The phenomenal concept strategy is considered a powerful response to anti-physicalist arguments. This physicalist strategy aims to provide a satisfactory account of dualist intuitions without being committed to ontological dualist conclusions. In this paper I first argue that physicalist accounts of phenomenal concepts fail to explain their cognitive role. Second, I develop an encapsulation account of phenomenal concepts that best explains their particularities. Finally, I argue that the encapsulation account, which features self-representing experiences, implies non-physical referents. Therefore, the account of (...) phenomenal concepts that has strong explanatory power does not explain away dualist intuitions—rather, it reinforces dualism. (shrink)
This article aims to review the standard objections to dualism and to argue that will either fail to convince someone committed to dualism or are flawed on independent grounds. I begin by presenting the taxonomy of metaphysical positions on concrete particulars as they relate to the dispute between materialists and dualists, and in particular substance dualism is defined. In the first section, several kinds of substance dualism are distinguished and the relevant varieties of this kind of (...)dualism are selected. The remaining sections are analyses of the standard objections to substance dualism : It is uninformative, has troubles accounting for soul individuation, causal pairing and interaction, violates laws of physics, is made implausible by the development of neuroscience and it postulates entities beyond necessity. I conclude that none of these objections is successful. (shrink)
The explanatory gap . Consciousness is a mystery. No one has ever given an account, even a highly speculative, hypothetical, and incomplete account of how a physical thing could have phenomenal states. Suppose that consciousness is identical to a property of the brain, say activity in the pyramidal cells of layer 5 of the cortex involving reverberatory circuits from cortical layer 6 to the thalamus and back to layers 4 and 6,as Crick and Koch have suggested for visual consciousness. .) (...) Still, that identity itself calls out for explanation! Proponents of an explanatory gap disagree about whether the gap is permanent. Some say that we are like the scientifically naive person who is told that matter = energy, but does not have the concepts required to make sense of the idea. If we can acquire these concepts, the gap is closable. Others say the gap is uncloseable because of our cognitive limitations. Still others say that the gap is a consequence of the fundamental nature of consciousness. (shrink)
We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions. First, a theory might be physicalist or dualist. Second, a theory might endorse any of these three views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through deterministic laws), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and anomalism (they interact but not through deterministic laws). In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism, a combination of views that (...) has not previously been explored (as far as I know). I suggest that a kind of anomalous dualism, nonreductive anomalous panpsychism, promises to offer the best overall answer to two pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). (shrink)
A primary goal of this chapter is to highlight neglected epistemic parallels between dualism and physicalism. Both dualist and physicalist arguments employ a combination of empirical data and armchair reflection; both rely on considerations stemming from how we conceptualize certain phenomena; and both aim to establish views that are compatible with scientific results but go well beyond the deliverances of empirical science. -/- I begin the chapter by fleshing out the distinctive commitments of dualism, in a way that (...) illuminates the interplay of epistemic and metaphysical elements within the dualist position. Section 2 outlines two influential arguments for dualism and explains how dualists defend those arguments from key criticisms. Sections 3 and 4 examine the most powerful objections to dualism: that it is inferior to physicalism as regards the theoretical virtue of simplicity, and that it cannot explain mental causation. I show that each of these objections to dualism depends on substantial assumptions that cannot be empirically justified. And the objection from mental causation rests on an ambitious assumption about how we conceptualize physical phenomena. Section 5 briefly reviews how epistemic considerations inform arguments on both sides of this debate. (shrink)
It is widely thought that mind–body substance dualism is implausible at best, though mere “property” dualism is defensible and even flourishing. This paper argues that substance dualism is no less plausible than property dualism and even has two advantages over it.
