<i>How Not to Solve the Mind‐Body Problem</i>

Colin McGinn

in Consciousness and its Objects

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267606
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601798 | DOI:
How Not to Solve the Mind‐Body Problem

Show Summary Details


Against those who appeal to the necessary a posteriori in responding to the mind-body problem, it is argued that a solution to the problem must take the form of an analytic rather than an empirical identity statement, which is to say that a conceptual rather than an a posteriori reduction of consciousness must be provided. Frege showed that true identity statements need not link synonyms, which disposes of some epistemic objections to physicalism, but Kripke’s recognition that all identity statements are necessary (though some are a posteriori) means that if psychophysical identity statements are contingent, as they appear to be, we have good reason to believe that they are false. It is argued that only a conceptual reduction can remove the need to introduce irreducibly psychic properties if the identity statements that are characteristic of physicalism are to be informative. The consequences of this thesis for our prospects of solving the mind-body problem and its implications for arguments against physicalism are discussed. In particular, it is suggested that the only alternative to property dualism is a conceptually true statement identifying body and mind containing radically innovative concepts of body and mind.

Keywords: conceptual reduction; consciousness; Frege; identity; Kripke; mind-body problem; physicalism; property dualism

Chapter.  10507 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.