Monday, November 21, 2011

Arguing for Dualism: The Identity Defense (Not to be Confused with the Twinkie Defense)

Bob Prokop wrote: Approximately one-twentieth of one percent of our bodies is replaced each day, through completely natural processes. At the end of 7 to 8 years, not a single atom remains in our physical selves that was there at the start of that period. Every particle of my today's physical self was either dirt, water, air, or another living organism 7 years ago. But I am demonstrably not a new person - I am the same Bob Prokop who was here eight, 10, or even 60 years ago, despite the fact that no trace of the original physical self remains. (I'd love to see someone try such a defense in court: "Your Honor, that wasn't me who committed that crime eight years ago. I wasn't even here. It was someone else with the same name!")

If that ain't proof of the existence of mind, or even of the soul, I don't know what is!

This is from an website entitled "Thought Experments on the Soul," by Kelley L. Ross.

If our concern then becomes personal identity, will the identity of material substance account for that? As I have argued, no. In physical terms alone, we know that there is a turnover of matter in our bodies. I believe that after 20 years or so, all the matter in our bodies is supposed to be different. A defendant in a legal case once even tried to argue that he was literally not the same person who had committed the crime, some twenty years plus in the past. His argument was not allowed as, indeed, we trace personal identity across that transformation. With the material objects, this can indeed produce some paradoxical results. The Stoics noticed that in their day the ship kept at Athens, which was supposed to have born Theseus to Crete, had finally been repaired so much that every single plank and other part of it was no longer original. Was it the "same" ship? In a way yes, and in a way no. One report is that this question was put to the Pythia at Delphi. With material objects, the less the original material, the less it is the original thing. There is no such ambiguity with people. And we can ask them.

149 comments:

Heuristics said...

But are the atoms in neurons really replaced? The neurons themselves at least appear to not be.


First link I found after googling:
http://askanaturalist.com/do-we-replace-our-cells-every-7-or-10-years/

"Neurons in the cerebral cortex are never replaced. There are no neurons added to your cerebral cortex after birth. Any cerebral cortex neurons that die are not replaced."

Scoblog said...

"Approximately one-twentieth of one percent of our bodies is replaced each day, through completely natural processes. At the end of 7 to 8 years, not a single atom remains in our physical selves that was there at the start of that period."

Is this serious? Of course the latter does not follow, necessarily, from the former. All you need to postulate is differenctial cell replacement by tissue type (which is in fact what occurs). Your skin cells/atoms may replace a thousand times over, but other cells/atoms may replace not at all. Thus, there are most certainly atoms of yours left over from 10 years ago. In fact, probably the vast majority of them are still there.

B. Prokop said...

Heuristics,

Yes, the neurons remain in place. But the molecules making up the neurons are gradually replaced over time.

However, entire cells in the remainder of our bodies are replaced as units.

In one case (cells), relatively enormous (from an atomic perspective) segments of our bodies are recycled en masse. In the other (neurons), the recycling is accomplished at the molecular level.

J said...

I am the same Bob Prokop who was here eight, 10, or even 60 years ago, despite the fact that no trace of the original physical self remains.

Are memories, associations,a sense of personhood fixed? No. And that can be wiped out with severe injury..or drugs/alcohol, aging. Some..ghost in the machine given that 4 shots of tequila render it useless. There does seem to be a sense of continuity---but another topic where Hume made some good moves against Cartesians.

J said...

And as usual "Prokop" merely spams in Nursing 101 material and thinks he's made a philosophical point-when he hasn't.

B. Prokop said...

Heuristics,

Don't get me wrong. I'm not siding with anyone attempting such a legal defense. I'd just love to see it tried!

My point is that a purely materialist explanation of consciousness fails utterly to explain the "Problem of Identity".

There are far vaster and more immediate implications behind the idea of total-body replacement than simple identity, but I'll save them for another posting.

mattghg said...

I don't think that this is a strong argument. Surely it's a feature of functionism that the same mind could be instantiated in different physical systems?

Of course, a lot of people (including me) think that this is a weakness of functionism, but it does address the 'Identity Defence' discussed here.

Heuristics said...

B. Prokop,

How did you come to the conclusion that the atoms in the neurons get replaced? I am asking since I an interested in finding out more (not being a materialist myself I am not arguing for materialism here).

Ilíon said...

While I didn't go into this aspect in the synopsis of my "you are the proof that God is" argument that I have so far posted, the continuous identity of the human person being itself a refutation of materialism/physicalism is a part of my argument.

Man! Isn't B.Prokop going to be bummed if he finds out that I got there before he did?

Victor Reppert said...

All sorts of people got before us.

Clayton said...

If there's an argument against materialism here, it seems to assume mereological essentialism. The worry is that mereological essentialism is such an utterly strange view, I don't think we can place much weight on it. (How quickly we turn to eliminativism about chairs!)

Ross' passage is quite strange. There's some shilly shallying about whether we're left with the same ship. He's flirting with the idea that a thing can be less identical to itself over time at the end, but that's a rather dubious notion. What I'm struck by, however, is the claim that there's no such "ambiguity" with people. I take it Ross hasn't seen Memento?

Matt DeStefano said...

I think the 'Brain-Damage' argument is a perfect response here. Commenter 'J' hinted at this before, but if you get a tumor on the right orbifrontal part of your skull, even the most "normal" people tend to display sociopathic behavior. Are they still the "same person" they were before? Why isn't their ghost in the machine functioning properly?

Source: http://archneur.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/60/3/437.pdf

J said...

It's rather amusing to hear religious conservatives and the pious-zealots argue for a soul, afterlife, God.

Assuming--for a few nano-seconds--that some ...supernatural or theistic realm somehow held, where souls migrate to, the machiavellian right will be lower in Hades than skeptics and pagans. See Dante for hints.

Matt DeStefano said...

To be fair, I don't think it takes a religious zealot to argue for a soul or immaterial self, but they stand a lot more to lose when those ghosts go away.

William said...

Good question Heuristics.

I think that the issue is whether we count the endocytotic/synthetic movement of atoms within cells as "replacement" since a lot of the atoms are recyled within the cell and the body.

See this review article for example. Interestingly, we recycle at a slower rate as we age.


To compare with hydrology: certainly the water in a stream is constantly replaced, but given the cycle of evaporation, most of those atoms were in the stream before.

The philosophy of identity is confusing enough when we are talking about things like wooden ships, of course :).

Doug Benscoter said...

The fact of brain damage is analagous to a damaged piano. The pianist may very well be hitting the correct keys, but if the keys themselves are out of tune, the song won't sound right. Similarly, the mind or soul may be functioning properly, but if its brain is not, then there may be some unusual behavior. Just as the piano is not the pianist, neither is the brain the mind.

parbouj said...

The tree outside my front window has been there 100 years. Does it have a soul because it is the same tree even though all the atoms have been replaced 10 times?

Organization, not identity, is key for the materialist (not that I am a materialist, but we should not attack it with horrible arguments).

William said...

"Neurons in the cerebral cortex are never replaced. There are no neurons added to your cerebral cortex after birth. Any cerebral cortex neurons that die are not replaced."

That link is outdated, by the way:

see this.

J said...

Troll time.

