Paul Churchland on Dualism in Matter and Consciousness

Varieties of Dualism:

I.  Substance Dualism

II. Property Dualism

A. Epiphenomenalist property dualism
mental properties are caused by physical properties, but have no causal effects in turn (the mental as superfluous)

reason for the view:  (a) firm conviction that mental properties are irreducible to physical ones, with (b) firm conviction that physical causes suffice to cause physical behavior.  If both (a) and (b) are held to, epiphenomenalism is the only option

but notice how persuasive (b) is: to invoke nonphysical properties seems to be a way of giving up the search for an explanation.

B. Interactionist property dualism
mental and physical properties interact causally

mental properties are (a) emergent and (b) irreducible.
But these two features fit oddly together; seems it would be better to give up one.
If you give up (a), you are a panpsychist; if you give up (b), you are a materialist.

Arguments for Dualism (and Responses)

1. argument from religion

2. argument from introspection

3. argument from irreducibility of:

Arguments against Dualism

1. simplicity:  materialism invokes fewer entities

2. explanatory impotence of dualism:  we know a lot about matter and its relation to consciousness; we know nothing about mind-stuff

3. argument from the neural dependence of all known mental phenomena

4. argument from evolutionary history

Last update: March 18, 2012
Curtis Brown  |  Philosophy of Mind   |  Philosophy Department  |   Trinity University