The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
popculturepooka
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Mind-body dualism is false

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/21/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,643 times Debate No: 23723
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (27)
Votes (4)

 

socialpinko

Pro

===Resolution and BoP===


The Pro side of this debate will be tasked with bringing a case in support of the resolution, namely that mind-body dualism is indeed false. Con's burden of proof will be to deconstruct Pro's case and show that mind-body dualism is true, or that it stands up to Pro's criticisms. The actual scope of the topic up for debate is whether or not the philosophy of mind-body dualism is a rationally justified theory of mind.


===Definitions===


Mind-body dualism is the view in the philosophy of mind which states that "mind and body are distinct kinds of substances or natures. This position implies that mind and body not only differ in meaning but refer to different kinds of entities."[1]. Mind-body dualism may be differentiated from monist theories of mind such as physicalism and idealism.

The specific form of mind-body dualism up for debate here may also be differentiated from other dualist theories such as epiphenomenalism or property dualism in that it refers to a difference in fundamental substance between mind and body, rather than having mere ontological or onto-causal irreducibility to the brain or body's physical properties.

A theory or concept is false when it is unsound or does not stand up to rational scrutiny.


===Rules===


1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

4. R1 is for acceptance. Argumentation will begin in R2.


===Sources===


[1] http://www.britannica.com...
popculturepooka

Con

I accept. Let the games begin. (^_^)
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

I would first like to thank my esteemed opponent PCP for agreeing to this debate. I will certainly try to put up a good fight on a topic which I am sure my opponent has familiarized himself with much more than I have. To summarize before I begin, my argument will rest on the causal closure of the physical realm and from this, the necessary conclusion that causes in a mental realm would not be able to supervene on objects in the physical. Thus, my argument goes, mind-body dualism could not be true as there is no way for it to supervene in any causal way on the physical realm therefore it provides an inadequate explanation to the problem of action and how action could originate from a mental realm.

===Interaction and Causal Closure===

If we accept the premise that dualism is true, we must be able to fit it in to our general conception of the mind. Currently, we know that when someone decides to do something, neurons in the brain fire and activate nerve impulses to make whatever muscles necessary for the action contract (for instance wiggling your toes or twisting your neck). Of course this is a large simplification of the process (more detailed information can be found here[1] and in a plethora of educational sites on the subject), but all in all we have good reason to believe that physical forces are involved in most if not all parts of how we perform actions. For dualism to be true, it must be able to show how the originating mental cause of actions are able to supervene on the physical. If it cannot than dualism cannot be true (or at the very least we are left with no reason to think so, effectively achieving the same effect for the practical purposes of the debate).

The way we can know that causes and forces within some mental realm would not be able to affect objects in the physical is through the physical causal closure principle (hereon referred to as PCCP). The principle states simply that "No physical event has a cause outside the physical domain."[2] Credence is given to the validity of the principle through the law of conservation of energy. The law states that the amount of energy contained in the universe remains constant over time. Based on this, we have good reason to believe that there is no energy transfer (nor can there for that matter) between the physical realm and some external system since if there was, there would be a fluctuating amount of energy within the universe. If there is no energy transfer than there is no way (which we can conceive) that mental causal forces could interact with the physical. I would implore my opponent to provide some other way in which causation can occur (that without energy transfer). If no other way can be shown than there is not good reason to believe that causal forces in a mental realm have any effect on physical objects.

===Conclusion===

I apologize to my opponent for the relative shortness of this round. I mean it purely to be introductory to the main tenets of my case. The 'Argument from Causal Closure' is rather easily stated, therefore I would rather provide a summary of the basic argument, allowing my opponent to bring his rebuttals to the specific points he finds at fault. Summarized, the universe is an isolated system, thus energy transfers between it and external systems is not possible. Without energy transfer though, causation does not appear to be conceivably possible. Thus dualism is incompatible with the reality of mental causation. I look forward to my opponent's response.

===Sources===

[1] http://people.eku.edu...
[2] http://www.iscid.org...
popculturepooka

Con

Thanks to socialpinko for initiating this debate.