Maybe the trolls should start with their first actual philosophy lesson instead of the nursy spam: say Hobbes' cogent arguments against Descartes' Res Cogitans. But that would like require some time and energy.

B. Prokop said...

Heuristics,

This information was given me in conversation with a molecular biologist who works for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD, so I'm afraid I can't footnote it for you. I took his word for it, not bothering to check it out, seeing as he knew what he was talking about, and the subject was (and is) outside my own field of expertise.

B. Prokop said...

Actually, Parbouj, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, the 100 year old tree outside your front window does indeed have a soul. He distinguished between vegetative, animal, and human souls.

parbouj said...

William: That paper is about hippocampus. Cortical regeneration is still controversial.

But your point stands: the old dogma that new neurons are not produced after childhood has been thoroughly refuted by Gage and others.

J said...

Baloney, "Prokop" (most likely the same troll using different names, and mumbling some pseudo-science to itself--check the IP adds, VR). It's not about your nursing course.

Yo, maybe someone at ASU--you finished like a semester, right-- has a video of your great performance as one of the goon-dancers in Guys and Dolls? Yeah.

William said...

Parbouj:

Agreed. I guess that means that most of our brain DNA is made of the same atoms were are born with, huh? None else is.

Victor Reppert said...

J: Prokop is a friend of very long standing, so I would recognize a troll using his name instantly. Your insulting comments are not acceptable here, and I am about to ban you.

Ilíon said...

"All sorts of people got before us."

Of course! This particular argument is a variation on the 'Theseus' Ship Paradox'; it's thousands of years old.

But the particular source of B.Prokop's disquiet is discovering, yet again, that he has been caught thinking, yet again, like "Hell's Constitutionalist". And, to wit: that when he does actually think, he could be confused for me. That's gotta burn.

Ilíon said...

Moreover, the solution (at any rate, the only one I've seen offered) to the 'Theseus' Ship Paradox' isn't really available for this variation on it. In this regard, it's like Swinburne's observation that having turned, say, 'redness' into a subjective mental state, the modernist/materialist cannot then sweep the subject under the same rug.

Ilíon said...

Mattghg: "I don't think that this is a strong argument. Surely it's a feature of functionism that the same mind could be instantiated in different physical systems?"

And, therefore, the "same" mind can be instantiated two or more times, simultaneously. Right?

Mattghg: "Of course, a lot of people (including me) think that this is a weakness of functionism, but it does address the 'Identity Defence' discussed here."

Does it now? In what sense are two (or more) seperate instantiations of the "same" mind the same mind?

It seems to me that Prokop's argument, far from being answered but this 'functionalism' (as you've presented it), shows it to be false; for taking the two together shows that the mind is not in the physical system.

Ilíon said...

D.Benscotter: "... Just as the piano is not the pianist, neither is the brain the mind."

There are *known* cases, recorded in the modern medical literature, of human persons having huge portions of their (diseased) brains surgically removed, even half of it, and still being observably the same persons with the same personalities.

You are not your brain.

Ilíon said...

the materialist who denies being one: "The tree outside my front window has been there 100 years. Does it have a soul because it is the same tree even though all the atoms have been replaced 10 times?"

Actually, that's not exactly the case in the case of a tree. A tree continuously *adds to* the atoms and molecules of which its body is comprised. It is only the very thin skin of the currently growing part of the tree of which molecular replacement is true.

the materialist who denies being one: "Organization, not identity, is key for the materialist (not that I am a materialist, but we should not attack it with horrible arguments)."

Organization, pattern, identity ... these things are not *in* the matter, they do not "arise" or "emerge" from the matter; these are immaterial entities.

The fact is, only living entities have identity; living entities exist in a way that mere material objects, such as rocks and stars and planets, do not and cannot.

J said...

the mind is not in the physical system.


the law thinks otherwise--ie, DUI laws-- sufficient amount of alcohol interferes with brain functioning (and motor functioning). And Death being ID'd with...flatlined (ie brain activity ceases). And how/where does the mind-Ghost interact with body, issue commands, etc? Just when God decides?

J said...

where is his/their blogs?

other anonymous posters, VR either way.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "The fact is, only living entities have identity; living entities exist in a way that mere material objects, such as rocks and stars and planets, do not and cannot."

... to continue the thought: in a real sense, most (if not all) non-living material objects, such as rocks and stars and planets, and computers and tables and automobiles, don't even exist. That we conceive of them as being existents does not make them so. For their “existence” consists of us imputing identity to them … but they actually have no identity.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Lovell said...

Ilion,

I'm glad someone is mentioning the ship of Theseus in this connection. Can you elaborate?

More specifically what is the solution you are rejecting? And, if it isn't obvious once that solution is described, why does it fall foul to Swinburne/Lewis 'Siphoning off' response?

Several responses are mentioned on Wikipedia entry, two of which seem philosophically interesting: (i) four-dimensionalism, and (ii) functional identify (mentioned under the heading of "Buddhism").

Is either of roughly the response you were thinking of?

Steve

Steve Lovell said...

Er, sorry for typos. Typing hurriedly at work ... should really be working. Hopefully the sense is still clear enough.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

merely dogmatic points as usual from Id.---thinking does not necessarily imply an immaterial thinker (ie soul), anymore than running would imply an immaterial runner, or eating implies an immaterial eater. It's an attribute (of humans), not an essence.

The ancient Theseus analogy
not relevant, whatsoever (for one, ships aren't brains)

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Heuristics,
This information was given me in conversation with a molecular biologist who works for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD, so I'm afraid I can't footnote it for you. I took his word for it, not bothering to check it out, seeing as he knew what he was talking about, and the subject was (and is) outside my own field of expertise."

More importantly, is this molecular biologist "who works for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD", also a christian?

I'm just wishing to gauge the level of interpretive bias that might be embraced in his discussion with you.

Papalinton said...

"Ilíon: "The fact is, only living entities have identity; living entities exist in a way that mere material objects, such as rocks and stars and planets, do not and cannot.""

It may well be that rocks and stars and planets are "mere material objects". But so are trees, animals and cells and bacteria "mere material objects". Indeed they are all "mere material objects". Just because they can move or replicated doesn't make them any more special, just different. So too can 'mere material things' replicate spontaneously under certain conditions, such as the formation of crystals, or waves or rhythmic cyclic vibrations of various inorganic materials and compounds. Some simply happen to be classified as organic and some as inorganic 'mere material objects'. And in the universe the sum of all the forces/energies/materials [including organic and inorganic material] etc = 0

You see that's the beauty of it all. There is no need to anthropomorphize the process and imagine some phantasmic spectral numen tweaking the knobs of the fundamental cosmic constants to make it all work. Such knob-tweaking is really only the myopic-sighted ideation born of and through theology, and has no transferability value to the principal investigative disciplines of human activity, such as science, medicine, technology, anthropology, cosmology etc.

To boot, the whole enterprise seems to operate OK according to the La Place-ian maxim, without need of external intervention.

Ilíon said...

VR: "J: Prokop is a friend of very long standing, so I would recognize a troll using his name instantly. Your insulting comments are not acceptable here, and I am about to ban you."

Only just now? What? You missed the J-troll's odd attempt at an anti-semitic slur, even though Crude point it out?

parbouj said...

