Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Topping Off the Conversation With Godlessons

Godlessons, in response to the modal argument for dualism, has strangely tried to refute it by claiming that it relies on modal axiom S5, which he claims always begs the question. I assume that this cropped up in his head due to his scant time spent "refuting" the ontological argument, some forms which do use axiom S5. But the modal argument for mind body dualism does not use that axiom. That axiom speaks of necessarily possible things. The modal argument for dualism does not, as seen here:

The modal argument for dualism is really strong.

1) Definition of identical: If x=y, then whatever is true of x is true of y and vice versa.
2) Possibly, my mind can exist without my body.
3) Therefore, my mind is not identical to my body.

The mind possesses the property of possibly existing without the body. Since the body lacks that property (since the body can't exist without the body) the mind can't be identical to the body, because it possesses the property that the body cannot posses. Therefore, the mind isn't identical to the body.
What the modal argument does rest on is the definition of what constitutes identity. I don't know anyone who would disagree with that definition of identity. Nor am I aware of anyone even remotely studied in logic who would say that axiom S5 isn't valid, but since it's not even in question here, it's irrelevant.

Not to mention the batch of questions and issues he has yet to respond to. Plus he hasn't presented any evidence to support his position, which I asked for. Plus he conveniently dropped his silly claim that, "All of this shows first that you don't understand modal logic and classical logic are not compatible," which is an odd claim, seeing as modal logic is simply an extension of classical logic.Then he, without saying how, accuses me of making a category mistake.

Yet I have addressed every single thing he mentioned. These are the signs of one who has clearly lost the argument, and in desperation is trying to save face by using emotive rhetoric.  Let the reader decide.

10 comments:

Skeptical Rationalist said...

I think this is mostly a miscommunication caused by imprecise grammar, which makes Godlessons think you’re trying to play a bit of rhetorical three-card monte. I don’t think this is intentional, but I see where he’s coming from. Allow me some rephrasing to illustrate: The property in question is bodiless existence, “BLE.” Your second premise is “possibly BLE,” read “the mind possibly possesses the property of bodiless existence.”

But then you change it to “the mind *does* possess the property of possibly existing without the body.” The property in question has gone from BLE to “Possible Bodiless Existence.” It’s subtle but important, and it does something similar to (thereby creating the confusion with) Modal S5, because you leap from possibly having a property to actually having a property. I don’t think it necessarily makes your argument unsound, but it’s imprecise and creates confusion.

However, I don’t think your conclusion validates dualism. “Therefore the mind isn’t identical to the body.” No kidding. I can think of several differences between mind and meat off the top of my head without even needing modalities.

Going back to the premise, “possibly one’s mind can exist without one’s body,” that’s the real question, isn’t it? Can you make any testable predictions out of that? Can it be disproved? What evidence, other than armchair philosophy, can you display on your behalf?

“The mind is dependent upon the body” (said hypothesis still being consistent with them not being identical) is certainly testable. It could be instantly disproven by Traumatic Brain Injury not producing cognitive changes. It could be disproven by drugs or electromagnetism being unable to affect “the mind.” It could be disproven by a Near-Death-Experience imparting verifiable knowledge inaccessible to any person present, including the patient. There is actually a region of the brain responsible for keeping one’s sensorium properly aligned spatially with its sources of stimulus—when this region is paralyzed through drugs or oxygen deprivation, it induces an out-of-body experience, complete with the sensation of floating and the image of looking down at one’s body. But the details are invariably found to be only those visible from the patient’s actual eyeballs, indicating that the subjective location is actually confabulated. Mind-body dependence could be disproved if the person could simply float out the window and describe what’s on the street below.

But instead, all the reliable data indicates that indeed, the mind is dependent upon the brain. To the best of scientific knowledge, “mind” is a function of the brain, if not the brain itself. It’s what your brain does. It is an activity, the act of being self-aware of your own cognition. To say that the mind isn’t identical to the body is no more illuminating or uplifting than to say “my digestion isn’t identical to my digestive system.”

