[Wittrs] Re: The Ontologically Basic Fallacy

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 13:17:16 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:

<snip>

>
>  >He asks who would believe the CRA's claim that more of the same
>  >wouldn't make a difference and responds rhetorically that a Cartesian
>  >dualist would.
>
> yes; but, note that he does not say *ONLY* a Cartesian dualist would
> believe that more of the same wouldn't make a difference
>

Right. He doesn't say if there are other reasons to believe the CRA's 
conclusion is true. But the issue is whether the CRA is an adequate argument to 
imply the truth of its conclusion. It is perfectly possible that there are 
empirical reasons for thinking the conclusion true. But Searle's argument isn't 
built on any of those. It is built on the three premises in the body of the 
argument. He is saying that a dualist (of the Cartesian variety) would hold 
this view but he leaves open the question of whether there are other reasons.


>  >Since the CRA is Searle's argument and no one else's, and Searle
>  >defends it and obviously finds it convincing, it's pretty clear that
>  >Dennett is saying that Searle shares the Cartesian dualist conception
>  >of mind because that's what it takes to swallow the argument.
>
> no. Dennett does not say "that's what it would take". if you find where
> he did use that phrase you'd have grounds for saying that Dennett
> intended that to say that *only* a Cartesian (C) believes (M) that more
> of the same would make a difference: M implies C or M -> C
>

I didn't say he said "only", you did. But he clearly implies (non-logical sense 
of "implies") that the only APPARENT reason to take the CRA's conclusion as 
true is a dualist one. So his claim is not a logically structured claim that 
leaves no room for any other option but it clearly suggests that dualism is 
embedded in the CRA. You said Dennett never said anything consistent with what 
I had said, that the CRA presumes a dualist conception of consciousness (which 
we agreed to equate with what you call "substance dualism"). I found text where 
he says, explicitly, that it takes a Cartesian dualist, etc., etc., and we both 
agree (or should agree) that Descartes' dualism was what you call "substance 
dualism" which I call "ontological dualism" and that Descartes was the first in 
Western philosophy to articulate this thesis in any precise way and that his 
name has ever since been associated with it.

> what Dennett actually said, Stuart, is that a Cartesian would believe M:
> C implies M or C -> M
>
> Obviously, Searle believes M. however, to conclude C (that Searle is a
> Cartesian) based on what Dennett actually said is the fallacy of
> affirming the consequent:
>
> C -> M
> M
> (therefore) C
>
>
> Joe


My conclusion is not "based on what Dennett actually said" and I never said it 
was. My conclusion is based on MY argument, repeated many times here. I 
mentioned that Dennett's thesis about the CRA reflected the same insight and 
you challenged me to prove that from the text and I did.

You then switched from denying Dennett had said it to challenging the validity 
of the argument as made by Dennett and then to challenging the validity of the 
claim that Dennett said "only a Cartesian dualist" which you imputed to me but 
which is not a claim I ever made.

However, for the record, I do believe it is likely that Dennett would say 
"only" if pressed though I don't know if he would insist on a logical "only". 
My own view is that there are other reasons to think that the CRA's conclusion, 
that computational processes cannot cause consciousness, might be true (see 
Hawkins and Edelman, for starters). But none of them are found in the CRA and 
Searle doesn't rely on them. Given that, I am inclined to think that there is 
no other way to get from the CR to the conclusions of the CRA without being an 
ontological dualist.

But THIS is my position, not Dennett's, nor did I ever suggest otherwise.

SWM

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