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Reductive physicalist accounts of the mind fail to fully explain the nature of mental states. Discuss.

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Introduction

5/3/15 ?Reductive physicalist accounts of the mind fail to fully explain the nature of mental states.? Discuss. (50 marks) Reductive Physicalist attempt to fully reduce the mind into a physical brain ? the ?internal content? of the mind being fully explicable in terms of physical properties. By nature of mental states, we mean such arguments and theories as privacy of the mental, qualia, intentionality and mental physical causation. As we will see, all such problems can be explained and reduced via a reductive physicalist outlook. Substance Dualism fails to offer an argument in favour of a coherent argument in favour of a separate mind and mind, due to problems such as neural dependency ? the argument goes that why should biological and neurological changes in the brain affect a non-physical mind ? expressed through examples such as a person drinking alcohol. The results on a person after drinking alcohol, slowed reactions, higher tolerance of pain, points to the mind and brain being one and the same. Substance Dualism thus fails to provide a solution. Physiological Behaviourists hold that all behaviour, even very complex behaviour, can be fully explained in stimulus-response terms. The given model is a simple reflex: you sit on a chair in a relaxed position legs crossed, a doctor taps your knee and it bobs in the characteristic way. Here, a bit of behaviour ? your knee bobbing ? is a response to an external stimulus ? your knee being tapped. ...read more.

Middle

But, once again, the Behaviourists are able to offer a reply. Our reflection on behaviour caused by subconscious or impulsive brain activity allows us to access how exactly we are feeling by understanding/reflecting on our own behaviour. Mark, for example, is tired, and Amie is annoying him, Mark shouts at her, in an unreasonable manner, to be quiet. On reflection of his behaviour, Mark now understands that he is feeling grumpy. Therefore, this is an argument that a (correct) first person view into our own feelings and emotions is not always possible until an analysis of behaviour has taken place. Mental-physical causation seems to pose a problem for Behaviourists. H. Putnam invented a thought experiment involving ?Super-Spartans? that advanced it is conceivable to have mental experiences and yet have no behavioural manifestations of such experiences. The adults of this race can successfully suppress all involuntary pain-behaviour: although they do sometimes admit that they are in pain, they always do so calmly. They do not groan, wince, sweat or grit their teeth either Putnam states. Be that is it may, this thought experiment proves/shows nothing to discredit Logical Behaviourism. The ?Super-Spartans?, by the nature of being conditioned not to shoe pain , have, in fact, only been behaviourally disposed to conceal the outward signs of pain. In effect then, the supposed lack of pain behaviour is, actually, the behaviour ?Super-Spartans? are dispositioned to show when in pain. Putnam may try and argue that one cannot tell the difference between when the Spartans are in pain and when they are not. ...read more.

Conclusion

Seeing red and knowing all the neurological activity caused by seeing red is not knowledge of two facts, but the same one presented in two different ways. The fact itself, ?red?, is activating the exact neurons in the brain that Mary knew it would; only now she knows what red looks like. She has, nonetheless, gained no new knowledge. One could question whether ?red? is a fact, but such argument is not relevant to the thought experiments conclusion since objective, or not, the phenomenon that is seeing red is just a different presentation of something Mary had already been fully aware of. Take the example of The Mysterious case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, one knows that, once completing the novel, Dr Jekyll is Mr Hyde and vice versa. Or take water and steam ? two different forms of the same chemical. This is not knowledge of two different facts but the same one presented in two different ways. In conclusion, it has been found, once Substance Dualism was defeated on ground of neural dependency, that the mind can be fully reduced into the physical world as the brain. The question that remains is which Reductive Physicalist theory is the correct one to subscribe to. Logical Behaviourism?s attempt to explain all behaviour in stimulus-response terms fails to explain Qualia and intentionality. This leaves only the Identity Theory which ? having a certain credibility over all other theories ? is able to able to overcome the problems thrown at it was relative ease and simplicity. Intentionality is explained via neuron activity, and Qualia as a feeble concept that only proves that the same thing can be perceived in different ways. ...read more.

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