Journal Article

A New Argument for Mind–Brain Identity

István Aranyosi

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 489-517
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr001
A New Argument for Mind–Brain Identity

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In this article, I undertake the tasks: (i) of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality; and (ii) of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, the only probabilistically coherent candidates being ‘anomic danglers’ (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers’ (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental–physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favor of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject.

1The Notion of a Nomological Dangler

2The Probabilistic Incoherence of Naturalistic Dualism

3The Inference to Mind–Brain Identity

4The Technical Formulation of the Argument

5Objections Related to the Core Argument

6Objections Related to Technicalities

7Conclusion

Journal Article.  13198 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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