Ilion claims:
It is only the very thin skin of the currently growing part of the tree of which molecular replacement is true.

Reference?

At any rate, say you are right: point is the argument from atom replacement is weak.

parbouj said...

For that matter, is it really known that humans change their cells every N years? That has been around since the 19th century, and I doubt they could have measured this conclusively.

I am frankly skeptical that this is true.

I am also surprised people still think it is reasonable to think a plant has a soul in any way that a vulgar materialst would deny. I guess I'm a vulgar materialist, not a vitalist, wrt plants.

mattghg said...

Ilion,

In what sense are two or more instantiations of the same book the same book? Are two or more instantiations of the same computer program the same computer program? If functionism true, so it is with minds.

Now I don't think that functionism is true, because this account completely leaves out subjectivity (which is why Dennett and his ilk are liable to effectively pretend that it doesn't exist) - but arguments from subjectivity are not the same as arguments from personal identity (are they?), and so that's why I don't think that this personal identity argument is very strong.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Missed you! You've been absent from this website for an unusually long period. (I'll not be posting over Thanksgiving weekend myself. I have a strict "No Computers" rule when I'm in others' company.)

Yes, he is a Christian. But so is nearly every other biologist I know, so I don't think that's a factor in the data. (He's Catholic, too, but in Maryland it would be strange not to be. Sort of like being non-Mormon in Utah.)

(Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago I attended a gathering of professional astronomy teachers in Pennsylvania, and when one of the speakers asked for a show of hands as to who believed in God in the room, nearly every hand went up. He then stage-muttered (as a joke), "Fanatics!")

B. Prokop said...

It's interesting how this issue is being used here as an argument for the existence of the mind (Which I believe it very much is).

But when I first heard this explained (and it was a new idea to me), my first thought was, "Wow, Saint Paul was right when he wrote, "We are all members of each other". The thought that, as it was explained to me, portions of my physical self could very well have been (quite literally) somebody else in the past, or will most likely end up in the future in yet another person's body, brought home to me how intimately interconnected we all are - at the most fundamental levels.

What that meant was, any act of kindness you might do to a stranger, you are actually doing to yourself. And when you are rude or dismissive of another person, you are being so to yourself. It meant that it is not possible to draw a line around one's self and declare, "This is my business. Stay out of it". Similarly, we cannot look upon another's problems and say, "That's no concern of mine". For, as Paul truly said, "quoniam sumus invicem membra".

J said...

When anyone says something about Id.'s pseudo-metaphysics he always resorts to whining.

So chow-time, and ...Id.'s soul receives orders --how does the enzymatic process (ie hunger) get translated into Soul-Language, Id? Where's the interface, and how does it (G*d?) issue a command to Id's hardware in S-L to head over to IHOP for some lunche? Mysteries.

Victor Reppert said...

Ilion: I am the slowest banner in the blogosphere, unlike Vallicella, who has to be the fastest. There's a happy medium somewhere, but I haven't found it.

Ilíon said...

Concerning Vallicella (and Peter Lupu): On Philosophical 'Trash-Talk' and in relation to (the history of) his banning of me at his blog.

J said...

VR--I haven't said anything that rude. My comments in this thread here are mostly a paraphrase of Hobbes' points contra-Descartes (and as usual the religious refuse to address them). No neo-nazi am I (that's....Feser and BV's people). So, Ill.'s overreacting as usual-- he should be banned if anyone for his extremist, reactionary views

BenYachov said...

>>VR--I haven't said anything that rude.....No neo-nazi am I (that's....Feser and BV's people).

Chuzpah alert! Chuzpah alert!

J is too funny.

J said...

The thomistic dogma chants aside, let's look up some of Feser & Co's writing--Right Reason, wasn't it-- circa 2002-03, Yak, when EF and BV (and the McGrews, IIRC) were waving the flag for Bush and neo-cons 24/7 (contra JP II, for that matter)--often to the right of BushCO. And ...supporting torture as well. Etc.

BenYachov said...

So J rants about left wing politics and condemns right wingers and Ilion rants about right wing politics and bags on left wingers?

So religion for either of you is nothing more than a continuation of politics?

Boring!

B. Prokop said...

You are dead right on that, Ben. My co-religionists span the political spectrum from libertarians, to flat-taxers, to "Nuke 'em all, and convert the survivors" neocons, to vegan, bicycle-commuting, brie & Chablis guzzling, farmers' market shopping, carbon-footprint obsessives. The more, the merrier! (I myself strive for Joe Sheffer's ideal of Middle of the Road Extremism.)

Ilíon said...

BenYachov: "Chuzpah alert! Chuzpah alert!"

seems to me that you overlooked an important component ... "I haven't said anything that rude. My comments in this thread here ..."

for, as everyone knows, there is no such thing as history.

mattghg said...

Godwin's law anyone?

Ilíon said...

"So religion for either of you is nothing more than a continuation of politics?"

No, you're just a fool.

Steve Lovell said...

On atom/cell/etc replacement ... I'm pretty sure that successful responses to these arguments shouldn't hinge on the fine detail of whether all the atoms in us are at some point replaced or not. If naturalism is true, then it is perfectly possible for them all to be replaced. The argument can therefore be modalised, and though I don't have the time to formulate an exact modal version just now (I need to go to bed) I'm pretty sure this would be just as damaging to naturalism one based on the premise that all the atoms actually so replaced.

At least it seems that way to me. But is it a problem at all? Still hoping that Ilion will tell me (us?) more about the ship of Theseus.

Steve Lovell said...

Sorry. It's late here.

* actually are so replaced.

Ilíon said...

Actually, the argument doesn't require that *all* the atoms be replaced, but merely that some of them be replaced; and that happens to be the case.

Ilíon said...

I have to go back out, but I've seen Mr Lovell's question about the Paradox of Theseus' Ship.

Doug Benscoter said...

Steve, you're right about modal arguments. In fact, I think Plantinga has used such arguments in the past. It might go something like this:

1. There is a possible world in which the mind exists apart from the body. (Premise)

2. Necessarily, if the mind exists apart from the body, then the mind is distinct from the body. (Premise)

3. Therefore, there is a possible world in which the mind is distinct from the body. (From 1 and 2)

4. Therefore, the mind is distinct from the body. (From 3)

(4) follows from (3), since what is identical does not vary from world to world. Of course, one could always deny premise (1), so it depends on whether you view (1) as more plausible than its negation.

J said...

Modal magick! There is a possible world in which Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist. Ergo, Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist. QED.

Existence implies...corporeality, extension in space--measurability (ie, mathematics applies to objects, relations, states of affairs or means nothing). To speak of..souls is to speak of phantasms. One can do it. But yr still heading to the IHOP afterwards.

Ilíon said...

D.Benscotter: "[A modal argument] might go something like this:"

That's the trouble with modal logic (I'm tempted to write "logic"), isn't it? It's frequently indistinguishable from question-begging.

Do wonder an abbreviated form of it is so preferred by so-called atheists and by Darwinists.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

My memory is fuzzy but I believe Oderberg argue against Modalistic logic. I'll have to go back an re-read REAL ESSENTALISM.

>There is a possible world in which Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist. Ergo, Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist. QED.

