Issues for Dualism

Issues for Dualism

Interaction Problem

  • Dualism posits that the mind and body, as separate entities, impact each other. Critics argue that this interaction lacks concrete explanation.
  • The interaction problem is famously raised by Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia in correspondence with philosopher René Descartes. She asks him to explain how an immaterial mind can cause physical movements in the body.
  • Critics question how something non-physical (mind/consciousness) can interact with the physical (brain/body). They argue that this interaction would defy the fundamental scientific law of conversation of energy.

Problem of Other Minds

  • Prevalent in discussing both forms of dualism, Substance Dualism and Property Dualism, is the problem of other minds.
  • This problem concerns how one can confirm the existence of minds in others, as one can only directly experience one’s own consciousness.
  • Critics argue that with dualism, there is no objective measure or observable behaviour that can establish the presence of a mind in another individual.

Incompatibility with Science

  • Dualism appears to defy our scientific understanding of the world, leading to substantial challenges.
  • Modern neuroscientific research consistently identifies causal relationships between physical brain states and mental experiences. This presents a struggle for dualism to stay relevant.
  • Dualism has difficulty explaining phenomena such as the ability of drugs and injuries to affect a person’s mind, which can be explained through physicalism.

Unity of Identity

  • Critics argue that dualism cannot adequately explain the observed unity of identity over time.
  • Changes in the physical body over time do not seem to impact the continuous sense of self, suggesting that the mind and body share substance.
  • Personal identity issues arise as the question is considered: If the mind and body are distinct, how do we remain the same person over time?

Criticism of Substance Dualism

  • Critics argue that Substance Dualism posits two fundamentally different substances that exist which contradicts Occam’s razor, a principle advocating for the simplest explanation.
  • Critics raise the question: why just two types of substance and not more?

Criticism of Property Dualism

  • An issue for Property Dualism arises when considering how and why certain arrangements of matter (brain tissue) would give rise to consciousness.
  • Critics question at what point in the evolutionary process these mental properties emerged.