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Minds, Brains, and Persons

by: Nico Torp

Minds, Brains, and Persons PHIL 20208

Nico Torp
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This 0 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nico Torp on Sunday November 1, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 20208 at University of Notre Dame taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see /class/232734/phil-20208-university-of-notre-dame in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Notre Dame.

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Date Created: 11/01/15
ls immortality desirable PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks December 5 2006 It is very natural to think that immortality is desirable after all we certainly act as though we want to avoid death and if we want to avoid death it must be because we want to stay alive In The Makropulos Case Williams agrees that it is rational to avoid death for at least a while but argues that a life without end would be unlivableil First he considers some famous arguments by Lucretius for the conclusion that death is nothing to fear Lucretius wrote Death then is nothing to us nor does it concern us one least bit inasmuch as the nature of the mind is that of yet another mortal possession i i i For if by chance grief and pain are in store for a man he must himself exist at the time ill is to befall himi Since death forestalls this and prevents his existence into which such misfortunes might otherwise crowd we may be sure that we have nothing to fear in death and that he who is no more cannot be wretched and that there is not a scrap of difference to him if he had never at any time been born when once immortal death has stolen away mortal life77 On the nature of thingsl 15 What is Lucretius7 argument here Williams7 reply to the argument based on the possibility of categorical desires or desires which are not conditional on being alive The example of the rational forwardlooking calculation of suicide7 856 So Williams thinks that Lucretius7 argument 7 that it is always irrational to fear dying at a particular time 7 can be resisted But he doesnlt think that we can make sense of the idea of an eternal life which is worth living His reason is basically this ifl am to want to continue to live it has to be that the future person I imagine being is similar enough to me in character as to be recognizably a future version of me But ifl have more or less the same character for all of eternity then there are only two ways things can go Either my future experiences and relationships can be an eternally repetitive loop of the experiences and relationships I have already by some point in my life had in which case it is strange that she allows them to be repeated accepting the same repetitions the same limitations HiThe repeated patterns of personal relations for instance must take on a character of being inescapablei77 But the other alternative seems just as bad Or is the pattern of her experience not repetitious but varied Then the problem shifts to the relation between these varied experiences and the xed character how can it remain xed through an end less series of very various experiences The experiences must surely happen to her without really affecting her she must be i i detached and withdrawn77 The result in either case is boredom and distance from life77 As Williams puts it at the end in those versions of eternal life in which I am recognisably myself I would eventually have had altogether too much of myself 7 100 Functionalism and qualia PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks September 21 2006 1 Qualia Some mental states are such that there is something that it is like7 to be in that state There is something that it is like to have a bad toothache there is something that it is like to see red there is something that it is like to have an itch Maybe every mental state is such that there is something that it is like to be in that state this is controversial But it should be uncontroversial that at least some mental states like the ones listed above are like this The word qualia is used in philosophy to stand for the aspects of mental states that contribute to What it is like to be in that mental state Often this term does more harm than good since it makes it sound as though in addition to these mental states there are mysterious items qualia hanging around As we7ll be using the notion you neednlt assume anything like this Talk about qualia Will be just a loose way of talking about mental states Which are such that there is something that it is like to be in that mental state 2 Absent qualia I The Chinese nation Since functionalism purports to be a theory of mental properties in general it should have something to say about the mental states listed above Which have qualiai In particular given the description of functionalism we gave last class there must be associated With each such mental property a role Which is such that something has the mental property if and only if it has some state Which plays that role Block in li2 of Troubles With functionalisml objects to functionalism on the grounds that it predicts that certain things Will have mental properties Which in fact lack those mental properties This is What he means by saying that functionalism is guilty of liber alismi7 Example 1 the humunculi headed robot7 215 Example 2 the Chinese nation Suppose we convert the government of China to functionalism and we con vince its officials to realize a human mind for an ouri e provide each of the billion people in China I chose China because it has a billion inhabitants with a specially designed twoway radio that connects them in the appropri ate way to other persons and to the arti cial body mentioned in the previous example We replace each of the little men with a citizen of China plus his radio Instead of a bulletin board we arrange to have letters displayed on a series of satellites placed so that they can be seen from anywhere in China i i i The system of a billion people communicating with one another plus satel lites plays the role of an external brain connected to the arti cial body by io i i i It is not at all obvious that the Chinabody system is physically impossible It could be functionally equivalent to you for a short time say an hour77 2156 Why is this example supposed to pose a problem for functionalism How could a func tionalist respond 3 Absent qualia 2 Zombies Zombies of the philosophical kind are behavioral andor physical duplicates of conscious beings that however lack conscious experience Here is one prominent recent discussion of zombies So let us consider my zombie twini This creature is molecule for molecule identical to me and identical in all the lowlevel properties postulated by a completed physics but he lacks conscious experience entire yo i i i 0 ideas we can imagine that right now I am gazing out the window experiencing some nice green sensations i i i What is going on in my zombie twin HiHe will certainly be identical to me functionally he will be processing the same sort of information reacting in similar way to inputs with his internal con gurations being modi ed ap propriately and with indistinguishable behavior resultingi Milt is just that none of this functioning will be accompanied by any real conscious experiencei HiThere is nothing that it is like to be a zom iei This sort of zombie is quite unlike the zombies found in Hollywood movies which tend to have signi cant functional impairmentsi was Block 1995 points out it is reasonable to suppose that there is something it tastes like when they eat their victims I confess that the logical possibility of zombies seems obvious to me A zombie is just something physically identical to me but which has no conscious experience 7 all is dark insider77 Chalmers The Conscious Mind pp 956 How could zombies pose a challenge to functionalism For more information on zombies philosophical and otherwise check out Zombies on the web7 at httpconscnetzombieshtm1i 4 Inverted qualia The above cases are ones in which a functional