Type physicalism (also known as reductive materialism, type identity theory, mind–brain identity theory and identity theory of mind) is a physicalist theory, in the philosophy of mind. It asserts that mental events can be grouped into types, and can then be correlated with types of physical events in the brain. For example, one type of mental event, such as "mental pains" will, presumably, turn out to be describing one type of physical event (like C-fiber firings).
In philosophy, physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that "everything is physical", that there is "nothing over and above" the physical, or that everything supervenes on the physical. Physicalism is a form of ontological monism—a "one substance" view of the nature of reality as opposed to a "two-substance" (dualism) or "many-substance" (pluralism) view. Both the definition of "physical" and the meaning of physicalism have been debated.
Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology, nature, and relationship of the mind to the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.
A mental event is anything which happens within the mind or mind substitute of a conscious individual. Examples include thoughts, feelings, decisions, dreams, and realizations.
Type physicalism is contrasted by token identity physicalism, which argues that mental events are unlikely to have "steady" or categorical biological correlates. These positions make use of the philosophical type–token distinction (e.g., Two persons having the same "type" of car need not mean that they share a "token", a single vehicle). Type physicalism can now be understood to argue that there is identicalness between types, whereas token identity physicalism says one can only describe a particular, unique, brain event.
Anomalous monism is a philosophical thesis about the mind–body relationship. It was first proposed by Donald Davidson in his 1970 paper "Mental Events". The theory is twofold and states that mental events are identical with physical events, and that the mental is anomalous, i.e. under their mental descriptions, relationships between these mental events are not describable by strict physical laws. Hence, Davidson proposes an identity theory of mind without the reductive bridge laws associated with the type-identity theory. Since the publication of his paper, Davidson has refined his thesis and both critics and supporters of anomalous monism have come up with their own characterizations of the thesis, many of which appear to differ from Davidson's.
The type–token distinction is used in disciplines such as logic, linguistics, metalogic, typography, and computer programming to clarify what words mean.
There are other ways a physicalist might criticize type physicalism; eliminative materialism and revisionary materialism question whether science is currently using the best categorisations. In the same way talk of demonic possession was questioned with scientific advance, categorisations like "pain" may need to be revised.
Eliminative materialism is the claim that people's common-sense understanding of the mind is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. It is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Some supporters of eliminativism argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level. Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.
Revisionary materialism is the view that falls between eliminative materialism and reductive materialism when it comes to a particular psychological phenomenon.
Demonic possession is believed by some to be the process by which individuals are possessed by malevolent preternatural beings, commonly referred to as demons or devils. Symptoms of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions and fainting as if one were dying.
According to U. T. Place,one of the popularizers of the idea of type-identity in the 1950s and 1960s, the idea of type-identity physicalism originated in the 1930s with the psychologist E. G. Boring and took nearly a quarter of a century to gain acceptance from the philosophical community. Boring, in a book entitled The Physical Dimensions of Consciousness (1933) wrote that:
Ullin Thomas Place (1924–2000), usually cited as U. T. Place, was a British philosopher and psychologist. Along with J. J. C. Smart, he developed the identity theory of mind. He taught for some years in the Department of Philosophy in the University of Leeds.
To the author a perfect correlation is identity. Two events that always occur together at the same time in the same place, without any temporal or spatial differentiation at all, are not two events but the same event. The mind-body correlations as formulated at present, do not admit of spatial correlation, so they reduce to matters of simple correlation in time. The need for identification is no less urgent in this case (p. 16, quoted in Place [unpublished]).
The barrier to the acceptance of any such vision of the mind, according to Place, was that philosophers and logicians had not yet taken a substantial interest in questions of identity and referential identification in general. The dominant epistemology of the logical positivists at that time was phenomenalism, in the guise of the theory of sense-data. Indeed, Boring himself subscribed to the phenomenalist creed, attempting to reconcile it with an identity theory and this resulted in a reductio ad absurdum of the identity theory, since brain states would have turned out, on this analysis, to be identical to colors, shapes, tones and other sensory experiences.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.
