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Flashcards in Biological Naturalism Deck (19)
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According to biological naturalism, what is the mind?

The mind is a biological phenomenon, a property of the brain - specifically, a systemic property.


What are Searle's key features of consciousness?

It is real, irreducible, and caused by physical processes in the brain.


What are the other features of consciousness?

Part of a unified field, occupy space, causally efficacious, qualitative, mostly intentional


Explain the concept of systemic properties

Water is liquid, even though none of its component parts are. Liquidity is therefore a systemic property, because it is caused by the overall molecular structure of water, and causal links between these molecules.


What causes consciousness?

Micro-level brain processes.


Why does Searle dismiss materialism?

It is bound to fail, because the ontologically subjective simply cannot be reduced to the ontologically objective.


Why is he also hostile towards dualism?

It is possible to accept the irreducibility of consciousness without also accepting the ontology of traditional dualism; that is,we don't have to claim we live in two ontologically distinct realms.


What else does Searle hold against dualism?

Dualism has difficulties with explaining the causal efficacy of mental states. Under the property dualist approach, mental states are Epiphenomenalism.


What type of reduction does BN entail?

Causal reduction


What is the first problem with BN?

You cannot have it both ways.


Explain the first problem

To claim that consciousness is an ordinary biological process is consistent with materialism.
To claim that it is irreducible leads to dualism.
These two accounts conflict.


What is the second, related problem?

BN is property dualism


Explain the second problem

BN is property dualism because there is a disanalogy between consciousness and systematic properties like solidity. Solidity has a 3rd person ontology, so it is easy to explain how lower level processes 'give rise' to solidity; in fact, solidity and the configuration of molecules at freezing point are identical.

Conversely, consciousness has a 1st person ontology, and therefore does not.

In other words, there is an essential difference between neurological processes, and consciousness, implying that there are two metaphysically distinct categories.


How does Searle respond to these problems?

Searle points out that categorisation is merely interest relative - why must we suppose that the different modes of existence of consciousness/the brain must lead to fundamentally different categories? Furthermore, consciousness is causally reducible to the brain.


What is the third problem with BN?

Epiphenomenalism - if consciousness is irreducible, and therefore non-physical, it must be an epiphenomenon, because the universe is causally closed.


How does Searle respond to the problem of Epiphenomenalism?

Searle points out that although solidity, like consciousness, has no causal powers in addition to its causal base, it would be absurd to argue that solidity is an epiphenomenon.

Higher level features function causally, despite being causally reducible. So, with mental causation, you can explain it at the level of conscious intentions, or you can describe neuronal activity; these are descriptions of a single causal system.


Why does Searle's response to Epiphenomenalism fail?

Solidity is identical with its molecular base, and so it clearly shares its powers. But consciousness is not reducible to its molecular base, so it is unclear how it could have causal powers.


What is the fourth problem with BN?

The conceivability argument


Explain the argument in relation to BN

Given the structure of water molecules, and their causal links, their possession of liquidity seems to be necessary.
Conversely, the relationship between the brain and consciousness appears to be contingent.