual development, we sketch a profile of cognitive systems for which primitive concepts facilitate explanatory gaps. This account predicts that there will be multiple explanatory gaps. We suggest that this is borne out by the existence of primitivist theories in multiple philosophical domains.
O Fisicalismo tem sido a posição filosófica monista mais aceita no mainstream do debate contemporâneo sobre a natureza do mental. Mas o que significa dizer que tudo o que existe é “físico”? O presente trabalho busca responder à pergunta: Como as teses fisicalistas contemporâneas têm definido o termo ‘físico’ em suas proposições? Para respondê-la foi realizada uma investigação teórico-filosófica baseada em revisão bibliográfica e análise lógica e conceitual. Quatro categorias gerais de definição do termo ‘físico’ foram identificadas numa revisão da (...) literatura. Existem igualmente fortes críticas às propostas de definição em toda a discussão filosófica. Não temos uma definição incontroversa do que seja uma propriedade física, tampouco consenso sobre qual deveria ser a formulação mais adequada da tese fisicalista. Assim, a questão que se coloca é: Por que estamos discutindo o valor de verdade de uma tese que nem mesmo tem conseguido ser formulada de forma adequada? (shrink)
Nonreductive physicalists endorse autonomous mental causation, the view that mental causes, as distinct from physical causes, bring about mental and physical effects. The causal exclusion problem has recently pressured nonreductive physicalists to replace autonomous mental causation with reduced mental causation, the view that mental causes, as physical causes, bring about mental and physical effects. Reduced mental causation, in turn, faces the problem of mental quausation, according to which reduced mental causation only delivers mental‐as‐physical causation, not the requisite mental‐as‐mental causation. Proponents (...) of reduced mental causation have responded by emphasizing the success of reduction in delivering mental causation, while questioning the metaphysical legitimacy of mental quausation (Tiehen, 2019; Gibb, 2017; Robb, 2017; 2013).1 In this paper, I argue that the requirement for mental quausation not only withstands these objections, but that mental quausation is an inevitable problematic for any version of reduced mental causation. (shrink)
Consider a toothache, or a feeling of intense pleasure, or the sensation you would have if you looked impassively at an expanse of colour. In each case, the experience can easily be thought to fill time by being present throughout a period. This way of thinking of conscious experience is natural enough, but it is in deep conflict with the view that physical processes are ultimately responsible for experience. The problem is that physical processes are related to durations in a (...) very different way—not by being wholly present at each instant or sub-period, but by having temporal parts that are. There is a choice to be made, therefore, between preserving this common way of thinking of experience and preserving the fundamentality of processes. The first option holds fixed the view of experiences as occurring throughout time and takes this to constrain the category of entity to which they are identical, or upon which they supervene. The second option abandons this common view of experience by taking up a perspective on which we experience things in the world and their properties as existing or occurring a certain way, and mistakenly ascribe this ontological character to our experience as well. The second option is ultimately the better option, however, since only it can make sense of the facts of our experience. (shrink)
This paper considers the extent to which the notion of truthmaking can play a substantive role in defining physicalism. While a truthmaking-based approach to physicalism is prima facie attractive, there is some reason to doubt that truthmaking can do much work when it comes to understanding physicalism, and perhaps austere metaphysical frameworks in general. First, despite promising to dispense with higher-level properties and states, truthmaking appears to make little progress on issues concerning higher-level items and how they are related to (...) how things are physically. Second, it seems that truthmaking-based approaches to physicalism will have a difficult time addressing the status of truthmaking itself without, in effect, appealing to the resources of alternative ways of conceptualizing physicalism. (shrink)
Freeman's pioneering work -- and neurodynamics in general -- has largely ignored specification of an anatomical framework within which features of coherent objects are represented, associated, deleted, and manipulated in computations. Recent theoretical work suggests such a framework can emerge during embryogenesis by selection of neuron ensembles and synaptic connections that maximize the magnitude of synchrony while approaching ultra-small-world connectivity. The emergent structures correspond to those of both columnar and non-columnar cortex. With initial connections thus organized, spatio-temporal information in sensory (...) inputs can generate systematic and specific patterns of synchronous oscillation, with consequent synaptic storage. The theoretical assemblies of connections resemble experimentally observed 'lego sets', while facilitation and interference among synchronous patterns, particularly when executed by fast synapses under metabolic entanglement, imply powerful parallel computation. (shrink)
Frankish's argument for illusionism -- the view that there are no real instances of phenomenal consciousness -- depends on the claim that phenomenal consciousness is an 'anomalous phenomenon', at odds with our scientific picture of the world. I distinguish two senses in which a phenomenon might be 'anomalous': its reality is inconsistent with what science gives us reason to believe, its reality adds to what science gives us reason to believe. I then argue that phenomenal consciousness is not anomalous in (...) the first sense, and the fact that phenomenal consciousness is plausibly anomalous in the second sense is only problematic if it can be shown that our introspectively-based reasons for believing in consciousness are epistemically problematic. I finish by suggesting that Frankish might be motivated to adopt radical naturalism because he takes doing so to be the appropriate response to the incredible success of natural science. I outline a way of thinking about the history of science which undermines this motivation. (shrink)
We develop an argument sketched by Luna (2011) based on the Pinocchio paradox, which was proposed by Eldridge-Smith and Eldridge- Smith (2010). We show that, upon plausible assumptions, the claim that mental states supervene on bodily states leads to the conclusion that some proposition is both paradoxical and not paradoxical. In order to show how the presence of paradoxes can be harnessed for philosophical argumentation, we present as well a couple of related arguments.
Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors claim that neuroscientific data can be employed to advance theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called ‘autonomy’ of psychology. Settling this significant issue requires understanding the nature of the bridge laws used at the psycho-neural interface. (...) While these laws have been the topic of extensive discussion, such debates have mostly focused on a particular type of link: reductive laws. Reductive laws are problematic: they face notorious philosophical objections and they are too scarce to substantiate current research at the intersection of psychology and neuroscience. The aim of this article is to provide a systematic analysis of a different kind of bridge laws—associative laws—which play a central, albeit overlooked role in scientific practice. (shrink)
This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...) form, the point of view of the Canberra Plan is committed to unacceptably treating indexical or name-related facts as part of the ultimate physical/functional ground of the mental. (shrink)
In the light of what appear to be clear counterexamples, I argue that Jaegwon Kim’s comparative evaluation of functional reduction and reduction via necessary identities is problematic. I trace the problem to two sources: a misplaced metaphysical assumption about the explanatory role of identities and an excessively strong and narrow criterion for successful reductive explanation. Appreciating where Kim’s critique runs astray enhances our understanding of the role of necessary identities in reductive explanation.
This book challenges common debates in philosophy of mind by questioning the framework of placement problems in contemporary metaphysics. The author argues that placement problems arise when exactly one fundamental ontology serves as the base for all entities, and will propose a pluralist alternative that takes the diversity of our conceptual resources and ontologies seriously. This general pluralist account is applied to issues in philosophy of mind to argue that contemporary debates about the mind-body problem are built on this problematic (...) framework of placement problems. The starting point is the plurality of ontologies in scientific practice. Not only can we describe the world in terms of physical, biological, or psychological ontologies, but any serious engagement with scientific ontologies will identify more specific ontologies in each domain. For example, there is not one unified ontology for biology, but rather a diversity of scientific specializations with different ontological needs. Based on this account of scientific practice the author argues that there is no reason to assume that ontological unification must be possible everywhere. Without this ideal, the scope of ontological unification turns out to be an open empirical question and there is no need to present unification failures as philosophically puzzling “placement problems”. (shrink)
There is a perception that the substantial data from psi research is indicative of support for a dualistic worldview. In this paper, we present an overview of this perspective as discussed in the works of John Beloff, Charles Tart, David Rousseau, Ed Kelly, and Larry Dossey. Following this, we discuss the refutation of the dualist view from the point of the definition of non-material, and provide a possible definition of non-material, and the role of consciousness in quantum mechanics. We conclude (...) that these criteria are sufficient to reject a dualist perspective in the analysis of psi data, until the validity of all possible physicalist-reductionist views have been exhausted. In our analysis, the next question guiding a psi research programme is how psi occurs and what its mechanics are. (shrink)
The paper consists of a simple argument in favour of reductive materialism. It is argued that the usual arguments for dualism all presuppose what I call the qualia intuition , the assumption that qualia are functionally undefinable . This assumption has given rise to a long-standing dilemma; irreducible qualia or no qualia . The contrary assumption, ~QI, however, gives rise to a different choice; reducible qualia or no qualia . The real question then is: QI or ~QI ? It is (...) argued that dualism and materialism, so defined, are empirically indistinguishable and hence that the choice between them must be made on pragmatic grounds. It is then argued that, pragmatically speaking, materialism is far superior to dualism and hence that we should choose the former over the latter. (shrink)
Karen Bennett has recently articulated and defended a “compatibilist” solution to the causal exclusion problem. Bennett’s solution works by rejecting the exclusion principle on the grounds that even though physical realizers are distinct from the mental states or properties that they realize, they necessarily co-occur such that they fail to satisfy standard accounts of causal over-determination. This is the case, Bennett argues, because the causal background conditions for core realizers being sufficient causes of their effects are identical to the “surround” (...) conditions with which the core realizers are metaphysically sufficient the states or properties that they realize. Here we demonstrate that the background conditions for the causal sufficiency of core realizers for their effects are not identical to the core realizer’s surrounds, nor do backgrounds necessitate such surround conditions. If compatibilist solutions to exclusion can be defended, a different argument will be needed. (shrink)