You mean like the Multiverse?

>No, you're just a fool.

So now I'm not a liberal(like Bob)?

Do make up your mind.

J said...

perhaps you can us send a pic when you get to the parallel universe, Yak! One of the jubjubs too. Fringe science. Then you can't do normal science Yak. anymore than you can do philosophy-- so like stick to the fringe

BenYachov said...

So you reject the multiverse?

BenYachov said...

>Then you can't do normal science Yak. anymore than you can do philosophy-- so like stick to the fringe.....

I didn't do any science I just asked a question which by definition is basic to philosophy.

J said...

The multiversers in general seem no different than the mystics (including christian ones) fond of pop readings--misreadings-- of quantum physics. They read indeterminacy as implying that...actual "worlds" spring into existence. One might call it a modal fallacy.

Einstein (and IIRC Bertrand Russell) objected to the bizarre readings of quantum mechanics, emphasizing one real world (even monism in a sense). Im not advocating raw materialism but...probability does not ...create worlds (ie, the losing rolls in craps...haven't made Lucky rich somewhere--if they somehow did he surely can't collect on it).

BenYachov said...

Thank you for your thoughts.

But a simple straight forward "yes" or "no" or "I'm not sure" would do.

J said...

Einstein a bit much for you, eh Yak. (or Bricmont, who has written many essays contra-mystic readings of quantum theory and "chaos")...Much of RC tradition (and Aristotle hisself) was opposed to ghost worlds and platonism wasn't it, Yak. (tho Aquinas sort of modified that...Ari. never discussed..like the properties of angels, demons OR flying saints!. A possible world, eh--).

BenYachov said...

So what is your point again & what does Einstein have to do with me inquiring what you believe about the multiverse?

J said...

Re-read the posts, slowly. (or better, spend a few days looking at some of Bricmont's online writing). If that doesn't work we can sell you an ebonics version of my comments: J. for Dummies.

BenYachov said...

Thanks but reading gibberish slowly doesn't make it more intelligible.

Sorry.

mattghg said...

There is a possible world in which Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist. Ergo, Jubjub birds and the Frumious Bandersnatch exist

How is this relevant to anything? How is this close to being a reponse (let alone a rebuttal) to the modal argument that Doug presented?

J said...

Reason probably does seem like gibberish to a Roody Giuliani cat. such as yourself. Maybe we could discuss bingo tactics, or your favorite flying saint.

Also-- since like Feser, you pretend to be a philosophaster at times, see Quine's comments on "modal logic." (and no Quine's not my guru)

J said...

It's a denial of modal logic, brutthrrr, in so far that it proves anything like, real (ie existing, measurable, verifiable, so forth). And some choice Carrollian phun

BenYachov said...

One thing unites the paranoid left-wing Atheist called J & the right wing one note Theistic Personalist named Ilion.

Obsessive hatred of Edward Feser.

J said...

Did I say I was an atheist Yakkie? No. I considered JP II's proclamations a few years ago..contra BushCo, torture, misuse of death penalty, American imperialism, etc. Unlike the Right Reason gang. I don't have to explain that to you.

There are now quite a few theologians and philosophasters who misuse what they take to be "Modal logic" (formerly known as probability). With statements like "It is possible it will rain tomorrow", or .."the packers will probably win the super bowl" etc. No biggie. Meaningful and confirmable. What makes Vegass run.

But something like Plantinga ML: "There is a possible world where...Vishnu rules a parallel universe, and disembodied souls join him after death"--- Nyet.

mattghg said...

It's a denial of modal logic

It isn't an argument, though, is it? Your parody modal argument does not correspond to Doug's argument at all.

BenYachov said...

What you are J is amusing, nothing more.

Steve Lovell said...

Doug and others interested in the modalised version,

My version of the argument below uses less of the language of modal logic, but the same drivers are behind my (2) as are behind Doug's version.

(1) It is possible to replace all the parts of someone's brain without the owner of the original brain ceasing to exist
(2) If this is possible, then the owner of the brain is not idenitical to the brain considered in terms of its material parts
(3) Owners of brains are not identical to brains considered in terms of their material parts

Would naturalists really deny (1)? If the naturalist's best response is to deny this then as far as I can see naturalism is in serious trouble!

Firstly it may not be merely possible but even actual. Second, even if it isn't actual, it does seem like it's an empirical matter whether it's true or not that this happens. And if it's an empirical matter ...

Of course one could say that the identity, like that of Superman and Clark Kent, is necessary even though it's discovered a posteriori ... but we are positing the necessity before being sure that there is anything with the longevity to even be a candidate for identity. If we discovered that buried deep in the brain of each of us is a single atom which was there since the formation of our spinal chord, would the naturalist really want to say "Yes, that's me, I am that atom"?

Personally, I think the naturalist's best response is to accept the conclusion and say that naturalism isn't committed to that.

J said...

You're not even that Yak. The problem is that you don't understand the points--since they interfere with your quasi-metaphysics (aka dogma).

Arguments using questionable/false premises (even Dougie admits #1 is merely "plausible" ie
might be false) are at best trivially valid, tho' unsound.

"It is possible to replace all the parts of someone's brain without the owner of the original brain ceasing to exist". Do you have a handy example of like a brain transplant?

Anonymous said...

"Do you have a handy example of like a brain transplant?"

Why not read the original post to find one, trog.

Papalinton said...

There is no mind without brain.

J said...

The primitive trog is you, Anny-troll. Like the rest of the phonies you have no understanding of Hume's point (or of the point on Doug's premises), which still governs this issue (at least ...for the most part), apart from Nursey 101 spam. Ie, personal identity is not fixed in some necessary fashion-- Memories/associations/ even a sense of self fade, are altered--perhaps due to aging, disease, alcohol abuse. Oh wait. Im trying philosophy at sunday school. (Or is it Moroni school? LDS vibe...not pleasant

Anonymous said...

"The primitive trog is you, Anny-troll."

STFU and read. The. Original. Post. You trog.

Did Clark Goble finally ban you from his blog? That would explain the mormon infatuation you have lately.

parbouj said...

Steve: aside from talking about 'brains' and their 'owners' as separate entities (something the vulgar materialist would deny), they would also dispute premise 2 (most materialists are type identity theorists, after all, so allow for lots of variability in the tokens while maintaining the same mental states). If one neuron dies, I do not cease to be parbouj.

THat's what they would say, I think, in response. I am not a vulgar materialist about mind, but tried to be for a while so can think like one if i must {g}

parbouj said...

Note the 'brains vs owners' way of speaking is a minor concern, in retrospect it would be a not very good point to make against you: after all you are just talking about 'X' and 'Y' and need to show that X is not equal Y. I think the more substantive weakness is the second premise, which type identity theorists don't have to agree with.

Steve Lovell said...

Parbouj,

Thanks for your comments. I thought type-identity theory had gone. Multiple-realisation and what not. All my professors claimed to be token-state identity theorists. Admittedly this was in the late-90's ... perhaps the pendulum has swung back since then.

Anyway, let me just check I understand your response. Are you saying there is a response according to which the person would be identical with other things of the same type as those replaced, as well as being identical with whatever matter is currently constituting his brain?

This looks wrong to me.