Logical positivism and logical empiricism, which together formed neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was verificationism, a theory of knowledge which asserted that only statements verifiable through empirical observation are meaningful. The movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in several European centers.
Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves, but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli situated in time and in space. In particular, some forms of phenomenalism reduce talk about physical objects in the external world to talk about bundles of sense-data.
The revival of interest in the work of Gottlob Frege and his ideas of sense and reference on the part of Herbert Feigl and J. J. C. Smart, along with the discrediting of phenomenalism through the influence of the later Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin, led to a more tolerant climate toward physicalistic and realist ideas. Logical behaviorism emerged as a serious contender to take the place of the Cartesian "ghost in the machine" and, although not lasting very long as a dominant position on the mind/body problem, its elimination of the whole realm of internal mental events was strongly influential in the formation and acceptance of the thesis of type identity.
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. He is understood by many to be the father of analytic philosophy, concentrating on the philosophy of language and mathematics. Though largely ignored during his lifetime, Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers.
A sense is a physiological capacity of organisms that provides data for perception. The senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied by a variety of fields, most notably neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of perception. The nervous system has a specific sensory nervous system, and a sense organ, or sensor, dedicated to each sense.
Reference is a relation between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to refer to the second object. It is called a name for the second object. The second object, the one to which the first object refers, is called the referent of the first object. A name is usually a phrase or expression, or some other symbolic representation. Its referent may be anything – a material object, a person, an event, an activity, or an abstract concept.
There were actually subtle but interesting differences between the three most widely credited formulations of the type-identity thesis, those of Place, Feigl and Smart which were published in several articles in the late 1950s. However, all of the versions share the central idea that the mind is identical to something physical.
U. T. Place's (1956) notion of the relation of identity was derived from Bertrand Russell's distinction among several types of is statements:[ citation needed ] the is of identity, the is of equality and the is of composition. Place's version of the relation of identity is more accurately described as a relation of composition. For Place, higher-level mental events are composed out of lower-level physical events and will eventually be analytically reduced to these. So, to the objection that "sensations" do not mean the same thing as "mental processes", Place could simply reply with the example that "lightning" does not mean the same thing as "electrical discharge" since we determine that something is lightning by looking and seeing it, whereas we determine that something is an electrical discharge through experimentation and testing. Nevertheless, "lightning is an electrical discharge" is true since the one is composed of the other.
For Feigl (1957) and Smart (1959), on the other hand, the identity was to be interpreted as the identity between the referents of two descriptions (senses) which referred to the same thing, as in "the morning star" and "the evening star" both referring to Venus, a necessary identity.So to the objection about the lack of equality of meaning between "sensation" and "brain process", their response was to invoke this Fregean distinction: "sensations" and "brain" processes do indeed mean different things but they refer to the same physical phenomenon. Moreover, "sensations are brain processes" is a contingent, not a necessary, identity.
One of the most influential and common objections to the type identity theory is the argument from multiple realizability. The multiple realizability thesis asserts that mental states can be realized in multiple kinds of systems, not just brains, for example. Since the identity theory identifies mental events with certain brain states, it does not allow for mental states to be realized in organisms or computational systems that do not have a brain. This is in effect an argument that the identity theory is too narrow because it does not allow for organisms without brains to have mental states. However, token identity (where only particular tokens of mental states are identical with particular tokens of physical events) and functionalism both account for multiple realizability.
The response of type identity theorists, such as Smart, to this objection is that, while it may be true that mental events are multiply realizable, this does not demonstrate the falsity of type identity. As Smart states:
The fundamental point is that it is extremely difficult to determine where, on the continuum of first order processes, type identity ends and merely token identities begin. Take Quine's example of English country gardens. In such gardens, the tops of hedges are cut into various shapes, for example the shape of an elf. We can make generalizations over the type elf-shaped hedge only if we abstract away from the concrete details of the individual twigs and branches of each hedge. So, whether we say that two things are of the same type or are tokens of the same type because of subtle differences is just a matter of descriptive abstraction. The type-token distinction is not all or nothing.
