The cogito and the metaphysics of mind

Philosophical Studies 130 (2):247-71 (2006)
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That there is an epistemological difference between the mental and the physical is well- known. Introspection readily generates knowledge of one’s own conscious experience, but fails to yield evidence for the existence of anything physical. Conversely, empirical investigation delivers knowledge of physical properties, but neither finds nor requires us to posit conscious experience. In recent decades, a series of neo-Cartesian arguments have emerged that rest on this epistemological difference and purport to demonstrate that mind-brain identity is false and that consciousness is not even realized by or supervenient on physical properties. Where Descartes argued he could clearly and distinctly conceive mind and body as existing separately, contemporary anti-physicalists hold that the conceivability of worlds in which actual world correlations between physical and phenomenological properties fail shows that these correlations are contingent rather than logically or metaphysically necessary. Together with Descartes, they conclude from conceivability that identity, as well as strong supervenience, is false. 1 If the argument of this paper is correct, however, then there is an argument for dualism that arises from the epistemological distinction, is grounded in the Meditations, and is yet distinct from the " 1 " conceivability arguments pursued both by Descartes and contemporary anti-physicalists. Furthermore, the argument is immune to the standard objections to conceivability arguments: its conclusion follows even if there are a posteriori identities between physical and phenomenal properties



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Nick Treanor
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

Naming and Necessity: Lectures Given to the Princeton University Philosophy Colloquium.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Edited by Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.

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