Analyzing Armstrong's Nature of Mind Essay

737 Words May 15th, 2008 3 Pages
Analyzing Armstrong’s “The Nature of Mind”

In David M. Armstrong’s “The Nature of Mind”, Armstrong praises the field of science and seeks to put the concept of mind into terms that agree with science’s definition of minds. His interest is in the physico-chemical, materialist view of man. Armstrong considers science to be the authority over other disciplines because of its reliability and result in consensus over disputed questions. Armstrong’s main argument is as follows:
P1: Mental states are the inner causes of behavior
P2: The inner causes of behavior are brain states
C: Mental states are brain states.
This argument, in the transitivity of conditionals form, is valid. In order to defend the soundness of it, Armstrong breaks
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p1 in support of P1is coherent with behaviorist beliefs: p1: Mental states are dispositions to behave in certain ways p2: (breaking away from behaviorism) Dispositions are inner states which cause their defining effects c: Mental states are the inner causes of their effects p3: (again agreeing with behaviorism) Effects of mental states are behavior
C: Mental states are the inner causes of behavior. Armstrong does a thorough job of supporting the soundness of his argument. He goes even further by offering an objection and a reply. The objection to Armstrong’s causal theory of mind is the same behaviorists were faced with. That is, it functions for the third-person case, but not the first-person case. The situation of the “automatic driver” is described. The driver is unaware of the fact that mental processes are going on, yet he continues to stay on the road. Armstrong answers this with the idea of consciousness as a higher order perception. He defines consciousness as “nothing but perception or awareness of the state of our own mind” and “a self scanning mechanism in the central nervous system”. The driver’s “inner eye” is shut and is unaware of what is going on inside his mind. This higher order scanning mechanism can be conceived as an inner sense, or an inner state directed towards other inner states. This allows us to make decisions and “behave selectively” towards our own states of mind.
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