Sunday, December 09, 2007

Intentionality and supervenience

III. Intentionality and the Supervenience Strategy

Another very popular view, which has even been accepted by some Christians, is a nonreductive materialist position. On this view, intentional states are not eliminated, they are not reducible to physical states, they are, however, supervenient upon physical states. Mental states are not identical to physical states, but given the state of the physical, there is only one way the mental can be.

Of course, earlier I indicated that supervenience of all non-physical states on physical states is part of what it takes for a world-view to be naturalistic. However, if mental states can be reductively analyzed in terms of physical states, then the supervenience is simply obvious. A difference in B requires a difference in A because, in the final analysis, Bs just are As. Again, if the B-states are eliminated from the ontology, then we don’t have to worry about a difference in B that is not guaranteed by a difference in A. However, for many, perhaps most philosophers who believe in a broadly materialist world-view, the reductionist and eliminativist positions are both implausible. For these philosophers, the supervenience relation has a job to do, it explains how it is possible for everything to be in the final analysis physical while at the same time maintaining the irreducibility and the autonomy of the mental realm.

Philosophers often distinguish between weak supervenience and strong supervenience. According to weak supervenience, B-properties weakly superven on A-properties if and only if things that are alike in their A-properties are always alike in their B-properties. What this establishes is a constant conjunction between A-properties and B-properties. It does not really show that there is anything about the A-properties that guarantees that the B-properties will always be the same. Nevertheless, we must remember what caused problems for reductionist accounts of mental states. The physical, I maintained, is incurably indeterminate with respect to propositonal states. Whatever story we tell at the physical level is compatible with a multiplicity of stories at the mental level. This kind of constant conjunction claim, however, explains little. There is, for example, a constant conjunction between increases in the homicide rate in New York City and increases in the rate of ice cream consumption. We could say that the homicide rate supervenes on the rate of ice cream consumption, but we will have explained nothing. We will not have shown that ice cream consumption is responsible for homicides, or vice versa, or whether these are just two unrelated effects of a common cause (an increase in the city’s temperatures).

I should add that a good deal of confusion in the discussion of neuroscientific discoveries and their relation to the philosophy of mind often occurs at this point. What neuroscience if often able to do is provide correlations between certain mental states and activity in certain parts of the brain. These are often taken as proof of materialism, but there is no good reason why dualists should not expect these correlations to exist. Further, it must be emphasized that correlation between mental states and physical states is not the same as identification of mental states with physical states.

Strong supervenience is the claim that B-properties strongly sueprvene on A-properties just in case things that are alike in A-properties must be alike in B-properties. On this view the supervenience isn’t just a brute conjunction, it is necessarily so. However, as an attempt to explain anything, this seems inadequate as well. Religious expalnations are often taken to task as being god-of-the-gaps explanations, this just seem to me to be a necessity-of-the-gaps explanation. “Why, if Jones’s beliefs could be 5 or 6 different ways given the physical, or perhaps, given the physical, Jones could be a zombie with no beliefs at all, does Jones have the beliefs he has?” If the answer is “Well, there’s this strong supervenience relationship that exists between the physical and the mental, so it’s necessary, it looks as if we are taken no closer to an explanation as to why Jones has the beliefs he has.

Why does the supervenience relation exist, if it does? It is pure dumb luck? Is it a Leibnizian pre-established harmony set up before the foundation of the world by God? (This might not be naturalistically acceptable). Presumably, it is not a physical relation, so why does it exist? Unless there is something about the physical that guarantees that the mental be only one way, the supervenience relation needs to be explained.

There is what James Stump calls a “classic reflexivity problem” for the suprevenience theorist. For supervenience theory, everything is either physical, or supervenes on the physical. So, the supervenience relation is going to have to be either physical or supervene on the physical, if supervenient physicalism is true. But does it. Stump summarizes an argument originally presented by Lynch and Glasgow to contend that the supervenience relation itself cannot be admitted into the supervenient materialism’s ontology, which I have altered slightly for the sake of congruence with previous discussion:

1. For physicalist, all fact must be materialistically acceptable. That is, th eyare facts about physical things, or about things which are ontologically distinct from the physical, but strongly supervene on the physical.

