Second Assignment Philosophy.docx

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
PHIL 100
Peter Graham

Jaclyn Rini TA: Ali Jawin Philosophy 100 Second Assignment 1. “What is the nature of mind?” is an important question many philosophers look to study when analyzing a particular branch of philosophy known as the philosophy of mind. Amongst the many different types of philosophers, such as dualists, monists, idealists, and physicalists, there are several different combinations of beliefs based on the mind and body, and whether or not mental and/or physical substances exist. Just like any other topic in philosophy, there are always arguments for and against. Take Armstrong‟s Argument for Physicalism. Armstrong, being a Physicalist, believes there is only one kind of substance in the world, and those substances are physical. This is the basis behind the definition of physicalism. In his argument he states, first that science can explain all the phenomena in the world, and if science can explain all the phenomena in the world, then physicalism is true. Therefore, physicalism is true. On the contrary, Frank Jackson presents an argument against physicalism through the “What Mary Didn‟t Know” experiment. The „Mary thought experiment‟ is a proposed scenario that Mary is a scientist that knows everything there is to know in a black-and-white room. In this black-and-white room, she has knowledge of all the physical facts about the world. Stepping outside of the room, she was presented an apple, ultimately discovering the color red. In Jackson‟s „Knowledge Argument‟ he proclaims that if physicalism is true, then there are no facts about the world that Mary does not know when she is in the black-and-white room. When Mary leaves the room, she learns a new fact, and therefore it must be that there was some fact that Mary didn‟t know when she was in the room. Physicalism claims that the only facts in the world are physical facts. Learning this new color of red, outside of the room, was not a scientific discovery essentially proving physicalism false. And of course there are those who may argue against Jackson‟s argument, one way denying the second premises through “the ability reply”. The ability reply claims that the knowledge Mary retains from seeing the color red is not a new fact, but instead a new learned ability or a new way of grasping a fact that she already knew. For example, one may have all the knowledge there is to know about riding a bike, however does not have the ability to do so because they‟ve never actually tried. They could understand that moving the peddles would make the tires on the bike rotate and the bike would move from point A to point B. However, without actually experiencing sitting on the bike, one would not have the ability to ride it. 2. The philosophy of personal identity focuses on many different questions, most importantly the Persistence Question. The Persistence Question asks „What does it take for a person to persist from one time to another?‟ With this question we look to answer questions like what makes your younger self, your present self, and your later self all one and the same person? Is it based on the experiences we remember? This could then mean we exist through our mind. Or, on the other hand, is it our body that persists over time as the same person. The Persistence Question is a question about numerical identity. Proving that two things are the exact same thing, would prove that they are numerically identical, and overall would answer the Persistence Question. In this case, when asking the Persistence Question, we are asking what is it for X, at some earlier time, to be numerically identical to Y, at some later time. One way to answer the Persistence Question is through the Psychological Approach. This approach to the Persistence Question is based strictly on the mind. This states that over time the mind, and psychological relations, must remain contin
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