Of brains and planets: on a causal criterion for mind-brain identities

Synthese 193 (4):1177-1189 (2016)
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Abstract

Whether mental properties are identical with neural properties is one of the central questions of contemporary philosophy of mind. Many philosophers agree that even if mental properties are identical with neural properties, the mind-brain identity thesis cannot be established on empirical grounds, but only be vindicated by theoretical philosophical considerations. In his paper ‘When Is a Brain Like the Planet?’, Clark Glymour proposes a causal criterion for local property identifications and claims that this criterion can be used to empirically establish local identities between mental and neural properties. If successful, such an account would settle the debate on the mind-body problem. In this paper, I argue that Glymour’s approach falls short of its aims. The causal criterion which he proposes does not provide a sufficient condition for the local identification of properties. Moreover, his account does not succeed in rendering local mind-brain identities empirically testable. Therefore, the mind-body problem cannot be solved as easily as Glymour assumes

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Vera Hoffmann-Kolss
University of Bern

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