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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Jaegwon Kim
Jaegwon Kim has spent many years working on the mind-body problem and the related problem of mental causation. He has critically examined the concept of supervenience, the idea that emergent properties or laws in the higher level of a hierarchy might give them downward causal control over the properties or laws of lower levels.

Kim generally accepts the idea of physicalism, that the world consists of material particles subject to the known laws of physics. For many thinkers, physicalism implies reductionism, the idea that all worldly phenomena are reducible to physics. Indeed, today chemistry has largely been reduced to physics, although the properties of even simple molecules like water are generally not predictable from the properties of the component atoms hydrogen and oxygen (as first pointed out by John Stuart Mill).

Biology in particular seems to have emergent properties and laws that are not reducible to physics. Is the molecular biology of a cell reducible to the laws governing the motions of its component molecules, or are there emergent laws governing motions at the cellular level, the organ level, the organism level, and so on up to the mental level? If so, then mental causation would be a special example of an emergent level in a hierarchy exerting downward causation on the components of all lower levels.

The term supervenience was used by the early emergentists to describe this downward or top-down causation. But if all the levels are made up of physical particles obeying causal laws, Kim asks how can any level escape the "causal closure" implied in the reductionist view of bottom-up causation?

Kim has investigated claims of a "non-reductive physicalism," notably those of Donald Davidson.

In his 1970 essay "Mental Events" (in Experience and Theory, Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1970), Davidson claimed that mental events are anomalous, they are not (as physical events are) describable by strict deterministic laws that can be used to predict our thoughts. Nevertheless, he believed that mental events can be causally related to physical events. Can he have it both ways?

Davidson admitted he was in sympathy with Immanuel Kant and might be only explaining away an apparent contradiction between the mental and the physical, resolving a kind of antinomy, and perhaps the paradox of free will?

Davidson describes what he calls "Anomalous Monism" based on three principles:

The first principle asserts that at least some mental events interact causally with physical events. (We could call this the Principle of Causal Interaction.) Thus for example if someone sank the Bismarck, then various mental events such as perceivings, notings, calculations, judgements, decisions, intentional actions, and changes of belief played a causal role in the sinking of the Bismarck. In particular, I would urge that the fact that someone sank the Bismarck entails that he moved his body in a way that was caused by mental events of certain sorts, and that this bodily movement in turn caused the Bismarck to sink. Perception illustrates how causality may run from the physical to the mental: if a man perceives that a ship is approaching, then a ship approaching must have caused him to come to believe that a ship is approaching. (Nothing depends on accepting these as examples of causal interaction.)

Though perception and action provide the most obvious cases where mental and physical events interact causally, I think reasons could be given for the view that all mental events ultimately, perhaps through causal relations with other mental events, have causal intercourse with physical events. But if there are mental events that have no physical events as causes or effects, the argument will not touch them.

The second principle is that where there is causality, there must be a law: events related as cause and effect fall under strict deterministic laws. (We may term this the Principle of the Nomological Character of Causality.) This principle, like the first, will be treated here as an assumption, though I shall say something by way of interpretation.

The third principle is that there are no strict deterministic laws on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained (the Anomalism of the Mental).

The paradox I wish to discuss arises for someone who is inclined to accept these three assumptions or principles, and who thinks they are inconsistent with one another. The inconsistency is not, of course, formal unless more premises are added. Nevertheless it is natural to reason that the first two principles, that of causal interaction and that of the nomological character of causality, together imply that at least some mental events can be predicted and explained on the basis of laws, while the principle of the anomalism of the mental denies this. Many philosophers have accepted, with or without argument, the view that the three principles do lead to a contradiction. It seems to me, however, that all three principles are true, so that what must be done is to explain away the appearance of contradiction, essentially the Kantian line.

To summarize Davidson's arguments:

  1. "at least some mental events interact causally with physical events"
  2. "where there is causality, there must be a law: events related as cause and effect fall under strict deterministic laws."
  3. "there are no strict deterministic laws on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained." (mental events are "anomalous.")

Davidson viewed his work as extending that of Immanuel Kant on reconciling (eliminating the anomalous contradiction between) freedom and necessity. Davidson's rejection of strict deterministic laws for mental events is perhaps consistent with two-stage models of free will.

Davidson saw supervenience as the last hope for a nonreductive physicalism, which does not reduce the mental to the physical, the psychological to the neurophysiological. Davidson set two requirements:

  1. a domain can be supervenient on another without being reducible to it (non reduction)
  2. if a domain supervenes, it must be dependent on and be determined by the subvenient domain (dependence)
But Davidson also said:
  • "supervenience might be taken to mean that there cannot be two events alike in all physical respects, but differing in mental respects"

This threatens to make mental events essentially identical to physical events. It is hard to see how the mind, if causally determined by the subvenient brain, is not therefore reducible to it.

In Kim's 1988 presidential address to the APA, he said:

The fact is that under Davidson's anomalous monism, mentality does no causal work. Remember: in anomalous monism, events are causes only as they instantiate physical laws, and this means that an event's mental properties make no causal difference.
This is in apparent contradiction with Davidson's first premise above. But Davidson's third premise states that there are no "strict psycho-physical laws." Davidson apparently wants mental and physical events to have causal relations, but without "strict deterministic laws." This may be compatible with two-stage models of free will, if Davidson thinks of the mental as the anomalous indeterministic free part and the physical as the lawful deterministic will part.

In two-stage models of free will, the first stage generates alternative possibilities, at least some of which can be randomly generated, so are uncaused. Since they are only thoughts - unrealized, unactualized possibilities - one can describe them, as Kim does, as doing "no causal work."

In his latest book, Kim diagrams Davidson's view of mental events supervening on physical events, to illustrate his claim that having both mental and physical causes would be "overdetermination" and thus one is redundant and must be excluded.

M1   M2
supervenes
on
  supervenes
on
P1 - causes - P1
By causal closure of the physical world, Kim says it is the mental events that are superfluous and must go.
(Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, pp.44-45)

This pure material view of the physical world ignores energy. And most importantly, this view ignores information, which is neither matter nor energy (though it requires matter for its embodiment and energy for its communication). Information is the modern spirit.
Kim says that Davidson's goal of "non-reductive physicalism" is simply not possible. The physical world is "causally closed," says Kim:
what options are there if we set aside the physicalist picture? Leaving physicalism behind is to abandon ontological physicalism, the view that bits of matter and their aggregates in space-time exhaust the contents of the world. This means that one would be embracing an ontology that posits entities other than material substances — that is, immaterial minds, or souls, outside physical space, with immaterial, nonphysical properties.
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