I critically examine the view that Descartes’s independence conception (IC) of substance plays a crucial role in his “separability argument” for substance dualism. I argue that IC is a poisoned chalice. I do so by considering how an IC-based separability argument fares on two different ways of thinking about principal attributes. On the one hand, if we take principal attributes to be universals, then a separability argument that deploys IC establishes a version of dualism that is unacceptably strong. (...) On the other hand, if we take principal attributes to be tropes, then IC introduces challenges which undermine the argument. This is partly because the assumption of tropes makes it possible to distinguish several versions of substance dualism, versions which differ with respect to their degree of generality. I argue that taking principal attributes to be tropes makes it challenging to establish any of these versions by way of an IC-based separability argument. I conclude the paper by suggesting a way forward for the proponent of the separability argument. (shrink)
Non-Cartesian substance dualism maintains that persons or selves are distinct from their organic physical bodies and any parts of those bodies. It regards persons as ‘substances’ in their own right, but does not maintain that persons are necessarily separable from their bodies, in the sense of being capable of disembodied existence. In this paper, it is urged that NCSD is better equipped than either Cartesian dualism or standard forms of physicalism to explain the possibility of mental causation. A (...) model of mental causation adopting the NCSD perspective is proposed which, it is argued, is consistent with all that is currently known about the operations of the human central nervous system, including the brain. Physicalism, by contrast, seems ill-equipped to explain the distinctively intentional or teleological character of mental causation, because it effectively reduces all such causation to ‘blind’ physical causation at a neurological level. (shrink)
Unger has recently argued that if you are the only thinking and experiencing subject in your chair, then you are not a material object. This leads Unger to endorse a version of Substance Dualism according to which we are immaterial souls. This paper argues that this is an overreaction. We argue that the specifically Dualist elements of Unger’s view play no role in his response to the problem; only the view’s structure is required, and that is available to Unger’s (...) opponents. We outline one such non-Dualist view, suggest how to resolve the dispute, respond to some objections, and argue that ours is but one of many views that survive Unger’s challenge. All these views are incompatible with microphysicalism. So Unger’s discussion does contain an insight: if you are the only conscious subject in your chair, then microphsyicalism is false. Unger’s mistake was to infer Substance Dualism from this; for microphysicalism is not the only alternative to Dualism. (shrink)
Elisabeth was the first of Descartes' interlocutors to press concerns about mind-body union and interaction, and the only one to receive a detailed reply, unsatisfactory though she found it. Descartes took her tentative proposal `to concede matter and extension to the soul' for a confused version of his own view: `that is nothing but to conceive it united to the body. Contemporary commentators take Elisabeth for a materialist or at least a critic of dualism. I read her instead as (...) a dualist of a different variety from Descartes: a forerunner of twenty-first century naturalistic dualism which calls for empirical investigation of the psychological and its posits to be taken just as seriously as physics and its posits. -/- I argue that Elisabeth, a keen scholar of mechanistic physics, objected not to substance dualism per se but to the residual Scholasticism of Descartes' account of mind-body causality and his dogmatism about principal attributes. She queried Descartes' categorisation of the `action' of thought as mind's principal attribute, and his identification of it with the merely negative property of immateriality, holding instead that further philosophical and empirical investigation into the nature of the mind is necessary. I problematise the materialist interpretation of Elisabeth with reference to later letters where she dismissed the materialist Objections of Hobbes and Gassendi and continued to urge further clarifications to Cartesian dualism. I explore Elisabeth's contrasting of statements of mechanistic physics with statements about thought, and her call for further investigation into the properties of the mind, and argue they mark her out as a forerunner of contemporary naturalistic dualism which proposes substance dualism as a best interpretation of recent psychology and of the difference in logical form between current physics and current psychology. (shrink)
Temporal passage is an irrefragable and ineliminable feature of our lived experience of time. In this essay, I argue that, regardless of whether one adopts a three-dimensional, A theory of time or a four-dimensional, B theory of time, the subject of lived experience of time has to be conceived of as something that stands outside of the physical order in order for the experience of temporal passage to actually occur. This implies the truth of Dualism as the only account (...) of mind that can accommodate the facts of the lived experience of time. (shrink)
