Intelligent Design Naturalism Philosophy

Round 2: Naturalist philosopher replies to neurosurgeon Michael Egnor

Spread the love

David Papineau is considered to be one of the best exponents of physicalism, a form of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.”

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor was permitted the opening statement. Now here’s Papineau’s reply (partial transcript):

I’d say the central problem in materialist cognitive science over the last 50 years is explaining about this, explaining how it is that one stands for another, how something going on inside my head can be about Lima, the capital of Peru, about the city on the other side of the world, and I have a lot of detailed things to say about that, what it is that makes it the case that states in my brain or the words that I’m uttering have a semantic significance.

And I don’t see why, just to point to this is an argument for dualism. Suppose I accepted that there was some extra stuff beyond the material stuff, some kind of ectoplasmic mind stuff. Why wouldn’t the same problem just be there? How can this ectoplasmic mind stuff point to something on the other side of the world? How is this magic done? It doesn’t seem, to me, much of a theory to posit something mysterious and then say, “Ah, because it’s mysterious, it can account for something that’s difficult to explain.” I think we need serious theories, and I think when we have serious theories, we see that they’re perfectly consistent with the materialist point of view. That’s the argument from intentionality.

And I think the argument from reasoning is pretty much part of the same thing. Michael said, “Well, look, there’s logical connections between thoughts I have, and when I reason, I reason in a way that involves a sequence of thoughts having logical connections with each other.” I agree and that’s possible, because my thoughts, which I think of as material states of the brain, have semantic significance. They’re about things.

They’re about Lima being the capital of Peru, and I’ll say about Peru being in South America, and therefore Lima is in South America. I mean, I can have a sequence of thoughts that have that semantic content, and if they have that semantic content, then there’s logical connections between them, and if I reason in that way, I’m reasoning logically, and if I go Lima’s the capital of Peru, and Peru’s in South America, so Lima’s in North America, then I’m not reasoning logically, and I don’t see any difficulty for materialism explaining that. So I’m kind of curious about why Michael thinks just pointing to these things amounts to an argument.

News, “Round 2: Philosopher Papineau replies to neurosurgeon Egnor” at Mind Matters News

Also: Here’s Part 1 (includes partial transcript):

Neurosurgeon Egnor takes on philosopher Papineau Round 1 In the debate, Egnor begins by offering three fundamental reasons why the mind is not the brain. Neuroscience caused Egnor to honestly doubt Papineau’s materialist perspective that the mind is simply what the brain does. Dr. Papineau is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.”

7 Replies to “Round 2: Naturalist philosopher replies to neurosurgeon Michael Egnor

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    Is it me or he just doesn’t make a point other than “I think materialism can explain everything And some stuff is hard for materialism to explain”

  2. 2
    MikeW says:

    AaronS1978@1, I agree, and that’s after he said “I mean, to be more specific…” and then again “So, let me be a bit more specific…”. It’s like a politician saying “Let me be clear…”

  3. 3
    William J Murray says:

    And I don’t see why, just to point to this is an argument for dualism. Suppose I accepted that there was some extra stuff beyond the material stuff, some kind of ectoplasmic mind stuff. Why wouldn’t the same problem just be there?

    Of course, when you think of mind in the same way you think of material “stuff,” you have the same problem that you have with material stuff. Papineau characterizes mind as “the same as” material, and says the problem is inescapable.

    And he’s the “best” materialists have to offer?

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Materialism can’t even explain quantum mechanics. LOL

    -Q

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    I just read Papineau’s response to Egnor asking for the cause of the Big Bang in part three

    It’s akin to what I think a person trying to gargle a banana looks like.

  6. 6
    doubter says:

    Papineau is one of the best debaters for materialism? That’s quite sad, when he makes remarks like,

    I can have a sequence of thoughts that have that semantic content, and if they have that semantic content, then there’s logical connections between them, and if I reason in that way, I’m reasoning logically, and if I go Lima’s the capital of Peru, and Peru’s in South America, so Lima’s in North America, then I’m not reasoning logically, and I don’t see any difficulty for materialism explaining that.

    Talk about confused self-contradicting arguments. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that his thoughts and reasoning and intentionality (which by this statement he admits exist) are themselves obviously immaterial and subjective elements of consciousness and related to qualia. Let him explain that materialistically. If he claims that these elements of consciousness are ultimately material, let him enumerate what physical properties they have, like mass, velocity, force, charge, energy, spacial dimensions like width, depth, height, etc. etc.

  7. 7
    Belfast says:

    A child can say, I love you this much, (extends arms) and everyone knows what she means.
    An adult can’t, but Papineau thinks he can.
    There is nothing in the hamburger, the way he puts things.

Leave a Reply