Worlds 3 Popper 0 [Book Review]

New Scientist (19th May) (1995)

Ray Scott Percival
London School of Economics
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 externalism, functionalism, intentionality, Turing computational models, and the relationship between these philosophical problems and psychology. I am particularly struck by the tendency to engage in an evasive stratagem when it comes to stating the physicalist thesis. Instead of a clear definitive position about what kind of physical science would achieve the hoped-for reduction, what I found was variations on Lewis's claim that the reduction would be effected by a "unified body of scientific theories of the sort we now accept". Materialism used to be a clear doctrine: a clockwork Universe of impenetrable particles. But materialism transcended itself. First through Hobbes' and Leibniz's criticisms of Descartes, then Newton's demolition of the Cartesian idea that matter was essentially extension by introducing gravity (action at a distance) and then through the field theories of Faraday and Maxwell, and more recently through Einstein's work, which undermined the "substance" view of matter, something that remained permanent while other changes occurred. I contrast the perspectives of the Churchlands with those of Donald T. Campbell, Karl Popper and other evolutionary and emergentist views.
Keywords reductionism  emergentism  evolutionary theory of mind  Donald T Campebell  Karl Popper
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