Sunday, August 20, 2017

The mereological fallacy

This is from Michael Egnor's article "Neuroscience" in Zondervan's Dictionary of Christianity and Science, ed. Paul Copan. (2017). I have the articles on the Argument from Reason and Thomas Nagel in this dictionary. 

Another conceptual confusion in neuroscience is the mereological fallacy. The mereological fallacy is the unwarranted attribution of attributes of the whole to its parts. Neuroscientist Max Bennett and philosopher Peter Hacker have pointed out that the very common claim in neuroscience that the brain “sees” or the brain “understands” or the brain “chooses” and so forth commits the mereological fallacy. Only a person sees or understands or chooses. There are indeed brain processes that correlate with seeing and understanding and choosing, but the brain itself is an organ and has neither sight nor understanding nor choice in itself. 

VR: To which I like to say, "Interesting fellow Mr. Brain. Remarkable what he can do.

1 comment:

Hal said...

That is not a bad summary of their book. Especially considering how short (the summary) is.

Hacker and Bennet make the point that psychological predicates can only logically be attributed to the animal that displays them. Their critique also applies to the Cartesian conception of the mind. It is the human who has a mind that sees or understands or to chooses, not the mind.

There are also good arguments against reductionism, Dennet’s views on intentionality and Nagel’s ‘what is it like to be a bat’ conception of consciousness to be found in the book.

The book can be found here.