First there is multiple realisation: in a (naturalistically) possible future some essential bit of my brain might stop functioning and be replaced with an electronic functional equivalent. Since this is not the same type of stuff as is being replaced, does this respondant to my argument need to say the "me" from before the replacement is not the same person as the "me" from afterwards?

Second, if it's only the type of thing that matters and not the specific instances, there is no reason so say that there couldn't be two of the same individual ... Suppose we replace all my brain and other parts over time, and I remain the same person. That should be fine according to the imagined response. However suppose we also use the old, replaced parts to slowly build a "replica" ... the replica is identical to the original me in every respect. But this will cause issues with the transitivity of identity and takes us back to ship of Theseus.

Thoughts? I'm still thinking the naturalist should accept the conclusion and say that identity is a "matter" of maintaining functional integrity over time not a "matter" of sameness of parts. But I'm guessing this is the response Ilion doesn't like and I want to know how come.

J said...

No, you nead to read Anny-coward, mormon pagan. AS far as religion goes, the LDS is...~(hrist)

You don't even understand the PI argument--even granting some continuity (of what? memories? associations? a store of knowledge,?? body itself? etc. not made clear) a "person" has no axiomatic definition. You're not Cartesians, anyway. You're...sunday school!

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Don't pretend to know Clark, satanist. Maybe post yr favorite RA Heinlein books, or Crowley. Thats you Byro-anny, theatre queer.

parbouj said...

Steve: Good points I think you might be right. Let me try to respond.

For one, I think type identity has made a pretty major resurgence (e.g., Bickle, Polgar), or at least its rejection has waned considerably.

I think what they say about multiple realizability is that it is consistent with type identity. E.g., consider temperature, which is identical to mean kinetic energy. You can have the same temperature impelemented in helium gas, oxygen, etc..

If mental states are type-identical to some higher-level brain states that can be implemented in other media, that shouldn't be a problem if it is analagous to the temperature issue.

I think neuron-replacing thought experiments shouldn't bug them as long as the relevant higher-order properties are preserved.

Or at Stanford entry on this, J Smart talks about the property of being 'brittle' which is also identical to a higher-order physical property (not first-order molecular properties).
AS far as I understand it.

Again, a materialist here might chime in I'm just trying to play devil's advocate.

mattghg said...

I'm still thinking the naturalist should accept the conclusion and say that identity is a "matter" of maintaining functional integrity over time not a "matter" of sameness of parts.

I think that's right.

J said...

"We are never intimately conscious of anything but a particular perception; man is a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity and are in perpetual flux and movement" (Hume).

Intro to personal identity for DI. Even were one to grant substance dualism (for a few nano-seconds) Hume's point can hardly be denied--ie, the metaphysical speculations (ie Soul) are apart from the persistence issue. (type-token also ..a completely separate issue)

William said...

"We are never intimately conscious of anything but a particular perception; man is a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity and are in perpetual flux and movement"

But a single bundle of tropes is one bundle, ie a unity, so, a bundle of tropes is to be identified as the substance of consciousness. As soon as Hume refers to his bundles, he is referring to unitary substance--he just fails to admit this.

J said...

a bundle of tropes

Been wiki'ing for a few days, eh, Billy. Are memories/thoughts/perceptions
"tropes" ?? Hardly, and that doesn't begin to address the persistence issue (or rather, the lack of persistence). Lets see a pic of a "bundle of tropes", or maybe a cortical residence as it were.

William said...

J,

Glad you think that Hume was rather incoherent-- I agree. Why did you quote him originally, then? Just trolling?

I was just suggesting that one part of the incoherence was that one cannot even discuss consciousness without using a unitary predicate.

J said...

No, that's you, Billy the Mormon, non sequitur specialist. "unitary predicate." Hah hah. Just pure BS.

You've never read a page of Hume in your life. Even the wiki. Or Descartes. Which philosopher have you read?/ Ayn Rand maybe. Or the ebonics version.

You don't understand the point as usual, fraud

Steve Lovell said...

J,

I understand the quote from Hume, but I don't understand it's relevance to the topic under discussion. I think that is what William is questioning too (at least in his latest comment). Would you enlighten us?

How for example does it relate to my presentation of the argument (with the numbered premises)?

Perhaps you are saying that there is no self-same indivudual over time since there is no coherent individual at all, and therefore the problem isn't a real one. That would be one possible response, but I think the person offering the argument would see it as a victory if you had to go to those lengths to avoid his conclusion.

Enough speculation about what you meant. I'd rather hear it from you.

Cheers.

Steve Lovell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Lovell said...

parbouj,

I think we agree with one another here. You call it type-identity theory because you are thinking at the functional level, I call it token-identity because I am thinking at the material level.

It ends up pretty much the same, no?

J said...

Hume doesn't just deny a self--it's a bit more nuanced. Some mental states seem to persist--important memories. Some don't . There appears to be "consciousness"--an ego, perhaps-- but...that's not quite the same as the substance issue (via the Idion approach--insist it's a Ghost-- and that's about it). The sort of quasi-logical approach, even the "bundle" jazz, misses out on the complexity of the psychological issues. Actually I don't think the PI issue is resolvable via philosophical introspection (relates to brain science, even "conditioning" however quaint).

William's a troll.

parbouj said...

Steve, I think that's not quite it. Higher level and functional level are not the same thing. E.g., temperature is not functionally defined, but is multiply realizable, what I am calling a "higher level" statistical property (not functional property).

But I think your argument focuses on material constitution, more narrowly construed (what I would call 'first order' material properties), so it seems to work.

My attempt to go up a level to statistical/higher-level properties in some sense equivocates on your use of the term 'identical' (I traded on the ambiguity between higher-order versus first-order properties, but your argument is clearly aimed at the former, so seems to work).

But note how weak, in some sense, this makes your argument. It even would work for temperature--we could do a molecular replacement scenario while maintaining temperature, and run your argument through. It seems to kill a view that nobody advocates, is my new concern. :)

parbouj said...

I wrote:
"I traded on the ambiguity between higher-order versus first-order properties, but your argument is clearly aimed at the former, so seems to work"

change 'former' to 'latter'..ooops

J said...

More pseudo-scientific BS from the troll, Mr Howell. We're not discussing CPUs or harddrives, but humans, with memories, thoughts, feelings, etc. Read Eric Olson's cogent discussion on the SEP--he seems to end with a somewhat psychological viewpoint rather than quasi-logical (some logic when you have no premises/identities to start with. Even Descartes does a bit better than that...or WM James for that matter)

BenYachov Jim Scott 4th said...

Wow somebody who is worst than Paps!!!

J kinda makes Paps look like BDK by comparison?

I'm astounded!

parbouj said...

Who the heck is Mr Howell? Truly I rarely know who J is even talking to. Maybe one of his personalities? I'd pay to see a debate between J and Ilion. Neither would ever address the topic or one another directly, but it sure would be entertaining!

Ilíon said...

parbouj is not only a self-deceiving fool; he's also disgusting.

JSA said...

Speaking of Bill Vallicella's, he discussed this issue in a paper about Nagasena's Chariot:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/03/can-the-chariot-take-us-to-the-land-of-no-self.html

Jake Elwood XVI said...

