Lecture V.

Philosophy of Mind
Trinity Term 2011 Dr. A. Avramides

Reading D. Davidson, “Mental Events”, Davidson’s Actions and Events “Psychology as Philosophy”, in Actions and Events “The Material Mind”, also in Actions and Events S. Evnine, Donald Davidson, ch. 1 J. Kim, Philosophy of Mind, (Westview Press), 1998, ch. 1 (pp. 1-25) Mind in a Physical World, (A Bradford Book), 1999, ch. 1 Supervenience, a collection of essays devoted to the topic, ed. by Kim in the International Research Library of Philosophy, 28, (Ashgate), 2002- I recommend the essay by Kim entitled “Concepts of Supervenience” “Psychophysical Laws”, in Actions and Events, ed. by E. Lepore and B. McLaughlin The Philosophy of Donald Davidson, the library of living philosophers, vol. xxvii, ed. L. E. Hahn, essays in Part II, secs. C. and D. S. Blackburn, Spreading the Word, (Clarendon Press), 1984, pp. 182 – 190 (a good discussion of supervenience) B. Child, Causality, Interpretation, and the Mind, O.U.P., 1996. D. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, ch. 2 J. Yoo, “Anomalous Monism”, in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind, eds. B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann and S. Walter

58-61) 2. there exists a brain event of kind B such that M occurs to o at time t if and only if B occurs to o at t. Davidson: Events (like) objects fall under different descriptions 3. read Kim Philosophy of Mind. pp. Once this distinction between events and their descriptions is in place we are in a position to understand the possibility of 4 very different options here: Nomological monism: straightforward materialism Basic idea: one event and a lawlike correlation between mental and physical properties. Nomological dualism: Two kinds of events and substances + a lawlike correlation between them (parallelism. There is a claimed correlation between the mental and the physical. The assumption of an ontology of events Various ways of identifying events: (i) As independent particulars (Davidson) (ii) As dependent particulars (Kim)(for more on how this difference makes a difference.LECTURE OUTLINE: Anomalous Monism Let’s begin with a rough characterization of the identification of mental and physical events: For every type of mental event that can occur to an organism o. interactionism) . Things to note about this characterization: 1.

while insisting that all events are physical. it is non-reductive (iv) It is committed to a token identity The most important factor here: anomalousness (no psychophysical laws) Consider (from “Mental Events”): Do we. poach on the empirical preserves of science – a form of hubris against which philosophers are often warned? (p. that mental phenomena can be given purely physical explanations.e. Anomalous monism shows an ontological bias only in that it allows the possibility that not all events are mental. all events have at least one physical description (iii) It denies the existence of a lawlike correlation between mental and physical properties. by declaring that there are no (strict) psychophysical laws.Anomalous dualism: Two kinds of events and substances but no (necessary) correlation between them. Such a bland monism. (closest to Descartes’ dualism Anomalous Monism: (quotation from Davidson’s “Mental Events”) Anomalous monism resembles materialism in its claim that all events are physical but rejects the thesis. 216) The heart of Davidson’s thinking here (again from “ME”) . unbuttressed by correlating laws or conceptual Points to note about AM (anomalous monism): (i) It is founded on an ontology of events (ii) It assumes that all events are physical – i. usually considered essential to materialism.

An argument against Davidson: in the case of rocks breaking windows. we don’t expect to find a law stated in terms of rocks and windows breaking. Rather. Davidson concludes: “We must conclude …that the nomological slack between the mental and the physical is essential as long as we conceive of man as a rational animal” (223).If the case of supposed laws linking the mental and the physical is different. 222). 222). independently of knowing whether the evidence supports a connection between them (218). And again he writes: “To the extent that we fail to discover a coherent and plausible pattern in the attitudes and actions of others we simply forgo the chance of treating them as persons” (p. that is. And a few pages later he adds: Nomological statements bring together predicates that we know a priori are made for each other – know. The laws will be in a more scientific vocabulary. we begin with rough generalizations and refine these into proper laws. . Question: What reason can be adduced to support the claim that mental and physical predicated are not made for each other? (i) The holistic nature of mind in conjunction with (ii) The rational nature of mind Davidson writes in this connection: “To the extent that we fail to discover a coherent and plausible pattern in the attitudes and actions of others we simply forgo the chance of treating them as persons” (p. it can only be because to allow the possibility of such a law would amount to changing the subject (216).

p. and what goes on in the human nervous system. by prodding or talking. given its rational nature. (246) The question is: Does ART have a mind? One consideration: ART is artificial – he is created by man and not by God or by nature. Here is Davidson’s description of ART. Davidson’s is an in principal argument against reduction: given the sort of thing the mind is. every such correlation is faithfully preserved in Art. In this connection Davidson asks that we consider ART. In the case of rocks and windows there is a smooth transition from generalization to law. and then writes that the rational has “no echo” in the physical (see “Psychology as Philosophy”. 259). In the case of minds and brains the vocabulary is heterophonic (the transition is not smooth) Davidson backs up this claim by pointing to the rational nature of the mental. 231) Davidson ends his paper. we are working in a homophonic vocabulary.Davidson’s reaction to this argument: what works for rocks and window breaking will not work for minds and brains. No one who did not know that Art was artificial would have discovered it by watching or listening. so far as this knowledge is reflected in physically describable ways. In the case of rocks and windows and the proper laws that govern them. . says Davidson. But. “The Material Mind”. from “The Material Mind”: Every correlation that has ever been discovered between what we know of mental processes. a reduction cannot be achieved. if we refuse to say that ART has a mind it is not for this reason. by writing: “There is no important sense in which psychology can be reduced to the physical sciences” (p. In the case of minds and brains the transition is subject to a change in kind of vocabulary.