_René Descartes proposed an interactive dualism that posits an interaction between the_ _mind of a human being and some of the matter located in his or her brain. Isaac Newton_ _subsequently formulated a physical theory based exclusively on the material/physical_ _part of Descartes’ ontology. Newton’s theory enforced the principle of the causal closure_ _of the physical, and the classical physics that grew out of it enforces this same principle._ _This classical theory purports to give, in principle, a complete deterministic (...) account of the_ _physically described properties of nature, expressed exclusively in terms of these_ _physically described properties themselves. Orthodox contemporary physical theory_ _violates this principle in two separate ways. First, it injects random elements into the_ _dynamics. Second, it allows, and also requires, abrupt probing actions that disrupt the_ _mechanistically described evolution of the physically described systems. These probing_ _actions are called Process 1 interventions by von Neumann. They are psycho-physical_ _events. Neither the content nor the timing of these events is determined either by any_ _known law, or by the afore-mentioned random elements. Orthodox quantum mechanics_ _considers these events to be instigated by choices made by conscious agents. In von_ _Neumann’s formulation of quantum theory each such intervention acts upon the state of_ _the brain of some conscious agent. Thus orthodox von Neumann contemporary physics_ _posits an interactive dualism similar to that of Descartes. But in this quantum version the_ _effects of the conscious choices upon our brains are controlled, in part, by the known_ _basic rules of quantum physics. This theoretically specified mind-brain connection allows_ _many basic psychological and neuropsychological findings associated with the apparent_ _physical effectiveness of our conscious volitional efforts to be explained in a causal and_ _practically useful way.. (shrink)
René Descartes proposed an interactive dualism that posits an interaction between the mind of a human being and some of the matter located in his or her brain. Isaac Newton subsequently formulated a physical theory based exclusively on the material/physical part of Descartes’ ontology. Newton’s theory enforced the principle of the causal closure of the physical, and the classical physics that grew out of it enforces this same principle. This classical theory purports to give, in principle, a complete deterministic (...) account of the physically described properties of nature, expressed exclusively in terms of these physically described properties themselves. Orthodox contemporary physical theory violates this principle in two separate ways. First, it injects random elements into the dynamics. Second, it allows, and also requires, abrupt probing actions that disrupt the mechanistically described evolution of the physically described systems. These probing actions are called Process 1 interventions by von Neumann. They are psycho-physical events. Neither the content nor the timing of these events is determined either by any known law, or by the afore-mentioned random elements. Orthodox quantum mechanics considers these events to be instigated by choices made by conscious agents. In von Neumann’s formulation of quantum theory each such intervention acts upon the state of the brain of some conscious agent. Thus orthodox von Neumann contemporary physics posits an interactive dualism similar to that of Descartes. But in this quantum version the effects of the conscious choices upon our brains are controlled, in part, by the known basic rules of quantum physics. This theoretically specified mind-brain connection allows many basic psychological and neuropsychological findings associated with the apparent physical effectiveness of our conscious volitional efforts to be explained in a causal and practically useful way.. (shrink)
The paper argues that dualism can explain mental causation and solve the exclusion problem. If dualism is combined with the assumption that the psychophysical laws have a special status, it follows that some physical events counterfactually depend on, and are therefore caused by, mental events. Proponents of this account of mental causation can solve the exclusion problem in either of two ways: they can deny that it follows that the physical effect of a mental event is overdetermined by (...) its mental and physical causes, or they can accept that the physical effect is overdetermined but claim that this is unproblematic because the case is sufficiently dissimilar to prototypical cases of overdetermination. (shrink)
In The Conscious Mind, D. Chalmers appeals to his semantic framework in order to show that conceivability, as employed in his "zombie" argument for dualism , is sufficient for genuine possibility. I criticize this attempt.
This paper evaluates an argument according to which many anthropologists commit themselves to Cartesian dualism, when they talk about meanings. This kind of dualism, it is argued, makes it impossible for anthropologists to adequately attend to material artefacts. The argument is very original, but it is also vulnerable to a range of objections.