2. There must be some fact—the explanation—in virtue of which B-properties supervene on A-properties; call the S-facts. What kind of facts are S-facts? There are two options for materialistically respectable facts:

a) They themselves could suprevene on A-properties. But then there is an infinite regress problem, for now we have to explain this new supervenience relations, which in turn needs to be explained, and so on ad infinitum. So this is no good.

b) Or, the S-facts could not just be further A-properties, that is, facts about the physical entity. But then these facts do not bridge the explanatory gap betweent he B-facts and the A-facts.

Perhaps the supervenience theorist can simply accept the suerpvenience relation as an unexplained brute fact. If so, as Stump suggests, the apparent explanatory advantage of materialism over dualism, based on parsimony, is dissipated. In addition, there are more problems for this position when we come to the problem of mental causation.

Intentionality is more than just a puzzle for naturalism, it is a deep and profound problem distinct from, and as serious as, the “hard problem” of consciousness. Reduction of understood intentional states and propositional intentional states seems to be inherently impossible. Elimination of those states eliminates states essential to the operation of the natural sciences on which the credibility of naturalism is founded. Non-propositional successors to propositional attitudes cannot do the job assigned to them. Supervenient materialism commits the materialist to a materialistically unacceptable relation between the physical and the mental, and, as we shall see, presents serious problems in accounting for mental causation.

Theories of the universe that make the mental basic fact of reality, such as theism, pantheism, or idealism, do not have the problem of unacceptably terminating explanatory chains were mental states. Thus the problem of intentionality provides one good reason for preferring a broadly mentalistic world-view to a broadly materialist world-view.

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29 Comments:

At 12/10/2007 06:07:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three things to bear in mind:
1. If reductionism is false, it doesn't make much sense to assume one must reduce psychological concepts to physical concepts.

2. If the mind is not a thing or an entity, a fortiori, mental states are not things or entities.

3. As I pointed out in the previous post, belief is not a mental state. There are mental states like depression and being attentive or irritable. Even if we could reduce such mental states to the physical, it would be no threat to naturalism.

Again, I agree with you that many naturalists have some mixed up views regarding how the mind works and what it really is. But so do many non-naturalists.

Also, here is a link to an article on intentionality by Hacker:
An Orrery of Intentionality

There is a little bit more to it than "one thing being about another thing."

 
At 12/10/2007 06:47:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, your whole conceptual scheme regarding the mind seems deeply rooted in the Cartesian-Empiricist conceptions of the mind. These assumptions regarding what the mind is and how it works need to be examined more closely. I imagine Lewis shared the same assumptions. You can’t simply assume them to be true. If you are going to build a persuasive case for your argument, I think you need to examine those assumptions and show why they should be accepted by a naturalist.

But before you deal adequately with those misconceptions of the mind, you'd have to take a closer look at language. You also can't simply assume that the Augustinian conception of language is correct.

 
At 12/10/2007 12:43:00 PM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi anonymous,

I agree that Victor seems to have some Cartesian tendencies. That isn't necessarily bad. I prefer more ancient versions of dualism myself, but Descartes is nice as well.

The Augustinian view of language? Please elaborate for me.

Hi Victor,

Nice post. Sounds like you are writing a book or something. There is global supervenience as well, if you want to be exhaustive in your analysis.

 
At 12/10/2007 09:52:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Augustinian view of language? Please elaborate for me.


Here’s a bare outline of the Augustinian conception of language:

1. every word has a meaning;
2. all words are names, i.e. stand for objects;
3. the meaning of a word is the object it stands for;
4. the connection between words (names) and their meanings (referents) is established by ostensive definition, which establishes a mental association between word and object;
5. sentences are combinations of names;
6. the sole function of language is to represent reality: words refer, sentences describe;
7. the child can establish the association between word and object only through thinking, which means that it must already posses a private language, in order to learn the public one.

Please note that this is not actually Augustine’s theory of language. Wittgenstein starts his Philosophical Investigations with a quote from Augustine’s Confessions in which he is describing how he learned language when he was a child. From that narrative, Wittgenstein fleshes out this concept of language.


My critical view of Descartes’ theory of mind involves more than its dualism: it also identifies the mind with the self, attributes psychological predicates to the mind, treats the mind’s contents as privately ‘owned’ and epistemically private, etc.

 
At 12/11/2007 06:06:00 AM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks. I remember Wittgenstein citing Augustine now. I guess he is a fair representative of that theory. That theory of language was the dominant position from Plato until nominalism took form in the 13th century. I actually tend to follow Wittgenstein as well. The question is: how does this affect your philosophy of mind? It puts mental and physical descriptions on equal footing. Both are merely language games. Neither cut the world up at the joints. It is like english and french. There is not one better than the other. Would you accept this?

