Presentation on theme: "Summer 2011 Tuesday, 07/05. Dualism The view that the mind is separate from the physical/material world. Tells us what the mind is not, but is silent."— Presentation transcript:
Summer 2011 Tuesday, 07/05
Dualism The view that the mind is separate from the physical/material world. Tells us what the mind is not, but is silent about what it might actually be. Still, knowing that the mind is not a physical item is better than being completely in the dark about it.
What is the relationship between the non- physical item and the physical body that accompanies it around the world? Parallelism: the mind and the body are causally isolated but are synchronized with each other (like two perfectly accurate clocks). Problem: Who arranged for the harmony? God? And if so, why would God need to resort to cheap trickery of this sort?
What is the relationship between the non- physical item and the physical body that accompanies it around the world? Epiphenomenalism: the physical can cause the mental but the mental cannot cause the physical (like a car and the fumes it emits). Problem: it certainly feels as though our mental activity causes physical things to happen.
What is the relationship between the non- physical item and the physical body that accompanies it around the world? Interactionism: the mental and the physical are distinct but causally integrated items. Famous example: Cartesian Dualism. Problem: How do such radically different items come together (e.g. in a bodily organ)?
Dualism Still, Dualism is not conceptually impossible: it’s not nonsense. A magnetic field is not at all like a physical object, but can act on ones. Q: Are there other examples (e.g. in nature) of two items of radically different kinds causally affecting each other?
Why give up Dualism? 1.Explanatory Economy: The mental depends on the physical, e.g. drugs, brain-damage, etc. The Dualist explains these phenomena by drawing systematic connections between two items, one mental and one physical. But a simpler explanation is that there is only one (material) item, namely: the brain.
Why give up Dualism? 2. Positive arguments for dualism can be resisted. “How Could” Arguments: “How could any mere physical system do X ?” (X=play chess/do math/be creative/fall in love/etc…?) BUT as technology and neuroscience develops, these arguments become less and less convincing.
Why give up Dualism? 2. Positive arguments for dualism can be resisted. The argument from introspection: “We can just tell by looking inside ourselves that our mental states are not physical”. BUT why should we believe how it seems? My feeling in my stomach may not seem like an ulcer, but it might be an ulcer all the same. (The issues here get very tricky quickly, though.)
Behaviorism The Mind is not something beyond all its public behavioral manifestations. E.g. when we say that Mary loves teaching, we are not talking about some “ghostly” love sensation. Rather, we say that Mary’s actual and potential behavior will follow a certain pattern.
Behaviorism What sorts of patterns do we talk about when we attribute mental states to people? If she is offered a new textbook, she will take it. If someone asks her if she loves teaching, she will answer “yes”. If she sees good teachers in action, she will try to learn from them. …
Talk about mental states is talk about behavioral dispositions. Paradigm examples of dispositions: solubility, fragility, etc. When we talk about such dispositions, we don’t talk about any “ghostly stuff”. Psychological dispositions: irritability, being hard-working, honest, etc. According to the behaviorist, all mental states are like that… Behaviorism
Why give up Behaviorism? We’ll talk more about behaviorism and its problems tomorrow, but here are some initial reasons to question this view: 1.Circularity: Can we specify all the behavioral dispositions without appealing to further mental states? 2.Infinity: The list of dispositions is bound to be infinite. Is it plausible that we mean such a thing when we talk about pains or beliefs?
Why give up Behaviorism? 3. “Missing-something” worry: Isn’t there something to our mental states – the feeling of having them – that’s different from a behavioral disposition? 4. Explanatory “shallowness” worry: Shouldn’t there be an explanation for what causes or makes possible behavioral dispositions?
Identity Theory The view that mental states are brain processes. (This view is really a schema for a class of scientific theories) The philosophical task is not so much to decide whether mental states are brain processes (that’s the job of scientists) but to consider whether the view even makes sense or could possibly be true. We’ll talk more about this on Thursday.
Functionalism Another schema for another important class of scientific theories. Functionalism: What makes a mental state a belief or a desire is the function it serves in an individual’s psychology. There is no physical commonality in virtue of which mental states of a particular kind belong to that kind.
Functionalism Two creatures with radically different physical constitution can have the same type of belief just like two objects with radically different physical constitution can both be clocks (or: like two computers with radically different make up can realize the same program).
Machine Functionalism The mind is a program, run (in humans) with the brain as its supporting hardware. We’ll be closely examining this view (along with different criticisms of it) in the second and third weeks of class.
Eliminativism The task of a scientific theory is not to explain the mental states that constitute the mind, according to our commonsense conception of it. In some cases, scientific results may overturn elements of our commonsense conception.
Our commonsense conception of the mind may be radically wrong. There may really be no such states as hopes, desires, fears, beliefs, and so on. If so, scientifically investigating such states is like investigating vampires or ghosts; philosophically evaluating such scientific theories (or “theory-schemas”) is as useless as philosophically evaluating theories about vampires and ghosts. Eliminativism
For Tomorrow We’ll talk more about Behaviorism. Read Putnam’s article “Brains and Behavior” (in the Blue Book). This is a very difficult article and will give you a taste of some of the more difficult readings we’ll cover. Don’t get frustrated if anything’s unclear. It’s more important to get an overall sense of the article than to understand every point. I highly recommend “Descartes’ Myth” by Ryle (in the Blue Book) as Background. Additional recommended readings related to today’s lecture are posted on the Blog.