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Animadversions

Papineau & Haldane - Naturalism and the Mind - Q&As

(Text as at 18/12/2010 19:58:05)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)


  1. This was a follow-up session1 to Papineau2 and Haldane3.
  2. John Cottingham: chaired the Session, and started off with the question:- “How can value, meaning and concepts be reduced to the firings of neurons? Thomistic arguments – the power to engage with abstract structures requires the use of the brain (it lights up) but can we conclude that this is all there is to cognition?”
  3. David Papineau: He’s not proposing a crude reductionism. An analogy: a cricket-ball breaking a window. We can’t reduce the cricket-ball to molecular structures, but the cricket-ball isn’t anything over and above its molecules. We have a constitution or supervenience relation.
  4. The traditional religious view is that we are “informed” bodies – which is non-Cartesian.
  5. Not all explanations are physical, even though all things are physical.
  6. What we now know is cognitive activity subserving neural activity, but this is far from physicalism.
  7. ”This is a piece of gold” links together sensibility and intellect.
  8. Response to David Papineau:
    • Premise (3) – causal exclusion and closure4: what about Suarez and Divine concurrence? God and I are both causes of any activity.
    • Are field-effects physical?
    • There’s an ambiguity about causal closure
      … too weak, and we have emergentism
      … too strong, and it sounds a priori
    • Two partial causes: Suarez – different orders of causality – take writing: has both agent-centric and instrumental causes.
    • This is not Eccles-style slipping-in of “mental” causes in the physical chain.
    • Form and matter: signing one’s name – can describe the process at different levels.
  9. Papineau isn’t upset by Strawson’s panpsychism. The same as neutral monism5.
  10. Haldane’s “20 objections” to physicalism effectively reduce to one – epiphenomenalism.
  11. Emergentism – do we get ontologically new stuff, or is it just that structures and complexity require a new vocabulary?



In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 1: My notes are not very full, and my memory of the session is now substantially gone. So, this write-up gives a flavour only.

Footnote 4: ”Premise 3: The physical effects of conscious causes are not all overdetermined. ”

Footnote 5: Isn’t one of these due to Strawson-fils, and the other dues to Strawson-pere?


Printable Versions:



Previous Version of this Note:

Date Length Title
20/06/2010 10:10:34 16 Papineau & Haldane - Naturalism and the Mind - Q&As



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
18/12/2010 19:58:05 None available Heythrop - Religion and Naturalism Conference

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Haldane - Naturalism and the Mind        

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

Heythrop - Religion and Naturalism Conference        

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