Lastly, the category mistake applies to the Ontological Argument itself--Kant argued (and I’m paraphrasing) that “existence” is not an attribute, but is rather a category. Whether a thing exists is a separate question apart from what qualities describe that thing. A set “E” of things which exist, and a set “~E” of things which do not exist. One cannot assign which set contains that thing as part and parcel of its various qualities—it begs the question.

This attack against the Ontological Argument antedates the development of Modal Logic, of course, which allowed the OA to rise from the grave by imparting “necessarily” to the so-called quality of this maximally great being's existence. But from where I sit, the flaw is the same. One is simply declaring that the being in question has whatever qualities one wants it to have in order to lead it down the primrose path of the premises to the desired conclusion. I don’t buy it.

bossmanham said...

SR,

The argument has nothing to do with axiom S5, not that there's anything wrong with S5 to begin with. Most logicians view it as a valid and proved logical move.

Going back to the premise, “possibly one’s mind can exist without one’s body,” that’s the real question, isn’t it?

Yes, and I'm glad you get it. That is the proper premise to attack, because it is a valid argument unless you deny the possibility of the mind existing without the body. But that's just the thing, I can conceive of my mind existing in another body, or in a robot, or floating around. Conceivability usually implies possibility. I can conceive of a cat with 10 legs. It is possible that there be a cat with 10 legs. I can conceive of a unicorn. It is possible that such a creature could exist, in a broadly logically possible sense.

The reason this argument shows that the mind and body are distinct if it is possible that the mind exist sans a body is because to be identical, the mind couldn't have that possibility.

Now, if you were to say that it is impossible for the mind to exist without the body, the burden of proof is on you to show some sort of strong evidence for this. I don't think there is any, as I've already addressed the supposed scientific evidence that points out the correlation of mind states and bodily states.

Can you make any testable predictions out of that? Can it be disproved? What evidence, other than armchair philosophy, can you display on your behalf?

This isn't a scientific issue. Science deals with the material world and can only infer things general things about metaphysics. This is why this subject requires a philosophical view. Science isn't the end all be all to epistemology.

“The mind is dependent upon the body” (said hypothesis still being consistent with them not being identical) is certainly testable. It could be instantly disproven by Traumatic Brain Injury not producing cognitive changes

The mind being dependent on the body, or more specifically even, the brain does not imply identity. Dependence is not identity.

It could be disproven by a Near-Death-Experience imparting verifiable knowledge inaccessible to any person present, including the patient

Of which there are many of, and I mentioned them to Godlessons.

The rest isn't relevant to this.

Godlessons said...

Lest anyone come here and think that S5 is the only problem there is with this argument, I would suggest they go to the original post and read the comments.

Brennon is being dishonest if he is suggesting that that is the only problem I could point out with his argument. It is full of holes and Skeptical Rationalist caught most of them apparently.

Skeptical Rationalist has a good grasp of most of the points I was making, which means that I can feel good that at least one person was able to understand what I was talking about.

The question begging isn't the only reason the argument fails by a long shot.

There is question begging no matter whether axioms S(5)/CD are the reasons or not. Never has it been shown that it is possible at all. No explanation of how a mind can exist without a physical component has been given. The only "support" offered has been that he can conceive of a mind without a body. This by no means shows it is possible.

On top of this, even if the mind could exist without the body it resides in, none of his argument shows that the mind can exist separate from a physical component, like the brain.

I would further argue that Brennon can't actually conceive of a mind without a body, because he can't explain how that mind would exist.

I can say I can conceive of a sun without matter, but I can't really. I can imagine light, but light is made up of particles. I can't imagine where the light would come from either. In other words, my concept of a sun without matter would be incoherent just like Brennon's concept of a mind without a brain is.

Anyway Brennon. If you want to overcome the question begging, you need to explain how anything can exist without a physical component. That is what you are asserting here after all. What would it be made of?

On top of that, you have not overcome your assertion that existence is a property when it was soundly refuted by Kant long ago.

