Thursday, October 12, 2017

A materialist intuition against materialism

The following argument is valid:

  1. It is metaphysically impossible for us to become wholly immaterial.

  2. If we are wholly material, then functionalism is true.

  3. If functionalism is true, then it is metaphysically possible for us to become wholly immaterial.

  4. So, we are not wholly material.

I think premise 1 is false, but intuitively 1 is pretty plausible—especially to a materialist.

Premise 2 is made plausible by the way functionalism solves serious problems in other materialist theories.

Premise 3 can be argued for: it is metaphysically possible for an immaterial being to have the same functional properties as I do, and furthermore for the immaterial being’s isomorphic functional states to be caused by my functional states at the last moment of my body’s existence in such a way that the immaterial being is a continuant of me given functionalism.


Michael Gonzalez said...

How can an immaterial being have functional states in anything like the way a Functionalist means by that term?? Immaterial beings don't have parts that stand in relations to each other such that they can act in concert (that would presume spatial relations).

Alexander R Pruss said...

Immaterial beings can have a multiplicity of properties standing in causal relations.

Michael Gonzalez said...

Is that sufficient for a Functionalist account? I would have thought it specifically required a complex assortment of parts, the coordinated operation of which yielded some emergent property.

Speed Limit Forty said...

Could the materialist deny (3) but still be a functionalist by denying that it's possible for there to be any non-material things?