In “The Argument for Subject Body Dualism from Transtemporal Identity Defended” (PPR 2013), Martine Nida-Rümelin (NR) responded to my (PPR 2013) criticism of her (2010) argument for subject-body dualism. The crucial premise of her (2010) argument was that there is a factual difference between the claims that in a fission case the original person is identical with one, or the other, of the successors. I argued that, on the three most plausible interpretations of ‘factual difference’, the argument fails. (...) NR responds that I missed the intended, fourth interpretation, and that, in any case, with an additional assumption, the argument on the third interpretation goes through. I argue that the fourth interpretation, while insufficient as stated, reveals an assumption that provides an independent argument, namely, that in first person thought about future properties we have a positive conception of the self that rules out having empirical criteria of transtemporal identity. I argue that the considerations offered for this thesis fail to establish it, and that we do not bring ourselves under any positive conception in first person thought. I argue also that on the third interpretation, the first premise of the argument is inconsistent with the necessity of identity. (shrink)
We present the first large-scale, quantitative examination of mind and body concepts in a set of historical sources by measuring the predictions of folk mind–body dualism against the surviving textual corpus of pre-Qin (pre-221 BCE) China. Our textual analysis found clear patterns in the historically evolving reference of the word xin (heart/heart–mind): It alone of the organs was regularly contrasted with the physical body, and during the Warring States period it became less associated with emotions and increasingly portrayed as (...) the unique locus of “higher” cognitive abilities. We interpret this as a semantic shift toward a shared cognitive bias in response to a vast and rapid expansion of literacy. Our study helps test the proposed universality of folk dualism, adds a new quantitative approach to the methods used in the humanities, and opens up a new and valuable data source for cognitive scientists: the record of dead minds. (shrink)
Resumo Os Qualia, ou são “entidades espaciais” – ou seja, estão localizados no espaço como os objectos físicos –, ou não são “entidades espaciais”. Então, o dualismo deve alegar que ou os qualia não-físicos são entidades espaciais, ou que eles não o são. Contudo, qualquer resposta é problemática. Se os qualia não-físicos não são entidades espaciais, então, é difícil de conceber como podem ser atribuídos a cérebros particulares, individualizados uns dos outros, e assim por diante. Mas se os qualia não-físicos (...) são entidades espaciais, então, surgem outros problemas, por exemplo, torna-se difícil perceber como poderíamos ter então um acesso privilegiado a eles. Dada uma ou outra opção, o dualismo é problemático. Portanto, o dualismo é problemático. Palavras-chave : argumento do conhecimento, consciência, dualismo, fisicalismo, problema mente-corpo, qualiaQualia are either “spatial entities” – i.e., they are located in space like physical objects – or they are not. So, dualism must claim that either non-physical qualia are spatial entities or they are not. But either answer is problematic. If non-physical qualia are not spatial entities, then it is difficult to see how they can be attributed to particular brains, individuated from one another, and so on. But if non-physical qualia are spatial entities, then other problems arise, e.g., it is difficult to see how we could have privileged access to them. Given either option, dualism is problematic. Therefore, dualism is problematic. Keywords : consciousness, dualism, knowledge argument, mind-body problem, Physicalism, Qualia. (shrink)
