9

The threat of epiphenomenalism is indeed a major issue intensively discussed in the last decades. But while there is a broad consensus against it, there is no agreement as to what exactly blocks it. Burge in Foundations of Mind (Ch. 20) even says that the dominance of materialism in the contemporary philosophy of mind is a reaction (in his view unwarranted) ...


6

First, the constructive part. Crick, who is as physicalist on neuroscience as one can wish for, in Astonishing Hypothesis discusses "the processing postulate": "It suggests that we may be using the words conscious and unconscious for two many somewhat different activities. They may have to be replaced by some phrase like "processing unit", or, in some ...


5

Especially given what you observe about electromagnetic forces, not to mention atomic theory post 1911 (c.f. the Rutherford model) and gravity post 1916 (c.f. general relativity theory), the notion of what is "material" becomes a rather significant question. To say nothing of special relativity and the Einstein equation linking matter to energy... I would, ...


5

I can smell peach-flavored oolong tea and tell you what it is; a machine cannot (not yet, anyway). This has nothing to do with mind-body duality. We simply haven't built chemosensors as diverse and sensitive as those in our noses. Auras are, logically, just like the smell of peach-flavored oolong tea (except for not having good evidence that they actually ...


5

First a comment: I am surprised at your stating that "It seems that physicalism and functionalism in philosophy of mind has fallen out of popularity and into much criticism". All of the philosophy of mind courses and lectures I have listened to state that functionalism is the most popular position in philosophy of mind. Can you provide a source? Second: ...


5

Recall that forces are just mathematical structures that we have created as a convenience to help explain the behavior of the world around us; they do not define the behaviour of the world around us, but merely define the behaviour of a model which we apply to the world around us. Hence you are not "a force of nature", but there are useful models within ...


4

Physicalism is a hypothesis; it doesn't prove anything. When people say that Physicalism proves that there is no God, they are saying that "If Physicalism holds, there is no God." So, yes, your analysis is correct.


4

As you already wrote, MR doesn't specifically contest Identity Theory. The two concepts are contrary, however. Type-Identity theory is just another way of saying that there must be, for each and every unique mental state, an equally unique brain state, and vice-versa. Without an exact, physical copy of some brain state, the mental state that obtains will be ...


4

The laws of physics, in particular quantum physics, seem to imply that it is possible to construct a universal computer that could simulate any physical system with arbitrary accuracy, this is called the Turing Principle, see http://www.daviddeutsch.org.uk/wp-content/deutsch85.pdf and "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch. The relevant kind of computer ...


4

According to wikipedia, physicalism is now-a-days the preferred term to materialism in order to better include physical phenomenon which might be considered immaterial, e.g., fields or space itself. I'm not sure how important this distinction is, but it does help to emphasize: That the physical world contains many complex phenomenon that are not, at least ...


4

You're right, defining the physical properly is not an easy task. There are two types of approaches: you can start a priori by assuming some defining characterisics -- among the various propositions, being located in space-time, having only objective properties independent from the mental, being structural or amenable to mathematical description, being ...


4

The main difference is that functionalism is not an ontological doctrine, although it imposes some constraints on ontology, while property dualism is. The point of functionalism is to reduce consciousness to its manifestations in terms of its functional role in behavior, leading to the idea that it is implementation independent. This is compatible with most ...


3

I was surprised to learn that this one (from the "Related" sidebar), regarding philosophical zombies, is actually used in published philosophical works as a refutation of physicalism (David Chalmers is a name mentioned there). My dismissal of it would be that claiming, "Zombies are physically identical to us but lack consciousness, therefore physicalism is ...


3

For monists, such as Plotinus or Spinoza, they are but different versions of the same essence. Plotinus for example would hold the res extensa to be "gross spirit", and the res cogitans to be "rarefied matter". In other words, both would spiritual/material, just on a spectrum. For Spinoza too, they are simply different descriptions of the same thing: God. ...


3

You can say that a neural representation of abstract objects physically exist; that wouldn't be controversial for a physicalist. You need only postulate, however, that certain computational systems (like our brains) recognize similarities between distinct objects; this seems rather weaker than what one normally means by an object (abstract or otherwise) ...


3

I believe Dawkins holds that physicalism and the success of modern science proves that the idea of a personal god that intervenes in the world is unnecessary in order to explain the world we observe. In other words, that it's a superfluous concept that has no value in understanding the workings of the world, because physicalism is a sufficient explanation. ...


3

Naturalism in the broad sense is a very loose attitude, far looser than even materialism, let alone physicalism, because the notion of "nature" is left open to interpretation. Defined negatively as "not supernatural" it leaves room say for pantheism a la Spinoza with nature=God="substance of infinite attributes" (Spinoza is even sometimes described as "...


3

One could simply argue that human knowledge is reducible to the physical, and then there's no causal problem. The serious problem for all theories of mind, I think, is the so-called hard problem of consciousness, since even if everything is given causal explanation, there's still something missing, that is, the experience of consciousness.


3

Since in quantum teleportation the entirety of the physical body is destroyed and reformed on the other side, the mind would be different because the matter of the brain has been changed and the mind arises from the brain (although the brain composition is the same). Your interpretation of quantum teleportation here is incorrect: Real world quantum ...


3

Information is a non-physical concept, but it is very common to implement this information via organization of physical objects. For example, the 1's and 0's of a computer program are a non-physical concept, but the magnetic spins used to represent this information are very physical indeed. Information stored in the brain is implemented via neural ...


3

Your question presumes a variety of framing assumptions which are now generally held not to be true by most philosophers. First, you are presuming that "completeness of physics" would mean that "physics is everything", IE a reduction of all thought to physics, including the philosophy of science. But reductionism is no longer considered viable in most ...


2

In general correspondence theory has a problem dealing with mathematical and tautological sentences, and the strategy to dealing with these has generally been either: 1) to struggle to find amendments to correspondence theory that provide the intuitive truth-assessments of various mathematical claims--and I have the sense that the general opinion among ...


2

If the question was not only about whether materialism and physicalism are the same I want to add a comment about what you said about gravity and electromagnetic forces. Natural forces can seem non physical at first glance and I hear many people talk about them as being the invisible laws that govern the universe. But a less magical way to view it is to ...


2

Derek Parfit (of Reasons and Persons fame) lists the definition of the self that is implicit in your scenario as only one of many alternative views that are held also by experts in the field: The main debates have all been about the question whether it will still be me who will exist for example at some point in the future […] There are many different ...


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