Wednesday, July 13, 2005

J P Moreland on Jaegwon Kim

J. P Moreland, author of Scaling the Secular City (Baker, 1988) and other apologetic works, raises some questions about Jaegwon Kim's most recent work:

Have you readKim's recent book Physicalism Close Enough (or something like that). Hetries to save mental causation for doxastic states by functionallyreducing them to brain states. I have never understood this move. Relations seem to be such that depending on the sort of relation inquestion, only certain relata can instantiate it (larger than for sizedobjects, brighter than for colored ones, etc.). Now physical states donot stand in logical relations to other physical states (they stand incausal ones). But mental states do, so the latter cannot be reduced tothe former. It will do no good to say that, strictly speaking, it ispropositions, not mental states, that stand in logical relations becauseif propositions do not enter into thoughts, then logical relations arejust irrelevant to actual processes of human thinking. In my view,propositions are certain kinds of properties, namely structuralintentional properties that the mind exemplifies. So a particular thoughtlike a particular instance of red in an apple, is the instantion of aproposition (redness) by the mind (apple). Propositions are in minds byway of an "in" of exemplification, and the essence of a property-instanceis constituted by the universal that composes it. In this way, mentalstates literally stand in logical relations like color-instances can standin the brighter-than relation in virtue of the universal (the proposition) instantiated by the mind and constituting the essential property of theindividual thought which turns out to be a property-instance. I don't know how brain states can stand in logical relations to each other. JP

Any reactions to this would be most welcome.

9 comments:

Steven Carr said...

' In this way, mental states literally stand in logical relations like color-instances can stand in the brighter-than relation in virtue of the universal (the proposition) instantiated by the mind and constituting the essential property of the individual thought which turns out to be a property-instance.

Translation please.

Is Moreland claiming that 'brighter than' is a logical relation?

Steven Carr said...

Moreland writes 'Now physical states do not stand in logical relations to other physical states (they stand incausal ones). But mental states do, so the latter cannot be reduced to the former.'

Is Moreland claiming that logical relations (such as the logical relations in the proof of the 4- colour theorem) simply cannot be reduced to the physical states of a computer?

How did the physical states of a computer produce a proof of the 4-colour theorem?

Were the movements of the atoms in the computer affected in the least by the high-level concepts that the programmers had in mind when they programmed the computer with the many scenarios needed to prove the 4 colour theorem?

Materialists would say that the movements of the atoms *were* affected by the high-level concepts in the algorithm needed to prove the 4-colour theorem.

Clayton said...

I'm not impressed.

Regardless of whether you think the mental can be 'reduced', the standard philosophical orthodoxy since Frege's devastating review of Husserl's work in mathematics has been that mental states do not stand in logical relations to one another. My belief that it is raining now does not entail that there is a time at which it rained or the belief that there is a time at which it rained. That makes as much sense as saying that the inscriptions I've just set down stand in such entailment relations.

What are we to make of this:
Now physical states donot stand in logical relations to other physical states (they stand incausal ones). But mental states do, so the latter cannot be reduced tothe former.
Setting aside the fact that mental states do not stand in logical relations that propositions stand in, is Moreland implying that since entities stand in causal relations they cannot also stand in other kinds of relations? Moreover, if we are talking about interlevel reduction, then of course we should expect that things at a level stand in some kinds of relations that things at the lower level do not. This is just what there is to be levels. Surely the facts of physical chemistry reduce to the facts of physics but the entities in the theory of physics stand in different kinds of relations (i.e., the ones that are mentioned in the laws studied by physicists who don't study P-chem) than those studied by P-chemists.

Rich Davis said...

Clayton writes:

...is Moreland implying that since entities stand in causal relations they cannot also stand in other kinds of relations?

No, I don't think he's suggesting that. But you would agree (I gather) that brain states don't stand in logical relations. For example, if A and B are states in your brain, it doesn't make sense to say that A strictly implies B, or that A and B are contradictories, or contraries, or...you get the point.

So we're agreed about this. I'm not as sure, however, about your claim that beliefs can't stand in logical relations. Don't we regularly accuse each other of having inconsistent sets of beliefs?

Cheers,
Rich

Clayton said...

Rich,

We do say that beliefs can be inconsistent, but the logical properties are properties of the contents of beliefs. We do not say that my belief entails ... Or at least, we shouldn't.

Anyway, I think most people post-Davidson think that you cannot say 'Don't stand in such and such relations because they stand in causal ones' but this seemed to be what Moreland was getting at when he remarked, "Now physical states do not stand in logical relations to other physical states (they stand incausal ones)." But if he meant something else by it, that's good, I just don't know what it is.

At any rate, this entire passage puzzles me. Just consider its conclusion. Having said that mental states can stand in logical relations to one another he asks how physical states could. If some mental states are or are instantiated in virtue of physical states, I would have thought that was the answer. It is the same answer he gave in response to the question 'How do mental states have properties?' Mental states are instantiated in virtue of physical states of the brain. That is what the physicalist will say, at any rate, and I don't think there is anything in this passage that constitutes a challenge to physicalism.

Rich Davis said...
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Rich Davis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rich Davis said...

Hi Clayton! You wrote:

We do say that beliefs can be inconsistent, but the logical properties are properties of the contents of beliefs. We do not say that my belief entails ... Or at least, we shouldn't.

Agreed.

At any rate, this entire passage puzzles me...I don't think there is anything in [the Moreland] passage that constitutes a challenge to physicalism.

Could the challenge, perhaps, be this? If propositions are abstracta, and if beliefs are purely physical (neural events, let's say), then how does one of my beliefs manage to acquire an immaterial object as its content?

If that's not a challenge, it's at least a mystery. :-)

Cheers,
Rich

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