Dualism, the Identity Theory

Dualism is the view that the mind and the body are fundamentally distinct entities. There are two main types of dualism, substance and property Dualism. Both types of Dualism are formed from the mind-body problem, which is, what is the relation between our mental lives and the physical aspects of our brains and bodies? Substance or Cartesian Dualism views the mind and body as distinct substances and is the view Descartes (318). Property Dualism, argued for by Jackson, believes mental properties and physical properties are distinct properties of being (372).

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Substance Dualism is supported by Descartes cogitos, along with the wax example. Descartes first cogito is I have convinced myself there is nothing in the world. If I can convince myself of something, then I exist. Therefore, I exist. Cogito two is suppose an all-powerful malicious deceiver is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. If I am being deceived, then I exist. Therefore, I exist. On the other hand, the wax example can be explained as wax can originally be identified by senses, but if it melts those properties change. This example shows that substances possess properties which are judged by the mind (Descartes, 317). Jackson uses Qualia, qualitative aspects of phenomenal experience or the what it is likeness of conscious experience, to back his theory (366). His view is supported by the knowledge argument. The knowledge argument is Mary, before her release knows all the physical facts concerning color vision, but Mary does not know all the facts concerning color vision, because she learns something new when she is released and sees color for the first time. Therefore, there are non-physical facts and physicalism is false (Jackson, 367).

The Identity Theory is the view that every type of mental state, event, or process is identical to some type of brain state, event, or process (Smart, 334). A few of the methods to support Identity Theory are reduction, Leibniz’s law, argument from introspection, and Occam’s razor. Reduction is the idea that x reduces to y if x is nothing over and above y. An example of this would be temperature is mean molecular kinetic energy (Churchland, 379). Similarly, Leibniz’s law is if x is identical to y, then x and y share all the same properties. If x and y do not share all the same properties, then they are not identical (Churchland, 378). The argument from introspection is the qualia of my sensations are knowable to me by introspection. The properties of my brain states are not knowable to me by introspection. Therefore, the qualia of my sensations are not identical to the properties of my brain states. Churchland disputes this claim because it begs the question. There is no proof that brain states are not knowable by introspection (Churchland, 377). Lastly, Identity Theory is supported by Occam’s razor, a methodological principle of parsimony (simplicity) in theorizing. Simply put it means don’t multiply entities beyond necessity. Occam’s razor supports Identity Theory over Dualism because Identity Theory is the similar theory (Smart, 334).

Functionalism is the view that mental states are identified by what they do rather than by what they are made. In his paper Putnam extensively goes over pains as brain states (51). There are four features claimed by functionalist theory. The first feature is realism. Reality is a necessary feature of psychological states if they are going to have specific explanations and effects. An example would be a truck tipping over because of a high center of gravity. The center of gravity is not the full explanation though and didn’t tip the truck over. Second, physicalism and functionalism are compatible. “Physicalism appears to be true because no empirical theories of physical, chemical, biological, and social phenomena introduce any entities that are neither strictly physical (roughly, part of physics) nor made out of physical parts” (Polger, 339). Therefore, functionalism denies the need for mental “stuff”. Third, psychological states can make a causal difference in the world. While, Dualist theories must either deny the causal power of the psychological or reject the causal power of the physical. Fourth,

Putnam believes functionalism to be better than identity theory because functionalism leaves room for the addition of organisms. With functionalism pain is pain no matter what creature feels it even though the brains are all made of different materials and function in their own ways.

Functionalism strays from identity theory off the bat when Putnam states that even though it may be true that pain and the brain state for pain are the same, the concepts are not, just as the concepts of temperature and molecular energy are the same thing, yet different concepts (52). Linking psychological states to brain states limits them to humans or beings with known neurological inputs and outputs (Polger, 337).

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Dualism, the Identity Theory. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved January 19, 2022 , from
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