This volume investigates the notion of reduction. Building on the idea that philosophers employ the term ‘reduction’ to reconcile diversity and directionality with unity, without relying on elimination, the book offers a powerful explication of an “ontological” notion of reduction the extension of which is (primarily) formed by properties, kinds, individuals, or processes. It argues that related notions of reduction, such as theory-reduction and functional reduction, should be defined in terms of this explication. Thereby, the book offers a coherent framework, (...) which sheds light on the history of the various reduction debates in the philosophy of science and in the philosophy of mind, and on related topics such as reduction and unification, the notion of a scientific level, and physicalism. (shrink)
My arguments against Polanyi’s notions of a layered ontology and dual control of entities were introduced in Margitay 2010 and defended against criticism in Margitay 2013. However, it has become clear from Lowney’s and earlier comments that my presentations were not sufficiently clear. So I will explicate some points of my argument against dual control. First, I will contrast the metaphysical thesis of The Causal Closure of the Physical with the semi-empirical thesis I hold, The Completeness of Physical Theories. I (...) have argued that Polanyi’s theory of dual control involving downward determination is inconsistent with standard physics because of the completeness of physical theories. I support this claim by what I term the no difference and the completeness counterarguments. Secondly, I shall show these arguments do not involve or entail any sort of reductionism, and they do not question the ontological autonomy, the reality, and the irreducibility of higher level emergent entities and their properties. (shrink)
The background to the “Poem for an Empty Spot” is a creepy feeling that there is something questionable with the motive and deeper driving forces for the efforts to declare that mind is something else than it is. As a scientist using mathematics I have learned the importance to take deep feelings seriously, and not only trust on deduction and routine solutions. Our deep feelings serve as pathfinders, and as pre-paradigmatic signs they are important to notice.
Assume that water reduces to H2O. If so water is identical to H2O. At the same time, if water reduces to H2O then H2O does not reduce to water–the reduction relation is asymmetric. This generates a puzzle–if water just is H2O it is hard to see how we can account for the asymmetry of the reduction relation. The paper proposes a solution to this puzzle. It is argued that the reduction predicate generates intensional contexts and that in order to account (...) for the asymmetry, we should develop conditions on the meanings of expressions that flank the reduction predicate in true reduction statements. Finally, it is argued that if we adopt this interpretation, we can illuminate the epistemological difference between reduced and reducing item commonly referred to in the literature. (shrink)
David Lewis presented a celebrated argument for the identity theory of mind. His argument has provided the model for the program of analytic functionalism. He argues from two premises, that mental states are analytically tied to their causal roles and that, contingently, there is never a need to explain any physical change by going outside the realm of the physical, to the conclusion that mental states are physical. I show that his argument is mistaken and that it trades on a (...) crucial ambiguity in the second premise. He argues for a weaker version of that premise and then uses a stronger version in the argument. The weaker version of that premise will not allow the inference and the stronger version is contested in the dialectical context. In general then this strategy for providing analytic reductions will not be guaranteed to succeed. (shrink)
Nonreductive physicalists have a causal exclusion problem. Given certain theses all physicalists accept, including psychophysical supervenience and the causal closure of the physical realm, it is difficult to see how irreducible mental phenomena could make a causal difference to the world. The upshot, according to those who push the problem, is that we must embrace reductive physicalism. Only then is mental causation saved. -/- Grant the argument, at least provisionally. Here our focus is the conditional question: What form should one's (...) reductionism take if it is motivated in part by the exclusion problem? Must one be a type identity theorist, or are alternative reductive views available, as Jaegwon Kim has suggested more than once? (shrink)
