Class Notes (810,429)
Canada (494,121)
Philosophy (200)
PHIL 101 (26)
All (1)


17 Pages
Unlock Document

University of British Columbia
PHIL 101

Chapter 12 THE MINDBODY PROBLEMAlternatives to Dualism The growth in influence and the popularisation of physical science has made the problem of the mind more urgent The idea that science captures everything except the centre of everyones universe his own consciousness makes a laughingstock of its claim to present a plausible world viewIf science cannot encompass the subjective then subjectivity becomes a door through which mystical irrational and religious notions can enter and reassert themselves against the modern metaphysic of scientific realism HOWARD ROBINSON MATTER AND SENSE Seen from the perspective of the last fifty years the philosophy of mind as well as cognitive science and certain branches of psychology present a curious spectacle The most striking feature is how much of mainstream philosophy of mind of the past fifty years seems obviously false JOHN SEARLE THE REDISCOVERY OF THE MIND 1 INTRODUCTION Fig 121 Varieties of reductive and nonreductive physicalism Physicalismreductive nonreductivephilosophical typetype identityfunctionalism tokentoken identityeliminative materialism behaviorismNow according to reductive physicalism it is possible to provide general reductive nonmentalistic necessary and sufficient conditions for any mental type of state By contrast nonreductive physicalism does not believe that such a general set of necessary and sufficient conditions exist or are necessary in order to provide physicalist treatments of mental entities Nonreductive physicalists agree that everything about a human beingall of his or her parts properties and states are merely physical But they do not believe that it is possible or necessary to state general conditions for ascribing a mental state to a human being Functionalism was just characterized as a form of nonreductive physicalism But this claim is not entirely accurate and philosophers disagree about whether functionalism is a version of nonreductive physicalism The disagreement turns on different understandings of reduction As we have used the term reduction requires that one provide a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for every mental type eg being a pain in terms of a uniform set of physical conditions As we shall see later this has proven impossible because of the problem of multiple realization Roughly this problem turns on the fact that creatures with radically different brain and physical types of stateshumans Vulcans dogs turtlescan all be in the same type of mental state say being in pain Thus there is no uniform set of necessary and sufficient physical conditions to which a pain type state can be reduced However there is a different sort of reduction to which physicalist versions of functionalism subscribe accomplished in two stepsStep 1 Functionalize the mental property by being that physical property that is caused by pin pricks toothaches etcand which causes the organism to grimace and desire relief Step 2 Identify the property that plays the correct role mentioned in step 1 with a physical property Step 2 requires that the only properties that realize functional roles are physical properties This is similar to requiring that only some sort of physical hardware can be the realizer of functional roles specified in computer software In this way the functionalist requires that each time a human Vulcan dog or turtle is in pain that particular pain event must be taken as identical to a physical event in the brain and nervous system Thus pain is reduced toidentified with some physical event or other even though it remains impossible to state necessary and sufficient conditions for the type of brain event to which the type of mental state is reduced Moreover what makes the individual physical event a pain event is not the physical events intrinsic features Rather it is a pain event because it plays the right role in the organism John Searle one of the leading philosophers of mind in the twentieth century has made the following observation Acceptance of the current physicalist views is motivated not so much by an independent conviction of their truth as by a terror of what are apparently the only alternatives That is the choice we are tacitly presented with is between a scientific approach as represented by one or another of the current versions of materialism and an unscientific approach as represented by Cartesianism or some other traditional 1religious conception of the mindJohn Searle Rediscovering the Mind Cambridge Mass MIT Press 1992 pp 34 In other words the main intellectual drive that underlies physicalism is not primarily philosophical arguments against dualism and in favor of physicalism but what are taken to be the implications of a scientific naturalistic worldview Given that this is the case for many physicalists the main place that philosophy enters into the picture is in stating and defending plausible versions of physicalism
More Less

Related notes for PHIL 101

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.