SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Jaegwon Kim's Solution to the mind-body problem: Terminal or Terminological?
(Philosophy of Mind, English)

In this paper I put forward two arguments, one specific argument directed against Jaegwon Kim's proposed solution to the mind-body problem in his Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (2005). The core of my argument is that Kim's solution involves an elimination of precisely that whose causal powers he sets out to save: mental states qua conscious. Given that the whole rationale for Kim's advocacy of reductive rather than non-reductive physicalism is that he claims it to be necessary in order to retain mental qua conscious causation within a physicalist ontology this is a fatal shortcoming of his proposal. It cannot therefore be said to represent the 'plausible terminus to the mind-body debate' which Kim claims it to be.

Secondly, through my analysis of Kim's position I put forward a more general argument the essence of which is that many discussions in philosophy of mind suffers from, or trades on, an ambiguous use of the notions of 'reduction' and 'identity'. When one clarifies these ambiguities it seems as if reductive physicalism is not a stable position, but must be construed either as eliminativism or as something like panpsychism according to which the material constituents of the brain have qualitative experience as a basic (and not an emergent or supervenient) property.

So, contrary to Kim's claim that non-reductive physicalism is an unstable position I argue that it is reductive physicalism which is unstable and that a choice must be made, by the reductive physicalist, between eliminating conscious experiences from her ontology or affirming that the matter she claims conscious experiences to be identical with has such experiences as a basic property (alongside, perhaps, electrical charge). This follows from the symmetry that holds between identities, something which is often forgotten within philosophy of mind.

Chair: Alexander Gebharter
Time: 11:50-12:20, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004

Christoffer Skogholt 
(Uppsala University, Sweden)

I have recently started my PhD in philosophy of religion at Uppsala University.
I am interested in questions concerning the relationship between science, religion and worldviews, philosophical and theological anthropology, political philosophy and philosophy of mind.

Testability and Meaning deco