• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the claim that mental states cannot be reduced to physical states.

Extracts from this document...


2/6/15 Assess the claim that mental states cannot be reduced to physical states? (50 marks) By mental states we are referring to ideas, beliefs, emotions and the like. By physical states, we are referring to neuron interaction and connections. Substance Dualists claim that we have a separate mind and brain, where as reductive physicalists state that there is no mind as such ? only a brain and brain states. As we shall see, the reductive physicalists provide the most compelling case. Mental thoughts causing physical movement may seem natural to us at first. If one wishes to go to the cinema, one thinks about going to the cinema first and then physical goes there ? a mind seems to think first and cause the brain to carry out the required steps. This is what substance dualists believe, that actions are caused by a separate, non spatial, non physical, mind. However, although attractive at first, certain problems arise with this view. Such as how can a non physical mind interact with a physical brain? Some philosophers have suggested that they are somehow connected or tethered together. Be that as it may, our actions seem to be very dependent on our brain; more specifically neurons. ...read more.


These dispositions form the basis of behaviourism. For a statement to be true, simply a series of ?if then? statements need to be true. Jim believes it is going to rain, if she is going outside, then she will put a coat on; if she has washing outside, then she will bring it inside. Logical behaviourism also makes the criticism of substance dualism that it has made a ?category mistake?. Take the example of Oxford University. A friend shows a new comer around the city, at the end the new comer says, ?that?s all very nice, but where is the university?? He has not realised that all the different buildings ? the colleges, libraries and so forth ? are the university. Substance dualists have been guilty of the mistake, trying to find this mysterious ?mind?, when it fact the mind ? behaviour ? is all around them. The problem of the privacy of the mental does seem unsolved however. In order to know how I feel about something I don?t need to understand my behaviour from a third person perspective: I have firsthand knowledge of what I am feeling right now. ...read more.


These tree rings contain information about the weather; which vary in a law-like fashion depending on the conditions. Can this purely physical thing exhibit intentionality then? Questions have been raised about whether this is the same as a person?s belief about the weather. But, nevertheless, this is still evidence to prove the identity theory?s conclusion. Finally, only the identity theory can solve the problem of neural dependency ? as the mind being the brain it is inevitable that any alterations to the brain will thus affect our conscious experience. It furthermore solves the mind-body interaction as they are both one and the same; and the privacy of the mental can, in theory, be exposed as no privacy at all: thoughts and desires et cetera being only neurones firing and interacting one could, in theory, with enough understanding of the brain know what someone was thinking. Overall, only the identity theory has enough credibility for one to accept its conclusions; that the mind and the brain are one and the same. Substance Dualism being stumped on neuronal dependency, mind body interaction and logical behaviourism becoming stuck on, or offering half baked answers to, issues such as privacy of the mental, intentionality and qualia. Only the identity theory can give satisfactory answers to these questions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Synoptic Study, Satre, Engels and Marx

    New classes emerge in order to trade with other nation which leads to the fourth stage in historical materialism, capitalism. Like in the previous systems capitalism leaves a clear class divided this time between the bourgeois, who own the means of production, and the proletarian who create the produces.

  2. Can computers think?

    would agree, had developed during our two billion or so years of evolution. In the same way, it then seems possible to design a machine that had a system of what we could call thought, perhaps as a thought language or a series of maps.

  1. Describe three characteristics of mental states which are held to distinguish them from physical ...

    It is difficult to try and regard Intentionality as a purely physical phenomenon. Casual Co-Variation claims that changes in your surroundings cause changes in your brain states. This is shown in the example of tree rings. The nature of a tree ring varies from year to year depending on what the weather is like.

  2. Does Aristotle regard the description of an ideal state and the analysis of actual ...

    This is significant inasmuch as we can note the lack of any division in style of discussion between actual and ideal states. Furthermore, Aristotle does not actually separate his discussion of ideal states from actual states with any clear boundaries.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work