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Title: Property Dualism as a Solution to the Mind-Body Problem
Authors: O'Rourke, Joshua
Advisors: Rosen, Gideon
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Consciousness
Philosophy of Mind
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation comprises four essays that together defend property dualism as a solution to the mind-body problem. In chapter 1, I advance a novel argument for dualism. Whereas the standard arguments for dualism, e.g., the knowledge argument and the zombie argument, all proceed from intuitions about what follows from a full physical description of the world, my argument starts from the premise that there cannot be borderline cases of consciousness. I then argue that all the physicalist theories of consciousness that have been offered so far imply that consciousness can have borderline cases. In chapter 2, I criticize an argument that is often taken to support substance dualism over property dualism. According to this argument, if conscious subjects are high-level physical objects, then each subject will overlap many other physical objects that all have an equally good claim on being conscious as well. However, we should not think that there are a multitude of conscious subjects wherever there is one. I argue that this line of thinking does not support substance dualism over property dualism because any substance dualist solution to the problem can be transformed into an equally acceptable property dualist solution. In chapter 3, I argue for property dualism over Russellian monism. Russellian monists claim to have several important advantages over property dualists, including the ability to say both that conscious episodes have causal effects and that physical events have only physical causes. I argue that the advantages of Russellian monism have been overstated. In fact, Russellian monism fails at many of the same places as property dualism. I go on to argue that Russellian monism cannot accommodate the possibility of multiple realizability, which is a significant strike against it. In chapter 4, I critically assess the prospects for a functionalist account of mental vocabulary. The Blockhead thought experiment tells against certain functionalist analyses of mental terms, but Braddon-Mitchell and Jackson argue that their version of functionalism evades this objection. I argue that their response cannot work, and I sharpen the argument from the Blockhead thought experiment to the falsity of functionalism.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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