Property Dualism

Introduction to Property Dualism

  • Property Dualism is a subset of the dualistic philosophy of mind.
  • It asserts that while there is only one kind of substance (material), there are two types of properties: physical and mental properties.
  • This opposes the monist view that all aspects of our existence can be reduced to one realm (typically physical).

Development of Property Dualism

  • This form of dualism developed as a response to the problem of consciousness presented in Materialism and Physicalism.
  • Renowned philosopher, David Chalmers, is most notable for developing this philosophy into the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness.
  • It often comes hand-in-hand with epiphenomenalism, the view that mental events are caused by physical events but have no effects upon physical entities.

Emergent Property Dualism

  • This variant of property dualism sees mental states as high-level properties of brain states.
  • Mental states are said to ‘emerge’ from complex interactions of physical entities.
  • ‘Emergence’ here does not mean that these properties are simply combinations of physical properties, but rather something fundamentally new and irreducible.

Non-reductive Physicalism

  • Another variant of property dualism, upholding that while mental states are physical in their nature, they are not reducible to physical descriptions.
  • This view was proposed by Donald Davidson in his theory of Anomalous Monism, claiming mental events are identical to physical events, yet the mental is anomalous with the physical.

Challenges to Property Dualism

  • Objections to Property Dualism usually involve questioning the concept of non-reductive causation.
  • Critics include Jaegwon Kim, who argues that mental properties are in fact reducible to physical properties.
  • Others suggest that Property Dualism results in a mysterious world view that leaves many questions unanswered, such as the nature and mechanisms of emergence.