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What Are the Metaphysical Issues?. Metaphysics: questions about the nature of reality Nature of ultimate reality permanence and change appearance and reality Nature of human reality mind-body problem freedom and determinism. Metaphysical Positions. Monism Materialism Idealism Dualism.

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What are the metaphysical issues
What Are the Metaphysical Issues?

  • Metaphysics: questions about the nature of reality

  • Nature of ultimate reality

    • permanence and change

    • appearance and reality

  • Nature of human reality

    • mind-body problem

    • freedom and determinism

Metaphysical positions
Metaphysical Positions

  • Monism

    • Materialism

    • Idealism

  • Dualism

Conceptual tools for metaphysics
Conceptual Tools for Metaphysics

  • Simplification of complexity

    • Ockham's razor

  • Inference to the best explanation

    • used by both science and metaphysics


  • Questions about what is most fundamentally real

  • Fundamental reality

    • that upon which everything else depends

    • that which cannot be created or destroyed

Metaphysical categories
Metaphysical Categories

  • Things that are not real: eliminativist strategy

  • Realities reducible to more fundamental realities: reductionist strategy

  • Things that are fundamentally real

Plato s metaphysics
Plato’s Metaphysics

  • Nonphysical realities: Platonic Forms

  • Degrees of reality

  • Allegory of the cave

Propositions of the mind body problem
Propositions of the Mind-Body Problem

  • The body is a physical thing

  • The mind is a nonphysical thing

  • The mind and body interact and causally affect one another

  • Nonphysical things cannot causally interact with physical things

  • These four statements cannot all be true

Positions on the mind body problem
Positions on the Mind-Body Problem

  • Mind-body dualism

    • Interactionism

    • Parallelism

    • Occasionalism

  • Physicalism

    • Identity theory (reductionism)

    • Eliminativism

  • Functionalism

Descartes s arguments for mind body dualism
Descartes’s Arguments for Mind-Body Dualism

  • Principle of the nonidentity of discernibles

  • Argument from doubt

    • Discourse on the Method

  • Argument from divisibility

  • Argument from consciousness

    • Meditations on First Philosophy

  • The cartesian compromise
    The Cartesian Compromise

    • Division of reality

      • Science’s authority in the physical realm

      • Religion’s authority in the spiritual realm

    • Interactionism

    Physicalism an alternative to dualism
    Physicalism: An Alternative to Dualism

    • Four problems of dualism:

      • Where is the mind-body interaction?

      • How does the interaction occur?

      • Conservation of energy?

      • Success of brain science?

    The positive case for physicalism
    The Positive Case for Physicalism

    • Correlation between mental events and brain states

    • Consciousness may be a by-product of low-level physical processes

    Forms of physicalism
    Forms of Physicalism

    • Identity theory, or reductionism

      • Mental events are identical to brain events

      • Brain research will answer all questions about the mind

    • Eliminativism

      • Labels traditional psychological theories as folk psychology

      • No beliefs or desires, only brain states and processes


    • Minds are constituted by a certain pattern or relation between the parts of a system

    • Minds have multiple realizability

    • Mental states are defined in terms of their causal role (how they function)

    Artificial intelligence
    Artificial Intelligence

    • Can computers think?

    • Turing test

    • Strong AI thesis: an appropriately programmed computer can think

    • Weak AI thesis: a computer can only simulate mental activities

    Issues of freedom and determinism
    Issues of Freedom and Determinism

    • How do nature/nurture, heredity/ environment affect us ?

      • consider identical twins, separated at birth

    • What is the origin of our actions?

    • What implication does determinism have for moral responsibility?

    Types of freedom
    Types of Freedom

    • Circumstantial

      • ability to do what we choose

      • freedom from external forces

    • Metaphysical

      • free will

      • relates to our internal condition, not external forces

    • Most philosophy is concerned with metaphysical freedom

    Positions on freedom
    Positions on Freedom

    • Determinism

    • Libertarianism

    • Incompatibilism

    • Hard determinism

    • Compatibilism

    Hard determinism
    Hard Determinism

    • Problems with libertarianism

    • Positive arguments for determinism

    • Denial of the possibility of moral responsibility

    Objections to libertarianism
    Objections to Libertarianism

    • Conflicts with the scientific world view

    • Requires the problematic notion of uncaused events

    • Fails to explain that we can influence other people's behavior

    The positive case for determinism
    The Positive Case for Determinism

    • 1. Every event, without exception, is causally determined by prior events

    • 2. Human thoughts and actions are events

    • 3. Therefore, human thoughts and actions are, without exception, causally determined by prior events

    Determinist thinkers
    Determinist Thinkers

    • Spinoza

      • pantheism

      • free will is an illusion

    • B.F. Skinner

      • radical behaviorism

      • reduction of all mental terms to scientific statements about behavioral probabilities

    Tenets of libertarianism
    Tenets of Libertarianism

    • We are not determined

    • We do have freedom of the will

    • We have the capacity to be morally responsible for our actions

    Objections to determinism
    Objections to Determinism

    • Determinism makes an unwarranted generalization from a limited amount of evidence

    • Determinism undermines the notion of rationality

    • Determinism confuses methodological assumptions of science with metaphysical conclusions

    Types of antideterminism
    Types of Antideterminism

    • Indeterminism

      • Some events are uncaused

    • Agency theory

      • Event-causation

      • Agent-causation

    • Radical existential freedom

      • Jean-Paul Sartre

    Arguments for libertarianism
    Arguments for Libertarianism

    • Argument from introspection

    • Argument from deliberation

    • Argument from moral responsibility


    • Soft determinism

    • We are both determined and morally responsible for our actions

    • Voluntary actions take place when the determining causes reside within the agent, not externally

    Hierarchical compatibilism frankfurt
    Hierarchical Compatibilism (Frankfurt)

    • First-order desires

    • Second-order desires

    • Second-order volitions