 
At 12/11/2007 07:04:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I'm completely follwoing your points.

When looking at sentences and propositions we need to look at how they are being used and the context of their use. From that perspective we can have a better understanding of what they mean.

Of course, it doesn't matter much whether someone uses French or English.

Wittgenstein viewed the Augustinian conception as influencing theories of language up until the present day.

Have to get back to you on the mind question a little later. Have to head to work now. My daughter is in a school concert tonight, so it may take a day or so before I can respond in more detail.

 
At 12/11/2007 09:50:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

This seems false:
There must be some fact—the explanation—in virtue of which B-properties supervene on A-properties

This is like saying there must be an explanation of all physical laws, which would be false. Some laws will be basic.

Also, even if there is no explanation of how A and B relate, that could mean we just don't understand it. It is a mistake to draw too much from this.

Generally, I am sympathetic to your arguments against nonreductive materialism. Ultimately we will give a reductive explanation of some local representational systems (e.g., bees), even if we don't ever have a general theory of 'representation' independently of implementer (and I'm not saying we'll never have such a theory: temperature is multiply realizable and reducible so perhaps representational systems might be cashed out as reducible-to-physical but nonphysical properties).

It seems the new breed Christian nonreductive physicalists are about 20 years behind philosophy of mind (e.g., Kim), are just discovering what was mainstream in the 80s.

 
At 12/12/2007 10:42:00 AM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi BDK,

If we want a complete explanation of things, should we really accept that the relationship between A and B is a brute fact? The mystery begins when we assert that a mental state supervenes on a physical state. It does not end there. This is the question, not the answer. To dodge the issue by saying supervenience is a brute fact, is like confusing the start line with the finish line. Not that you are doing this, but I know many who do.

Kim himself calls this the problem of Explanatory Ascent, and spends nearly two chapters attempting to explain (away?) the problem (2005, ch. 4 and 5).

 
At 12/12/2007 01:38:00 PM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon:

I was a bit hasty.

To get more detailed, there are supposed to be these S facts that explain why B properties supervene on A properties.

One, the theory of B properties could be reducible to the theory that describes A properties. This won't be acceptable to the nonreductive physicalist about mind. But it is one reasonable option. It is true in some cases (e.g., temp and kinetic energy).


Or, as Victor points out:
They [S facts] themselves could suprevene on A-properties. But then there is an infinite regress problem, for now we have to explain this new supervenience relations, which in turn needs to be explained, and so on ad infinitum. So this is no good.

This is a bit simplistic. No nonreductionist wants to say that nothing is reducible. It could be that at some level the S-facts bottom out by being reduced to A-facts, even if B-facts cannot.

In this case, no explanation is needed, unless you force for an explanation of the A-facts. It is more this kind of scenario I was thinking of. So I was a bit unclear on this.

A third possibility, one I tend to believe, is that we have good reason to think supervenience holds, but no good explanation of this relation. This may have been the case, for instance, with principles of heredity 100 years ago. No reason to think they weren't ultimately based on molecular facts, but also no good explanation. It is such gaps that are the engine of science, though there are always antinaturalists around that want to use such gaps as evidence of their position. I think it is a mistake.

 
At 12/13/2007 05:51:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. I remember Wittgenstein citing Augustine now. I guess he is a fair representative of that theory. That theory of language was the dominant position from Plato until nominalism took form in the 13th century. I actually tend to follow Wittgenstein as well. The question is: how does this affect your philosophy of mind?

Working within the Augustinian conception, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the mind is literally some sort of inner realm in which mental objects are interacting with each other and all sorts of mental processes are taking place.
I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that it would inevitably lead to the Cartesian-Empiricst conceptions of the mind, but it does at least lend intuitive support to those conceptions.



It puts mental and physical descriptions on equal footing. Both are merely language games. Neither cut the world up at the joints. It is like english and french. There is not one better than the other. Would you accept this?

Not completely. If language has no way to make contact with reality then of course it would not be able to ‘cut the world up at the joints’, as you put it. There is no way that metaphysics can legitimately claim to be able to describe or talk about the de re essence of reality.

Not sure I really understand what you mean by mental and physical descriptions being on ‘equal footing’. The analogy of language as a game is meant to highlight the rules of language use. It is important to consider how a sentence is being used in order to better understand it.
If you take the analogy as indicating that language is merely entertaining like a game or a frivolous activity like some games, I think that to be quite mistaken.