duplicate of a creature which has states with certain qualia lacks those qualiai A different sort of problem for functionalism is posed by cases in which two creatures are functionally identical and each have qualia but have di erent qualiai Examples of spectrum inversion7 are like this This kind of example was introduced into the philosophical literature by John Locke Neither would it carry any lmputation of Falsehood to our simple Ideas if by the different Structure of our Organs it were so ordered That the same Object should produce in several Mens Minds different Ideas at the same time vigi if the Idea that a Violet produced in one Mans Mind by his Eyes were the same that a Marigold produces in another Mans and vice versa For since this could never be known because one Mans Mind could not pass into another Mans Body to perceive what Appearances were produced by those Organs neither the Ideas hereby nor the Names would be at all confounded or any Falsehood be in either For all Things that had the Texture ofa Violet producing constantly the Idea which he called Blue and those which had the Texture of a Marigold producing constantly the Idea which he as constantly called Yellow whatever those Appearances were in his Mind he would be able as regularly to distinguish Things for his Use by those Appearances and understand and signify those distinctions marked by the Names Blue and Yellow as if the Appearances or Ideas in his Mind received from those two Flowers were exactly the same with the Ideas in other Mens Mindsi77 Essay on Human Understanding llixxxiii15 Why is this supposed to pose a problem for functionalism Could two people spectrum inverted relative to each other really be functional duplicates Arguments against dualism Jeff Speaks PHIL 20208 August 28 2006 l Dualism and the problem of mental causation i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i l 2 The argument from the causal closure of the physical i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 2 3 The pairing problem i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i 2 As we have seen from our reading of Descartes7 Meditations there is at least one powerful argument for dualismi But the View also faces some problems 1 Dualism and the problem of mental causation There are strong reasons for dualists to be interactionist dualistsi After all we often think that there are causal relations between physical and mental events We say that I walked to the coffee pot because of my desire for co ee that I pulled by hand away because felt a burning sensation that I felt a burning sensation because the burner 0n the stove was hot These kinds of examples indicate that ordinarily we often think that mental events are caused by physical events and that physical events are caused by mental events One of the oldest problems for dualism is to explain how this can be so As Kim asks can we make sense of the idea that an immaterial soul can be in causal commerce with a material body and that my immaterial mind can causally in uence the physicochemical processes going on in my material brain77 73 Why this seems to be a difficult problem the model of billiard ball7 causationi The idea that causal connections between material and immaterial things is inconceivable Why this argument works as well against epiphenomenalist dualism as against interactionist dualismi A reply on the part of the dualist not all causation ts the billiard ball modeli Perhaps causation is a basic and inexplicable relation or perhaps as Kim suggests it can be ana lyzed as constant conjunctioni77 Why this analysis would seem to make causal relations between material and immaterial things possib er This response seems to show that the dualistls problems explaining mental causation even if they pose some dif cult questions for dualism don7t by themselves show that dualism is false But there are two ways of strengthening this argument against dualism which we will now consider 2 The argument from the causal Closure of the physical The idea that every physical event has a physical cause Why this seems plausible if there are some events which have mental causes but not physical causes why hasn t science found any yet Why this argument works if at all against interactionist but not epiphenomenalist du alism The idea of causal overdetermination 3 The pairing problem Kim presents in pp 7690 of the selection you read a distinct argument against dualism which tries to show that causation only makes sense if the causal relations in question hold between two things located in space The problem he discusses for dualism is called the pairing problem7 A way into the pairing problem via the example of the two gun shots pp 789 Here is one way to present the problem in terms of mindto body causal interactions imagine that you and l bot at the same time have a desire to raise our hand According to the dualist these two desires are both nonphysical events Suppose that after having these desires my hand goes up and so does yours Now it seems very clear that my desire caused by hand to go up and your desire caused your hand to go up my desires lack direct control over your bodily movements and vice versa But the question is how can the dualist explain this fact Why according to the dualist is my desire the cause of my hand going up rather than the cause of your hand going up Recall the answer we gave to the analogous question in the case of the two gun shots we can trace a continuous chain of causes or continuous chain of spatial locations which connects cause to effect But this kind of answer seems not to be available to the dualist who thinks of mental phenomena like desires as located outside of space As Kim says this is not really a problem about how immaterial things could be causally related to material things it is a problem about how things which are not spatially located could enter into causal relations at all Kim discusses 8084 how to raise substantially the same pairing problem7 for causal relations between immaterial souls The moral Kim thinks is that In general causal relations between physical objects or events appear to depend crucially on their spatiotemporal relations to each other77 86 If this is true this rules out all major views which locate the mental outside of space and time 7 whether the dualist is interactionist epiphenomenalist or parallelist It would leave untouched a View on which mental events never cause7 or are caused by7 anything7 whether mental or physical Two replies for the dualist 1 to i Perhaps Kim7s argument relies on faulty assumptions about causationi Souls might be immaterial7 but located in space Kim argues against this sort of View on pp 8890 is what he has to say convincing Why it seems to rule out the possibility of action at a distance7 of a sort which some views of quantum mechanics take to be observed in EPR experiments Platonic arguments for the immortality of the soul PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks November 21 2006 Plato is the classical source of philosophical arguments for the immortality of the soul By calling them philosophical arguments 1 am distinguishing them from arguments which are based on empirical research like research into neardeath experiences and from argu ments which rely on premises taken from a particular religious tradition We will discuss empirical and religious arguments later The line between these is not always sharpi Philosophical arguments can sometimes use premises known by experience and religious arguments might rely on religious doctrines which can be supported by philosophical arguments which donlt themselves presuppose any religious doctrinesi The reading from Plato is a selection from his dialogue the Phaedo which is his eulogy to his teacher Socrates and recounts the last hours of Socrates7 life The form of the part of the dialogue we read is a conversation between Socrates and his friends before his death in which he tries to convince them that there is nothing to fear from the death One thing to keep in mind about these arguments is that they seem in places to presup pose a kind of dualist view of