[Wittrs] Re: are objects causal

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2010 19:21:16 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "jrstern" <jrstern@...> wrote:

> . . . Searle cannot prove a negative result, that a computer cannot fill that 
> role, from an unknown property of brain.
> >
> > Ah, I couldn't agree more, rare occurrence that such agreements on lists 
> > like these are! -- SWM
> I'm glad that's clear and agreeable, but I hope it also shows the point of 
> taking physicalism seriously as a general doctrine, not just a matter to be 
> argued inside of a discussion of mind.
> It is physicalism, not computationalism, that hosts multiple realizability.
> Even Fodor gets this wrong, insofar as he spends a lot of time defending 
> against a naive physical essentialism, and then throws out a foundational 
> physicalism with the bathwater.
> Josh

Well perhaps it was too much to hope that we might agree for too long!

I do not subscribe to anything I would call "physicalism" because, frankly, I 
just don't know how the world REALLY is. On the other hand, mine is a kind of 
default physicalism, you might say. It's how we live in and interact with the 
world, on a physical basis, that seems to me to matter most and everything I 
know so far about the world speaks of its being physically based and 
exclusively so. Of course, I don't know what lies beyond the physical realm we 
experience but then I don't think anyone else does either and all that can be 
done is make up theories about it.

There's just no sense, on my view, imagining alternative descriptions of the 
world (or the universe) if there's nothing to show for it in the way of hard 
evidence, real impact on our lives, etc. Why presume dualism or idealism or 
anything else if the world looks physical and there's no reason to doubt that 
-- and no evidence for any alternative metaphysical picture?

Of course there are lots of way of describing how things REALLY are but what's 
the point, really, if there are no ways of definitively resolving the matter? 
So I find myself on the side of physicalists like you, Josh, albeit without 
feeling there's a lot to say about that, or a case to make for it and against 
other views or that this is a useful area of philosophical inquiry.


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