Mental Events

Dissertation, Brown University (1993)

Robert (Rex) Christopher Welshon
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
An investigation into events in philosophy of mind. Chapter 1 outlines positions in philosophy of mind in terms of events. Chapter 2 argues that events are property exemplifications by a particular at a time. The type/token distinction is shown to be ambiguous between theories of events and it is argued that since sets are causally inert, events should not be identified with sets. Chapter 3 argues that event expressions are definite descriptions that mediately refer to events. Because they refer to events via the property the event exemplifies, event expressions are intensional fragments of language and events are intensionally individuated. Alternative theories of events--those that identify them with particulars and those that identify them with sets--are unacceptable. Chapter 4 argues that the former is unacceptable because its individuation conditions are circular. Attempts to remedy circularity fail. Chapter 5 argues that the latter is unacceptable because it is too loose-grained. A sustained criticism of properties is provided which, if successful, entails that set-theoretic events are the only acceptable events. ;Hence, properties are problematic. Chapter 6 discusses these problems. I argue, inter alia, that the best logic for properties is second-order, that incompleteness of second-order theories is not a serious problem and that intensionality is pervasive in science and theories of causality. Chapter 7 introduces a distinction between internal and external semantics, permitting rejection of possible-worlds reduction of properties and acceptance of possible worlds semantics for properties. An intensional and second-order theory of property individuation is outlined and applied to the case of property exemplification events. Conditions for event identity and distinctness are specified. Chapter 8 deploys the theory of event individuation in philosophy of mind. I argue that mental events are not identical to, do not reduce to, and do not strongly supervene on physical events. Unfortunately, pending discovery of causal relations with physical events or some relation in virtue of which those causal relations obtain, they are also potentially as inert as sets. Conciliatory strategies are suggested to thwart the loss of our minds
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