Nor have you overcome the fact that all the evidence we have from brain testing supports the idea that the mind requires the brain, and absolutely no evidence supports the idea that what you believe is true.

Needless to say, you conveniently ignored all the things I refuted and brought this single issue to a new post because you think you got me on something, yet you haven't addressed all my statements on that subject either.

Congratulations, you have a new post, and another comment from me. All while I am still lacking an honest Christian that can debate. The only ones I find won't debate because they know that faith is the only reason to believe.

zilch said...

SR and Godless, I understood too, and I agree. Treating "existence" as a property is the problem with Anselm's Ontological Argument as well. If I avail myself of this kind of reasoning, I can prove the existence of my Divine Salamander just as well.

The most basic problem I see here is the complete decoupling from the real world. You can send words to chase one another's tails to your heart's delight, but that doesn't necessarily say anything at all about what obtains in the real world, if you don't have any evidence for real-world referents for your concepts.

cheers from cloudy Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

It's eminently clear that there is a refusal to understand the logical principles at play here.
There is question begging no matter whether axioms S(5)/CD are the reasons or not

The fact you thought it did to begin with shows you are not properly equipped to even comment on the subject.

Never has it been shown that it is possible at all.

If you can conceive of something, then unless there are defeaters to the thing you are conceiving of, it is possible. You need to show that it is not possible for the mind to exist without the body. I have already given multiple reasons to accept that premise. All that premise is saying is that it is possible. This is not assuming anything beyond that.

The only "support" offered has been that he can conceive of a mind without a body. This by no means shows it is possible

Sure it does, unless there is some sort of defeater for it. Show me one thing we can conceive of that isn't possible.

I would further argue that Brennon can't actually conceive of a mind without a body, because he can't explain how that mind would exist.

It doesn't matter if I can explain how to be able to conceive of something. That's ridiculous. It's possible that life came into existence at some point, and I can conceive of it. I can conceive of several different scenarios even. But I'm not sure how exactly it happened. Same with all sorts of different things. Your silly view would destroy any sort of scientific hypothesis, which depends on conceiving of different things that are possible. Do you not think these things through before you spew them?

Furthermore, I could say that I can explain how the mind would exist without my body in one way, namely it could exist in another body. See Kafka's Metamorphosis.

I can say I can conceive of a sun without matter, but I can't really.

That's because that's a silly definition destroying proposition. It'd be like saying you can conceive of a married bachelor. There are logical incoherencies about those propositions. There's nothing incoherent about speaking of a bodyless mind.

If you want to overcome the question begging, you need to explain how anything can exist without a physical component

This argument has already failed miserably. Immaterial things, like propositions and numbers and concepts, clearly exist and aren't material.

Needless to say, you conveniently ignored all the things I refuted and brought this single issue to a new post because you think you got me on something,

I've responded to all of your "points."

Zilch,

I understood too, and I agree. Treating "existence" as a property is the problem with Anselm's Ontological Argument as well.

Other ontological arguments, even Anselm's later ones, don't treat existence as a property, and neither does this one.

bossmanham said...

SR, earlier you say,

you leap from possibly having a property to actually having a property

No, the entire thing that we observe about the mind is that *possibly, it could exist without the body*. It is possible that the mind can exist without the body, and therefore, since the body lacks that possibility, it shows that they aren't the same thing.

The argument follows by universal instantiation and modus tollens.

Godlessons said...

The fact you thought it did to begin with shows you are not properly equipped to even comment on the subject.

Axiom (CD) says that necessarily possibly p implies possibly necessary p, therefore, more precisely, possibly p implies necessarily p.

Who is not mentally equipped?

By the way, you can find that axiom in the Stanford link you posted earlier, although it only shows there that possibly p implies necessarily p. The book I posted earlier explains why.

So, here's one thing you have failed to address although I have restated it multiple times. You just assert I am wrong by fiat.

It doesn't matter if I can explain how to be able to conceive of something. That's ridiculous.