b>: Replacing faulty nineteenth century physics by its orthodox quantum successor converts the earlier materialist conception of nature to a structure that does not enforce the principle of the causal closure of the physical. The quantum laws possess causal gaps, and these gaps are filled in actual scientific practice by inputs from our streams of consciousness. The form of the quantum laws permits and suggests the existence of an underlying reality that is built not on substances, but on psychophysical events, (...) and on objective tendencies for these events to occur. These events constitute intrinsic mind-brain connections. They are fundamental links between brain processes described in physical terms and events in our streams of consciousness. This quantum ontology confers upon our conscious intentions the causal efficacy assigned to them in actual scientific practice, and creates a substance- free interactive dualism. This putative quantum ontology has previously been shown to have impressive explanatory power in both psychology and neuroscience. Here it is used to reconcile the existence of physically efficacious conscious free will with causal anomalies of both the Libet and Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky types. (shrink)
Dualism can be contrasted with monism, and also with physicalism. It is argued here that what is essential to physicalism is not just its denial of dualism , but the epistemological and ontological authority it gives to physical science. A physicalist view of the mind must be reductive in one or both of the following senses: it must identify mental phenomena with physical phenomena or it must give an explanation of mental phenomena in physical terms . There is (...) little reason to call a view which is not reductive in either of these senses “physicalism”. If reduction is rejected, then a non-physicalist form of monism is still available, which may be called “emergentism”. (shrink)
Dualism argues that the mind is more than just the brain. It holds that there exists two very different realms, one mental and the other physical. Both are fundamental and one cannot be reduced to the other - there are minds and there is a physical world. This book examines and defends the most famous dualist account of the mind, the cartesian, which attributes the immaterial contents of the mind to an immaterial self. John Foster's new book exposes the (...) inadequacies of the dominant materialist and reductionist accounts of the mind. In doing so he is in radical conflict with the current philosophical establishment. Ambitious and controversial, The Immaterial Self is the most powerful and effective defence of Cartesian dualism since Descartes' own. (shrink)
Was Descartes a Cartesian Dualist? In this controversial study, Gordon Baker and Katherine J. Morris argue that, despite the general consensus within philosophy, Descartes was neither a proponent of dualism nor guilty of the many crimes of which he has been accused by twentieth century philosophers. In lively and engaging prose, Baker and Morris present a radical revision of the ways in which Descartes' work has been interpreted. Descartes emerges with both his historical importance assured and his philosophical importance (...) redeemed. (shrink)
The exclusion argument is widely thought to put considerable pressure on dualism if not to refute it outright. We argue to the contrary that, whether or not their position is ultimately true, dualists have a plausible response. The response focuses on the notion of ‘distinctness’ as it occurs in the argument: if 'distinctness' is understood one way, the exclusion principle on which the argument is founded can be denied by the dualist; if it is understood another way, the argument (...) is not persuasive. (shrink)
In a number of places, Richard Swinburne has defended the logical possibility of perception without a body; and has inferred from this logical possibility that substance dualism is true. I challenge his defence of disembodied perception by arguing that a disembodied perceiver would not be able to distinguish between perceptions and hallucinations. I then claim that even if disembodied perception were possible, this could not be used to support substance dualism: such an inference would be either invalid or (...) question-begging. (shrink)
This paper evaluates a form of dualism, which is referred to here as the dualism of conceptual scheme and undifferentiated reality. According to this dualism, although reality appears to be divided into distinct things from the perspective of our system of concepts, it is actually not. I justify the view that this dualism is incoherent.
