Tuesday, March 28, 2006

William Hasker on the argument from neurophysiology

There was a discussion of the use of neurophysiology to disconfirm survival on this blog last June, (see link) and I got this response from Bill Hasker.

A general problem with Keith Augustine's line of thought is that it in effect presupposes that physicalists *do* have a good explanation for everything that goes on in the mind. At least, an "in-principle" good explanation; no one can reasonably demand, at this point, that all the details be filled in. But what is in question is precisely whether physicalism does, or can, generate such an explanation. Churchland, after all, was driven to his (hugely implausible) eliminative materialism by the conviction that existing reductionist programs were unsuccessful. And then there is Colin McGinn, who tell us in effect,"Of course, the mind is the brain, but all of us are constitutionally incapable of understanding how this is the case." Now, I readily admit that dualism, including emergent dualism, is a more complex theory than physicalism. So if physicalism really can get the job done, Ockham's Razor looks like slicing off dualism at the roots. But it won't do to simply assume the adequacy of physicalism without confronting the arguments against it. Among the more difficult challenges, I think, are the Argument from Reason, featured in Vic's book, and the unity-of-consciousness argument, which I've developed following Leibniz and Kant. (As I've noted, Stapp seems to have a fairly good grip on both of these arguments. He thinks quantum physics can overcome them, and that is something that needs to be further explored.)

Cheers, Bill

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