It absolutely does in this case. As far as anyone can tell, the mind is the the information processes of the brain. 100% of the evidence points to this being true. That would make the brain an integral part of the definition of the mind.

So, saying that a mind can exist without a brain is exactly like saying that the information processes of the brain can exist without the brain, or that watching a movie can exist without a movie.

Certainly watching a movie isn't identical to the movie, but it is certainly reliant on a movie to exist.

You are using clever wording to fool the credulous into thinking that it's somehow proof or evidence that what you are saying is true. when in reality, it's a smoke screen for an incoherent idea.

Without a showing of how what I have just said is wrong, your concept of a mind without a brain is incoherent.

So, here is another point where you have intentionally avoided addressing the problem.

Furthermore, I could say that I can explain how the mind would exist without my body in one way, namely it could exist in another body. See Kafka's Metamorphosis.

That still requires a brain. Of course a process of the brain can happen in another brain. It can't happen without a brain or a brain surrogate though, which would also be physical, which was my point.

This is an apparent attempt to answer, but it doesn't show how a mind can exist without a physical component, which was what I actually asked him to demonstrate.

This argument has already failed miserably. Immaterial things, like propositions and numbers and concepts, clearly exist and aren't material.

As I have shown earlier, they exist only inside minds, which are a physical component.

Again, there has been no showing that concepts exist outside the mind that conceives them, which would be evidence.

Other ontological arguments, even Anselm's later ones, don't treat existence as a property, and neither does this one.

You said, "possibly my mind has the property of existing outside my body."

"Outside my body" is obviously descriptive of the mind, since outside the body is a position and doesn't actually exist on its own. This can therefore be rewritten as:

"Possibly, my mind has the property of existing."

In order for a mind to have any property, it must first exist. (Kant Id.)

Again, he is merely asserting that he is not using a logically unsound argument when it is obviously there.

Again, you have not actually addressed any of these problems. You haven't even come close to trying to address most of them, and you merely assert without evidence or even argument for that matter, that you are correct.

How about actually trying to address the issues instead of trying to avoid answering or trying to obfuscate the fact that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

SR, earlier you say,

you leap from possibly having a property to actually having a property

No, the entire thing that we observe about the mind is that *possibly, it could exist without the body*. It is possible that the mind can exist without the body, and therefore, since the body lacks that possibility, it shows that they aren't the same thing.

The argument follows by universal instantiation and modus tollens.


Did I, or did in not, SPECIFICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE that the mind and the body are not the same? I believe the words I used were "no kidding."


If you can conceive of something, then unless there are defeaters to the thing you are conceiving of, it is possible. You need to show that it is not possible for the mind to exist without the body. I have already given multiple reasons to accept that premise. All that premise is saying is that it is possible. This is not assuming anything beyond that.

::The only "support" offered has been that he can conceive of a mind without a body. This by no means shows it is possible::

Sure it does, unless there is some sort of defeater for it. Show me one thing we can conceive of that isn't possible.


You could possibly be more fractally wrong. You are committing such a blatant equivocation fallacy I'm tempted to come to the conclusion you're being actually dishonest.

"Possible" has two separate meanings and you are treating both of them as the same.

Going back to your #2, you say "Possibly, my mind can exist without my body." Under modal logic what that means is the statement "My mind can exist without my body" is "possibly true", that is to say, maybe.

Then later you go on about "Show me one thing we can conceive of that isn't possible" and "You need to show that it is not possible for the mind to exist without the body," as though just because you can imagine something then yes, it has that possibility, and you have now equivocated the word possibility with the word "capability." You're no longer talking about the possible truth value of a statement. And you're shifting the burden of proof--itself intellectually dishonest--even though the only actual support you've offered for dualism is your own imagination and crackpot NDE stories full of fantasies entirely drawn from the religious and cultural backgrounds of those who have them.

"Plus there's personal testimonies of those who have NDE's, and after recovering, recall events that they could have no knowledge of unless they left their bodies.

