henry quirk wrote: ↑Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:03 pm
I read it when you first posted it and ignored it because it's just not a good argument.
I find it to be an excellent argument
Ok, well the rest of this thread somehow found a way to get worse than it already was, so I'll explain why I think this one is bad.
The general shape of the argument is that the guy pokes people in the brain, well technically I suppose he pokes them on
the brain seeing as he does all this at the surface of that organ. He is able to make their arms and legs shake by doing that, but he is not able to make them will their leg to shake, thus he concludes that certain functions of the human being including will and higher reason happen outside the brain. Further evidence for this comes in the form of epileptics not having mathematical siezures, and therefore maths doesn't happen in the brain. And so he concludes that dualism is the answer to this conundrum.
The precise type of dualism in question isn't mentioned, so I will use a form of reasoning called Abductive Reason to conclude that he means plain oold Cartesian mind-body substance dualism. My reasons for that are as follows:
1. Cartesian dualism is the default, I would expect anyone who had a more subtle form of dualism in mind therefore to specify, while it not surprising to see that form referred to just as "dualism"
2. The argument presented lacks sophistication, it would be counter-intuitive to say the least for such an argument to be made on behalf of a sophisticated dualism.
3. It's reasonably likely that the person making it didn't know there were other types of dualism and just assumed the most famous one was the only one, that's actually quite normal, I was deeply annoyed when I found out I would have to write essays on multiple types myself, and more so when it turned out epiphenomenalism was on the list.
So that's fairly reasonable, I stand by it, but it's not great because abductive reasoning - where you just pick up the information you have available and pick the likeliest looking conclusion - isn't very strong even when it's done really well by a cunning maestro of the logal arts such as my good self.
The abductive reasoning in your dude's piece though, is not the work of a total sexy God of Logic such as my good self though. At best it is passable evidence that there isn't some specific little nodule in the brain that has been set aside by evolution specifically for the purpose of calculus, and I gotta say, it would be super weird if there were such a basic object for such a thing, I've never heard of any materialists arguing that there is.
Your man there has not in any way argued that he has tested all the complex ways in which the brain parcels out tasks to its many regions, in fact that article offers no suggestion that he has even considered it. But that's what neuroscientists, and Dan Dennett and people such as those guys believe is happening there, and they have lots of expiremtnal data of their own to show at least some of that stuff to be at least plausible.
So added to the general weakness inherent to all abductive arguments, we must say that he has gone much further, in essence he has failed in that Sherlock Holmes test for these things ("Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth") by failing to eliminate what many people would consider a much more reaslistic answer than the one he opted for. And we may as well throw in Occam for good measure and say that he has added entities where none are necessarily required to explain his findings.
FYI, I'm not a hard materialist myself. I don't care about the subject very much because I think that much like arguments about free-will the issue is purely conceptual and not worth getting heated up about, but the arguments for predicate-dualism are quite sound in my view. Some part of that may just be because Fodor is an entertaining writer and Dennett is an irritating twat though, so maybe allow for some bias.