In the standard thought experiments, dualism strikes many philosophers as true, including many non-dualists. This ‘striking’ generates prima facie justification: in the absence of defeaters, we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be, i.e. we ought to be dualists. In this paper, I examine several proposed undercutting defeaters for our dualist intuitions. I argue that each proposal fails, since each rests on a false assumption, or requires empirical evidence that it lacks, or overgenerates defeaters. By (...) the end, our prima facie justification for dualism remains undefeated. I close with one objection concerning the dialectical role of rebutting defeaters, and I argue that the prospects for a successful rebutting defeater for our dualist intuitions are dim. Since dualism emerges undefeated, we ought to believe it. (shrink)
The essay presents Saul Kripke's argument for mind/body-dualism and makes the suppositions explicit on which it rests. My claim, inspired by Richard Boyd, is that even if one of Kripke’s central suppositions - the principle of necessity of identities using rigid designators - is shared by the non-traditional identity theorist, it is still possible for her to rebut Kripke’s dualism.
This book is intended as a comprehensive defense of psycho-physical dualism. It gives answers to the question of what dualism may consist in, and inquires into the broadly cultural motivation behind accepting dualism or its opponent physicalism. Arguments for dualism, among them strengthened versions of the famous classical arguments, are presented and defended against objections. Moreover, the various general objections to dualism are criticized in detail, for example, the allegation that dualism is of an (...) anti-scientific nature. The book issues into developing the outlines of a dualistic theory of consciousness and agency. The theory outlined is not only compatible with science but actually connects with it. It offers a unified perspective on the phenomenon of conscious life and may serve as a basis for a general ethics regarding all conscious living beings. (shrink)
In claiming the independence of theology from science, Ernan McMullin nevertheless saw the danger of separating these disciplines on questions of mutual significance, as his accompanying article “Biology and the Theology of the Human” in this edition of Zygon shows. This paper analyzes McMullin's adoption of emergence as a qualified endorsement of a view that avoids the excesses of both dualism and materialism. I argue that McMullin's distinctive contribution is the conceptual clarification of emergence in the light of a (...) precise understanding of matter, in light of Aristotelian metaphysics and Darwinian theory. As applied to human nature, McMullin retains an Augustinian outlook that sees spirit as emergent in the human body and which posits a credible biblical hermeneutic. I indicate briefly how McMullin's perspective could be fortified by a fuller natural theology. (shrink)
It is commonly accepted that thewestern view of humanity's place in nature isdominated by a dualistic opposition between nature andculture. Historically this has arisen fromexternalization of nature in both productive andcognitive practices; instances of such externalizationhave become generalized. I think the dualism can bedecomposed by identifying dominant elements in eachparticular instantiation and showing that their strictseparation evaporates under close scrutiny. The philosophical challenge this perspective presents isto substitute concrete socioecological analysis forfoundational metaphysics. A review of majorinterpretations of the history (...) of the dualism inWestern thought indicates that the legacy is moremultistranded than is usually admitted. Modern scienceis often assumed to lie squarely within the dualism,but this is unfounded. In contrast, science providestools for contextual analysis on how human activitiesand natural processes merge. The dualism thusevaporates in actual research practice. Nevertheless,the foundational metaphysics needs to be challenged,primarily because of its paralyzing effect onenvironmental philosophy. (shrink)
To the extent that dualism is even taken to be a serious option in contemporary discussions of personal identity and the philosophy of mind, it is almost exclusively either Cartesian dualism or property dualism that is considered. The more traditional dualism defended by Aristotelians and Thomists, what I call hylemorphic dualism, has only received scattered attention. In this essay I set out the main lines of the hylemorphic dualist position, with particular reference to personal identity. (...) First I argue that overemphasis of the problem of consciousness has had an unhealthy effect on recent debate, claiming instead that we should emphasize the concept of form. Then I bring in the concept of identity by means of the notion of substantial form. I continue by analyzing the relation between form and matter, defending the traditional theses of prime matter and of the unicity of substantial form. I then argue for the immateriality of the substantial form of the human person, viz. the soul, from an account of the human intellect. From this follows the soul's essential independence of matter. Finally, although the soul is the immaterial bearer of personal identity, that identity is still the identity of an essentially embodied being. I explain how these ideas are to be reconciled. Footnotesa I am grateful to Stephen Braude, John Cottingham, John Haldane, David Jehle, Joel Katzav, Eduardo Ortiz, and Fred Sommers for helpful comments and discussion of a draft of this essay. I would also like to thank Ellen Paul, whose suggestions have helped greatly to improve the essay's style and content. (shrink)
D. Davidson argues that the existence of alternative conceptual schemes presupposes the Kantian scheme -content dualism, which requires a scheme -neutral empirical content and a fixed, sharp schemecontent distinction. The dismantlement of such a Kantian scheme -content dualism, which Davidson calls “the third dogma of empiricism”, would render the notion of alternative conceptual schemes groundless. To counter Davidson’s attack on the notion of alternative conceptual schemes, I argue that alternative conceptual schemes neither entail nor presuppose the Kantian scheme (...) -content dualism. On the contrary, it is exactly the abandonment of the concept-neutral content and the denial of a fixed, absolute scheme -content distinction that turns the Kantian conceptualabsolutism upside down and thus makes alternative conceptual schemes possible. Proposing common-sense experience as the empirical content of alternative schemes, I construct and defend a non-Kantian scheme -content dualism based on a non-fixed, relative scheme -content distinction. The proposed non-Kantian scheme -content dualism is not only “innocent” enough to be immune from Davidson’s charge of the third dogma of empiricism, but also “solid” enough to be able to sustain alternative conceptual schemes. I conclude that in terms of our conceptual schemes, we are connected to the world as closely as possible; only through conceptual schemes can we be connected to the world. (shrink)
