How can Searle avoid property dualism? Epistemic-ontological inference and autoepistemic limitation

Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):589-605 (2006)

Abstract

Searle suggests biological naturalism as a solution to the mind-brain problem that escapes traditional terminology with its seductive pull towards either dualism or materialism. We reconstruct Searle's argument and demonstrate that it needs additional support to represent a position truly located between dualism and materialism. The aim of our paper is to provide such an additional argument. We introduce the concept of "autoepistemic limitation" that describes our principal inability to directly experience our own brain as a brain from the first-person perspective. The neglect of the autoepistemic limitation leads to inferences from epistemic properties to ontological features - we call this "epistemic-ontological inference." Searle attempts to avoid such epistemic-ontological inference but does not provide a sufficient argument. Once the autoepistemic limitation is considered, epistemic-ontological inference can be avoided. As a consequence, one can escape traditional terminology with its seductive pull towards either dualism or materialism

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Author Profiles

Georg Northoff
University of Ottawa
Kristina Musholt
Universität Leipzig

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