Monday, October 12, 2009

Topics for Midterm Exam

Besides Chapters 1 and 7, these are the new topics for our midterm exam.  Again, don't forget to use this link to our textbook. Go to the chapters on the left hand side. Test yourself and see the results.

Chapter 2 (Philosophy of Mind)
2.1 Cartesian Dualism: Ms <---> Nonphysical substance that interacts with the body. Body and mind and different substances. Conclusion: Descartes deductive arguments are valid but unsound. Empirically speaking there is no immaterial substance. Thus, Cartesian theory, as it stands, is not viable.

Logical Behaviorism , behavioral dispositions: MS <---> BhS, where BhS are behavioral  dispositions. C/E "Perfect pretender", "Super Spartans." Qualitative content (qualia = the unique, private feeling of our mental states). Conclusion: Logical Behaviorism is a materialist theory because it doesn't postulate the existence of non-material entities. It's a reductive theory because it holds that mental states can be translated into behavioral dispositions. But it doesn't account for the quality of mental states and the translation between behavior and mental states that it envisions cannot be performed. 

Identity Theory: MS <---> BrS, where BrS is the passing of electro/chemical signals from cell to cell. C/E "Nagel's Bat" and "Lewis Pained Martian." (You must be able to grasp and understand these counterexamples and derive conclusions). Conclusion: Identity theory is superior to behaviorism because it can explain mental causation. But there is reason to doubt that mental states and identical to brain states because brain states are knowable by empirical investigation while mental states are not. Moreover, having a brain doesn't seem to be a necessary condition for having a mind (since an alien or a computer could have a mind). 

Conscious experience: Nagel's bat experiment shows that mental states have this characteristic that can be felt from the "inside" from a first person POV. But physical properties can all be known from the "outside" --from a third person POV. Since complete knowledge of physical properties cannot yield knowledge of mental properties, the mind cannot be identified with the brain.

Functionalism: MS <---> FS. According to functionalism, to have a mind is to have the ability to perform certain functions. C/E "Lewis Pained Madman and Putnam's inverted spectrum (imagine a color-blind driver driving like we do, only he inverts green with red). "Turing Test for Intelligence: C/E Searle's Chinese Room. Intentionality (the ability of mental states to be "of" or "about" anything).

2.5 Property Dualism:
... is the view that non-physical, mental properties (such as beliefs, desires and emotions) inhere in some physical substances (namely brains).

Primitive Property (intentionality as a primitive property).
Emergent Property and Downward Causation.

The problem with this theory is that of a non-physical property causing physical properties. I suggest this alternative: Biological Naturalism. 

Consciousness, is a biological phenomenon, a property of the brain, but not a purely functional property. Instead, it is a systemic property. Systemic properties are very common in science, and some can seem quite unexpected just looking at the parts of the "system." For example, water is liquid, even though none of its parts, its molecules, are liquid. Liquidity is a systemic property. But we can explain why water is liquid in terms of its parts and their causal interactions. Another example is transparency – molecules aren't transparent; what makes glass transparent is the way the molecules are organized. In each of these cases, we can explain the "new" systemic property in terms of micro-level interactions. 

Similarly, consciousness is a systemic property of the brain. It is the brain as a whole that is conscious, even though its individual parts – neurones – aren't. Co

Chapter 3

Causal Determinism (every event has a cause that makes it happen + laws of nature) and
Hard determinism (the doctrine that there are no free actions). Hard determinism assumes that if CD is true, then there are no free actions because as our bodies made up of matter, we must be subjects to the same laws of causation. In class we discussed an argument to problematize HD. If HD is true, then there is no human responsibility: i.e., if we are not free, we cannot be responsible for our actions (since one is responsible if and only if one can make choices). 

Indeterminism: Is the view that certain events are not caused deterministically. That is, since the advent of quantum mechanics and according to the Copenhagen interpretation, the most basic constituents of matter can behave indeterministically. But if that was the case, there is not freedom either, that is, if my brain event is caused by a probabilistic event, and not my own causing it.

Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are not mutually exclusive.
Soft determinism: Determined actions can nevertheless be free. 

1- Traditional Compatibilism (Free actions are 1- caused by one's will and 2- not externally constrained). The reasoning is this:

Principle of alternative possibilities:  one can be held responsible for doing something only if one could have done otherwise. "could have done otherwise" means "if you had chosen otherwise, then you would have done otherwise." Think of our "fork-example" of a student being late for class. He chooses ( A) "having coffee with lots of traffic," instead of (B) "not having coffee and no traffic." For Traditional Compatibilism the student is responsible for being late since "if he had choosen (B) instead of (A), he would have been on time for class. 

C/E "Taylor's Ingenious Physiologist. In class we discussed how TV can "plant" desires. So in a way is a kind of ingenious physiologist.

2- "Hierarchical Compatibilism: First and Second Order Desires; Second Order Volitions. Remember: A first order desire is directed to an object or state of affairs, a second order desire is a desire about a desire, a second order volition is a second order desire on which wants to act. 

Harry Frankfurt's three drug addicts: Let's call a first order desire: FOD, a second order desire: SOD, a second order volition: SOV. So we get the following:  

Wanton addict: FOD, not SOD, not SOV, not free. 
Happy Addict: FOD, SOD, SOV, free.
Unwilling Addict: FOD, SOD (only this desire is against his taking the drug), SOV, but now he cannot act on these SOV, so he's not free). Remember, to be free one has to either formulate a SOV or be able to act on it. 

C/E to Hierarchical Compatibilism: Slote's Hypnotized patient and The Willing Bank Teller. One proves that SOV can be manipulated from the inside. The other shows rthat SOV can be manipulated beyond our control. 

Punishment: How do compatibilists see punishment? p. 203. Punishment cannot be  retributive (eye-for-an-eye). The only legitimate way of punishment is rehabilitation and deterrence. Criminal actions are dictated by genes and habits (nature and nurture). Retributive punishment makes sense if it's deserved. But nothing people do is up to them.

Event and Agent Causation. Event---> event or Agent---> event.

Libertarianism holds that agents can cause events. How? Remember we talked about the possibility that the mind causes the brain. There are two arguments:

Argument from Experience. Argument from deliberation.

Libet's Neurophysiological challenge: it seems to show that consciousness of a decision arises only after the decision has already been made (the 300 millisecond gap between the decision to press the button and the brain signal). Rebuttal by libertarians: There's a difference between making a "conscious decision" and a "meta-conscious decision" (meta-conscious awareness is second order). For the libertarian, the subject in Libet's report is not having a "conscious" but a "meta-conscious" decision. So it's no surprise that it happens "after" the conscious decision was made.


Radical Libertarianism (Existentialism): Jean-Paul Sartre's kind of libertarianism (known as Existentialism) holds that the self is essentially free. His analysis is ontological. Let's begin with Sartre's lemma: "l'existence précède l'essence," i.e., existence precedes essence. We exist first, and are "defined" later. This happens because the self (l'être) is in a constant state of becoming (devenir).

For the purpose of the analysis, there are two kinds of being:

being-for-itself: l'être-pour-soi. main property: being for itself, which is essentially "a freedom that chooses" (une liberté qui choisit).  

being in itself: l'être-en-soi, which is fundamentally without qualification (sans nuance).

To cope with this heavy "weight" of our own FREEDOM we come up with a sort of justification which Sartre calls "bad faith" or mauvaise foi. However, since not choosing is choosing, in the end we remain responsible for our actions. 

The only possible constraint to our freedom is our facticity (the stuff we don't choose, like being born and having a certain name and parents).