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Whiteboards! Outline the theories of occasionalism and preestablished harmony. What is the difference between the two? Epiphenomenalism Recap What does this picture represent about epiphenomenalism? What can you remember about epiphenomenalism? A Better View: Epiphenomenalism According to epiphenomenalism, mental events are caused by physical events but do not themselves cause physical events: the interaction is one-way. Mental events are pictured as epiphenomenal by-products that sit “above” physical processes. The idea that the mental states sit “above” the physical is supervenience. “Volition” concludes Huxley, “is an emotion indicative of physical changes, not a cause of such changes.” Considering Epiphenomenalism What criticisms of Epiphenomenalism can you think of? Do the following questions help you? - Do you have any good reasons for supposing your volitions (mental states) really cause your actions? - Do you have any good reasons for supposing your sense experiences cause behaviour? (e.g. pain causing you to flinch) - What of conscious perception? Is there a good reason to suppose your visual perception of tea is causally involved in you reaching for it? - Consider other mental states such as beliefs. In what ways do they seem to be physically related to the world? Do you have any reason to suppose they really are so related? Considering Epiphenomenalism Use the 6 sheets to identify and record 6 problems with Epiphenomenalism. Swap with people to cover all the different issues. Evidence of Introspection Epiphenomenalism seems to go against what we intuitively believe through common sense and what is revealed to us through introspection. It seems very obvious that when I reach out to grab a cup of tea it is a conscious decision causing that action, or when I decide to get out of the bed in the morning it is my mind making my body move. To deny this seems to fly in the face of everyday experiences. Introspection also seems to show us that different mental states are causally related, for example the smell of chips might make me remember the smell of my grandmother’s kitchen. The belief that it is raining may cause the mental desire to stay dry. Our introspection strongly suggests our minds have causal power. The Role of Qualia What of our reactions to qualia? It surely seems obvious that it is our mental state of pain that causes me to jerk my hand back from something hot. Similarly, if I hit my thumb with a hammer it is this feeling of pain that makes me cry out. Moreover, if pain did not cause actions in my body, then why would I take much greater care when dealing with the hammer in future? Qualia definitely seem to cause physical reactions in our bodies. It seems odd to deny this. Free Will When I deliberate over whether to go to bed early or to go to the cinema, I seem to be exercising my free will. If I decide to go out, this decision was reached freely, meaning I could have chosen to stay in. However if my actions are purely down to physical processes, and the intention or decision is causally useless, then it seems I have no choice over my actions. If human actions are governed by physical laws then the choices I make are a result of these laws and I could never do otherwise. Perhaps more importantly, the idea of freedom is important to our idea of moral responsibility. If I decide to murder someone then it usually requires the idea that I could have done otherwise (i.e. not forced) for us to say I am morally responsible. But if my action of killing him was not down to my decision but instead physical laws that determined this outcome, it’s hard to see how we could say I am truly morally responsible. Evolution If conscious experiences play no role in our behaviour, then we may wonder why we have them at all. The universe and all human behaviour would, it seems, be exactly the same as it is now if there were no mental phenomena at all. This concern can be given additional force if we consider human evolution. If we accept the process of evolution is driven by natural selection then we are committed to the idea that evolved traits must benefit the species in some way. But, if mental states have no causual role to play, then they cannot have survival value. Why has evolution favoured beings with minds over beings without? Important Note: There are currently parts of our body that are functionally useless (appendix etc.) and one might respond by saying the mind is similar, it evolved but is pointless. This is forgetting that the parts of our body we no longer use had a function once, we have just evolved past their use. The mind on the other hand, has seemingly never had a use and therefore should not have been naturally selected. Self-Knowledge An uncomfortable consequence of epiphenomenalism is that is it appears to be incompatible with actually being able to form beliefs about, or meaningfully talk about your own mental states. For if mental states cannot cause anything physical then they cannot cause my body to describe them in any way. So when I say “I am in pain” this cannot have been caused by any introspective awareness of pain. But then what am I talking about when I complain about being in pain? Similarly what about explaining that I feel happy? Other Minds How do we know for sure other people have minds? If their behaviour is based on physical causes, then it would be the same if they did not have minds as it currently is now. We use behaviour to infer mental states (if someone steps on a nail and then hops around screaming – I use that to infer that he is in pain), if that behaviour is entirely explained through physical causes then there is no good reason to assume others have mental states as we do. Criticisms of Epiphenomenalism Evidence of Introspection Our mental states seem to cause our actions and other mental states! The Role of Qualia Our subjective qualia (things we can’t always help) seem to cause physical reactions in our bodies. Free Will How can we say I have free will if all my actions are physically determined? Evolution Self-Knowledge What evolutionary purpose How can I talk about mental does the mind play? Why do states if they have no causal we need one? Why did it power? ever appear? Other Minds How do we know other people have minds if their behaviour would be the same without? How might an Epiphenomenalist respond? Epiphenomenalism seems to go against what we intuitively believe through common sense and what is revealed to us through introspection. Our minds seem to cause physical and other mental states! The problem with this view is just because they seem to cause these states does not mean they actually do. All our experience reveals is that mental states are conjoined with particular physical actions, and this is consistent both with them being a cause and a side effect. This also applies to the qualia argument, just because we can see them happening at the same time does not mean there is a causal relation. How might an Epiphenomenalist respond? When I deliberate over whether to go to bed early or to go to the cinema, I seem to be exercising my free will. If I decide to go out, this decision was reached freely, meaning I could have chosen to stay in. Epiphenomenalism means our actions are governed by purely physical causes, we have no true decisions and we are therefore not truly free. Even if we accept the idea that we have a causally active mind, this would still mean our actions are governed by causes, it’s just they would be mental rather than physical. So if I decide to kill Jones because I think about the slights he has made against me in the past and how much I dislike him, it is still just as much determined as if physical causes made me pull the trigger. How might an Epiphenomenalist respond? Our minds are evolutionary pointless! Why would natural selection keep them if we didn’t need them for some specific reason? The same could be said of our eye colour and hair colour – we don’t need them for any specific evolutionary reason so why are they different for different people? Just because something doesn’t serve a specific evolutionary purpose does not mean it shouldn’t exist – it may instead be a by product of something that does have a purpose. (Jackson uses the example of a Polar Bears coat not needing to be heavy – it is a by product of it being warm) How might an Epiphenomenalist respond? How can we talk about mental states if they don’t actually have any causal effect? In response the epiphenomenalist may argue that the brain could evolve some capacity to employ sensation words without them having any causal connection with the sensations themselves. Is it not possible there is some physical prompt that causes us to start talking about these mental states as if they were being caused? For example: Speaking of certain colours when our eyes pick up certain wavelengths? Which do you think is the strongest? Evidence of Introspection Our mental states seem to cause our actions and other mental states! The Role of Qualia Our subjective qualia (things we can’t always help) seem to cause physical reactions in our bodies. Free Will How can we say I have free will if all my actions are physically determined? Evolution Self-Knowledge What evolutionary purpose How can I talk about mental does the mind play? Why do states if they have no causal we need one? Why did it power? ever appear? Other Minds How do we know other people have minds if their behaviour would be the same without?