Physicalism, or Something Near Enough

Physicalism, or Something Near Enough

by Jaegwon Kim
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691133859

ISBN-13: 9780691133850

Pub. Date: 12/03/2007

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Contemporary discussions in philosophy of mind have largely been shaped by physicalism, the doctrine that all phenomena are ultimately physical. Here, Jaegwon Kim presents the most comprehensive and systematic presentation yet of his influential ideas on the mind-body problem. He seeks to determine, after half a century of debate: What kind of (or "how much")

Overview

Contemporary discussions in philosophy of mind have largely been shaped by physicalism, the doctrine that all phenomena are ultimately physical. Here, Jaegwon Kim presents the most comprehensive and systematic presentation yet of his influential ideas on the mind-body problem. He seeks to determine, after half a century of debate: What kind of (or "how much") physicalism can we lay claim to? He begins by laying out mental causation and consciousness as the two principal challenges to contemporary physicalism. How can minds exercise their causal powers in a physical world? Is a physicalist account of consciousness possible?

The book's starting point is the "supervenience" argument (sometimes called the "exclusion" argument), which Kim reformulates in an extended defense. This argument shows that the contemporary physicalist faces a stark choice between reductionism (the idea that mental phenomena are physically reducible) and epiphenomenalism (the view that mental phenomena are causally impotent). Along the way, Kim presents a novel argument showing that Cartesian substance dualism offers no help with mental causation.

Mind-body reduction, therefore, is required to save mental causation. But are minds physically reducible? Kim argues that all but one type of mental phenomena are reducible, including intentional mental phenomena, such as beliefs and desires. The apparent exceptions are the intrinsic, felt qualities of conscious experiences ("qualia"). Kim argues, however, that certain relational properties of qualia, in particular their similarities and differences, are behaviorally manifest and hence in principle reducible, and that it is these relational properties of qualia that are central to their cognitive roles. The causal efficacy of qualia, therefore, is not entirely lost.

According to Kim, then, while physicalism is not the whole truth, it is the truth near enough.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691133850
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/03/2007
Series:
Princeton Monographs in Philosophy Series
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents


Preface xi
Synopsis of the Arguments 1
CHAPTER 1: Mental Causation and Consciousness: Our Two Mind-Body Problems 7
Mental Causation and Consciousness 8
The Supervenience/Exclusion Argument 13
Can We Reduce Qualia? 22
The Two World-Knots 29
CHAPTER 2: The Supervenience Argument Motivated, Clarified, and Defended 32
Nonreductive Physicalism 33
The Fundamental Idea 36
The Supervenience Argument Refined and Clarified 39
Is Overdetermination an Option? 46
The Generalization Argument 52
Block's Causal Drainage Argument 57
CHAPTER 3: The Rejection of Immaterial Minds: A Causal Argument 70
Cartesian Dualism and Mental Causation 72
Causation and the "Pairing" Problem 78
Causality and Space 85
Why Not Locate Souls in Space? 88
Concluding Remarks 91
CHAPTER 4: Reduction, Reductive Explanation, and Closing the "Gap" 93
Reduction and Reductive Explanation 95
Bridge-Law Reduction and Functional Reduction 98
Explanatory Ascent and Constraint (R) 103
Functional Reduction and Reductive Explanation 108
Kripkean Identities and Reductive Explanation 113
Remarks about Block and Stalnaker's Proposal 117
CHAPTER 5: Explanatory Arguments for Type Physicalism and Why They Don't Work 121
Are There Positive Arguments for Type Physicalism? 123
Hill's and McLaughlin's Explanatory Argument 126
Do Psychoneural Identities Explain Psychoneural Correlations? 131
Block and Stalnaker's Explanatory Argument 139
Another Way of Looking at the Two Explanatory Arguments 146
CHAPTER 6: Physicalism, or Something Near Enough 149
Taking Stock 150
Physicalism at a Crossroads 156
Reducing Minds 161
Living with the Mental Residue 170
Where We Are at Last with the Mind-Body Problem 173
References 175
Index 181

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