Todd argues for the integration of science and religion to form a new paradigm for the third millennium. He counters both the arguments made by fundamentalist Christians against science and the rejection of religion by the New Atheists, in particular Richard Dawkins and his followers. Drawing on the work of scientists, psychologists, philosophers, and theologians, Todd challenges the materialistic reductionism of our age and offers an alternative grounded in the visionary work taking place in a wide array of disciplines including (...) Jungian archetypal psychology, quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology,epistemology, neuroscience and an incarnational theology implicit in the evolutionary process. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to explore the question of whether or not there are laws in psychology. Jaegwon Kim has argued (Supervenience and mind. MIT press, Cambridge; 1993; Mind in a physical world. MIT press, Cambridge 1998) that there are no laws in psychology that contain reference to multiply realized kinds, because statements about such kinds fail to be projectible. After reviewing Kim’s argument for this claim, I show how his conclusion hinges on a hidden assumption: that a kind (...) can only feature in a projectible statement if it is defined by an internal physical property. This assumption, however, is false: constrained kinds can feature in projectible statements, and yet they are not defined by any set of internal physical properties. I suggest that many mental terms actually refer to constrained kinds, and give an example from motor neuroscience of a constrained kind that is multiply realizable and “projectible”: the intention to move voluntarily in a specific direction. (shrink)
Although Hilary Putnam has played a significant role in shaping contemporary philosophy of mind, he has more recently criticised its metaphysical foundations as fun-damentally flawed. According to Putnam, the standard positions in the philosophy of mind rest on dubious ontological assumptions which are challenged by his “pragmatic pluralism” and the idea that we can always describe reality in different but equally fun-damental ways. Putnam considers this pluralism about conceptual resources as an alterna-tive to both physicalism and dualism. Contrary to physicalism, (...) Putnam’s pluralism rejects the ontological priority of physical concepts. Contrary to dualism, pragmatic pluralism denies that equally fundamental conceptual systems refer to ontologically distinct realms of reality. The aim of this paper is to discuss and clarify the implications of Putnam’s pragmatic pluralism for the philosophy of mind. The first section introduces Putnam’s concept of conceptual relativity and his rejection of an absolute ontology. In the second section, I argue that conceptual relativity leads to a pragmatic pluralism which under-mines the common ontological framework of physicalism and dualism. The third section explains how pragmatic pluralists can reject identity claims without being committed to dualism. The last section discusses the implications of Putnam’s pragmatic pluralism for the mind-body problem by focussing on phenomenal consciousness and mental causation. (shrink)
According to a prominent line of thought, we can be physicalists, but not reductive physicalists, by holding that mental and other ‘higher-level’ or ‘nonbasic’ properties — properties that are not obviously physical properties — are all physically realized. Spelling this out requires an account of realization, an account of what it is for one property to realize another. And while several accounts of realization have been advanced in recent years,1 my interest here is in the ‘subset view,’ which has often (...) been invoked explicitly in defense of nonreductive physicalist positions.2 The subset view holds that property realization consists in the powers of one property having as a subset the powers of another; .. (shrink)
We reconsider the Nagelian theory of reduction and argue that, contrary to a widely held view, it is the right analysis of intertheoretic reduction. The alleged difficulties of the theory either vanish upon closer inspection or turn out to be substantive philosophical questions rather than knock-down arguments.
Recent debates about the metaphysics of mind have tended to assume that inter-theoretic reductions are the norm in the natural sciences. With this assumption in place, the apparent explanatory gaps surrounding consciousness and intentionality seem unique, fascinating, and perhaps metaphysically significant. Over the past several decades, however, philosophers of science have largely rejected the notions that inter-theoretic reduction is either widespread in the natural sciences or a litmus for the legitimacy of the special sciences. If we adopt a post-reductionist philosophy (...) of science, with a commitment to theory pluralism, the epistemic statuses of the standard positions in philosophy of mind (reductionism, non-reductive physicalism, dualism) are all significantly changed. Moreover, central problems of recent philosophy of mind – reducibility and the explanatory gap – seem themselves to be in need of rethinking if reductions are rare and the sciences have “explanatory gaps all the way down.” This article examines the prospects of the standard metaphysical positions, plus two types of pluralism, in light of post-reductionist philosophy of science. (shrink)
This volume is a collection of essays presented at the 31st International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, in August 2008. It has the character of a high-quality journal issue. There is no introduction, and the papers do not all directly bear on the topic of the original conference, which was "Reduction and Elimination in Philosophy and the Sciences". In what follows, I offer a short description of each paper, and add critical remarks in some cases.
Over the past few decades, Jaegwon Kim has argued that non-reductive physicalism is an inherently unstable position. In his view, the most serious problem is that non-reductive physicalism leads to type epiphenomenalismâthe causal inefficacy of mental properties. Kim suggests that we can salvage mental causation by endorsing functional reduction. Given the fact that Kimâs goal in formulating functional reduction is to provide a robust account of mental causation it would be surprising if his position implies eliminativism about mental properties or (...) leads to a view that is similar to one of the versions of non-reductive physicalism that he criticizes. We will show that depending on how certain key claims are interpreted, there are reasons for thinking functional reduction has these implications, in which case either Kim fails to provide a robust account of mental causation or there is reason to suspect that some of his criticisms of non-reductive physicalism are misguided. (shrink)
This chapter examines the relations between psychology and neuroscience. There is a strong philosophical intuition that direct study of the brain can and will constrain the development of psychological theory. When this intuition is tested against case studies from the psychology of perception and memory, it turns out that psychology has led the way toward knowledge of neurophysiology. The chapter presents an abstract argument to show that psychology can and must lead the way in neuroscientific study of mental function. The (...) opposing intuition is based on mainly weak arguments about the fundamentality or objectivity of physics or physiology in relation to psychology. The chapter argues that psychological phenomena are methodologically prior to neurophysiological concepts and descriptions, that psychology provides the functional descriptions that guide the behavioral brain sciences, that psychological concepts are not reducible, but that neurophysiological data and concepts are nonetheless evidentially and explanatorily relevant for psychology. (shrink)
It is often argued that higher-level special-science properties cannot be causally efficacious since the lower-level physical properties on which they supervene are doing all the causal work. This claim is usually derived from an exclusion principle stating that if a higher-level property F supervenes on a physical property F* that is causally sufficient for a property G, then F cannot cause G. We employ an account of causation as difference-making to show that the truth or falsity of this principle is (...) a contingent matter and derive necessary and sufficient conditions under which a version of it holds. We argue that one important instance of the principle, far from undermining non-reductive physicalism, actually supports the causal autonomy of certain higher-level properties. (shrink)
Multiple Realizability (MR) must still be regarded as one of the principal arguments against type reductionist accounts of higher-order properties and their special laws. Against this I argue that there is no unique MR but rather a multitude of MR categories. In a slogan: MR is itself “multi-realized”. If this is true then we cannot expect one unique reductionist strategy against MR as an anti-reductionist argument. The main task is rather to develop a taxonomy of the wide variety of MR (...) cases and to sketch possible reductionist answers for each class of cases. The paper outlines some first steps in this direction. (shrink)
In his recent article ‘Consciousness and Reduction’, Ausonio Marras argues that functional reduction must appeal to bridge laws and thus does not represent a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. In response, I first argue that even if functional reduction must use bridge laws, it still represents a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. Further, I argue that Marras does not succeed in showing that functional reduction must use bridge laws. Introduction Nagelian Reduction, Functional Reduction, and Bridge Laws Marras on Functional Reduction (...) The Logical Space of ‘Bridge Law’ Views of Reduction [RP] as an Account of Realization Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In a recent critique of the doctrine of emergentism championed by its classic advocates up to C. D. Broad, Jaegwon Kim (Philosophical Studies 63:31–47, 1999) challenges their view about its applicability to the sciences and proposes a new account of how the opposing notion of reduction should be understood. Kim is critical of the classic conception advanced by Nagel and uses his new account in his criticism of emergentism. I question his claims about the successful reduction achieved in the sciences (...) and argue that his new account has not improved on Nagel’s and that the critique of emergentism he bases on it is question-begging in important respects. (shrink)
The paper begins with the assumption that psychological event tokens are identical to or constituted from physical events. It then articulates a familiar apparent problem concerning the causal role of psychological properties. If they do not reduce to physical properties, then either they must be epiphenomenal or any effects they cause must also be caused by physical properties, and hence be overdetermined. It then argues that both epiphenomenalism and over‐determinationism are prima facie perfectly reasonable and relatively unproblematic views. The paper (...) proceeds to argue against Kim’s (Kim, 2000, 2005) attempt to articulate a plausible version of reductionism. It is then argued that psychological properties, along with paradigmatically causally efficacious macro‐properties, such as toughness, are causally inefficacious in respect of their possessor’s typical effects, because they are insufficiently distinct from those effects. It is finally suggested that the distinction between epiphenomenalism and overdeterminationism may be more terminological than real. (shrink)