It occurred to me that a certain poster has a distinct similarity to Dogberry from Much Ado About Nothing.

BenYachov Jim Scott 4th said...

Michael Keaton's Dogberry was the definitive one.

No question about it.

Steve Lovell said...

parbouj,

Agreed again ... functional properties are only one sort of higher-order property. I shouldn't have limited my comment to the former.

I agree that this makes (my version of) the argument sort of pointless ... which is why I though the naturalist's best response is just to accept the conclusion, shrug his shoulders and say he never believed in the position that's been refuted anyway.

However, it may serve to clear the ground a little. If it shows that the naturalist has to be something like a functionalist, then many would take that as bad news for naturalism. I'm so out of date with this stuff though, I'm sure there is lots more to me said.

J,

Am I Mr Howell? There is a vague simularity between our surnames. If so, I'm offended. If not I'm only confused. As others have wondered who is the person you're talking about? Or perhaps it's meant to be a colon after the name rather than a full-stop? ;-)

Ilion,

Since you're back ... how about your take on that ship?

Ilíon said...

"Since you're back ... how about your take on that ship?"

I wasn't back (and I'm still not back). I had jumped online for a minute while I was visiting my family back in Indiana. I just got back home (in Ohio) ... but, since I currently don't live at home, since work is so far away, I'm getting ready to head over to the city where I work.

Ilíon said...

... as for the ship, what exactly, or at least approximately, is it that you want me to explore?

J said...

Am I Mr Howell? There is a vague simularity between our surnames. If so, I'm offended. If not I'm only confused. As others have wondered who is the person you're talking about?

Yes yr Mr Howell/Lowell, whatever==focusing on surface level errors (how about "simularity"??) rather than content a typical rightist tactic. Anyway, let's stick to the PI topic--and per Wm James (ie psychologist/doctor as well as capable philosophaster), let me reiterate--mere philosophical introspection of whatever type in no way suffices as an answer to the PI issue (Kant says as much somewhere).

For one, you have no access to the contents of other minds Herr Howell, do you. Nor do the trailer park Leibnizes here. You see ...say, a horse, and would call it a "horse". But perhaps ....one of the trolls or mystics here sees a horse, and sees..Pegasus, and calls it such! Unlikely, but again, getting out of solipsism one of the first problems related to the PI issue (and philosophy itself)--as even the behaviorists understood (not to approve of behaviorism, but..one overcomes it, instead of just dismissing it).

J said...

And grazi for evidence, Yachov-Shylock.

Victor Reppert said...

That's enough, J. Goodbye.

Ilíon said...

By the way, you know those Verizon ads about their "blazing 4G speed"? Well, it's a crock. It's not just that my Verizon 4G network card service really isn't that fast compared to my DSL service (which happens to be the slowest speed offered), it's that the connectivity is so unreliable.

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Ilion,

Way back up there somewhere you said that you'd seen several responses to the ship of Theseus issue and weren't convinced. But you didn't say what responses you were thinking of or why you weren't convinced.

Cheers.

Steve Lovell said...

Thanks Vic.

I was trying to respond to J, but it was difficult to figure out what he was saying. Finding out whether I was Mr Howell would have at least told me that the last comment was for me. I genuinely didn't know that ... until his last post there.

To my knowledge none of my posts were pseudo-science. They were all philosophy. And one doesn't refute any argument by mentioning philosophers with impressive names like Hume and Wm James.

I offered an argument. J failed to say how any of his comments related to that argument. Perhaps I'm too out of touch with the current state of philosophy of mind and that's why I didn't understand him, but I generally find it easier to discuss things with people who will make their thoughts explicit when requested to do so. J didn't want to do that and then started to say my (or Mr Howell's) comments were pseudo-science and discussed humans as though they were computers. Rather an add comment really for someone ostensibly defending naturalism against an argument for dualism.

01010101 said...

No. You misread J, and the point on Hume (ie, no coherent "self" in brief--or, it's merely posited), and the problem of other minds. You don't understand the psychological issues entailed by the personal identity issue either.

Steve Lovell said...

01010101,

I've already said perhaps I don't understand. And maybe I don't, but like J you haven't made anything explicit about how this relates to the issue under consideration or my argument in particular. I offered one possible way in which the quote from Hume might be relevant to the issue, which J said wasn't right but then failed to explain (at least in a way a mere PhD in philosophy can understand) how the quote from Hume was relevant. Perhaps you can help. Which premise of my argument is being denied, on what basis? Or is the argument sound but benign to naturalism as I've suggested?

parbouj said...

Some people never learn that citations aren't arguments.

Ilíon said...

"Some people never learn that citations aren't arguments."

No doubt.

At the same time, in what will doubtless be a mind-blowing revelation, some persons seem never to learn that "Nuh-uh!" isn't an argument.

And, even more anazingly, some persons seem never to learn that no matter how many other propositions one may AND to a FALSE proposition, the composite proposition remains FALSE.

parbouj said...

Ilion/Troy good to see you are finally learning propositional logic. You are almost ready for the conditional, it seems.

Steve Lovell schooled me, Ben Yachov has taught me some things. Ilion...just gets us all a little more dumb.

parbouj said...

Bob is also good for useful insights, and others I'm not mentioning (pretty much just J and Ilion are the two I see as here for comic relief).

mattghg said...

Some people never learn that citations aren't arguments.


Indeed - especially when the relevance of the citation in question to the discussion at hand is impossible to decipher.

Ilíon said...

"Ilíon/Troy ..."

Aww! Isn't that just so touching, and rather darling, in a creepy, off-putting sort of way? Can't you just see little Parboil (*) excitedly jumping about: "Look at me! Pick me! Pay attention to me! Oooo, you're so dreamy: I think I'll go draw your name, again!"

That fellow seems to be a member of the League of Ilíon Loving / Ilíon Obsessed Trolls (I mean, hasn't he used their "secret" code-word a couple of times already?); as such, it's a pretty safe bet that he keeps a journal in which, at least once per day, he draws my Christian name and blogging handle, surrounded by hearts and flowers, starbursts and (lots! of) exclamation marks. And, when he's feeling really daring, he tries to fit his own name into the charming little composition.

(*) What a fitting name, when you consider it: his Big Idea For Protecting God-Denial From Rational Evaluation doesn't even rise to the level of half-backed; at best, it's just half-boiled.

On the other hand, that one Anonymouse appears to belong to the League of Independently Deranged Ilíon Obsessed Trolls.

Ilíon said...

Steve Lovell: "Way back up there somewhere you said that you'd seen several responses to the ship of Theseus issue and weren't convinced ..."

I did? Well, I certainly *meant* to say: "Moreover, the solution (at any rate, the only one I've seen offered) to the 'Theseus' Ship Paradox' isn't really available for this variation on it. In this regard, it's like Swinburne's observation that having turned, say, 'redness' into a subjective mental state, the modernist/materialist cannot then sweep the subject under the same rug."

Steve Lovell: "... But you didn't say what responses you were thinking of or why you weren't convinced."

Myself, I've seen exactly one proposed "Yes, it's the same ship" solution to the paradox, which went something like this: since the *function* of the ship-in-toto, and of the individual parts of which it is comprised, remains the same, the ship we can see and touch is the same ship that Theseus could see and touch centuries ago.