Until quite recently, mind-body dualism has been regarded with deep suspicion by both philosophers and scientists. This has largely been due to the widespread identification of dualism in general with one particular version of it: the interactionist substance dualism of Réné Descartes. This traditional form of dualism has, ever since its first formulation in the seventeenth century, attracted numerous philosophical objections and is now almost universally rejected in scientific circles as empirically inadequate. During the last few (...) years, however, renewed attention has begun to be paid to the dualistic point of view, as a result of increasing discontent with the prevailing materialism and reductionism of contemporary scientific and philosophical thought. Awareness has grown that dualism need not be restricted to its traditional form and that other varieties of dualism are not subject to the difficulties commonly raised against Descartes' own version of it. -/- Interest in these alternative versions of dualism is growing fast today, because it seems that they are capable of capturing deep-seated philosophical intuitions, while also being fully consistent with the methodological assumptions and empirical findings of modern scientific work on the human mind and brain. The object of this book is to provide philosophers, scientists, their students, and the wider general public with an up-to-date overview of current developments in dualistic conceptions of the mind in contemporary philosophy and science. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers of mind are concerned to defend a thesis called a posteriori physicalism. This thesis has two parts, one metaphysical, and the other epistemological. The metaphysical part of the thesis—the physicalist part—is the claim that the psychological nature of the actual world is wholly physical. The epistemological part of the thesis—the a posteriori part—is the claim that no a priori connection holds between psychological nature and physical nature. Despite its attractiveness, however, a familiar argument alleges that a posteriori (...) physicalism cannot be true. This argument is sometimes called the Property Dualism Argument Against Physicalism. In this paper, I consider Stephen White’s version of the Property Dualism Argument and argue that it fails. I distinguish two ways in which the argument’s crucial notion might be understood, and I argue that on neither way of understanding it is the Property Dualism Argument compelling. (shrink)
Anne Conway disagrees with substance dualism, the thesis that minds and bodies differ in nature or essence. Instead, she holds that “the distinction between spirit and body is only modal and incremental, not essential and substantial”. Yet several of her arguments against dualism have little force against the Cartesian, since they rely on premises no Cartesian would accept. In this paper, I show that Conway does have at least one powerful objection to substance dualism, drawn from premises (...) that Descartes seems bound to accept. She argues that two substances differ in nature only if they differ in their “original and peculiar” cause ; yet all created substances have the same original and peculiar cause; so, all created substances have the same nature. As I argue, the Cartesian is under a surprising amount of pressure to accept Conway’s argument, since its key premise is motivated by a conception of substance similar to one endorsed by Descartes in his Principles of Philosophy. (shrink)
This paper sketches and motivates a metaphysics of mind that is both substance dualist and, to a large extent, property reductive. Call it “property reductive emergent dualism”. Section “Emergent Dualism” gives the broad outlines of the view. Sections “Problems of Mental Causation” and “Theoretical Virtues” argue that it can claim several advantages over non-reductive physicalist theories of mind. Section “Problems of Mental Causation” considers metaphysical challenges to mental causation in detail. Section “Theoretical Virtues” considers overall theoretical virtues: ontological (...) and ideological economy, unification with physical sciences, the promise of explanatory gain. On these grounds, I propose that the view coupling substance dualism with property reductivism deserves further philosophical attention. (shrink)
A dualism characteristic of modern philosophy is the conception of the inner and the outer as two independently intelligible domains. Wittgenstein’s attack on this dualism contains deep insights. The main insight (excavated from §304 and §293 of the Philosophical Investigations) is this: our sensory consciousness is deeply shaped by language and this shaping plays a fundamental role in the etiology of the dualism. I locate this role in the learning of a sensation-language (as described in §244), by (...) showing that this learning is, under another aspect, the incision of language, namely the infliction of cuts upon certain natural-primitive unities between the inner and the outer. These cuts, driven by powerful forces, eventually harden into an entrenched division between the inner and the outer, thereby providing a constant soil for the dualism. That this dualism is rooted in the very learning of a language is cause for ambivalence about language. (shrink)
This essay will canvass recent philosophical accounts of human agency that deploy a notion of “self” (or “agent”) causation. Some of these accounts try to explicate this notion, whereas others only hint at its nature in contrast with the causality exhibited by impersonal physical systems. In these latter theories, the authors’ main argumentative burden is that the apparent fundamental differences between persona and impersonal causal activity strongly suggest mind-body dualism. I begin by noting two distinct, yet not commonly distinguished, (...) philosophical motivations for pursuing an agent-causal account of human agency. In the course of discussing the account developed by some philosophers in response to these consideration, I reconsider both the linkage of agent causation with mind-body dualism and its sharp cleavage from impersonal (or “event”) causation. (shrink)
Frank Jackson formulated his knowledge argument as an argument for dualism . In this paper I show how the argument can be modified to also establish the irreducibility of the secondary qualities to the properties of physical theory, and ultimately.
