Monday, January 18, 2010

William G. Lycan: Is Property Dualism Better Off than Substance Dualism?

William G. Lycan: Is Property Dualism Better Off than Substance Dualism?

During the last quarter-century, mind-body dualism has been doing surprisingly well: Campbell (1984), Swinburne (1986), Madell (1988), Robinson (1988, 2004), Hart (1988), Foster (1991), Seager (1991), Strawson (1994), Chalmers (1995), Taliaferro (1996), Bealer (1997), Stubenberg (1998), Griffin (1998), Hasker (1999), Rosenberg (2004), and others. But, with the notable exceptions of Swinburne, Hart and Foster, these dualists are merely property dualists rather than Cartesian substance dualists. They hold that some of our mental states have immaterial properties, but not that we ourselves are immaterial Cartesian souls entirely distinct from our bodies. The prevalent idea is that property dualism is tenable (or even demonstrated), but we are not crazy. I reject this disparity. I think that most of the standard objections to Cartesian dualism (CD) count as effectively against property dualism (PD), and that PD is hardly more plausible, or less implausible, than CD. Granted, assuming that a Cartesian ego would eo ipso have some immaterial mental properties, you might suppose that CD is logically stronger than PD; so one would need a reason for accepting CD over and above PD, and there must be at least one objection that applies to CD but not to PD. However, as we shall see, nonCartesian property dualism (PD & ~CD) faces at least two objections that CD does not.