Jun
24

June Report: In Defense of Property Dualism

I have made significant progress on my thesis in June. I found a very interesting paper by Bailey’s (2006), Zombies, epiphenomenalism, and physicalist theories of consciousness, in which he argues that the conceivability of zombies presupposes epiphenomenalism in our world, and since epiphenomenalism is wrong in our world, zombies are not conceivable.

Epiphenomenalism is the view that mental entities do not play any causal role. For example, in our life, it seems true that our sight of a frightening object causes us to be frightened. However, under this view, it is actually the physical entities, say, the electrical change in our brain, that causes us to be frightened. This is a direct refutation to the zombie argument, but I find another interesting way to avoid this problem.
Just for the sake of the argument, suppose epiphenomenalism is false in our world. However, unless epiphenomenalism is impossible, there is a possible world in which it is true. Let’s suppose there is an epiphenomenal world in which property dualism is true, as property dualism does not seem impossible either. Such a world, call it world A, shares the same type of mental properties in our world, only that mental properties in world A has no causal power over physical facts. Because of that, physical facts in world A is different from physical facts in our world, but that does not matter. What matter is that mental properties do not have causal power and therefore if you remove them, no physical facts will change. Therefore, we a world B is also possible, in which all physical facts about world A is also true, but in which no mental properties are instantiated.
If world A and world B are both possible, then we see that mental properties do not supervene on physical facts. Since mental properties are instantiated in our world, property dualism is true in our world. This argument goes as follows:
  1. there is a possible world A in which epiphenomenalism is true,
  2. there is a zombie world B which is a counterpart to world A,
  3. If 1 and 2, then mental properties do not necessarily depend on physical properties
  4. therefore, mental properties do not necessarily depend on physical properties
  5. mental properties are instantiated in our world.
  6. property dualism is true in our world. (from 4 and 5)
I have begun to write a paper on this argument.

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