Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Psychophysical laws

In his arguments for anomalous monism, Davidson uses a premise that there are no strict psychophysical laws. He defines strict laws as the ones that do not have any ceteris paribus clauses. One objection to this is that there are psychophysical laws and that whole industries are built upon them. The best example is anaesthesia. One wants a lawlike connection between the physical effects of the drugs and the mental states (or lack thereof) that follows from them. Whether this is an objection to Davidson hangs on the strictness of the anesthetic "law". If there are no ceteris paribus clauses involved in the effect of not feeling pain, then this is a good example and a good counterexample. If there are (and my guess is this is so), then while there may be a lawlike relation between the physical effects and the mental effects of the drug, it will not be a strict lawlike connection. I don't think that Davidson denied there being psychophysical laws, just strict ones. On this understanding of him (that will be wrong if he does say no psychophysical laws period), the anesthesia counterexample doesn't fly.

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