Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An argument against materialism and composite substance dualism

Let composite substance dualism be the doctrine that I am composed of two distinct substances: my soul and my body. I find compelling the following argument, though I think my opponents will simply deny premise 1.

  1. I am only agentially responsible for an event E if I non-derivatively cause E.
  2. If composite substance dualism is true, everything I cause is caused by me derivatively from causation by my soul and I am not my soul.
  3. If materialism is true, everything I cause is caused by me derivatively from causation by proper parts of me (e.g., particles, neurons) and/or things outside of me (e.g., fields).
  4. So, if materialism or composite substance dualism is true, I am not agentially responsible for any event.
  5. But there are events are I am agentially responsible for.
  6. So, composite substance dualism and materialism are false.

1 comment:

Andrew Jaeger said...


I like this argument a lot. I am using this style of argument to argue for a simplicity of self/human/what have you. I think it could also be applied to Koslicki/Fine/Johnston-style hylomorphists, where you are bits of matter structured in a certain way. Given these folks reject composition as identity, it seems many of the things you do will also be things that you do derivatively (since your parts aren't you, and your parts are the 'primary' agents in some cases...like you breaking a window, say).

I am inclined to think it applies to co-locationist views about material objects in general.