Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Herman Cappelen, Robert Kirk and Iamblichus

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8 ideas

17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
Dualism implies some brain events with no physical cause, and others with no physical effect [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: If the mind causes brain events, then they are not caused by other brain events, and such causal gaps should be detectable by scientists; there should also be a gap of brain-events which cause no other brain events, because they are causing mind events.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 2.5)
     A reaction: This is the double causation problem which Spinoza had spotted (Idea 4862). Expressed this way, it seems a screamingly large problem for dualism. We should be able to discover some VERY strange physical activity in the brain.
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 1. Behaviourism
Behaviourism seems a good theory for intentional states, but bad for phenomenal ones [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: For many kinds of mental states, notably intentional ones such as beliefs and desires, behaviourism is appealing, ..but for sensations and experiences such as pain, it seems grossly implausible.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 5.1)
     A reaction: The theory does indeed make a bit more sense for intentional states, but it still strikes me as nonsense that there is no more to my belief that 'Whales live in the Atlantic' than a disposition to say something. WHY do I say this something?
Behaviourism offers a good alternative to simplistic unitary accounts of mental relationships [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: There is a temptation to think that 'aboutness', and the 'contents' of thoughts, and the relation of 'reference', are single and unitary relationships, but behaviourism offers an alternative approach.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 5.5)
     A reaction: Personally I wouldn't touch behaviourism with a barge-pole (as it ducks the question of WHY certain behaviour occurs), but a warning against simplistic accounts of intentional states is good. I am sure there cannot be a single neat theory of refererence.
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 2. Potential Behaviour
In 'holistic' behaviourism we say a mental state is a complex of many dispositions [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: There is a non-reductive version of behaviourism ( which we can call 'global' or 'holistic') which says there is no more to having mental states than having a complex of certain kinds of behavioural dispositions.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 5.2)
     A reaction: This is designed to meet a standard objection to behaviourism - that there is no straight correlation between what I think and how I behave. The present theory is obviously untestable, because a full 'complex' of human dispositions is never repeated.
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique
The inverted spectrum idea is often regarded as an objection to behaviourism [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: The inverted spectrum idea is often regarded as an objection to behaviourism.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 4.5)
     A reaction: Thus, my behaviour at traffic lights should be identical, even if I have a lifelong inversion of red and green. A good objection. Note that physicalists can believe in inverted qualia as well a dualists, as long as the brain states are also inverted.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 3. Eliminativism
All meaningful psychological statements can be translated into physics [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: All psychological statements which are meaningful, that is to say, which are in principle verifiable, are translatable into propositions which do not involve psychological concepts, but only the concepts of physics.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 3.8)
     A reaction: This shows how eliminativist behaviourism arises out of logical positivism (by only allowing what is verifiable). The simplest objection: we can't verify the mental states of others, because they are private, but they are still the best explanation.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 4. Connectionism
Instead of representation by sentences, it can be by a distribution of connectionist strengths [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: In a connectionist system, information is represented not by sentences but by the total distribution of connection strengths.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 7.6)
     A reaction: Neither sentences (of a language of thought) NOR connection strengths strike me as very plausible ways for a brain to represent things. It must be something to do with connections, but it must also be to do with neurons, or we get bizarre counterexamples.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / b. Multiple realisability
If mental states are multiply realisable, they could not be translated into physical terms [Kirk,R]
     Full Idea: If psychological states are multiply realisable it is hard to see how they could possibly be translated into physical terms.
     From: Robert Kirk (Mind and Body [2003], 3.8)
     A reaction: Reductive funtionalism would do it. A writing iimplement is physical and multiply realisable. Personally I prefer the strategy of saying mental states are NOT multiply realisable. If frog brains differ from ours, they probably don't feel pain like us.