Giacomo Zanotti

Why the argument from naturalism cannot vindicate physicalism about the mind

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Physicalism, naturalism, methodological naturalism, metaphysical naturalism, arguments for physicalism.

Physicalism, the view that mental states are nothing over and above physical states, is nowadays prevailing in the philosophy of mind. Among the arguments that have been put forward in its favour, the one from naturalism seems to play an important role in the literature. Generally speaking, the argument is made up of two premises: (i) it is rational to be committed to naturalism; (ii) if one is committed to naturalism, then one is committed to physicalism about the mind. The conclusion is that it is rational to be committed to physicalism about the mind. The aim of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of such a line of reasoning. In order to do this, I will examine different versions of the argument. First of all, I will take into account the line of reasoning stemming from the rationality of methodological naturalism. After that, I will consider a stronger version of the argument that focuses on the metaphysics that is suggested by cognitive science. Finally, I will assess the effectiveness of a naturalistic argument hinging on the claim that physicalism is indispensable for the interpretation of the empirical results provided by cognitive science. My conclusion will be that all these versions of the argument fail to provide convincing reasons for believing its conclusion.

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