Pro argument relies on several claims I think are rather dubious:

1) The PCCP (physical causal closure principle) in conjunction with;
2) The ECO (the energy conservation objection).

I will rebut these and then offer an additional reason to think that the causal closure principle doesn't hold and that mind-body dualism emerges unscathed.

Before doing that I want to clear up a minor issue: Pro formulates the problem as if it's an argument against all versions of mind-body dualisms but clearly this isn't the case. It's only an argument against an interactive form of mind-body dualism wherein mental causes cause physical events and vice versa. [1] There are other forms of mind-body dualism that this argument doesn't even touch like parallelism (see: interactionist parallelism as formulated by philosopher Uwe Meixner), occasionalism, and epiphenomenalism. [2] I don't find any of these other options particularly compelling, except, perhaps, Meixner's formulation but it's a point to keep in mind. [3] Even if the PCCP is true that wouldn't necessarily rule out mind-body dualism in all it's forms. Also, technically speaking, supervenience doesn't have much to do with the PCCP even though most mind-body dualists will not hold to supervenience, although there could be "necessitation dualists" as Daniel Stoljar points out. [4] But, in any case, I will go ahead and argue that interactive mind-body dualism is not refuted by this objection either.

1) The PCCP

One has to wonder how one is supposed to even justify this principle aside from an appeal to faulty science (as I will show below)? It obviously can't be the result of an empirical/scientific investigation of every physical event there is and concluding that there where no non-physical causes. Heck, we can't even lay claim to having extensively studied human beings in order to make this judgement. It appears to be a metaphysical principle; not a scientific principle as it is often made out to be. And, as Laurence Bonjour astutely has pointed out, appealing to the PCCP in cases of mental causation in order to rule out dualism appears to be putting the cart before the horse. [5] That is because it would be precisely at the issue of whether there are non-physical, mental causes that can effect physical states (especially in human beings) wherein one would would find the most compelling counter-examples to the proposed the PCCP. One couldn't really assess the truth value of the PCCP without first considering and assessing the theories of mind on offer (in this case mind-body dualism).

2) The ECO

What I take to be a fatal flaw in Pro's argument is this: Pro's argument appears to rely on outdated physics! Philosopher of science Robin Collins explains:

"GR [general relativity] presents a major problem for the EC objection. The problem is that no local concept of stress-energy (and hence energy or momentum) can be defined for the gravitational field in GR. Consequently, BPEC [boundary principle of energy conservation] does not typically apply in GR since one can neither define the total gravitational energy in a region of space nor the rate at which gravitational energy flows in or out of the region. This implies that although gravitational fields and waves clearly causally influence material objects, their influence cannot be understood in terms of movement of energy through space. As physicist Robert Wald notes, 'In general relativity there exists no meaningful local expression for gravitational stress-energy and thus there is no meaningful local energy conservation law which leads to a statement of energy conservation.' (1984, p. 70, note 6.)" [6] (Brackets for clarification added by me.)

And,

"Now for the punch line. A theorem proved by John Bell in 1966, called Bell's theorem ruled out the above explanation and any other explanation of these quantum correlations involving only local causation. Bell showed that if certain experimental results predicted by quantum mechanics occurred, explanations based on local causes could not explain the correlations. Since 1977, these predictions have been verified numerous times. Now within all physical theories energy exchange always involves non-instantaneous and hence local causation, since the packets of energy (or stress-energy) must move through space. Consequently, Bell's Theorem rules out any explanation of these correlations by means of energy exchange. Consequently, quantum mechanics requires the existence of correlations that cannot be explained by an exchange of energy." [7]

The problem here should be immediately obvious. If energy conservation doesn't even hold for all for all physical interactions why would we expect to hold for the proposed physical to non-physical interactions? There doesn't seem to be a clear reason to think so. It even appears that some interactions on the quantum level happen without transfer of energy so why could that not be the case for mind-body dualism as well? Heck, even if the PCCP were true there are versions of interactive mind-body dualism that are plausible. [8]

