mind,_body,_and_structure_chapters_4

mind,_body,_and_structure_chapters_4 - William Jaworski...

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William Jaworski Fordham University 41 Chapter 4 Substance Dualism Synopsis Substance dualism claims that persons and bodies are distinct. Persons such as you and I are purely mental beings; we have no physical properties. Bodies, on the other hand, including human organisms, are purely physical beings; they have no mental properties. Consequently, according to substance dualists, you and I are not humans. Although each of us might be connected in some way to a human organism, you and I are not human organisms ourselves. The argument for substance dualism trades on three premises: (1) If it is conceivable that I can exist without a body, then I can exist without a body. (2) It is conceivable that I can exist without a body. (3) If I can exist without a body, then I cannot be a body. If Premises (1) and (2) are true, then I can exist without a body. But if I can exist without a body, then it follows from Premise (3) that I cannot be a body; hence, I cannot be the human body I see before me now, or any other body. Conceivability-possibility principles such as Premise (1) play an important role in philosophy of mind, but they are controversial and subject to restrictions.
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William Jaworski Fordham University 42 Perhaps the most controversial premise, however, is (2). It relies on a commitment to conceptual essentialism, a controversial view of how we come to know something’s essence. Substance dualism also faces serious problems. It generates resilient strains of the problem of other minds and the problem of mental causation. If true, it seems to imply that it is impossible for us to know that other people exist, and that it is impossible to influence the physical universe. In addition, substance dualism has problems explaining why persons should be related to bodies in any way at all. Substance dualism Substance dualism has a venerable history. Up until the twentieth century, it was probably the most popular theory of mind. Some version of it was endorsed by philosophers such as René Descartes, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, and Nicholas Malebranche. Even in the twentieth century, it was favored by distinguished scientists such as Charles Sherrington and Sir John Eccles, and has maintained a following among well-known philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne. Substance dualism is distinguished by two claims. The first is property dualism , the claim that there are mental properties, that there are physical properties, and that mental and physical properties are distinct. Property dualism is common to both substance dualistic theories and dual- attribute theories. Both claim that the conceptual resources of physics are insufficient to describe and explain everything there is. Some things, they claim, possess distinctive properties that can only be described and explained using a mental vocabulary. What distinguishes forms of
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William Jaworski Fordham University 43 substance dualism from dual-attribute theories is a second claim: psychophysical property
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This note was uploaded on 08/18/2008 for the course PHIL 1000-002 taught by Professor Jaworski during the Spring '07 term at Fordham.

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mind,_body,_and_structure_chapters_4 - William Jaworski...

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