But, this "solution" *actually* denies that the ship the philosophers were discussing is/was the same ship in which Theseus sailed. For this "solution" admits that the ship's (supposed) identity is not intrinsic to the ship, but is rather extrinsically ascribed to the ship by purposful agents. In reality, this "solution" amounts to "It's the same ship because we say it's the same ship".

Steve Lovell: "... or why you weren't convinced."

I am not simply unconvinced by the proffered solution; I know that the correct answer is: "No, it's not the same ship." For the ship, as with most (or even all) non-living physical entities, has no intrinsic identity, no self-hood.

If you were to take a carefully selected rock, and pulverize it into its constituent molecules and atoms, taking exacting care to let not one single atom escapre from you, would you still have the same rock? Why not? If, instead, you merely broke it into to halves of equal mass, would you still have the same rock? Why not? Trick question: if, instead, you merely broke off one miniscule chip of the rock, would you still have the same rock?

And the self-hood that makes me to be me and not you is utterly non-physical and immaterial, it cannot be found in the physical, it cannot be reduced to the physical. Thus, not only does the fact that you are a rationla being disprove materialism/naturalism/atheism, but so does that fact that you are a living organism: even an amoeba disproves materialism/naturalism/atheism.
========
The functionalism "solution" that Mattghg offers as a way that atheists might escape the sting of the OP fails in the same way that the Theseus' Ship "solution" fails. And, look at that! even before he offered it, I had already pointed out that it fails.

parbouj said...

Iliotroy reveals his vitalism:
" even an amoeba disproves materialism/naturalism/atheism."

And when scientists construct a living cell in the lab, will that cell also disprove materialism? Or will it not have the magical vital dust? Will it necessarily leave something out?

Ilíon said...

The foolish Half-Boiled reveals his commitment to being a fool and demonstrating his foolishness (and demonstrates, once again, his disinclination to think logically and rationally): "And when scientists construct a living cell in the lab, will that cell also disprove materialism? Or will it not have the magical vital dust? Will it necessarily leave something out?"

When is this miraculous event, always just over the horizon, going to happen?

[Never, in fact] But, let us pretend that some scientists do actually bring into being a living organism "from scratch". Anyone who is not committed to lying to himself ought to be able to see that such an event would not, and cannot in principle, support or provide evidence for naturalism/materialism: for, this novel organism was intended.

Ths Half-Boiled materialist, who dishonestly denies that he is a materialist, refuses to understand (for, after all, he *is* intellectually dishonest) that the AfR (at any rate, my formulation of it) applies even to the magical materialism+Platonism he imagines he has discovered: for the issue at the base of my argument isn't the existence of physical/material entities, but rather whether they exist intentionally.


And, by the way, 'vitalism' is actually a statement of materialism/naturalism; and I am not a materialist.

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "One thing unites the paranoid left-wing Atheist called J & the right wing one note Theistic Personalist named Ilion.

Obsessive hatred of Edward Feser.
"

I begin to wonder whether there is any limit to the foolishness of Son-of-Confusion.

Ilíon said...

Mattghg (acting as devil's advocate): "In what sense are two or more instantiations of the same book the same book? Are two or more instantiations of the same computer program the same computer program? If functionism true, so it is with minds."

You instantiate 'adult human male'; I likewise instantiate 'adult human male': therefore, I am you.

Steve Lovell said...

Thanks Ilion,

You're quite right, I rather misremembered your earlier comments. Anyway, I was still keen to have your take on the ship, which you've now kindly provided in your long and (to me) helpful comment.

If I understand you rightly, you are saying that the "function" response to the ship of Theseus case is incoherent. It attempts to say the original ship is the same as the later one, but it ends up also denying this. Again, if I read you rightly this is because it makes the ship's "identity" extrinsic to the ship. I'm not sure that's how I would describe it, but it certainly makes it extrinsic to the ships parts, even when taken in total.

I don't think that necessarily makes it a bad response to the case of the ship, but I agree with you that it's a difficult to see that this can be coherent applied to ourselves. Indeed, I've never managed to see that as a coherent view.

The problem is that function is not intrinsic, and is read-into the ship; it's a projection, as it were, of the human mind. The mind "smearing itself" on the world (whose phrase was that again?). But to say the same thing about the mind itself seems incoherent. How can the mind be a useful fiction created minds which are themselves useful fictions? The bootstrapping involved looks simply non-sensical.

This has always been what bothered me about, for example, Dennett's "intentional stance". How can the mind merely be such a useful fiction when viewing people from a third person perspective? What enables us to take such a perspective if the "intentional stance" really is a fiction? Charity makes me think this can't really be what Dennett meant, but he certainly gives the impression of thinking this.

Where does this leave the original argument?

(A1) The original argument against naturalism of the mind could be accepted as sound if one takes a functionalist approach to the mind.
(A2) But a functionalist approach to the mind seems incoherent on other grounds (as per the above).
(A3) Therefore if naturalism is to be defended, naturalists need a different response to the orginal argument.

Ok, so naturalists out there, you have three options:

(i) Find another response to the original argument.
(ii) Defend functionalism against these charges of bootstapping.
(iii) Find another option, but I don't see one.

Any takers?

mattghg said...

You instantiate 'adult human male'; I likewise instantiate 'adult human male': therefore,

We are the same species and the same sex.

I am you.

Nope. For that to be the case we'd have to instantiate all and only the same properties - or at least, all of the properties relevant to the identity of a person. Which properties those are is precisely the point of this thread. A functionist will say that the relevant properties are precisely the functional ones.

parbouj said...

Troylion, I will again try to help you with conditional reasoning. In the meantime, you might pick up a logic book or take a class aimed at freshmen.

You said simple organisms disprove materialism, I gave a counterargument to show this is false. Iliotroy as usual completely misses the logical flow and responds:
"Anyone who is not committed to lying to himself ought to be able to see that such an event would not, and cannot in principle, support or provide evidence for naturalism/materialism"

Again, missing the logical flow.
A-->B
does not imply
~A-->~B
I gave no indication that I supported materialism, only that your claim does not work as a refutation of materialism. Not the same thing. I'm sorry Ilion you have such trouble keeping up.

You embarass yourself in every thread here. Literally. Go take a freshman logic class, and then come back. Not everyone has the patience I do to explain week-one propositional logic to you, to build the ramp for you so you can understand simple arguments.

mattghg said...

The problem is that function is not intrinsic

Indeed; it's possible to find just about anything with the same 'function' as just about anything else.

parbouj said...

Steve, I think functions are not intrinsic, but that doesn't mean they depend upon the intentional stance. E.g., I think there are objective functions that are not intrinsically characterized (e.g., fnct of heart is to pump blood, whether I know it or not).

I'm thinking of Millikan, Fodor, Dretske.

Obviously the question is whether this ship will sail when it comes to consciousness...I am doubtful, but I am a panpsychist/property dualist.

William said...

Mattghg:
++
For that to be the case we'd have to instantiate all and only the same properties - or at least, all of the properties relevant to the identity of a person.
==

And, from physics, we know that two electrons that are not at all discernible in their intrinsic properties are different electrons if they can be added together to form an object with twice the charge. Thus, an exact duplicate of you is not you if when you are next to one another you are two objects, not one.