Since the seventeenth century, mind-body dualism has undergone an evolution, both in its metaphysics and its supporting arguments. In particular, debates in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England prepared the way for the fall of substance dualism—the view that the human mind is an immaterial substance capable of independent existence—and the rise of a much less radical property dualism. The evolution from the faltering plausibility of substance dualism to the growing appeal of property dualism depended on at (...) least two factors. On the one hand, there was an increasing recognition of the causal and ontological interdependence of mind and body. Important here was a growing appreciation of the dependence of thought and perception on complex activities in the brain. On the other hand, there was a reconceptualization of the nature of matter; no longer inert and passive, matter came to be viewed as active in its own right. The old arguments lost much of their force, opening the door to a new sort of argument. Rather than appealing to the supposed immaterial nature of mental substance and volition, arguments for dualism began to appeal to the subjective nature of conscious experience—and its inexplicable emergence from the brain—as proof of the ontological distinctiveness of conscious properties. Consequently, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the ascent of a more plausible, but still very problematic, property dualism, a position that to this day enjoys significant support. (shrink)
In this paper I survey the landscape of anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist responses to them. The anti-physicalist arguments I discuss start from a premise about a conceptual, epistemic, or explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal descriptions and conclude from this – on a priori grounds – that physicalism is false. My primary aim is to develop a master argument to counter these arguments. With this master argument in place, it is apparent that there is a puzzling symmetry between dualist attacks (...) on physicalism and physicalist replies. Each position can be developed in a way to defend itself from attacks from the other position. Therefore the debate comes down to which metaphysical framework provides the better overall explanatory/theoretical framework. (shrink)
Substance dualism is widely rejected by philosophers of mind, but many continue to accept some form of property dualism. The assumption here is that one can consistently believe that (1) mental properties are not physical properties, while denying that (2) mental particulars are not physical particulars. But is this assumption true? This paper considers several analyses of what makes something a physical particular (as opposed to a non-physical particular), and it is argued that on any plausible analysis, accepting (...) (1) requires accepting (2) as well. (shrink)
After drawing a distinction between two kinds of dualism—numerical dualism (defined in terms of identity) and modal dualism (defined in terms of supervenience)—we argue that Descartes is a numericaldualist, but not a modal dualist. Since most contemporary dualists advocate modal dualism, the relation of Descartes’ views to the contemporary philosophy of mind are more complex than is commonly assumed.
The aim of this article is to clarify an aspect of Descartes’s conception of mind that seriously impacts on the standard objections against Cartesian dualism. By a close reading of Descartes’s writings on imagination, I argue that the capacity to imagine does not inhere as a mode in the mind itself, but only in the embodied mind, that is, a mind that is not united to the body does not possess the faculty to imagine. As a mode considered as (...) a general property, and not as an instance of it, belongs to the essence of the substance, and as imagination (like sensation) arises from the mind-body union, then the problem arises of knowing to what extent a Cartesian embodied mind is separable from the body. (shrink)
A popular response to the Exclusion Argument for physicalism maintains that mental events depend on their physical bases in such a way that the causation of a physical effect by a mental event and its physical base needn’t generate any problematic form of causal overdetermination, even if mental events are numerically distinct from and irreducible to their physical bases. This paper presents and defends a form of dualism that implements this response by using a dispositional essentialist view of properties (...) to argue that the psychophysical laws linking mental events to their physical bases are metaphysically necessary. I show the advantages of such a position over an alternative form of dualism that merely places more “modal weight” on psychophysical laws than on physical laws. The position is then defended against the objection that it is inconsistent with dualism. Lastly, some suggestions are made as to how dualists might clarify the contribution that mental causes make to their physical effects. (shrink)
In this essay, we explore a fresh avenue into mind-body dualism by considering a seemingly distant question posed by Frege: "Why is it absurd to suppose that Julius Caesar is a number?". The essay falls into three main parts. In the first, through an exploration of Frege’s Julius Caesar problem, we attempt to expose two maxims applicable to the mind-body problem. In the second part, we draw on those maxims in arguing that “full blown dualism” is preferable to (...) more modest, property-theoretic, versions. Finally, in the third part we close by suggesting that full blown dualism need not be spooky, resurrecting a broadly Lockean, rather than Cartesian, metaphysical picture. (shrink)
In this article, I examine and criticize John Searle's account of the relation between mind and body. Searle rejects dualism and argues that the traditional mind-body problem has a 'simple solution': mental phenomena are both caused by biological processes in the brain and are themselves features of the brain. More precisely, mental states and events are macro-properties of neurons in much the same way that solidity and liquidity are macro-properties of molecules. However, Searle also maintains that the mental is (...) 'ontologically irreducible' to the physical, a view which follows from his understanding of the status and nature of consciousness. Consciousness is essential to the mind; subjectivity is essential to consciousness; and no purely objective, physical description of consciousness could ever capture or explain its essentially subjective character. None the less, Searle maintains that irreducibility is a 'trivial' result of our 'definitional practices' and is entirely compatible with his theory. I contend that this latter claim is based on an equivocation: Searle's conclusion only seems to follow because he alters and trivializes what philosophers ordinarily mean by 'reduction'. I also maintain that Searle's position is reductionist in the ordinary, nontrivial sense. For this reason, his theory fails to accommodate the subjective character of consciousness and fails to solve the traditional mind-body problem. Finally, I briefly discuss Searle's claim that he is not an epiphenomenalist, and argue that given the assumptions of his view there is no interesting causal role for consciousness in the physical world. (shrink)