The meaning of a word is what is given by an explanation of meaning and an explanation of meaning is a rule for the use of the word explained.

 
At 12/13/2007 04:07:00 PM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi Anonymous,

You said:
"Working within the Augustinian conception, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the mind is literally some sort of inner realm in which mental objects are interacting with each other and all sorts of mental processes are taking place."

Does this mean that you reject the existence/language of any first-person experiences? Some things, like itch's and tingles, and understanding, and flavour, escape capture in a third-person, scientific language. If these entities are first-person, and not describable in the third-person, then how can we avoid the conclusion that each person has an inner realm? And, why is it so bad to have an inner realm? I don't see the joy in claiming that I no longer exist.

You said:

"If language has no way to make contact with reality then of course it would not be able to ‘cut the world up at the joints’, as you put it. There is no way that metaphysics can legitimately claim to be able to describe or talk about the de re essence of reality."

This is the point I'm trying to make. Much of the confusion in the mental causation debate stems from the tacit assumption that microphysical terms are actually the objective structure of the world, not just another man-made way of describing something indescribable. This is a huge source of the confusion between Kim-Davidson.

 
At 12/15/2007 02:13:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

rino,
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

these entities are first-person, and not describable in the third-person, then how can we avoid the conclusion that each person has an inner realm?

Well, if you assume that they are entities then you can’t avoid the conclusion that they exist in some kind of literal inner mental realm. But why are you making that assumption?
If I describe my pain or my itch to Tom and then he describes it to Bill the same words are being used to describe those sensations. E.g., I tell Tom, “I have a burning pain in my big toe. It is so intense I cannot go to work today.” And later that day Bill asks Tom why I didn’t go to work and Tom says, “Anon has a burning pain in his big toe. It is so intense that we could not go to work.” The descriptions of my pain are the same.
There are other differences here, but I fail to see why those differences should entail the assumption that there is literally some sort of inner mental realm.


d, why is it so bad to have an inner realm? I don't see the joy in claiming that I no longer exist.
I fail to see why having a putative inner realm would lead to the cessation of either one of us. However, if I were to die tomorrow then you could legitimately claim that I no longer exist. :-)

I already linked to this article in another discussion, but you may want to take a look at it in order to better understand my perspective on first person experiences:
Is There Anything it is Like to be a Bat?



This is the point I'm trying to make. Much of the confusion in the mental causation debate stems from the tacit assumption that microphysical terms are actually the objective structure of the world, not just another man-made way of describing something indescribable. This is a huge source of the confusion between Kim-Davidson.

If I follow you correctly here, then I am in agreement that something like an atom or a neutron should not be considered any more real than a dog or a camel. Someone made a remark like that over on the Dangerous Idea blogsite: that a dog is just a bunch of atoms, as if atoms should be considered the only real objects in the world. A rather silly idea, huh?

I don’t know about the dispute or difference between Kim-Davidson. Sorry. So I don’t understand how that relates to the ‘objective structure of the world’. I do hope to read more Davidson and Quine in the near future to get a better idea of their positions. Right now Kim is not on my reading list. Should he be?

 
At 12/15/2007 02:31:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is so intense that we could not go to work"

should be:

"It is so intense that he could not go to work"

Sure wish my fingers could type better.:-)

 
At 12/15/2007 07:27:00 PM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I wish I could go along with that 'is there anything it is like to be a bat' but it just seems a lot of oxbridge dogmatism like "the question ‘Why, when one looks at red roses, does one not have the experience of seeing blue?’ is a muddle. For the only possible answer (assuming normal vision and normal observation conditions) is trivial, namely ‘Because they are red, not blue’."

What about synesthesia? People see numbers as colored. People see sounds, hear colors.

I sure wish I could go along with the old style Oxbridge "that's just a conceptual muddle" style argument, but there are real problems here, not just confusions about how we think and talk about perception. Or so it seems.

I've read most of the papers like that on the table, and they all pretty much end up saying qualia don't exist. Most of them just don't come out and say it.

 
At 12/15/2007 07:38:00 PM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

PS Same author's book'conceptual foundations of neuroscience' cited in the paper is what I would direct fellow neuroscientists to if they ever ask me why I left philosophy to do science. We've been discussing it over at Pete Mandik's blog.

Hacker will have no influence on neuroscience. He's focused on policing language and conceptual detox, we are focused on explaining things going on in the world.

