The Problem Of Separation And Dualism

Decent Essays

Non Reductive Physicalism

“‘And that’, he argued, ‘means that somewhere in them is intelligence.
It can’t be seated in a brain because dissection shows nothing like a brain
–but that doesn’t prove there isn’t something that does a brain’s job”
(Wyndham, 1951/2008, p. 47)

Suppose it is a nice sunny day, and you decide to linger in the sun; after a few minutes you may feel thirsty and you look for some refreshment. It can be said that this situation triggers two ‘situations’; on the one hand there is a physical process: the body’s reaction to heat, and on the other hand, there is a ‘mental effect’: the experience of heat like being thirsty. The relationship between the two situations has been the source of many debates within …show more content…

My own sympathies, supported by arguments like the completeness of physics (Papineau, 2001) –among others- and empirical research is with the physicalist approach. However, one of the problems with physicalism is its reductivism. For example, there is the claim that consciousness is no more than a brain process (Smart, 1959); however, the problem of these reductive approaches is to find the physical process or the physical laws that can explain the mental in those terms. There are strong arguments against such reduction: (Putnam, 1967, Davidson, 1970, Fodor, 1974) with the ideas of multiple realizability, special sciences and anomalous monism are all critical of reductive views, consequently a form of physicalism in non-reductive terms is not just plausible, but a promissory alternative of understanding the mental in physical terms; for instance, Baker (2008) suggests that “nonreductive materialism holds that the mental is ontologically part of the material world; yet, mental properties are causally efficacious without being reducible to physical properties” (Baker, 2009, p. 109).
It is argued in this thesis that physicalist ontology can be secure without the constraints and problems of reductionism, through this non-reductive physicalism (NRP for short). Moreover, if identity theory can be reconciled with a view such as functionalism then non-reductive physicalism can be argue it is a robust

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