Monday, May 03, 2010

Philosophical Materialism Is Waning

(The Mackinac Bridge)

Yayyy! - I just received my copy of The Waning of Materialism, ed. by U of Texas philosopher Robert Koons and Yale philosopher George Bealer (KB). It's a collection of essays by 23 philosophers who find materialism wanting.

In the Introduction KB explain that, while materialism will not be eclipsed, it is decreasing, at least among philosophers. Admittedly, "there is good reason to think that materialism is a perennial fixture of philosophy." (ix) But there is "an ever-growing number of major philosophers who reject materialism, or at least have strong sympathies with anti-materialist views." (Ib.) Like who? Like...

Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, Alonzo Church, Kurt Godel, Nelson Goodman, Paul Grice, Stuart Hampshire, Roderick Chisholm, Benson Mates, Peter Strawson, Hilary Putnam, John Searle, Jerrold Katz, Alvin Plantinga, Charles Parsons, Jaegwon Kim, George Myro, Thomas Nagel, Robert Adams, Hugh Mellor, Saul Kripke, Eli Hirsch, Ernest Sosa, Stephen Schiffer, Bas van Fraasen, John McDowell, Peter Unger, Derek Parfit, Crispin Wright, Laurence Bonjour, Michael Jubien, Nancy Cartwright, Bob Hale, Kit Fine, Tyler Burge, Terence Horgan, Colin McGinn, Robert Brandom, Nathan Salmon, Joseph Levine, Timothy Williamson, Mark Johnston, Paul Boghossian, Stephen Yablo, Joseph Almog, Keith DeRose, Tim Crane, John Hawthorne, Richard Heck, & David Chalmers. (Ib.)

KB say that all the living philosophers listed above (underlined/linked) "have given explicit permission to include them on the list." (Ib., fn. 1)

KB define "materialism" in relation to philosophy of mind studies. "Specifically, materialism is a certain view, or family of views, on the Mind-Body Problem, which concerns the ontological status of, and fundamental metaphysical relationship between, the mental and the physical... Throughout most of the history of philosophy, materialism took the form of what today we call the Identity Theory, according to which mental properties are identical to internal bodily properties, whether they be the properties associated with Democritean atoms, Hobbesian motions in the body or, in our period, electrochemical interactions at the neurological level." (Ib., x)

(KB realize the addition of Russell may seem odd. They write: "Russell espoused, at different times, phenomenalism and robust neutral monism, each of which is antithetical to Reductive Materialism and also to the thesis that physical properties are metaphysically prior to - and hence are a supervenience base for - mental properties." {ix-x, fn. 1})