 
At 12/15/2007 10:22:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link.
Have you actually read the book?
Unfortunately many of the comments on that site indicate the commentators have either not read it or not read it carefully enough. For example, this ‘mereological fallacy’ has nothing to with simplicity or complexity of the whole organism or its parts as the poster talking about bees representing the location of flowers seems to think. Many psychological predicates can be attributed to other animals besides humans.
The criteria used for these ascriptions are behavioral which are also partly constitutive of the meaning of the psychological concepts being attributed.

Also, Pete Mandik points out that the ‘mereological fallacy’ is not really a fallacy. The authors happen to agree with this.
They point this out in footnote 18 on page 73:
“...In our view, the term 'mereological fallacy' is more apt. It should be noted, however, that the error in question is not merely the fallacy of ascribing to a part predicates that apply only to a whole, but is a special case of this more general confusion. As Kenny points out, the misapplication of a predicate is, strictly speaking, not a fallacy, since it is not a form of invalid reasoning, but it leads to fallacies.”

I’m not arguing here that Hacker is completely right or even partially right. Simply pointing out that people should take the time to understand the positions they happen to disagree with if they wish to make sound critiques of it. Otherwise they just end up flailing away at strawmen and look foolish to those who have taken the time to understand the issues.

By the way there are some serious problems that do need to be addressed by neuroscientists. Hacker never denies that. His worry is that the real problems will take longer to address if due care regarding the concepts used is not taken. I actually see him as being very supportive of the enterprise of neuroscience.

 
At 12/15/2007 10:37:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What about synesthesia? People see numbers as colored. People see sounds, hear colors. "

Hacker was talking about what a normal person would see. Obviously not all people are capable of normal vision and hearing or the concept of normality could not be applied sensibly to perception.
These abnormalities are most certainly important areas for neuroscientists to investigate. After all, how else can they possibly be corrected? We obviously have quite different views on what is the proper role of philosophy, but I can only wish you and your fellow scientists the best in your efforts.

 
At 12/16/2007 12:40:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I read enough of it to know it is the opposite of what I want to spend my time on.

Paul Churchland I later discovered had a nice review of the book I think in Inquiry.

His dismissive answer to inverted spectra arguments isn't an argument. 'Because they are blue"? So are the blue things realy a C-sharp too for the synesthetes? These are the kind of data that armchair naval-gazers will miss, and make arguments that just look silly. To limit the argument to people with normal vision evades the interesting questions that come up in abnormal vision: one of the most important ways to understand normal functioning in a brain is to see what happens when things malfunction--e.g., Phineas Gage.

I'm sure we won't agree, and there might be some good ordinary language analysis type philosophy out there that will actually make a lasting contribution to human knowledge. Or a logical analysis of a cluster of concepts that actually helps people think more clearly.

 
At 12/16/2007 06:42:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To limit the argument to people with normal vision evades the interesting questions that come up in abnormal vision: one of the most important ways to understand normal functioning in a brain is to see what happens when things malfunction--e.g., Phineas Gage.

And Hacker makes that same point in the book. That it is the abnormal cases that are very helpful in finding out how brain activity relates to normal behavior.
But when trying to understand the normal use of a concept it is usually best to look at normal situations first.



I'm sure we won't agree, and there might be some good ordinary language analysis type philosophy out there that will actually make a lasting contribution to human knowledge.

Philosophy is not a cognitive discipline and it does not add to the sum of human knowledge about the world around us. That is the role of science. Any philosopher who thinks he can simply sit in a chair and come up with a theory of the mind is deluding himself. Certainly a philosopher can take up the practice of neuroscience and contribute in that way.
Philosophy and science are autonomous enterprises. Science gives us knowledge about the world. Philosophy gives us understanding. Its task is to deal with the conceptual confusions that bedevil us and often lead us on wild goose chases like trying to understand what a quale is.

 
At 12/16/2007 07:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Or a logical analysis of a cluster of concepts that actually helps people think more clearly.”

We are in agreement on that point at least. :-)

A quote from the an online article by Hacker:
A Conceptual Framework for the Investigation of Emotions


Philosophy cannot make empirical discoveries, and it is not its task to produce empirical theories. Its task is to describe the conceptual structures in terms of which we articulate our experience and its objects. So while it should not propose empirical theories of the emotions, it can elucidate the conceptual framework for experimental investigation. Hence too, it can prevent conceptual confusions that vitiate the design of, and the conclusions inferred from, experiments.