Hilary Putnamessentially rejects functionalism because, he believes, it is indeed a second-order type identity theory. Putnam uses multiple realizability against functionalism itself, suggesting that mental events (or kinds, in Putnam's terminology) may be diversely implemented by diverse functional/computational kinds; there may be only a token identification between particular mental kinds and particular functional kinds. Putnam, and many others who have followed him, now tend to identify themselves as generically non-reductive physicalists. Putnam's invocation of multiple realizability does not, of course, directly answer the problem raised by Smart with respect to useful generalizations over types and the flexible nature of the type-token distinction in relation to causal taxonomies in science.
Another frequent objection is that type identity theories fail to account for phenomenal mental states (or qualia), such as having a pain, feeling sad, experiencing nausea. (Qualia are merely the subjective qualities of conscious experience. An example is the way the pain of jarring ones elbow feels to the individual.) Arguments can be found in Saul Kripke (1972) and David Chalmers (1996), for example, according to which the identity theorist cannot identify phenomenal mental states with brain states (or any other physical state for that matter) because one has a sort of direct awareness of the nature of such qualitative mental states, and their nature is qualitative in a way that brain states are not.
A famous formulation of the qualia objection comes from Frank Jackson (1982) in the form of the Mary's room thought experiment. Let us suppose, Jackson suggests, that a particularly brilliant super-scientist named Mary has been locked away in a completely black-and-white room her entire life. Over the years in her colour-deprived world she has studied (via black-and-white books and television) the sciences of neurophysiology, vision and electromagnetics to their fullest extent; eventually Mary comes to know all the physical facts there are to know about experiencing colour. When Mary is released from her room and experiences colour for the first time, does she learn something new? If we answer "yes" (as Jackson suggests we do) to this question, then we have supposedly denied the truth of type physicalism, for if Mary has exhausted all the physical facts about experiencing colour prior to her release, then her subsequently acquiring some new piece of information about colour upon experiencing its quale reveals that there must be something about the experience of colour which is not captured by the physicalist picture. (See Mary's room page for full discussion).
The type identity theorist, such as Smart, attempts to explain away such phenomena by insisting that the experiential properties of mental events are topic-neutral. The concept of topic-neutral terms and expressions goes back to Gilbert Ryle, who identified such topic-neutral terms as "if", "or", "not", "because" and "and." If one were to hear these terms alone in the course of a conversation, it would be impossible to tell whether the topic under discussion concerned geology, physics, history, gardening, or selling pizza. For the identity theorist, sense-data and qualia are not real things in the brain (or the physical world in general) but are more like "the average electrician." The average electrician can be further analyzed and explained in terms of real electricians but is not itself a real electrician.
The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.
Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.
Functionalism is a viewpoint of the theory of the mind. It states that mental states are constituted solely by their functional role in, i.e. causal relations with, other mental states, sensory inputs and behavioral outputs. Functionalism developed largely as an alternative to the identity theory of mind and behaviorism.
In philosophy of mind and consciousness, the explanatory gap is the difficulty that physicalist theories have in explaining how physical properties give rise to the way things feel when they are experienced. It is a term introduced by philosopher Joseph Levine. In the 1983 paper in which he first used the term, he used as an example the sentence, "Pain is the firing of C fibers", pointing out that while it might be valid in a physiological sense, it does not help us to understand how pain feels.
The knowledge argument is a philosophical thought experiment proposed by Frank Jackson in his article "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (1982) and extended in "What Mary Didn't Know" (1986). The experiment is intended to argue against physicalism—the view that the universe, including all that is mental, is entirely physical. The debate that emerged following its publication became the subject of an edited volume—There's Something About Mary (2004)—which includes replies from such philosophers as Daniel Dennett, David Lewis, and Paul Churchland.
The inverted spectrum is the hypothetical concept of two people sharing their color vocabulary and discriminations, although the colors one sees—one's qualia—are systematically different from the colors the other person sees.
