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Problems for Identity Theory

More Serious Problems. Before proceeding, we need to get a bit clearer on the nature of the theory we are criticizing. . Tokens and Types. When Smart says that all mental states are brain states he could be referring to .

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Problems for Identity Theory




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Presentation on theme: "Problems for Identity Theory"— Presentation transcript:

Slide1

Problems for Identity TheorySlide2

More Serious Problems

Before proceeding, we need to get a bit clearer on the nature of the theory we are criticizing. Slide3

Tokens and Types

When Smart says that all mental states are brain states he could be referring to

tokens

of such states or

types

of such states.Slide4

Tokens and Types

How many letters are there in the following word:

Mississippi

There are two correct answers:

11 (11 letters of any kind)

4 (4 types of letter: “M”, “I”, “S”, “P”)Slide5

Tokens and Types

A

token

is a particular thing.

A

type

is a kind of thing.Slide6

Tokens vs. Types

Using this distinction we can distinguish two different

physicalist

claims:

Token

Physicalism

Type

PhysicalismSlide7

Token Physicalism

Token

Physicalism

:

Every particular mental event is identical to some physical event or other.Slide8

Token Physicalism

Token

physicalism

is a very weak thesis.

For all it says, pain in one case could be C-fibers firing, but later on, pain could be D-fibers or some other neural event.Slide9

Type Physicalism

By making claims such as: “pain=C-fibers firing” brain identity theorists like Smart clearly mean something stronger than this.

What they want to say is that

every

instance of pain, is an instance of C-fiber firing.Slide10

Type Physicalism

So brain identity theory is a version of:

Type

Physicalism

:

Every mental event type is identical to a physical event type.Slide11

Type Physicalism

This is a much stronger claim. To show that brain identity theory is false all we need are possible cases in which you have a

pain

but you lack C-fibers.Slide12

Objections to Brain Identity Theory

Modal objection

Multiple

realizabilitySlide13

Background on Possibility

When philosophers talk about

modality

they are usually talking about a domain of metaphysics having to do with

possibility

and

necessity

.Slide14

Background on Possibility

Possible World:

A way the world might have been that settles every question of fact (for any claim p, either p or not-p is true).Slide15

Background on Possibility

p is

necessary

if and only if p is true in every possible world.

Necessary truths could not have been false no matter how the world might have been: e.g. 2+2=4.Slide16

Background on Possibility

p is

possible

if and only if, there is at least one possible world where p is true.

There is a way the world might have been such that p would have been true. Slide17

Background on Possibility

For example:

So there is a possible world in which I wore a red shirt today.

There is no possible world in which I (Tim Butzer) was a rock.Slide18

Background on Possibility

As we have seen before (recall the Amnesia case) it turns out that

identity claims

(if true) are

necessary

.

So if A=B, there is no possible world where A and B are different things.Slide19

Background on Possibility

So if you can show that it is possible for A and B to be distinct, you have shown that they are not really the same thing.

This is just what Descartes tried to do with the conceivability argument!Slide20

The Modal Objection

The brain identity theory says that pain=C-fibers firing.

So according to this theory, it is impossible to have pain without C-fibers firing and it is impossible to have C-fibers firing without pain.Slide21

Reading

Start reading Fodor: “Special Sciences.”

106-113 (up to “I take it that the discussion thus far…”)

116 (starting with: “This brings us to why there are special sciences at all.”)-117Slide22

A Quick Recap From Friday

Brain Identity theory is a version of

type identity theory

Pain is identical to a kind of physical event: C-fibers firing.

There is pain if and only if there are C-fibers firing. Slide23

A Quick Recap From Friday

If brain identity theory is true, then it must be

necessary

that pain=C-fibers firing.

That is, in every possible world where there are C-fibers firing, there is some pain identical to that event.

So if we can find a possible world with C-Slide24

The Modal Objection

David Chalmers introduced the case of

zombies

.

In this context, a

zombie

is something that is physically identical to me, but lacks conscious experience.

A zombie has C-fiber firing, but no pain.Slide25

The Modal Objection

If cases like this are

possible

then, the brain identity theory is false.