 
At 12/16/2007 09:18:00 AM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi Anonymous,

Sorry for my late reply as well.

You said: "Well, if you assume that they are entities then you can’t avoid the conclusion that they exist in some kind of literal inner mental realm. But why are you making that assumption?"

We need to vacuum ontology out of this discussion. I'm not talking about entities that actually exist, I'm only talking about language. First person language can never be captured by third-person science. Not only does science never talk about first-person language, but it actively strives to depart from it. So, a completed language of physics will never mention anything first person, ideally, so sentences like 'my itch' and 'I am sad' and 'I am aware of my belief that I am sad', etc... will never be mentioned. Sure, we can talk about it, and so it is not private in that sense. However, physics can never capture it, so it is private in that sense.

You said:
"as if atoms should be considered the only real objects in the world. A rather silly idea, huh?"

Yes, that is close to what I'm trying to say as well. However, if we keep the focus on language, rather than ontology, then we get 'atom' is a word, and 'dog' is a word, and all words are created equal. It is not like 'atom' is a super-word, that is actually reality. If it were reality, then it can't be a word. People tend to weld microphysical words and objective reality together. They assume that 'atom' is both a word, and is some objective reality.

I would read Davidson before I read Kim. However, Kim is a fair and strong example of the Scientific Realist tradition.

 
At 12/16/2007 09:57:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"However, physics can never capture it, so it is private in that sense."

I'm curious as to why you are limiting scientific explanations to physics?
Psychology is also a science and it deals with human emotions. And neuroscience most certainly applies itself to questions about sensations like itching or pain as well as to qestions of perception like sight and smell.

Are you tring to find a description of the world that some putative all-knowing supernatural being would be able to provide us?

 
At 12/17/2007 09:44:00 AM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi Anonymous,

I only mention physics to be fair to those who are Scientific Realists. They tend to think the final physics is the ultimate reality, and the special sciences, like psychology, are probably causally irrelevant. I don't agree with them, but I think I am being fair to their views when I insist that physics is the 'real' science, and all others supervene on physics.

Also, I'm not sure that neuroscience talks about emotions. Sure, it talks about the neural correlations of emotions, but perhaps that is just changing the topic.

 
At 12/17/2007 09:50:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Rino: it talks about emotions a lot. For example see Damasio's work such as Descartes' Error, or 'The emotional brain' by Ledoux. It is the province of cognitive neuroscience.

 
At 12/17/2007 04:31:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

rino,
Agree with blue devil knight here.

I would not put myself in the camp of the scientific realsits if what you say about their beliefs is accurate. So I don't think I'd be very helpful in addressing your concerns here. Sorry.

 
At 12/19/2007 12:29:00 PM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi BDK,

I think we are stuck here. You have presupposed an identity theory, which is fair, but it is the exact issue I'm trying to call into question. You think that talking about the neural correlates of emotion is talking about emotion, I think that talking about neural correlates of emotion is talking about the neural correlates of emotion.

 
At 12/19/2007 03:33:00 PM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I'm not assuming an identity theory. If by 'emotions' you mean the qualitative character (e.g., the tingle of fear), then they often don't discuss that. But there are lots of other functional-causal aspects of emotion that are just as real as the qualia dimension.

 
At 12/21/2007 01:51:00 PM , Blogger Rino said...

Hi BDK,

Yes I was talking about the raw feel of emotion. If we talk about functional properties of emotion, then it seems to me we have two options: we identify the functional property with the role, or we identify the functional property with the realizer. If we identify the functional property with the role, then it becomes epiphenomenal due to Kim's exclusion argument, and is of no use to us. If we identify the functional property with the realizer, than we have changed the subject, we are only talking about neurons and chemical reactions, we are not talking about emotion, and the secondary language of emotion is of no use to us (other than to shield the adherents of this view from realizing the obvious absurdity of the position). Are there other options you had in mind, or do you choose one of these?

 
At 12/22/2007 11:46:00 AM , Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Rino: you could make the same argument about digestion. Do we study the roles in digestion or the realizers? We study both, and certainly enzymes exist and have causes, and when they break there are system level problems (lactose intolerance).

Why should the study of brains be different in principle? If your argument would imply we shouldn't study enzymes in digestion, then obviously it is silly.

Jeez, just admit you didn't know what you were talking about vis a vis emotion and neuroscience.

 

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