PHIL101 – Lecture Notes Weeks 11, 12, 13
November 13, 2013
Two Criticisms of Dualism:
(1) The problem of causal interaction between the physical and the nonphysical
(2) The problem of violating conservation laws: Causal interaction between physical and
nonphysical events seems to contradict well supported physical laws such as the conservation of
Vitalism: things have are alive have some vital non-physical substance. (élan vital)
However, it is bizarre to explain natural processes such as digestion, and even natural processes
in the brain, with a substance of the sort.
Dualism, in this way, resembles vitalism.
Mind-Brain Identity Theory
The mind-brain identity theory asserts an a posteriori discovery of the identity between the mind
and the brain.
History of science supports materialism (physicalism).
Lightning is one and the same thing as a kind of electrical discharge.
The mind may be one and the same thing as the many chemical and electrical reactions that take
place in the brain!
Principle of Parsimony – we should prefer explanations that minimize the number of entities,
processes and events they postulate.
This principle justifies that since identity theory is simpler than substance dualism, it is more
O: Perfect correlation between some neural activity and some mental processes or events.
H1: Identity theorist: The mental events simply are neurophysiological events
H2: Dualism: Mental stuff and neuro stuff are two distinct things that are causally interacting.
Parsimony (simplicity) is related to the likelihood principle: it favors the simpler hypothesis.
Newton – “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and
sufficient to explain their appearances”
The old justification to parsimony was that “God made the universe simple” Why should we continue to hold the principle of parsimony justified?
Global justifications are stronger than local justification.
Physicalism:All information is physical information (Dualism is considered false)
Identity theorism: To believe the brain is the mind/contains the mind (Dualism also considered
Jackson’s KnowledgeArgument, Fred
(1) We know everything about Fred’s brain states and physical environment that is responsible
for his ability to discriminate between Red1 and Red2. We have all the physical information
(2) There is some information about colours – namely what it is like to see Red1 v Red2 that we
do not know.
(3) Therefore, knowing everything in (1) is not knowing everything about Fred.
(4) Hence, Physicalism leaves something out – and it is false.
Qualia: The way things seem or appear
These cannot be explained with physical information, for some reason (?). Jackson does not
think that these sort of features can be captured with physical information.
But if, with advanced technology, we are able to record the very specific way in which a specific
brain/human creates brain waves and chemical reactions as a response to some stimulus, we
could recreate that in some other way, and information about the way things seem could be
The information could still be physical, but only so complex that it would be very difficult to
Insertion of slide information for November 18, 2013
Another version of Jackson’s knowledge argument:
There’s Something About Mary:
(1) Mary has all the physical information concerning human color vision before her release.
(2) There is some information about human color vision that she does not have before her
(3) Hence, not all information is physical information.
Ability Hypothesis: Mary does learn something when she leaves her room, but what she learns is
how to do certain things; she doesn’t gain any new propositional (factual) information.
It seems as though Mary gains factual knowledge; however, according to the ability hypothesis,
she just gains various abilities to remember and recognize and imagine, etc. We can know what something is like under one description but not another.
Some facts can be known in two different ways: a physical way and a phenomenal way.
Analogy: I can know facts about where Chris Stephens is in two different ways – via “I” and via
November 22, 2013
Freedom and determinism wrap-up
Distant causation argument (an argument for hard determinism):
(1) If an agent performs an action freely, that agent is responsible for that action.
(2) Agents are not responsible for actions caused by factors outside their control
(3) Every action an agent performs is caused by factors outside of their control
C: Hence, agents never act freely
Could not have done otherwise argument:
(1) If an agent performs actionAfreely, it must have been possible to do notA(the definition of
(2) In fact, it’s never possible to do otherwise, ie. notA
C: Hence, none of our actions are free.
*Principle of free action: sometimes people act freely.
Libertarianism (not political philosophy): Many of our actions are free. Libertarians accept the
definition of free action and reject the principle of causal determinism.
Soft-determinism: Many of our actions are free (principle of free action). Soft-determinists have
a new definition of free action (by Hume) and accept principle of causal determinism. Frankfurt,
however, says it doesn’t matter.
Hume’s new definition of free action:An agent performs an action freely if he or she could have
done otherwise, if the agent had wanted to.
Of course, your desires could be determined, but if your actions eminate from your desires, and
thus your actions are free.
Example of unfree: a human chained to the floor and could not leave, even if he/she wanted to.
Free: not chained – if you wanted to leave, then you could.
The soft determinist indicate the cases in which you acted as you wanted. What else could there
be to freedom? Does it matter if you could have done otherwise?
Two objections to Hume’s theory Locke’s locked room: intuitively, the agent is free, but Hume’s theory says that they are not.
This analogy is a way of saying “how could we possibly be free if we couldn’t have done
Compulsions: intuitively, agent is not free, but Hume’s theory says that they are. Consider a
kleptomanic. They have the desire to steal, but it’s compulsive. Even if they know that they may
be caught, and they may go to jail (although they don’t want to go to jail), they continue to steal.
Their desire-forming mechanisms are not sensitive to the normal consideration of self-interest.
It’s not in a kleptomaniac’s interest, for example, to steal. Intuitively, the kleptomaniac is not
free. This is thus a good objection to Hume’s definition of freedom
Fstnkfurt: Principle and new definition of free action.
1 order desires: Desire for X, ex. Desire to do well in class, or to eat the chocolate cake, or take
2 order desires: X is itself a desire. Desires for or against some other desire. Ie. I wish I wanted
to do well in this class, I wish that I didn’t want to help others as much, I wish that I didn’t want
to eat the cake or take the drug.
2 order volition: The second order desire that is strongest – the one you most want.
Wanton: Only has 1 order desires, no 2 order volition. This is true in many non-human
animals. Wantons, according to Frankfurt, are not free.
Wanton addict: For someone addicted to nicotine, the strongest desire is to smoke (1 order st
desire). These are not free
Unwilling addict: Strongest 1 order desire is to smoke, but they have a 2 order desire and a 2 nd
order volition that they don’t want the desire to smoke. These are not free
Willing addict: 1 order desire to smoke and 2 order volition to want to smoke. These people
are responsible for their actions.
The willing addicts will is not free, but when he takes the drug he tak