From this article:

First, [naturalistic dualism] seems to imply panpsychism, the view that everything in the universe has consciousness. Once you accept the existence of nonphysical features of the world that are fundamental, it is hard to find a principled way of limiting exactly where those fundamental features are found.

I'm not seeing it. I have argued myself that panpsychism is implied by the position that consciousness arises out of complexity or out of some property of algorithms or of machines that execute algorithms, but that's because there isn't a level at which these properties don't exist; it's all a matter of degree.

However, if all you are doing is asserting that qualia arise out of natural processes according to natural laws, what barrier is there to asserting that it only happens in, for example, biological processes?In fact, biological processes already have emergent properties such as organization and function, so adding qualia doesn't seem that much of a stretch.

This strikes me as an obvious alternative that does not imply panpsychism, so what am I missing?


2 Answers 2


IFF the "naturalist dualism" assumes global reductionism, AND the reality of mind, AND materialism, THEN it requires that mind be reducible in principle to the same elementary particles that matter is reducible to, and then those particles will have mind -- I.E. panpsychism.

However, if these assumptions are not held exactly as described, then, as you note, pan-psychism is not an inevitable consequence.

One can apply naturalism with emergence treated as a natural process, and then mind can emerge just fine from matter at any point the emergence trigger is achieved. Note that science assumes emergence as a real phenomenon, and the "science" of emergence is in such an indeterminate state, that mind emerging from matter is entirely consistent with what we know right now about emergence.

One can also treat mind as NOT dependent on matter, and apply reductionism and methodological naturalism to mind, and end up with interactive dualism.

One can also apply methodological naturalism to mind, and assume that matter is emergent from mind, and end up with idealism, and a dependency of matter on mind.

So -- it is only one type of naturalist dualism that ends up in panpsychism.

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    Why should mind particles have mind? Chocolate particles don't have chocolate.
    – g s
    Jun 12, 2023 at 1:08
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    @gs Well, the way the features of "chocolatiness" are not present in its constituent particles, is why most science rejects pure reductionism, and accepts that new phenomena and features emerge form matter. But the rationales I have seen for the sort of "naturalist dualism" referenced here, is that new properties CANNOT emerge from something that does not have that kind of feature already. I.E. that mind can only come from mind-like things. I consider that to be an invalid principle, and it sounds like you do too.
    – Dcleve
    Jun 12, 2023 at 1:15
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    @gs for an example of a philosopher making this "no new sort of thing" argument, in a book I am reading currently, Mesle's introduction to Whitehead, Mesle makes this argumetn explicitly in chapter 4, to argue for pan-psychism.
    – Dcleve
    Jun 12, 2023 at 1:19

Panpsychism proposes that there is consciousness at a fundamental level, and that the fundamental stuff of the universe is matter-consciousness. Therefore, panpsychism is monist. There are also various versions of panpsychism. See Russell, Chalmers, Goff et al.

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