SOPhiA 2013

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

The Fatal Flaw in Chalmers' Argument Against Materialism
(Philosophie des Geistes, Englisch)

In his The Conscious Mind (1996) and some recent papers, David Chalmers argues against materialism with a new version of the modal argument.

i. P &¬Q is conceivable.
ii. If P &¬Q is conceivable, then P&¬Q is 1-possible.
iii. If P &¬Q is 1-possible, then P&¬Q is 2-possible or Russellian monism is true.
iv. If P&¬Q is 2-possible, materialism is false.
v. Materialism is false or Russellian monism is true. (Chalmers 2010, 152.)

Here, "P" stands for the microphysical truths, while "Q" stands for the phenomenal truths. So, the argument runs from the conceivability of the absence of some phenomenal truths while all physical ones are kept intact to their 1- and 2-possibility, and, from there, to the falsehood of materialism.

While this argument has been discussed by many philosophers, they have almost exclusively focused on premises i, ii and iii.

In contrast to this, I will show that premise iv of this argument is wrong. While there are strong connections between classical metaphysical modality and actuality, the relation between Chalmers' 2-possibility, which is entirely based on logical-conceptual possibility and actuality are not strong enough to justify premise iv.

Chalmers offers only very weak arguments to justify iv, although he admits that this premise is problematic. He argues that firstly, materialism is a modal thesis, so of course the analysis of modality will give us insights into materialism. Against this, I will show that materialism is only to be understood as a modal thesis if Chalmers' picture modality is wrong, and vice versa.

Secondly, he claims that there are obvious relations between logical-conceptual modality and actuality. While I will agree with him on that, I will show that these relations are not of the right kind to justify a premise as bold as iv.

Chalmers, David (1996): The Conscious Mind. Oxford: OUP.
Chalmers, David (2010): The Character of Consciosuness: Oxford: OUP.

Chair: Tae-Kyung Kim
Zeit: 11:15-11:45, 14. September 2013 (Samstag)
Ort: HS 107

Sebastian Müller
(Bielefeld University, Deutschland)

Sebastian Müller, M.A. Phd Student at the University of Bielefeld; PhD thesis on Modal Knowledge and Modal Realism

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