An argument against the PCCP

Perhaps paradoxically and unintentionally, Pro has given us a good reason to reject the PCCP. Remember, the PCCP essentially states that we will never have to appeal to anything outside of physics/physical explanations in order to explain some physical event(s). Given that physics doesn't appeal to mental properties in it's explanations of physical events/states then it would appear that to explain a persons' behavior, given the PCCP, one would never appeal mental causes in order to explain these physical events. This would mean that mental states (like thoughts, intentions, desires, and plans) never explain a persons' behavior. Pro may have thought that mind-body dualism is false, but given the PCCP, that thought or other related thoughts didn't cause him to type up this debate. Furthermore, his thoughts never cause him to do anything. That seems just obviously false and violates very common-sensical views on mental causation (ironically, mental causation concerns lead Pro to reject mind-body dualism). This spirals into a radical form of epiphenomalism which seems unplatable. [9] Obviously, this would cast doubt on any conclusion we draw, and that is precisely because the PCCP is assumed to be true. If one gives up that assumption then there is a way to avoid this epiphenomalism. And if one gives up the PCCP then Pro's particular argument against mind-body dualism here doesn't stick.

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy_of_mind)#Interactionism
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy_of_mind)#Parallelism
[3] http://ndpr.nd.edu...
[4] http://books.google.com...
[5] http://faculty.washington.edu... (p 6)
[6] http://ebookbrowse.com... (p 8)
[7] ibid (p 17)
[8] http://dro.dur.ac.uk...
[9] http://plato.stanford.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

socialpinko forfeited this round.
popculturepooka

Con

Unfortunately, pro wasn't able to post his round. Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

I must apologize to my esteemed opponent PCP. Unfortunately, at this time I will not be able to post a real response to his eloquently written argument. I would love to re-do this debate at some later time when I'm not on vacation and I feel bad that I have forfeited two debates in a row with you :( Vote Con please.
popculturepooka

Con

Aw, that's too bad. I had fun nonetheless. Thanks to Pro for setting the debate up anyhow.
Debate Round No. 4
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by CarlosMarti123 4 years ago
CarlosMarti123
"A theory or concept is false when it is unsound or does not stand up to rational scrutiny."

Fine for the purposes of this debate, but that's not a very good definition of falsity, since something could (not saying it would be rationally justified to believe so) turn out to be true even though all the available evidence points to the contrary, just pointing out.

A very interesting debate would be one between different theories of truth (i.e. correspondence, coherence, etc).
Posted by unitedandy 4 years ago
unitedandy
Sorry guys, I was just testing to see if I could vote. I'll read it and vote later. Cheers.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Really sorry about that. I meant to write the case last night but I got caught up getting ready for my trip.
Posted by popculturepooka 4 years ago
popculturepooka
O_o

Nac
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
popculturepooka
Good ole epiphenomenalism. lol
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
I was wondering if I should include a refutation of epiphenomenalism when I wrote out my original case (I've never heard of parallelism or occaionalism though) but for some reason decided against it. I'll stick with interactive though.
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
popculturepooka
Nah, you can just stick with interactive forms of mind-body dualism. I just included them in my round more as a service to readers who may not know there are other forms of mind-body dualism out there.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
I just knew epiphenomenalism would come back to bite me in the arse. Do you want me to attempt a refutation of non-interactive forms of mind-body dualism or should we continue to focus on interactive forms only?
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Thanks brah.
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
popculturepooka
Peter Van Inwagen's book "Metaphysics" (make sure to get the latest edition).

I've recommended the book to a few people here and the ones that have read it really liked it. IMO, it's the best book of it's kind on the market (of course, I haven't surveyed the whole market so take that with a grain of salt lol).
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by unitedandy 4 years ago
unitedandy
socialpinkopopculturepookaTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 4 years ago
Man-is-good
socialpinkopopculturepookaTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Well, it's quite obvious. Pro forfeited several times and conceded to Con's superior arguments, which destroyed Pro's objections to the mind-body dualism.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
socialpinkopopculturepookaTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded.
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
socialpinkopopculturepookaTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit...