Saturday, August 25, 2007

God of the Gaps and the Argument from Reason

W wrote: In your argument from reason, for example, you demand a step by step, no gaps, defense of reason in a physicalist universe. (And Doctor Logic has said similar things).

VR: No, I don't require such a thing. I maintain that there is a conceptual disparity between the mental and the physical. In fact the physical is typically defined in terms of the absence of the mental. I see attempts to accommodate the mental to the physical that either explain the mental away or "sneak in" the mental to into a presumably physical explanation, and then try to tell me that it's a good physical explanation because it's being attributed to the "brain."

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At 8/26/2007 10:59:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I maintain that there is a conceptual disparity between the mental and the physical.

What makes this conceptual disparity special, say, different than the conceptual disparity between 'water' and 'H20'?

At 8/26/2007 01:14:00 PM , Blogger Victor Reppert said...

The difference, or one of them, is that when we go about figuring whether something really counts as physical or not, we look for the absence of various mentalistic things like normativity, subjectivity, purpose, and intentionality. If someone says "particle X moved here because it ought to go there," we start thinking this is funny physics.

If we say that the mental is the physical, can we do this without mentalizing the physical itself? If enough "mentalizing" of the physical is permitted, then I become just a peculiar brand of physicalist, and then we can have an inter-physicalist denominational squabble about whether the physical entity I call a theon exists.


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