Individuality does not require mental properties.

Steve Lovell said...

A clarification:

Stirred to further thoughts by Parbouj's comment about the function of the heart, I now wonder if I've (we've?) made a natural but incorrect slide in the discussion of functions. The "functional" response to the ship of Theseus (and allied cases) involves the functional integrity of the ship as a whole. Functionalism is about the functions of individual mental states.

To answer the "original argument" the naturalist need only be able to say what the functional integrity of a person consists in, and presumably that (according to the naturalist at least) will mostly be a relatively non-mysterious medical matter.

Sorry to anyone who feels they've been led on a wild-goose chase.

Steve Lovell said...

Ilion, what do you make of this? Do you accept that I was making a confusion? If so, you seem to have been making the same one. If it's not a confusion, how come?

I've come up with two possible rejoinders for you:

(1) We can't talk about the functional integrity of something which doesn't have a function. And either a person doesn't have a function, or if they do naturalism is false as this implies a "meta-teleology".
(2) It doesn't make any difference whether we are talking about functional integrity of people as a whole or the functions of individual mental states. Both are extrinsic qualities which are ascribed by persons. Without bootstrapping it's therefore impossible for these to be constitutive of persons.

I guess the naturalist replies as follows:

(1') Yes we can. Functional integrity relates to a thing's ability to maintain it's own existence in whatever environment it happens to exist. This weaker concept of functional integrity is strong enough to do the work required of it in the ship case, but weak enough to be naturalistically acceptable.
(2') It does make a difference. Functional integrity in the sense of (1') is not ascribed.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

"Functional integrity relates to a thing's ability to maintain it's own existence in whatever environment it happens to exist. This weaker concept of functional integrity is strong enough to do the work required of it in the ship case, but weak enough to be naturalistically acceptable."

But that seems to right away assume that "a thing" has some kind of intrinsic existence. There is objectively/intrinsically "a thing" X, and X is engaging in acts that are "maintaining its existence". Or if it's not objective and intrinsic, and we're just talking about what our minds are regarding as the functions and purposes of something relative to our own interests, then it seems nothing is being explained at all by the naturalist explanation.

Maybe that gets into a line of questioning that your original argument wasn't meant to explore.

Steve Lovell said...

Anonymous ...

I was vaguely thinking the same thing myself. Something cannot maintain itself in existence unless there is something, some thing, there to be maintained.

But is that really true? I can understand someone being suspicious of that. Indeed, to an extent I share those suspicions. But I'm very tempted by the nominalist approach to things like ships, and believe it is perfectly consistent with our referring to them as things, even though they aren't "substances" or "natural kinds" ... and then it's difficult (for me) not to allow the naturalist to say the same thing is plausible for human persons, at least considered from a third person perspective. Certainly if this view has problems it isn't clear that those problems really stem from the sort of considerations in the OP. Indeed, those are just the sort of issue that this sort of view handles incredibly well.

To my mind the question is whether such a view is consistent with the first person perspective. The paper by Bill Vallicella that JSA mentioned earlier is rather interesting in this regard. To save you scrolling, you can find it here.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

"But I'm very tempted by the nominalist approach to things like ships, and believe it is perfectly consistent with our referring to them as things, even though they aren't "substances" or "natural kinds" ... and then it's difficult (for me) not to allow the naturalist to say the same thing is plausible for human persons, at least considered from a third person perspective."

This sounds an awful lot like the claim that solipsism can account for everything we experience. Absolutely, so long as we put aside all first person (mental) considerations and treat all that we see as exhaustively described in the third person, we can account for everything. Except ourselves and our first person perspective. And in all cases it's our first person experience and mind that we're framing all other "explanations" in terms of.

Steve Lovell said...

In case people don't know from other threads, I should point out that I'm not a naturalist. I'm just trying to give the naturalist his due. Perhaps I'm not doing a very good job of it, but then no actual naturalist is here offering anything better (or so it seems to me).

Anonymous,

I don't disagree with your comments, your observation is one of my main issues with a thoroughgoing nominalism-pragmatism ... but that takes us a a fair way from the OP, especially as that argument didn't seem to be specifically about the first-person perspective only about identity over time.

If the naturalist can solve the latter problem along the lines I've suggested, that certainly doesn't mean there aren't any problems left, and indeed may just be creating bigger problems elsewhere. Maybe the naturalist need a different answer to the ship of Theseus. Not because functionalism fails, but because nominalism-pragmatism has exhibits a parallel failure.

Ilíon said...

Mattghg (acting as devil's advocate): "I don't think that this [the OP] is a strong argument. Surely it's a feature of functionism that the same mind could be instantiated in different physical systems?"

Ilíon: "And, therefore, the "same" mind can be instantiated two or more times, simultaneously. Right?"

Mattghg (acting as devil's advocate): "Of course, a lot of people (including me) think that this is a weakness of functionism, but it does address the 'Identity Defence' discussed here."

Ilíon: "Does it now? In what sense are two (or more) seperate instantiations of the "same" mind the same mind?

It seems to me that Prokop's argument, far from being
answered [by] this 'functionalism' (as you've presented it), shows it [functionalism] to be false; for taking the two together shows that the mind is not in the physical system."

==
Mattghg (acting as devil's advocate): "In what sense are two or more instantiations of the same book the same book? Are two or more instantiations of the same computer program the same computer program? If functionism true, so it is with minds."

Ilíon: "You instantiate 'adult human male'; I likewise instantiate 'adult human male': therefore, I am you."

Mattghg (acting as devil's advocate): "Nope. For that to be the case we'd have to instantiate all and only the same properties - or at least, all of the properties relevant to the identity of a person. Which properties those are is precisely the point of this thread. A functionist will say that the relevant properties are precisely the functional ones."

Tell me, again, why do I care *what* the functionalist posits (*)?

Of course I am not you and you are not me; but on what ground does your hypothetical functionalist -- who is, after all, denying that our identities, our "self-ness", out minds, are a real things -- say this?

What whould those "all and only" properties be? Recall, your hypothetical functionalist is positing this strange idea as a means to escape the argument of the OP -- basically, he's "arguing" in this manner: "IF I can *posit* that 'the same mind could be instantiated in different physical systems', THEN the argument that the persistence of personal identity across physical/material changes to the body proves that 'identity' is a non-material and non-physical entity can be avoided or sidestepped" -- so, he cannot point to merely physical/material properties.

And, should he try anyway to use physical/material properties to logically differentiate you from me, then there goes his claim that "the same mind could be instantiated in different physical systems".



(*) This is big problem -- and a constant annoyance to me: 'atheists' posit strange and silly stuff (**), and "theists" are "too polite" to call them on it.

(**) For instance, consider Parbouj and his parboiled idea/assertion that by positing something he's calling 'Platonic', and duct-taping that to atheism, he somehow escapes being a materialist; and consider his further strange idea/assertion that that his private 'atheism' thereby escapes my proof that atheism is anti-rational and false, which incorrect belief has two parts:
1) the false idea/assertion that his atheism rises above materialism;
2) the false idea/assertion that my argument is about materialism, in the first place.