[Wittrs] How Does Causal Reduction Entail Ontological Reduction?

  • From: Joseph Polanik <jpolanik@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 20:04:02 -0400

SWM wrote:

>Joseph Polanik wrote:

>>how do you justify your claim that a causal explanation (whether
>>considered as a reduction or as an emergence) entails an ontological

>Some causal reductions are ontological in nature, i.e., the idea that
>the wetness of water is explainable via description of certain atomic
>level phenomena. The wetness is nothing more than that behavior.

it sounds like you want to say that, in the case of consciousness (C)
and brain (B), it is possible to say "B causes C; and, therefore, C is
nothing more than B". is that your claim?

>>this is important to your case because you say that Searle, having
>>conceeded the causal reduction of consciousness to brain, falls into
>>self-contradiction because he denies the ontological reduction of
>>consciousness to brain.

>I think he confuses ontological description with ontological reduction.
>We can describe all sorts of things in the universe and even agree that
>we MUST speak of them in certain ways but not in others. But that
>doesn't mean they are necessarily irreducible in a causal sensse to
>more basic constituents.

according to Searle, "consciousness is casually reducible to brain
processes". [Why I Am Not a Property Dualist]

>Searle makes a distinction between causal explanation and ontological
>description but doesn't see that ontological description can apply in
>causal reductions as well. All ontological description is is to
>classify the different distinct types of existents.

okay, let that be the definition of 'ontological description'.

up until a few days ago, you spoke only of 'ontological reduction' and
its relation to causal explanation; for example, you said, "the very
issue at hand, causal reduction, IS one of ontological reduction".

is 'ontological description' a synonym for 'ontological reduction'? if
not, what is the difference between them?

in any case, Searle is one of the few philosophers of consciousness who
has classified "distinct types of existents". he distinguishes two modes
of existence, experiencer dependent and experiencer independent; so,
it's not clear what your complaint is.

>>what is your argument in favor of your claim that causal reduction
>>entails ontological reduction?

>It's not my claim.

>I don't claim that causal reduction entails ontological reduction. See
>above. I claim that some instances of causal reductions are also
>ontological in that they involve ontological descriptions (identifying
>and classifying distinct types of existents).

okay, so sometimes a causal explanation involves an ontological
description. are you saying that this happens in the case at hand, the
relation between consciousness and brain?

>I said some causally reductive explanations ARE also ontological
>descriptions and that Searle simply misses that when he makes the
>distinction between causal explanations and ontological descriptions.

Searle says that consciousness is causally reducible to the brain. what,
is that an ontological description of?



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