the self You might think that this view of the self makes arguments for immortality unnecessary if we are immaterial souls isnlt it obvious that we must survive death It s important to see that even though belief in immortality is often linked with belief in the soul that there s no immediate route from the latter to the former liei there s no obvious contradiction in thinking that we are immaterial souls which cease to exist when our bodies do 1 The argument from generation out of opposites The rst of Socrates7 arguments for immortality begins on p 117 Let us see whether in general everything that admits of generation is gener ated in this way and no ot er 7 opposites from opposites wherever there is an opposite i i Let us consider whether it is a necessary law that everything which has an opposite is generated from that opposite and no other source For example when a thing becomes bigger it must I suppose have been smaller rst before it became bigger77 Socrates next observes that death is the opposite of life So if his principle holds it seems as t oug the living have come from the dead no less than the dead from the living But I think we decided that if this was so it was a suf cient proof that the souls of the dead must exist in some place from which they are reborn77 One interpretation of what s going on here if death and life are opposites and if it follows from this that something could have come to be living only after rst having been dead then it seems that we must in some sense or other exist when dead But this is what Socrates is trying to show A criticism of this argument based on the distinction between coming to exist and ac quiring a property Maybe coming to life is the former rather than the latter but the argument seems to depend on it being an instance of the latter 2 The argument from recollection Socrates7 second argument pp 120128 is based on his theory of recollection That theory was an explanation of how we can come to know the kinds of things that we can One way to see the motivation for this theory is via the paradox of inquiry For any question either you know the answer or you don t If you know the answer then inquiry is unnecessary If you donlt know the answer you7ll have no way of recognizing the correct answer when it presents itself 7 for if you don7t know what the correct answer is how will you distinguish it from false answers So if you don7t know the answer inquiry is impossible One might take this paradox to support the View that as Cebes puts it p 120 what we call learning is really just recollection If that is true then surely what we recollect now we must have learned at some time before which is impossible unless our souls existed somewhere before they entered this human shape So in that way too it seems likely that the soul is immortal77 A response to the paradox of inquiry for the case of empirical knowledge eg nding out what is for dinner in South Dining Hall Why this doesn7t carry over immediately to the case of a priori7 knowledge not obtained by calculation A second related argument for recollection the example of Meno A third argument our knowledge of qualities like absolute equality7 p 124 which we do not observe by our senses to exist anywhere in the world around us 3 The simplicity argument This argument leads Cebes to respond It seems that we have got the proof of one half of what we wanted 7 that the soul existed before birth 7 but now we need also to prove that it will exist after our death no less than before our birth if our proof is to be complete This leads Socrates to another argument for the immortality of the soul We ought I think to ask ourselves this What sort of thing is it that would naturally suffer the fate of being dispersed For what sort of thing should we fear this fate and for what should we not When we have answered this we should next consider to which class the soul belongs and then we shall know whether to feel con dence or fear about the fate of our souls Would you not expect a composite object or a natural compound to be liable to break up where it was put together and ought not anything which is really incomposite to be the one thing of all others which is not affected in this way Socrates7 thought here seems to be this if a thing is composite then it can be destroyed by being separated into its parts if we observe things being destroyed this is usually how it goes But if something is incomposite and has no parts then it cannot be destroyed by being resolved into its parts But it seems that there s no other way in which a thing could be destroyed So if the soul is incomposite it is indestructible and so can7t be destroyed by death Then the question is is the soul composite or incomposite Socrates asks Is it not extremely probable that what is always constant and invariable is incomposite and what is inconstant and variable is composite Socrates then contrasts things which are constant and invariable 7 like absolute equality and absolute beauty 7 with things which are not like the concrete material things around us He concludes that in general things which are invisible are constant and invariable whereas things which are visible are inconstant and variable But it looks like the body is visible whereas the soul is invisible so it looks like the soul is more like those things which have been found to be constant and invariable But if the soul is constant and invariable and the body is inconstant and variable the soul must be less likely to be destroyed by death than the body But the body is not destroyed by death so all the more so must the soul be destroyed by death To this argument Simmias gives the following objection p 139 You might say the same thing about tuning the strings of a musical instru ment that the attunement is something invisible and incorporeal and splendid and divine and located in the tuned instrument while the instrument itself and its strings are material and composite and earthly and closely related to what is mortal Now suppose that the instrument is broken or its strings cut or snapped According to your theory the attunement must still exist 7 it cannot have been destroyed because it would be inconceivable that when the strings are broken the instrument and the strings themselves which have a mortal nature should still exist and the attunement which shares the nature and characteristics of the divine and immortal should exist no longer i You would say that the attunement must still exist somewhere i Well if the soul really is an adjustment obviously as soon as the tension of our body is lowered or increased beyond the proper point the soul must be destroyed just like any other adjustment i Socrates responds to Simmias7 objection in two ways 0 Simmias has already granted the theory of recollection which means that he has granted that the soul preexists the body But attunements can7t preexist the in struments that they are attunements of So this already shows that the relationship of soul to body cannot be a kind of attunementi o A second reply is that an attunement of a musical instrument cannot be acted on differently than the instrument itself nor can it control the musical instrument but rather is controlled by it But as Socrates says surely we can see now that the soul works in just the opposite way It directs all the elements of which it is said to consist opposing them in almost everything all through life and exercising every form of control Mr 151 Cebes offers a different objection even if the soul is less apt to be destroyed then the body it does not follow that in every case the soul lasts longer than the body A person7s body is less apt to be destroyed than a coat but even though I outlive most of my coats it is clearly possible that at least one of my coats should outlive me So why not say that by analogy it is possible that in at least some cases the soul is destroyed at death even though the body remains pp 1412 Socrates sketches a reply to Cebes based on the principle that nothing can both have a property and have the opposite property for example no collection of things can be both even and odd Now note that there are some things which have a certain property essentially 7 eg the number three has essentially the property of being oddi So it follows that it is impossible for something that is three to have the property which is the opposite of oddness namely evennessi Socrates thinks that it is an essential property of the soul to be alive So the soul cannot have the opposite property which is being dead So the soul cannot diei So the soul is destructiblei A problem with this argument based on the distinction between ceasing to exist and acquiring the property of being dead Another way of replying to Cebes is to emphasize Socrates7 earlier point that the soul is not just more like things which seem invariable but also incomposite and therefore indestructible Why should we think that the soul is incomposite Is it is true that incomposite things cannot be destroyed Par t on theories of personal identity PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks October 24 2006 l Par t on reductionism vs nonreductionism l 2 Two versions of reductionism 2 21 The physical criterion 2 22 The psychological criterion 2 221 The transitivity objection p 206 3 222 Memory presupposes rather than explains personal identity pp219 222 3 223 Experiences vs the subject of experiences p 222224 4 224 Williams7 argument pp 229243 4 1 Par t on reductionism vs nonreductionism Par t draws a distinction between two different kinds of views about a certain thing According to a nonreductionist View of something the existence of that kind of thing is a further factl which goes beyond the existence of other facts not about the existence of that kind of thing According to a reductionist View of something the existence of that thing consists in the existence of certain other things Par t gives two plausible examples of things about which we naturally have a reductionist view nations and clubs Two possible examples of things about which we naturally have a nonreductionist view elementary particles and if you believe in the possibility of zombies and certain kinds of spectrum inversion qua ia Given this distinction Par t then raises an important question should we be reductionists or nonreductionists about persons An example of a nonreductionist view of persons is that we are immaterial souls of the kind envisaged by the dualist Par t thinks that this kind of view is wrong and that we should be reductionists about persons the existence of persons is not a further fact beyond the psychological and physical facts He gives two kinds of arguments against this sort of dualist view 0 We do not directly observe persons as things above and beyond the physical and psychological facts which we do observe pp 223224 all we are aware of is a certain kind of psychological connectednessi In this Par t agrees with Humei So if we believe in nonreductionist persons we should require some evidence for this And there could have been evidence of at least the following two kinds 1 we could have had very strong evidence for reincarnation as in the example of the Japanese woman and the Celtic hunter pl 227 2 we could have had evidence that changes in a persons brain change their personality in an all or nothing7 way pl 228 But we do not nd either such kind of evidence o It is hard to imagine cases in which we hold everything in the world xed but swap the identities of persons This indicates that the existence of persons is not a further fact7 which goes beyond the facts which we hold xedi We will return to this kind of nonreductionist dualist view next week But for now let s grant that Par t has made some challenging objections to the dualist position and see where he goes with the view that reductionism about persons is the correct viewi 2 Two versions of reductionism In giving a reductionist view of personal identity one speci es the facts which the existence of persons are nothing over and abovei7 The two natural candidates here are physical facts about spatiotemporal continuity and psychological factsi 21 The physical criterion Par t describes what he calls the standard view7 of the existence of ordinary material objects like billiard balls pl 203 Applied to persons this is the view that the existence of persons over time consists in the physical continuity over time of my brain and body I shall continue to exist if and only if this particular brain and body continue to exist and to be the brain and body of a living person77 204 22 The psychological criterion In most of our discussion of personal identity so far we have been focusing on various versions of the psychological viewi e ave encountered from Reid and Williams a number of serious objections to this viewi Par t provides responses to a number of these objections in trying to nd the most plausible version of the psychological criterioni 221 The transitivity objection p 206 Par t takes Locke7s View as the basis for his own He begins discussion of it by considering an objection based on the following objection to Lockels View from 39 There is another consequence of this doctrine which follows no less necessar ily though Mr Locke probably did not see it It is that a man may be and at the same time not be the person that did a particular action Suppose a brave of cer to have been ogged when a boy at school for robbing an orchard to have taken a standard from the enemy in his rst campaign and to have been made a general in advanced life suppose also which must be admitted to be possible that when he took the standard he was conscious of his having been ogged at school and that when made a general he was conscious of his taking the standard but had absolutely lost the consciousness of his ogging These things being supposed it follows from Mr Lockes doctrine that he who was ogged at school is the same person who took the standard and that he who took the standard is the same person who was made a generali Whence it follows if there be any truth in logic that the general is the same person with him who was ogged at school But the generals consciousness does not reach so far back as his ogging therefore according to Mr Lockes doctrine he is not the person who was ogged Therefore the general is and at the same time is not the same person with him who was ogged at schooli77 The problem in general is that identity is transitive whereas direct memory connections are not Par t7s solution of this problem in terms of the distinction between direct psycho logical connectedness and psychological continuityi Though the former is not transitive the latter is so Reid s objection to analyses of personal identity in terms of the latter does not hold 222 Memory presupposes rather than explains personal identity pp219 222 Later Par t considers another objection to his version of the psychological view which can again be found in Reid s objections to Locke It may here be observed though the observation would have been unneces sary if some great philosophers had not contradicted it that it is not my remembering any action of mine that makes me to be the person who did it This remembrance makes me to know assuredly that I did it but I might have done it though I did not remember it That relation to me which is expressed by saying that I did it would be the same though I had not the least remembrance of it To say that my remembering that I did such a thing or as some choose to express it my being conscious that I did it makes me to have done it appears to me as great an absurdity as it would be to say that my belief that the world was created made it to be created77 Par t s response in terms of the notion of a quasi memoryil 223 Experiences vs the subject of experiences 10 222224 A third objection which Par t considers is based on Reid s objection that the psycho logical theory ignores the fact that the existence of a person is not based on continuity of experiences but on continuity of the subject of those experiences which is something above and beyond those experiences themselves My personal identity therefore implies the continued existence of that indi visible thing which I call myself Whatever this self may be it is something which thinks and deliberates and resolves and acts and suffers I am not thought I am not action I am not feeling I am something that thinks and acts and suffers77 lE arfits7 objections to the idea that we are aware of a self in this sense 224 Williams argument pp 229243 The most important objection to the psychological view for the purposes of understanding Par t s position is the objection which Williams gives in The self and the future7 Par t s reworking of Williams7 argument in terms of the psychological spectrum which is a continuum of very many cases which stretch on the one hand from replacement of one or two of my memories with those of Napoleon to a case on the other end of the spectrum on which all of my memories are replaced with those of Napoleon There seem to be three things we can say about this range of cases 0 We should say the same thing about these cases as we are inclined to say about the structurally similar paradox of the heap or sorites paradoxlz sometimes the question about whether a person which results from some change to me is me is an empty question which can only be answered by stipulationi 0 We should say that there is a sharp dividing line somewhere in the psychological spectrum so that if say 534 or more 0 my memories are changed then t e resulting person is not me but that if less are changed that person is met 0 We should say that in every case the resulting person is me As Par t says the force of Williams7 argument resides largely in the fact that 3 seems like the most plausible answer here We nd the view that personal identity can sometimes be indeterminate or arbitrary hard to accept and it also seems hard to accept that there is some principled dividing line in this spectrum of cases So it seems plausible to conclude with Williams that personal identity is consistent with any amount of psychological change This would show that the psychological criterion of personal identity is incorrect And if we are committed to reductionism this would seem to show that the physical criterion must be correct Though Par t sees the force of this argument he does not agree with Williams7 conclusion He shows that a similar argument can be run against the physical criterion of personal identity using the continuum of cases that he calls the physical spectrum7 which go from on the one hand a replacement of one or two of the cells in my brain and body with exact duplicates to on the other hand a replacement of all the cells in my brain and body with exact duplicates We seem to face a similar range of choices as above 0 We should say the same thing about these cases as we are inclined to say about the structurally similar paradox of the heap or sorites paradoxl sometimes the question about whether a person which results from some change to me is me is an empty question which can only be answered by stipulation 0 We should say that there is a sharp dividing line somewhere in the physical spectrum so that if say 534 or more of my cells are changed then the resulting person is not me but that if less are changed that person is me 0 We should say that in every case the resulting person is me As above the most appealing option seems to be But if this is true then the physical criterion must be false since then personal identity is consistent with complete physical discontinuity We seem at this point to be in a tough spot We seem to have only two options the physical and psychological views But now we seem to have convincing arguments against both since neither seems to provide a necessary condition for personal identity We could accept the conclusions of both arguments and adopt a mixed view On this view either physical continuity or psychological continuity would be suf cient for personal identity and it would only be necessary to have one or the other Why the combined spectrum seems to rule this view out This seems to leave us with only two choices there is a sharp dividing line somewhere in the combined spectrum or sometimes there is no fact of the matter about personal identity and the question Is I the same person as y7 is an empty question Can you think of any criterion of personal identity which can survive these three spectruml cases An introduction to functionalism PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks September 19 2006 So far we have discussed three views of the nature of the mind and mental properties dualism behaviorism and identity theory We have seen that each faces serious prob lems The last View of the nature of the mind and mental properties we will discuss 7 functionalism 7 was in large part constructed to solve these problems In Psychophysical and theoretical identi cations Lewis introduces functionalism via his example of the detective story We are assembled in the drawing room of the country house the detective reconstructs the crime That is he proposes a theory designed to be the best explanation of phenomena we have observed the death of Mr Body the blood on the wallpaper the silence of the dog in the night the clock seventeen minutes fast and so on He launches into his story X Y and Z conspired to murder Mr Body Seventeen years ago in the gold elds of Uganda X was Bodyls partner Last week Y and Z conferred in a bar in Reading Tuesday night at 1117 Y went to the attic and set a time bomb Seventeen minutes later X met Z in the billiard room and gave him the lead pipe Just when the bomb went off in the attic X red three shots into the study through the French windows And so it goes a long story Let us pretend that it is a single long con junctive sentence The story contains the three names 7X 7Y7 and 7Z7 The detective uses these new terms without explanation as though we knew what they meant But we do not We never used them before at least not in the senses they bear in the present context All we know about their meanings is what we gradually gather from the story itself77 250 The point of this is that there is a sense in which the story describes or purports to describe three people X stands for whoever did the stuff the story ascribes to X Y7 stands for whoever did the stuff the story ascribes to Y7 etc Another way to put that is that there is a certain role in the story corresponding to each of these letters For the letter to stand for a person is for the person to realize that role Suppose that after we have heard the detectives story we learn that it is true of a certain three people Plum Peacock and Mustard If we put the name 7Plum7 in place of 7X7 7Peacock7 in place of 7Y7 and 7Mustard7 in place of 7Z7 throughout we get a true story about the doings of those three people We will say that Plum Peacock and Mustard together realize or are a realization of the detectives theory77 251 Lewis7s idea is that words for mental states like feels pain7 and believes that there is beer in the fridge are like the letters in the detective story they stand for whatever state realizes a certain role In the case of mental properties in place of a detective story we have a story about the connections between various kinds of mental states For example our story might include claims like the following If someone is placed in front of an open refrigerator which has beer in it then he will believe that there is beer in the refrigerator If someone wants beer and believes that there is beer in the refrigerator then he will go to the refrigerator and get a beer If someone believes that there is beer in the refrigerator then he believes that there is beer somewhere If someone believes that there is a Budweiser in the refrigerator then he believes that there is beer in the refrigerator If someone intends to get a beer out of the refrigerator then he believes that there is a beer in the refrigerator If we think of claims like these as comprising a somewhat boring story then the story has a number of charactersl One of these characters is the belief that there is beer in the refrigerator If someone is placed in front of an open refrigerator which has beer in it then he will believe that there is beer in the refrigerator If someone wants beer and believes that there is beer in the refrigerator then he will go to the refrigerator and get a eer If someone believes that there is beer in the refrigerator then he believes that there is beer somewhere If someone believes that there is a Budweiser in the refrigerator then he believes that there is beer in the refrigerator If someone intends to get a beer out of the refrigerator then he believes that there is a beer in the refrigerator As in the detective story let s introduce a label for the belief that there is beer in the refrigerator let s call it state X7 If someone is placed in front of an open refrigerator which has beer in it then he will be in state i If someone wants beer and is in state X then he will go to the refrigerator and get a beer If someone is in state X then he believes that there is beer somewhere If someone believes that there is a Budweiser in the refrigerator then he is in state i If someone intends to get a beer out of the refrigerator then he is in state Xi As in the case of the detective story corresponding to this label state X7 is a certain role in the story state X7 stands for whatever state one is in when one is in front of an open refrigerator which has beer in it and which together with the desire for beer causes one to go to the refrigerator and get a beer and which one is in when one believes that there is a Budweiser in the fridge i i i In the case of the detective story we said that a person could realize one of the roles in the story if they did all of the things which the role includedi Just so in this case we can say that an internal state of a person can realize the state X7 role in our story if it does all of the things included in the role If you understand all of that then you can understand functionalismi Functionalism is the idea that we can tell a much longer story like this for every mental propertyi Each one of these stories de nes corresponding to each mental property a certain Tole sometimes called a functional role What it is for someone to have that mental property according to the functionalist is for them to have some state which realizes that role How does functionalism aim to solve the problems we have seen for the other three views of mental properties we have discussed van lnwagen on materialism and life after death PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks November 16 2006 1 The Notre Dame view of resurrection vs the biblical view van lnwagen begins by contrasting the View of resurrection which he thinks is common among Notre Dame undergraduates with the View that he nds in the Bible Most people in most cultures believe in a life beyond the gravel They tell stories about it But not all cultures tell the same story Hiln our western culture there is a tendency to tell stories of the sort we see in the movie Ghost In this movie dead people rise from their corpses and have a kind of di aphanous existence They look like human beings to anyone who can see them at all but they are able to pass through living people and walls and other solid thingsi Why dont they fall through the oor then You may well ask And of course they are for the most part invisible to the living Even tually bright beings summon them to ascend a beam of light to heaven or dark gibbering creatures drag them screaming off to hell This is I am afraid exactly the picture of the afterlife that is current among undergraduates at Notre Dame every time they are present at the baptism of a child they promise to help the parents and godparents of the newly baptized bring the child up in a faith one of whose tenets is they say these words I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting77 But these words mean nothing to themi They say them but they are getting no more meaning out of them than a famous sixyear old did from another wellknown text reciting the Lords Prayer he said And lead us not into Penn Station A few days ago I heard a speech by the President of Notre Dame about the dif culties of teaching theology to Notre Dame undergraduates President Malloy remarked sententiously that we cannot presuppose as we once could that our students will bring some degree of catechetical formation to the study of theology I dont think he knows the half of it77 However van lnwagen says this picture is very different from the one we get from the Bible This picture of death and immortality the HollywoodandNotre Dame un dergraduate picture is I believe very far from the biblical picture of death and immortality According to the bible God formed us out of the dust of the earth and breathed life into us When in punishment for our rebellion against him we die and return to the dust out which he raised our rst parents were just well dead ln the New Testament there is only one change in this picture a piece of good news None of the inspired descriptions of the nature of death in the Old Testament was wrong the NT says but these descriptions were not the whole story In Christ death retains its nature but its sting is drawn for through his saving action the dead will live again77 2 The possibility of materialist resurrection But a van lnwagen says acceptance of the Biblical rather than a Platonic 7 or Notre Dame undergraduate 7 View of persons and the resurrection raises a difficult metaphysical question ls resurrection possible given materialism77 The considerations which make this a difficult question are the same as the ones we discussed in connection with Bakerls v1ew van lnwagen thinks that the answer to this metaphysical question is yes Before I was a Christian or a theist of any sort when l was a sort of fellow traveler I proposed a solution to this problem that has let us say not won wide assent I suggested that God could accomplish the resurrection of say Socrates in the following way He could have in 399 B ave miraculously translated Socrates fresh corpse to some distant place for safekeeping at the same time removing the hemlock and undoing the physiological damage it had done and have replaced it with a simulacrum a perfect physical duplicate of Socrates corpse later on the day of resurrection he could reanimate Socrates corpse and the reanimated corpse no longer a corpse but once more a living organism would be Socrates Or I suggested he might do this with some part of the corpse its brain or brainstem or left cerebral hemisphere or cerebral cortexsomething whose presence in a newly whole human organism would insure that that organism be Socrates No one as I say was convinced 77 But even if no one was convinced it is not obvious that there is a convincing objection to the view that this is possible He considers several theological objections on pp 89 But van lnwagenls suggestion is not so much that this is how the resurrection will take place but rather that the story illustrates its compatibility with materialism It is a justso77 story which is such that when we see it even if we donlt think that it is true we can see that it illustrates a genuine possibility which might be actualized in ways that we can7t imagine The analogy with the case of Lord Kelvin and length of time during which life has existed on earth Despite overwhelming evidence provided by the fossil record that there had been life on the earth for hundreds of millions of years the great nineteenth century physicist Lord Kelvin insisted that the sun had been shining for at most twenty million years He maintained that the only conceivable mecha nism of solar radiation was this the sun is undergoing very gradual gravita tional contraction and solar radiation is due to the resulting gradual transfor mation of gravitational potential energy into radiant energy When you plug the suns mass radius and surface temperature into the appropriate equations Kelvin contended you will nd that the sun cannot have been putting out radiant energy at anything like its current level for more than twenty million years Lord Kelvins calculations were I understand correct Given his premise about the mechanism of solar radiation his conclusion follows Twentieth century nuclear physics however has supplied the real mechanism of solar radiation and we now know that Kelvins premise and conclusion were both wrong Even in the nineteenth century however it would have been pos sible to tell justso stories77 according to which the sun had been shining for hundreds of millions of years Here is the beginning of one The sun is made up of rapidly spinning atoms continual collisions between these atoms result in their kinetic energy of rotation being gradually transformed into radiant energy If one continues the story by specifying for some particular moment in the past the right average rotational kinetic energy for the solar atoms and the right average linear velocity and mean free path of the atoms between collisions and the right average loss of rotational kinetic energy in each colli sion the resulting lledout story will have the consequence that the sun has been producing light and heat at its present level for hundreds of millions of years 7 or for any period one likes This is of course a justso story although it serves to establish a pos sibility it isnt true In fact 7 as Kelvin would certainly have been quick to point out 7 it is miracles apart a preposterous story for no imaginable physical mechanism could have produced the initial conditions the enormous rotational kinetic energy of the solar atoms the story postulates And yet in a way the story is true There is one very abstractand very importantfeature that the suninthestory shares with the real sun most of the energy that the sun gives off in the form of light and heat was not stored before it was radiated as gravitational potential energy but rather in the inner dynamics of the atoms of which the sun is composed In the story as kinetic energy of rotation in the real world as nuclear binding energy77 Can van lnwagen7s story about the possibility of resurrection plausibly be viewed in that way 3 Criticisms of the Constitution View7 van lnwagen after describing Bakerls view of constitution and persons states his intuitive reasons for rejecting the view l have only one major objection to constitution theory I cant bring myself to take seriously the idea that constitution is real It seems to me as obvious as anything can be that if a piece of plastic becomes a drivers license thats like a mans becoming a husband entirely a matter of a preeXistent things acquiring a new legal status It seems equally obvious to me that there is nothing numerically distinct from me is spatially coextensive with me i i ll retain a complacent unworried conviction that these things that seem obvious to me deserve to seem obvious to anyone who considers them Well thats philosophy77 But he has a further worry about Baker7s use of constitution to provide for the possibility of life after death which is connected to his objections to the psychological view ofpersonal identity which we discussed when we read van lnwagen7s argument for materialism about persons i my ant Fl ht t quot of i t p I I quot 7 and is identical with7 are not suf cient for my t quot the i t p I I quot o X is identical with the rstperson perspective of yli I need some sort of de nition some explicit statement of meaning And unfortunately the only de nition I can think of i i i is this The rstperson perspective of X is identical with the rstperson perspective of y df X has a rstperson perspective and y has a rstperson perspective and X is identical with y But if this what identity of rstperson perspectives means then its hard to see how being told that God can make a postresurrection person me by giving that person a rstperson perspective numerically identical with mine eXplains anything i i for an essential part of giving a person a rstperson perspective identical with mine is to make that person identical with me And how God might do that is just what identity of rstperson perspectives was supposed to help us to understan i i i i It seems to me that the materialist who believes in the general resurrection is so to speak stuck with saying that there must somehow be some sort of physical continuity between the person who dies in the present age of the world and the person who is raised on the day of resurrection If human persons are physical substances nothing but physical continuity can ground the identity of human persons across time The problem for the Christian materialist7 therefore is to try to present a plausible theory according to which such physical continuity eXistsi77 How would you state this argument Is it plausible for Baker to reply by rejecting the suggested analysis of sameness of rstperson perspective Should she then have to offer another analysis How might one go Empirical arguments for life after death PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks November 28 2006 1 What would a good empirical argument for life after death have to be like Empirical arguments for life after death are arguments based on experience We can think of t em as an instance of a form of argument familiar from both scienti c an every day reasoning as best explanation arguments When we make use of inference to the best explanation we experience some event or fact and on the basis of this come to believe in the existence of some other event or fact which we take to be the best explanation of the observed event or fact Some typical examples Suppose that some experience 6 is given as evidence for life after death Then when we are evaluating the evidence we can think of our task as separated into two questions 0 Does the hypothesis of life after death provide an explanation of the occurrence of e 0 Does this hypothesis provide a better explanation of this occurrence than any other possible explanation One thing we are asking when we ask whether a theory would explain a given event is if the theory were true would the event in question be likely to happen Or does the truth of the theory make the event substantially more likely than the falsity of the theory Some examples Lots of considerations are relevant to the question of whether one explanation is better than another But one consideration which seems to be relevant is how likely to be true we think that the explanations are to be compared independent of the evidence under consideration Consider the fact that I showed up for class on time today and the explanation that aliens brought me here in their space ship We all agree that this is not a good explanation in the sense that your evidence that I made it on time today does not give you license to believe this But what makes it a bad explanation Presumably at least part of the answer is that you have no prior reasons to believe that aliens are carting professors around and so have a low degree of belief going in in that hypothesis When we are evaluating inference to the best explanation7 arguments for life after death however there is a further complication The relevant experiences are experiences that of a sort that probably none of us have had This means that the arguments are based on the experiences of others that are conveyed to us by testimony and we have to believe the testimony about the relevant experiences before it is even relevant to raise questions about whether they are best explained by the existence of life after death This raises the question When are we justi ed in believing the testimony of others Given how much and how successfully we rely on testimony many think that some prin ciple like the following is likely to be true We are justi ed in believing the testimony of others under normal conditions unless there is special reason to distrust that testimony This kind of principle suggests that we don7t need some special justi cation for each instance of testimony that we accept rather we need special justi cation for not accepting a given instance of testimony However this sort of principle leaves lots of questions open What counts as a normal circumstance And what would be a good special reason7 to distrust testimony Here are some candidates 0 The speaker is known to be untrustworthy o The speaker has a lot to gain by lying in the present case 0 The testimony con icts with lots of other testimony o The testimony concerns some event which independent of the testimony seems very unlikely to happen Some doubts about the last of these 2 Near death experiences The evidence most commonly given for life after death is from near death experiences In the readings for the course Moody is a defender of this sort of argument whereas Lester is more skeptical Moody identi es several different aspects which according to his research are reported as recurrent in near death experiences They include for example 0 Hearing doctors or others pronounce them dead 0 The experience of moving very rapidly through a dark space which many describe as a tunne o A very loud buzzing noise 0 An out of body experience in which one looks down on ones own body and some times also on scenes in other rooms 0 Encounter with a very bright light which is often identi ed as a personal being of some kind 0 A review of the events of one s life As noted above we should ask two kinds of questions about these reports Should we trust the testimony of people that report having experiences of this kind and If we accept their testimony are the experiences they describe best explained by the hypothesis that there is life after death Moody addresses the latter question in the selection we read when he considers and rejects alternate explanations of the reported experiences He considers the following alternate hypotheses 1 The experiences are hallucinations caused by drugs administered while in the hos pital 2 The experiences are caused by a lack of oxygen in the brain 3 The experiences are caused by some brain event or other given their similarity to experiences of patients with neurological conditions 4 The experiences are wishful llment dreams or delusions Moody rejects all of these alternate explanations Sometimes this is because the experi ences reported to him are different in character than experiences brought about by the suggested explanation as in the case of 1 2 and 4 other times this is because the experiences happen without the suggested causes as in the case of 1 and 2 other times the problem is that the explanation cannot make sense of the constancy of near death experiences across different subjects as in Are his arguments convincing Lester does not doubt the honest of the sources of testimony about near death experiences but is more skeptical than Moody about whether the best explanation of these experiences is hypothesis that there is life after death Two important critical observations are as follows 0 The type of near death experience seems to vary with the type of bodily injury or illness suffered by the patient Eg patients who went into cardiopulmonary arrest were more likely than others to have a tunnel7 experience This both calls into question the explanation of near death experiences offered by the hypothesis of life after death 7 since that hypothesis seems unable to explain this aspect of the experiences 7 and suggests that physiological explanations may be able to do better 0 Near death experiences seem contra to what Moody implies to vary widely from culture to culture See eg the description of the near death experience of an lndian man 49 If we think that life after death is the same for all people then this calls into question whether the hypothesis of life after death is even a goo explanation of near death experiences 7 quite apart from the question of whether it is better than competing explanations Lester does suggest 467 that out of body experiences do seem to provide one sort of near death experience which should in principle be amenable to test 3 Other kinds of evidence Beloff discusses a number of other alleged sources of empirical evidence for life after death 0 Communication of mediums with the dead 0 Evidence for reincarnation from memories of past lives Some of the criticisms which apply above also seem to have application here For exam ple the evidence of reincarnation appears to be heavily culturedependent whereas it is natural to think that if reincarnation happens at all it happens everywhere The case of communication with mediums is a more interesting one because it seems at least in principle to be more readily veri able than other kinds of evidence for life after death Consider Beloff s description of the following case Probably the person for whose postmortem existence we have the best ev idence is a George Pellewi He was a Bostonian gentleman land although he did not himself believe in survival he once told his friend Hodgson that should he die in the not too distant future and then discover that he had survived he would earnestly attempt to communicate the fact through Mrsi Piperi In the event he did die soon afterward in an accident i i and lo and behold a spiritcontrol calling itself George Pellew i duly began communi cating through Mrsi Piperi Whenever she held a sitting at which any of his friends were present he never failed to greet them whereas conversely he never greeted anyone he had not known during his lifetime In this way he correctly recognized 30 out of a possible 150 individuals without making a single error77 It is a strength of this kind of evidence that like the experiments involving out of body experiences mentioned in Lester it is both in principle open to test and cannot if genuine be explained away as some sort of physiological malfunction Does this make this sort of argument for life after death convincing Does the fact that communication occurs through a medium whose job it is to communicate with the dead make the testimony less trustworthy Putnam on identity theory PHIL 20208 Jeff Speaks September 12 2006 Putnam begins The nature of mental states7 by agreeing with a lot of claims that we saw Smart making Putnam agrees with Smart that it is coherent to think of the identi cation of pains and other mental states with brain states as the same kind of claim as other theoretical identi cations in science and agrees further that the fact that one can know that one is in pain without knowing much about onels brain state does not show that pains brain states As Putnam points out and as Smart did if this argument was good it would count against almost any scienti c theoretical identi cation His argument against the View is not that it is nonsense but that when we look at what it would take for the identity theory to be true we can see that it is very unlikely to be true Consider what the brain state theorist has to do to make good his claims He has to specify a physicalchecmical state such that my organism not just a mammal is in pain if and only if a it possesses a brain of a suitable physical chemical structure and b its brain is in that physicalchemical state This means that the physicalchemical state in question must be a possible state of a mammalian brain a reptilian brain a molluscls brain etc At the same time it must not be a possible state of the brain of any physically possible creature that cannot feel pain Even if such a state can be found it must be nomologically certain that it will also be a state of the brain of any extraterrestrial life that may be found that will be capable of feeling pain before we can even entertain the supposition that it may be paint Finally the hypothesis becomes still more ambitious when we realize that the brainstate theorist is not just saying that pain is a brain state he is of course concerned to maintain that every psychological state is a brain state Thus if we can nd even one psychological predicate which can clearly be applied to both a mammal and an octopus i i but whose physicalchemical correlate7 is different in the two cases the brainstate theory has collapsed77 4367 Arguments of this form against identity theories of mental states are sometimes called arguments from multiple realizabilityi7 How is the argument supposed to work Is it plausible Putnam s paper is not just aimed at arguing against physicalism he also introduces a new theory of mental states7 Which he expresses as the View that a mental state like pain is a functional state of a Whole organismi77 433 What does he mean by this What is a probabilistic automaton How can this theory be compatible With both materialism and dualism7 as Putnam says it is 436


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