Thursday, November 29, 2018

A fun unsound argument for dualism

Here’s a fun argument for dualism.

  1. What is a part of the body is a matter of social convention.

  2. Persons are explanatorily prior to social conventions.

  3. So, probably, persons are not bodies.

I think (2) is undeniable. And (1) is a not uncommon view among people thinking about prostheses, implants, transplants and the like.

That said, I think (1) is just false.

1 comment:

Andrew M. Bailey said...

This reminds me of an argument in Mike Rea's "World Without Design" (Chapter 7). Here's the one-paragraph version:

"Suppose, for reductio, that both materialism and constructivism are true. From materialism it follows that, if there are minds, then minds are either material objects or events. There are no other alternatives. However, if either of these alternatives is correct, then no mind can exist unless some material object exists. Constructivism, however, implies that no material object can exist unless some stuff stands in some particular relation to a mind. Moreover, by all accounts, if constructivism is true then the relevant relations involve or presuppose some mind's being able to think of the matter in question as falling under a sortal concept. But now we have a problem. For it follows from what has just been said that no mind can exist unless some mind is able to think of some matter as falling under a particular sortal concept. But thinking of matter in terms of sortal concepts is a fairly advanced mental process—the sort of process that presupposes a great deal of prior mental activity which (by our assumption above) could not have occurred outside of a mind. So, if minds are material objects or events, then minds cannot come into existence unless some minds already exist and develop to a point where they can conceive of matter in the ways necessary to bring minds into existence. But, of course, this scenario is impossible. Therefore, constructivism and materialism cannot both be true. Hence, insofar as naturalists are committed to constructivism, they must give up materialism."