Property dualism describes a category of positions in the philosophy of mind which hold that, although the world is composed of just one kind of substance—the physical kind—there exist two distinct kinds of properties: physical properties and mental properties. In other words, it is the view that non-physical, mental properties inhere in or supervene upon certain physical substances. As a doctrine, 'property dualism' is epistemic, as distinct from ontic.
Jaegwon Kim is a Korean-American philosopher who is now an emeritus professor at Brown University, but who also taught at several other leading American universities. He is best known for his work on mental causation, the mind-body problem and the metaphysics of supervenience and events. Key themes in his work include: a rejection of Cartesian metaphysics, the limitations of strict psychophysical identity, supervenience, and the individuation of events. Kim's work on these and other contemporary metaphysical and epistemological issues is well represented by the papers collected in Supervenience and Mind: Selected Philosophical Essays (1993).
In the philosophy of mind, the China brain thought experiment considers what would happen if each member of the Chinese nation were asked to simulate the action of one neuron in the brain, using telephones or walkie-talkies to simulate the axons and dendrites that connect neurons. Would this arrangement have a mind or consciousness in the same way that brains do?
Multiple realizability, in the philosophy of mind, is the thesis that the same mental property, state, or event can be implemented by different physical properties, states, or events. The idea has its roots in the late 1960s and early 1970s when a number of philosophers, most prominently Hilary Putnam and Jerry Fodor (1975), put it forth as an argument against reductionist accounts of the relation between mental and physical kinds. In short, a theory of mind that includes multiple realizability allows for the existence of strong AI. The original targets of these arguments were the type-identity theory and eliminative materialism. The same arguments from multiple realizability were also used to defend many versions of functionalism, especially Machine state functionalism.
In philosophy, the computational theory of mind (CTM) refers to a family of views that hold that the human mind is an information processing system and that cognition and consciousness together are a form of computation. Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts (1943) were the first to suggest that neural activity is computational. They argued that neural computations explain cognition. The theory was proposed in its modern form by Hilary Putnam in 1967, and developed by his PhD student, philosopher and cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Despite being vigorously disputed in analytic philosophy in the 1990s due to work by Putnam himself, John Searle, and others, the view is common in modern cognitive psychology and is presumed by many theorists of evolutionary psychology. In the 2000s and 2010s the view has resurfaced in analytic philosophy.
Physical causal closure is a metaphysical theory about the nature of causation in the physical realm with significant ramifications in the study of metaphysics and the mind. In a strongly stated version, physical causal closure says that "all physical states have pure physical causes" — Jaegwon Kim, or that "physical effects have only physical causes" — Agustin Vincente, p. 150.
Nomological danglers is a term used by Scottish-Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart in his article Sensations and Brain Processes. He credits the term to Herbert Feigl and his article The "Mental" and the "Physical". It refers to the occurrence of something, which does not fit into the system of established laws. He thinks that systems in which such "nomological danglers would dangle" are quite odd. In his example the nomological danglers would be sensations such that are not able to be explained by the scientific theory of brain processes. Some mental entities for example in a phenomenological field, are not able to be found in physics. In the context Smart uses it, he is criticising dualism and epiphenomenalism as philosophies of mind, and the concerns over physical and causal laws they raise. Smart puts forward his own theory in the form of Materialism, claiming it is a better theory, in part because it is free from these nomological danglers, making it superior in accordance with Occam's Razor.
"What is it like to be a bat?" is a paper by American philosopher Thomas Nagel, first published in The Philosophical Review in October 1974, and later in Nagel's Mortal Questions (1979). In it, Nagel argues that materialist theories of mind omit the essential component of consciousness, namely that there is something that it is like to be a particular, conscious thing. He argues that an organism has conscious mental states, "if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism to be itself." Daniel Dennett, a critic of Nagel's argument, nevertheless called this paper "the most widely cited and influential thought experiment about consciousness."
This is a list of philosophy of mind articles.
In philosophy and certain models of psychology, qualia are defined to be individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. The term qualia derives from the Latin neuter plural form (qualia) of the Latin adjective quālis meaning "of what sort" or "of what kind" in a specific instance like "what it is like to taste a specific apple, this particular apple now".