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Chapter 3: Physicalist Responses to the Argument against Physicalism

  1. Feb 8, 2005 #1


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    Note: Chapter 3 is the most technical and demanding chapter in A Place for Consciousness. It is intended primarily for graduate and professional level philosophers, and presupposes that the reader has some familiarity with many of the arguments and terms used. Therefore, discussion of this chapter is optional, and will be conducted concurrently with discussion of chapter 4.

    In this chapter, Rosenberg answers to various physicalist responses to the argument against physicalism. In particular, he considers appeals to a posteriori necessity, appeals to holism, and warnings about a greater absurdity, and argues at length that none of these is an adequate response to the antiphysicalist argument.

    Sorry about the brevity of this summary; I'll have a more detailed one up soon. For now, interested parties can nonetheless begin discussion of the chapter here.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2005 #2
    In the middle of page 42, in discussing the need to "produce properties and individuals in wholly different ontologies...without introducing anything else fundamental.", GR says, "...I explain how entailment answers this need: It provides a necessity through which we can see how one set of facts can determine another set of facts using nothing further except interpretive and conceptual resources."

    I think that is like saying, in order for me to be rich, I need "nothing further except" money. "nterpretive and conceptual resources" are powerful aspects of mind which are part of what we are trying to explain and understand in the first place. I think he makes a significant unacknowledged assumption in this explanation. That is, he assumes that "we" are independent, conscious thinkers who have the capability to conceive and interpret.

    It seems to me that a better hypothesis would be that consciousness itself (or some minimal subset of it, like the bare ability to know) is ontologically fundamental. This would meet his requirement, and nothing else fundamental would be required. If that single consciousness appears vicariously though human (and other animal) brains, giving the illusion of independent identities, then all the problems of how consciousness arose billions of years after the Big Bang have obvious, easy solutions.

    In his paragraph in the middle of page 43, it seems to me that his contrast between theories and the semantics of thought makes a good argument for considering thought (i.e. consciousness) to be primal.

    At the top of page 50, his 'entailment' is necessarily based on concepts. Thus again I maintain that something like a conscious mind is required for these concepts. It is true that this "treatment" does not require any "new empirical information" but it does require something like a mind in order to include concepts. And in the middle page 50, where he says, "...if one has the concept of color", he doesn't identify or define who the "one" is who "has the concept".

    In reading his next paragraph, I say that the "ontological innocence of entailment is [NOT] clear". What's missing is the equivalent of a mind which holds the concepts.
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