we would have first to observe Art’s macroscopic movements. Kim (“Psychophysical Laws”. above) J. For those wishing to pursue Davidson’s interpretationalism in depth. 383): The view of psychology that emerges from Davidson is one of a broad interpretative endeavor directed at human action. you discover rods and cones…. And not just the superficial appearances. If you cut him he bleeds. psychology is portrayed as a hermeneutic inquiry rather than a predictive science. and decide how to interpret them. or that he believes Beethoven died in Vienna.Nevertheless. and if you dissect his eyes.About ART Davidson writes: Art gives every appearance of thinking. in just the way we decide for human. 250) Davidson concludes: “If we want to decide whether Art has psychological properties. to understand its ‘meaning’ rather than search for law-based causal explanations that are readily convertible into predictions. acting. he blinks. . force us to conclude that Art is angry. The view holds that we can gain an understanding of the nature of the mental by reflecting on the nature of interpretation. In order to decide this. in itself. we must stop thinking of him as a machine that we have built and start judging him as we would a man. I recommend Bill Child’s Causality. feeling like a man. if you shine a light in his eyes. see reading list. p.” (251) Interpretationalism. Interpretation and the Mind. (p. our detailed understanding of the physical workings cannot.

. Indeed there is a sense in which the physical characteristics of an event (or an object or state) determine the psychological characteristics. Davidson introduces the idea of supervenient dependence in “The Material Mind”: Although. there is an intuition of some kind of dependence between the physical and the mental. 59): every object that has colour has shape. Cf. in G. p. and that all other facts are dependent on these…. While there is no intuition that there is any correlation between colour and shape.Once Anomalous Monism is in place Davidson introduces a further idea: supervenience Without the idea of supervenience there looks to be no relationship between the mental and physical. in that necessarily any two things indiscernible in all physical properties are indiscernible in mental respects. David Chalmers writes: “It is widely believed that the most fundamental facts about our universe are physical facts. Kim (The Philosophy of Mind. 32). psychological concepts are supervenient on physical concepts (253).The notion of supervenience formalizes the intuitive idea that one se of facts can fully determine another set of facts” (The Conscious Mind. as I am urging. Supervenience is meant to capture this. nevertheless they may be (and I think are) strongly dependent on them.E. but colours and shapes do not systematically correlate with one another. p. Two ideas that lie behind supervenience: (i) Mental properties supervene on physical properties. Moore’s view. psychological characterizations cannot be reduced to [physical (or biological or physiological) characterizations].

but given that it is B and A. Supervenience is an idea borrowed from other areas of philosophy. then every other thing that is B must be A.) . and the moral in relation to the non-moral.(ii) If a psychological description applies to one event and not to another. Or: an Aproperty cannot change without an alteration in the underlying Bproperty. no mental difference without a corresponding physical difference Supervenience is. (in short. Let’s begin now with a quite general formulation of the idea of supervenience: If two situations are identical with respect to their B-properties. two ways of reading the “cannot” or must claim): Formal rendition of Weak reading: Nec ((Ex) (Bx & Ax) then (Ay) (By then Ay)) (Necessarily. Another way to put the point: something could have been B but not A. but other things are B and not A (given the existence of B/A combination. It is an idea that has been used to discuss the relation of the aesthetic and the descriptive. that is. then they are identical with respect to their A-properties. is also A. compatible with the variable realizability of the mental: the same mental characteristic can be realized in several different physical systems. then anything else which is B. other B/A combinations must follow. there is no possible world in which one thing is B and A. if there is something which is B and also A. Two possible readings of the idea of supervenience (in particular. there must be a difference describable in physical terms. thus.

But if not explanatory. where ever one finds the property B one will find property A. Q: What notion of supervenience does someone like Kim work with? Reply: the strong notion of suervenience Note McGinn: Davidson’s idea of supervenience is not meant to be explanatory. it is not a reduction).Formal rendition of Strong reading: Nec (Ay) (By then Ay) (Necessarily. This formulation does not allow that there are possible worlds which are B but not A. This is a rigid connection between properties B and A. ) Q: What idea of supervenience is Davidson working with? Reply: the weak notion of supervenience. it is a phenomenological relation about patterns of property covariation Davidson might argue that supervenience in the case of the mental and the physical cannot go deep because of the heteronomy of the terms here . if a thing has property B it has property A. that is. what work is it doing? Reply: It is capturing our intuitions about our concepts of the mental and the physical Supervenience is not a metaphysically deep relation (that is. rather.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful