What is epiphenomenalism? It is the doctrine that the mind is an ineffective byproduct of physical processes.
(The brain affects the mind, but the mind doesn't affect the brain)
What is the problem of other minds?
It is the philosophical problem of explaining how it is possible to know that there are other minds in the world.
According to empiricism, what is the source of knowledge?
Empiricism claims that the only source of knowledge about the external world is sense experience.
CARTESIAN DUALISM (Rene Descartes) → When an immaterial substance (the mind) interacts with the body.
→ Rene Descartes tries to distinguish between the mind (soul) and the
brain (body). He was the first one to say that the mind interacts with
Empirically speaking there is no immaterial substance. Thus, Cartesian theory as it stands is not viable.
Dualists make a category mistake in assuming that minds exist in the same way that bodies do.
LOGICAL BEHAVIORISM MS→
BS (Mental S are Behavioral S)
Behavioral States are Behavioral Dispositions. So Mental states can be translated into
A behavioral state is not sufficient OR necessary for being in a mental state.
Mental states cannot be reduced to brain states.
We have: Qualitative content “the FEEL” (qualia = the unique, private
feeling of our mental states). → Behavioral dispositions can be
conditioned without affecting “the FEEL”. (Behaviors are simply
habits/neural paths, NOT equivalent to the mind).
Counterexamples to Logical Behaviorism:
[Thought experiment: The Perfect Pretender] ● A person was born without the ability to feel pain
● He has learned to exhibit the appropriate pain behavior in appropriate situations.
● If someone kicks him, he pretends that it hurts him (he acts/behaves like someone who is in pain).
According to this counterexample: Having the right behavioral dispositions does NOT
GUARANTEE (not sufficient) that someone is in a certain mental state.
[Thought experiment: Putnam’s Super-Spartans ]
● There is a community in which the adults have the ability to
successfully suppress all involuntary pain behavior.
● The are able to feel pain and they dislike it just like we do.
This thought experiment undermines logical behaviorism because the
theory would have us believe that the Spartans are never in pain because
they never ACT as if they are in pain. This is obviously not true.
IDENTITY THEORY: MS → BrS (Mental S are Brain S)
It is simpler than Cartesian dualism because it doesn’t assume the
existence of an immaterial substance. There is no need to go beyond the
physical to explain the mental. Our behavior is caused by the brain, NOT
Many Identity theorists are epiphenomenalists: They believe that the mind is an ineffective byproduct of brain states.
→ The mind is to the brain as smoke is to fire.
The theory can be undermined because knowing a person’s physical brain
components, does NOT mean you know what the person is thinking/feeling.
** Mental states cannot be reduced to synaptic activity.
Counterexamples to Identity Theory:
[Thought Experiment Nagel’s bat ]
● This thought experiment explains how bats use sonar as a form of
perception. Nagel shows that there’s no way that we can experience or
imagine this form of perception.
● Facts about what it is like for the experiencing organism are only
accessible from one's point of view, which is the organism itself (1st
● All of the physical properties of bats can be known by non-bats, BUT,
no non-bat will ever know what it's like to be a bat.
If mental states were identical to brain states, then it would be
possible to know everything
about the mind by knowing everything there is to know about the brain.
BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
Mental states have this characteristic that they can be felt from the "inside" from
a first person point of view, while physical properties can all be
known from the "outside" from a third person point of view.
[Thought experiment: Lewis’s Pained Martian ]
● The Martian has no neurons or brain.
● But he can feel pain, love, sorrow, and homesickness.
This thought experiment shows that having a brain is NOT NECESSARY for having a
FUNCTIONALISM: MS → FS
When two things perform the
same function, they are said to have the same “causal role.” So functionalism claims that the mind IS what the brain DOES.
→ If a robot and a human can perform the same task (same causal role), they are said to be in the same state of mind.
Counterexamples to Functionalism:
[ Thought experiment: Lewis’s pained madman ]
● Lewis’s madman is in pain, but his pain has a very different function
● When in pain, his mind turns into mathematics and makes him cross his
legs and snap his fingers.
This undermines functionalism because if the theory were true, it would
for someone to be in pain and function differently than we do when we
are in pain. Being in a certain functional state is NOT a necessary
condition for being in a mental state.
Mental states cannot be reduced to functional states.
[ Thought experiment: Putnam’s inverted spectrum ]
● Two people with inverted spectra are in the same functional state.
● If you asked them, “What color are stop signs?” they would both say,
“Red.” Similarly, if you asked them, “Are ripe tomatoes the same color
as stop signs?” they would both say, “Yes.”
● BUT their visual experiences (qualitative content - the feel) are
vastly different -- one experiences redness when looking at red objects,
whereas the other experiences blueness.
If functionalism were true, it would be impossible for people with the
organization to be in different mental states. This counterexample
** Having a specific functional organization is NOT a sufficient condition for being in a certain mental state.
TURING TEST FOR INTELLIGENCE: (The imitation game).
There is a man (A) and a woman (B) and an interrogator (C) who may be of either sex.
→ The object of the game is for the interrogator to determine which of the two is the man and
which is the woman.
→ It is A’s object in the game to try to cause C to make the wrong identification. The object
for the game of B is to help the interrogator.
*** For Turing there’s nothing more to being intelligent than being able
to use language as we do. WHICH MEANS… If a computer is able to do
this, then it is smart.
Searle’s Chinese Room Thought Experiment
● Searle puts himself in the place of the computer, inside a room.
● People outside the room (who understand Chinese) hand in small bunches
● In response, Searle manipulates the symbols according to the rulebook
and hands back more small bunches of symbols.
● To those outside the room, it appears that he understands what the
symbols mean, for the string of symbols he produces in response to the
string of symbols he receives is the one like a native Chinese speaker
● But he doesn’t understand Chinese.
Conclusion: passing the Turing test is not a sure sign of intelligence,
because the man in the room doesn’t understand Chinese. So computers
can’t UNDERSTAND a language solely in virtue of running a program.
PROPERTY DUALISM → Property dualism states that mental properties are something over and above physical properties.
Mental states have BOTH physical and nonphysical properties (Non-reductive, and has both an upward and downward causation).
States that brain activity (since it is CAUSAL) has the upper hand advantage.
Property dualism has also been called: “emergent materialism”
Intentionality → Bedeutung
It is the “ABOUTNESS” of a thought.
(Remember: this is NOT referring to the regular meaning of intention as doing something “on purpose”).
If life did not
have intentionality, it would be completely mechanical.
PRIMITIVE PROPERTY →
Because the qualitative content (the FEEL) and the intentional content
(the OBJECT) of a mental state are not reducible to physical or
functional properties, they are “primitive” properties. A primitive
property cannot be explained in terms of anything more fundamental.
Intentionality is a primitive property because a thought directly
intends the object. We don’t think about objects by means of anything
else. We simply think ABOUT them.
EMERGENT PROPERTY → A
property which is elicited when things that lack that property interact
in certain ways. The WHOLE is bigger than the PARTS: The emergent
property arises when all parts are put together.
● The mind is emergent upon and caused by brain activity.
EX: Love at first sight.
● Life is an emergent property.
● HURRICANES (wind-rain-destruction) ← ALL of these variables MUST
happen in order for the emergent property to arise.
DOWNWARD CAUSATION →
Downward causation is used to explain the effect of the environment on
biological evolution. It suggests the causal relationship between the
HIGHER levels of a system to LOWER levels of that system.
For example: mental events causes physical events. There is a two-way
interaction between consciousness and the brain: Consciousness
determines the succession of nerve impulses, and nerve impulses
determine the content of consciousness.
Here is the Triff/Searle Theory we discussed in class.