July Report: In Defense of Property Dualism

I’ve finish the initial draft of the paper I mentioned in my June report and also met with my advisor discussing the paper. The ideas in the draft turned out promising and the meeting was very helpful.

Again, the argument in the paper is 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)

My advisor and I agreed on that the definition of “being fundamental” and the modal status of fundamental entities should be clarified. In the argument I utilize two possible worlds that are different from our world, but still reach a conclusion about our world. I can do this because if something is fundamental then it is fundamental in all possible world in which it exists.

The most important part that I need to establish in this argument is that the properties in world A are of the same type as the properties in our world. In world A, mental properties do not have causal effect on physical fact, but mental properties in our world do. We have to prove that “having causal power over physical facts” is not an essential property of mental properties, otherwise opponents could raise the objection that the mental properties in world A are not the mental properties in our world, and the argument would fail. We also need to think carefully about physical properties in world A. Their interaction with mental properties are also different from that of physical properties in our world. Therefore, a study in the natural of properties is necessary. I have started to look into the relevant literature, especially on the idea of “powerful properties,” which claims that properties are both dispositional and qualitative, and which has been used to argue against properties dualism.


  1. Yonghao Wang says:

    Hey I’m glad you are so interested. Yes a lot of the research consists of reading, mostly professional papers rather than books, and I spend even more time thinking about what I read. Then I share my thoughts with my advisor, and after a lengthy discussion with him I would usually have a huge improvement on my understanding of the topic.

    I haven’t really started to write my thesis drafts, mostly just small passages on certain ideas/argument, so I don’t really know about writing thesis drafts yet.

  2. I’ve never heard of such research. I am very interested in what you have to do. I’m assuming that you are in the philosophy department. How do you do most of your research? Is it primarily from reading lots and lots of books? Also, how is the writing going? Any tips on writing thesis drafts?

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