The Modal

Objection

Zombies are possible.

If zombies are possible, then there is a world in which there are C-fibers firing, but there is no pain.

If A can possibly exist without B existing, then A and B are not identical.

Therefore, pain is not identical to C-fiber firing.Slide26

The Modal Objection

You can think of this as Descartes’ argument inverted:

Descartes argued that you could have the mental state without the physical state.

Chalmers thinks you can have the physical state (C-fibers firing) without the mental state (pain).Slide27

Conceivability and Possibility (Again)

It is certainly true that we can

conceive

of zombies.

But we know from objecting to Descartes that conceivability doesn’t entail possibility.Slide28

Conceivability and Possibility (Again)

So a brain identity theorist could try to argue that zombies are

conceivable

but not possible.Slide29

Conceivability and Possibility (Again)

The debate here gets complicated and controversial fast.

If zombies are possible, it seems we have a good objection to brain identity theory.

But it is highly controversial whether or not zombies are possible.Slide30

Conceivability and Possibility (Again)

In short, many people take such arguments to be falling into the same trap as Descartes fell into.

But if

you

think that a zombie case is possible, this might be a reason for you to reject brain identity theory.Slide31

Multiple Realizability

Recall that brain identity theory is a version of

type

physicalism

.

That is, the theory claims that every mental event type is identical to a brain event type.Slide32

Multiple Realizability

The objection from the multiple realizability of the mental argues:

T

hat there is no single brain or physical state type that corresponds, without exception to pain.

So any version of type

physicalism

is false, including brain identity theory.Slide33

Octopi and Aliens

“But (brain identity theory) implies that unless an organism has C-fibers, it cannot have pain. But aren’t there pain-capable organisms, like reptiles and mollusks, with nervous systems very different from the human nervous system? Perhaps in these species the neurons…are not like human C-fibers at all.”

(

121

)Slide34

Octopi and Aliens

An octopus nervous system is very different from our own.

It is much more decentralized. They have a brain, but they also have complex information-processing nerve clusters in all of their arms.Slide35

Octopi and Aliens

Octopi can clearly feel pain.

But it is unlikely that they have any C-fibers in their radically different nervous systems.Slide36

Octopi and Aliens

Looking around the animal kingdom it seems that we share many mental state types with many different animals.

Fear

Physical attraction

Hunger

Stress

Perceptual experiences (seeing green etc.)Slide37

Octopi and Aliens

Some more intelligent animals will also have mental states such as:

Beliefs

Desires

MemoriesSlide38

Octopi and Aliens

According to brain identity theory, if two creatures share a mental state type such as fear or pain, their brains must be identical in that regard.Slide39

Octopi and Aliens

But we have no reason to suspect that this is true, and it seems highly improbable that it will turn out to be right for every mental state type across every organism.Slide40

Octopi and Aliens

Even worse: consider possible alien creatures that we have not yet discovered.

If we ever find other forms of life not native to earth it is likely that they will be capable of feeling pain.Slide41

Octopi and Aliens

The brain identity theory is committed to the implausible claim that

every single creature

that we ever find that feels pain will also have C-fibers.Slide42

Octopi and Aliens

Still worse:

We are carbon-based life-forms.

Silicon is structurally very similar to carbon.

I

t is generally acknowledged to be possible for life to be silicon based.

But C-fibers are (partially) composed of carbon.

Therefore any silicon based life-form will not have C-fibers Slide43

Octopi and Aliens

The brain identity theory is committed to saying that any such life-form is incapable of feeling pain.

What an amazing claim to make from the armchair!Slide44

Multiple Realizability

What all of this seems to show is that mental states like pain are

multiply realizable

.

That is, they can be realized by many different physical/brain structures.Slide45

Multiple Realizability

The multiple realizability of mental states entails that no type

physicalist

theory of the mental can be correct.Slide46

Multiple Realizability

But what about token

physicalism

?

Can it still be true that each mental state is identical to

some physical state or other

?

Multiple realizability does

entail that this sort of view is false.