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New Perspectives on Type Identity
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Book description

The type identity theory, according to which types of mental state are identical to types of physical state, fell out of favour for some years but is now being considered with renewed interest. Many philosophers are critically re-examining the arguments which were marshalled against it, finding in the type identity theory both resources to strengthen a comprehensive, physicalistic metaphysics and a useful tool in understanding the relationship between developments in psychology and new results in neuroscience. This volume brings together leading philosophers of mind, whose essays challenge in new ways the standard objections to type identity theory, such as the multiple realizability objection and the modal argument. Other essays show how cognitive science and neuroscience are lending new support to type identity theory and still others provide, extend and improve traditional arguments concerning the theory's explanatory power.

Reviews

"...provides perspectives on the type-identity thesis that are both philosophically acute and informed by recent findings in the neurosciences. In addition, many of the contributions provide insightful historical accounts of the fortunes of the type-identity thesis -- and indeed, more generally, of physicalistic accounts of the mind. Thus the essays in this anthology are not merely individually interesting, and well worth reading on their own, but the volume as a whole hangs together in a way that is unusually instructive, and would be an excellent and provocative choice for a graduate seminar in the philosophy of mind."
--Janet Levin, University of Southern California, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Contents

  • Chapter 8 - The very idea of token physicalism
    pp 167-185
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter discusses the groundwork for an account of acquaintance and the consequences of the account for the metaphysics of mind. Acquaintance is a unique epistemological relation that relates a person to her own phenomenally conscious states and processes directly, incorrigibly, and in a way that seems to reveal their essence. Such an epistemic relation has struck many philosophers as deeply mysterious. The chapter dispels some of this mystery by providing an account of direct phenomenal concepts. These are the concepts deployed when a person is acquainted with her own conscious states in introspection. Consciousness appears puzzling for many reasons, not just because of the conceivability of zombies. The chapter shows that phenomenal concepts are analogous to quotation expressions and explaining how certain conceptual roles can make an operation mental quotation.
  • Chapter 9 - About face: philosophical naturalism, the heuristic identity theory, and recent findings about prosopagnosia
    pp 186-206
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Psychologists and neuroscientists began to build bridges and linked their inquiries together. Both philosophers and scientists employ the term reduction in characterizing relations between the results of higher-level and basic-level inquiries that are supposedly jeopardized by multiple realization. This chapter describes an understanding of reduction provided by the framework of mechanistic explanation that fits with the pursuit's scientists label reductionistic. There are differences between the mechanisms in different species that result in what are treated as the same phenomena. The chapter takes up this issue directly and discusses that the same standards of typing are applied to phenomena as to realizations. It considers what happens when one uses a coarser grain to type neural phenomena. The chapter presents the research on circadian rhythms as an exemplar as this is a field in which the issues concerning multiple realization, conservation of mechanism, and identity.
  • Chapter 10 - On justifying neurobiologicalism for consciousness
    pp 207-229
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The authors such as Papineau and Block and Stalnaker mounted a general critique of the thesis that property identities are closely connected to reductive explainability. Kim takes Putnam to argue that identity claims are ideally suited for the role of connecting principles or bridge laws. These identity claims are thus justified by the fact that they enable the reduction of classical thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and in this way contribute to a substantial simplification of the physical picture of the world. Broad developed a view of mechanistic, i.e. reductive, explanation that, in many respects, is very similar to that of Levine. For Levine, reductive explainability is connected with claims about the identity of properties. Frank Jackson has in recent times given an interesting new twist to the debate about physicalism. Reductive explainability in Broad's sense implies reductive explainability in Jackson's sense, but not vice versa.
  • Chapter 11 - The causal contribution of mental events
    pp 230-250
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The nature and plausibility of mind-brain reductionism depends upon the underlying account of reduction adopted. There have been at least four distinct stages in the development of mind-brain reductionism over its first half-century, and only two of these stages made any real use of actual neuroscientific discoveries. This chapter briefly articulates each stage in the development of mind-brain reductionism. It explores to what extent proponents at that stage appealed explicitly to then current neuroscience in order to defend the truth of mind-brain reductionism and to what extent did the neuroscience of the time affect the account that philosophical reductionists adopted of what reduction is. The initial stage of mind-brain reductionism rested on mid-twentieth-century philosophy's emphasis on linguistic analysis and on a view of contingent identity that are no longer prominent. By the mid 1990s consciousness had made a serious comeback in both philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences.
  • Chapter 12 - Return of the zombies?
    pp 251-263
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter argues that the crucial assumptions of Saul Kripke's argument, an objective principle of identity for mental-state types. This principle is actually compatible with both the type-identity theory of the mind and Kripke's semantics and metaphysics. The chapter presents a version of the type identity theory. The viability of the identity theory focuses on bodily sensations, such as pain and other states characterized by their phenomenal properties. According to Kripke, there is nothing in, for instance, pain which is not in apparently feeling pain. This argument has had a strong impact on the identity theory of the mind, both of the type and of the token versions. The gist of Kripke's argument has often been expressed as the idea that when it comes to pain and other bodily sensations, appearance and reality coincide. Kripke stresses that possible worlds are like stipulated situations.
  • Chapter 13 - Identity, variability, and multiple realization in the special sciences
    pp 264-287
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter compares and evaluates two theories of qualitative states that is, states that have a proprietary phenomenological dimension. The first theory is known as type materialism or the central state identity theory. The second theory is representationalism. The most compelling virtue of the central state theory is that it can do justice to the fact that qualitative phenomena appear to be perfectly correlated with cortical phenomena. According to the central state identity theory, all awareness of qualitative states takes the form of judgments and therefore necessarily involves conceptualization. The main virtue of representationalism is its account of qualitative awareness. This chapter focuses on the apparent virtues of the two theories with respect to each whether it in fact confers a decisive advantage on the theory that possesses it. It also focuses on paradigmatic qualitative state pain and considers additional examples on future occasions.

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