Does the Argument from Reason commit the fallacy of composition
Wakefield Tolbert: After all, he has a good point, and one that is seemingly obvious but some people (including myself!) often miss due to the old adage that the best way of hiding---so they say---is in plain sight. A drop of water an ocean does not make. And no, Jaws can't maneuver in a pail. Nonetheless, water molecules indeed comprise the greater part of oceans, and likewise by analogy atoms and their multitude of connections make for us a larger world, (in fact the Cosmos) and all its attributes. Very commonly, as AC points out in a way, we DO hear much of this "X" could not possibly lead to "Y" kind of argumentation about inanimate matter forming conscious things just as it was supposed before the 19th century that matter had to had a "living spark" or other attribute to form life. . Which as we now know it does not. All around us we see rather ordinary manifestations of matter doing extraordinary things. Like the photons from this laptop showing the pixelized images on the blog.
Same for life itself: It just has to be the right arrangement of compounds. Ammonia and nitrogen, for example, both help compose and are excrete by all organisms. So too the argument with other Composed items. One might as well argue that a single note does not give us the compiled works of Mozart. But notes he has a plenty. Now perhaps some will next argue this argues for Intention and Will in order to arrange these elements (notes or atoms). But in the case of materialism's claim that natural processes entirely account for the evolution of life on Earth (and thus the human mind) as well being an unforeseen but "emergent" property of matter (just as no one could foresee water as the merging of hydrogen and oxygen, but nevertheless has odd qualities that are difficult to explain in themselves), the Will or Intention is not needed, it would seem.
Wakefield: It seems to me in the cases you mentioned, in the supervenience base of "composed" qualities, there is no normativity, no subjectivity, no teleology, and no intentionality. You just have something having a "macro" or "system" property of a set of microphysical parts. In the case of the mind, it does have those four properties, and because of that, I have a lot of trouble seeing how some truth having to do with any of those things can possibly supervene necessarily (and it must be necessarily) from the physical states. It's something like the familiar problem in ethics of getting an ought from an is. It gets worse when you start seeing how attempts to account for the "mental" have over and over again either implicitly denied the mental or slipped it in through the back door.
You take all the physical descriptions and put them in the left-hand side of the equation. Add them together, and it looks as if they can't entail anything on the "mental" side of the equation. There is always room for indeterminacy, or, for that matter, room for zombies. The physical works just fine, but there's just no there there.
Labels: fallacy of composition