Citation needed. Every account of of NDE I've ever seen is entirely consistent with them being nothing but hallucinations.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

Now, if you were to say that it is impossible for the mind to exist without the body, the burden of proof is on you to show some sort of strong evidence for this. I don't think there is any, as I've already addressed the supposed scientific evidence that points out the correlation of mind states and bodily states.

I don't think you addressed it so much as dismissed it out of hand. "The mind uses the brain to operate the body, so obviously there would be correlations," you said. That doesn't address anything. Someone who has frontal lobe damage isn't trapped behind their eyes, railing against behaviors they can no longer control. Their inner life is changed. Their thoughts are changed. Their "mind" is altered.

You have no explanation for how this supposedly disembodied mind uses the brain to control the body. How does it interface with neurons? How does it carry memory? How does it regulate its emotions? Scientists have predicted with quite good accuracy (and this should be relevant to you) how closely a mother will hold her infant, how often she will check on it during the night, the amount of time she will spend gazing at it, all by measuring levels of neurotransmitters. Does a mother's "mind" hover inside her skull, saying "a little more oxytocin there, I think"?

Your explanation also doesn't address the deficits of those born with brain impairment. Mental retardation, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Down's Syndrome. One of my relatives has Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is all of the above rolled into one.

How smart will she be once she has shuffled off this mortal coil, with its 63 IQ brain?

What will her personality be, never having read a novel, fallen in love, fought for something she believes in?

What will her interests be when she is no longer compelled to sort and resort playing cards for hours, when Spongebob and Dora no longer hold her attention?

What will her desires be when she is no longer driven to eat and eat until it literally kills her?

You have no answers to these other than your own intuitive sense of cognition and a little doggerel "logic." The simplest explanation that fits the facts isn't necessarily always correct, but it would be nice for an explanation to fit *any* of the facts if we want to consider that it is, in a word, possible.

bossmanham said...

"Possible" has two separate meanings and you are treating both of them as the same.

No, "possible" means the same thing here.

Under modal logic what that means is the statement "My mind can exist without my body" is "possibly true", that is to say, maybe.

I love it when you talk like you know what you're talking about, but then all I see is blatant ignorance. Possibly doesn't mean maybe here. It means it is actually capable of happening that my mind could exist without my body. Similarly, if we can conceive of something, it is capable of happening.

All one is saying is that it is not impossible. That doesn't decide the reality of the proposition, but is saying that it is not not capable of happening.

And you're shifting the burden of proof--itself intellectually dishonest

Shifting the burden of proof when appropriate isn't dishonest. Acting like you know what you're talking about is.

Citation needed. Every account of of NDE I've ever seen is entirely consistent with them being nothing but hallucinations.

Here

"The mind uses the brain to operate the body, so obviously there would be correlations," you said. That doesn't address anything. Someone who has frontal lobe damage isn't trapped behind their eyes, railing against behaviors they can no longer control. Their inner life is changed. Their thoughts are changed. Their "mind" is altered.

1) How would you know this? You can't access a person's mind except through their body. Only they have direct access to their mind. 2) I never claimed that the operation of the mind isn't affected by a damaged brain. I think it clearly is; I've been drunk before.

You have no explanation for how this supposedly disembodied mind uses the brain to control the body.

Why should I need one to know that it's the way it is? Just because you can't explain something doesn't mean it isn't the truth.

Brain states correlate with the mind quite closely. There seems to be an extremely close connection between the two. THat doesn't prove anything, and is certainly not a rational reason to make the logical leap to reductive physicalism.

Your explanation also doesn't address the deficits of those born with brain impairment

And there's a very good reason for that; it's not relevant insofar as defeating my position or proving yours. All it shows is that a damaged brain affects physical behavior, which would show a correlation. My position explains this quite well.

Emotion aside (I have a mentally retarded aunt, by the way. She believes in Jesus and will go to be with Him one day, where the last will be first) none of this does anything to refute dualism at all, nor the argument provided in support of it.