Monday, September 04, 2006

The mental and the physical

After reading Crane and Mellor's "There is no question of physicalism" I decided that it would behoove me to read the Donaldson articles that they discuss, namely "Mental Events" and "Causal Relations". Both are quite interesting and they had much more overlap than I expected. Both involved discussions of anomolous monism and both emphasized intensional aspects of language in crucial areas. One of the areas in which the extensionality came to the fore was in describing the causal relation. Davdison thinks that the causal is extensional because it is describable in an extensional first-order language. Crane and Mellor think it is intensional because, for probablistic causation, you can have p(a is a)=1 and p(a is the F)=n<1 even when a is the F. Their argument looks like it works for probablistic beliefs maybe, but the examples they give don't look like causal statements. You won't have something of the form "e caused e", since events usually cause distinct events as effects. Within the scope of "... causes ---", the terms do seem extensional, so Crane and Mellor's argument seems invalid. Crane and Mellor need the causal relation to be intensional because they want to show that paradigmatic, purely physical vocabulary has intensional contexts just like paradigmatic uses of mental vocabulary. The alleged difference between the two vocabularies is one of the things Davdson marshalls in support of his thesis that mental events described in mental terms are not connected to physical events described in physical terms by any strict laws.

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