Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Disputed term/author/ism Author
Entry
Reference
Epiphenomenalism Chalmers I 150
Epiphenomenalism/Consciousness/Chalmers: Question: when consciousness only supervenes naturally (but not logically) on the physical, there is apparently no causality involved. Then consciousness would only be a side effect and would not exist at all. (Huxley (1874) (1)) argues thus.
>Supervenience, >Consciousness/Chalmers.
ChalmersVs: the causal unity of our physical world looks only like epiphenomenalism.
I 151
VsEpiphenomenalism/Chalmers: a strategy against it would be to deny the causal unity of the physical world. We should not do that. There are better ways that assume more appropriate assumptions of metaphysics and causation. 1. Regularity-Based Causation/Chalmers: Instead of causality, we could assume regularity with Hume. Then one could argue that the behavior itself would have been the same without phenomenological consciousness.
>Regularity, >Consciousness, >Behavior, >Causation.
ChalmersVs: there are many systematic regularities between conscious experiences and later physical events, each of which leads us to conclude a causal link.
>Causality.
I 152
2. Causal overdetermination: one might assume that a physical and a phenomenal state, although completely separated, might cause a later physical state. Problem: causal redundancy. Solution: Tooley (1987) (2): we could assume an irreducible causal connection between two physical and one separate irreducible causal connection between a phenomenal and a physical state. This is a non-reducible view of causation.
>Reducibility, >Irreducibility.
ChalmersVsTooley: it is not easy to show that there is something wrong with it. I do not pursue this, but it has to be taken seriously.
3. Non-supervenience of the causation: facts about consciousness and those about causation are the only facts which do not logically supervene on certain physical facts.
Chalmers: it is quite natural to speculate as to whether these two kinds of non-supervenience have a common root.
Rosenberg: (1966) (3) has developed this. Rosenberg Thesis: Experience recognizes causation or some aspects of it. After that, causation needs recognition by someone or something.
ChalmersVsRosenberg: this is, of course, very speculative, and leads among other things to panpsychism.
>Panpsychism, >Aspects.
I 153
In addition, the zombie problem would persist. >Zombies.
4. The intrinsic nature of the physical: thesis: a physical theory characterizes above all the relations of its entities, i.e. its propensities to interact with other elements.
>Propensity, >Intrinsic.
Problem: what is it that causes all these relations of causation and combinations? Russell (1927) (4): This is what the physical theory is silent about.
Solution: to adopt an intrinsic nature of the physical elements.
Chalmers: the only class of such intrinsic properties would be the class of phenomenal properties.
>Phenomena.
I 154
There must be no panpsychism following from this. Instead, we can assume proto-phanomenal properties. >Proto-phanomenal.
I 159
VsEpiphenomenalism/Chalmers: Arguments against it fall into three classes: 1. Those which concern the relations of experience to normal behavior,
2. Those which concern the relations of experience to judgments about normal behavior,
3. Those which concern the overall picture of the world, which provokes the acceptance of epiphenomenalism.
Ad 1. VsEpiphenomenalism: For example, the intuitions about why I withdraw my hand from a flame are strong, on the other hand, we can clarify these intuitions by assuming regularities. We simply perceive experiences more directly than the corresponding brain states.
Ad 2. VsEpiphenomenalism: It seems to be extremely counterintuitive that our experiences could be irrelevant to the explanation of our behavior.
>Behavior, >Explanation, >Experience, cf. >Subjectivity.
I 160
Ad. 3. VsEpiphenomenalism: the image of the world which is drawn by it is implausible because there should be nomological appendages which are not integrated into the system of other natural laws. Epiphenomenalism/Chalmers: I do not describe my own position as epiphenomenalism. The question of the causal relevance of experience remains unanswered.
>Relevance.


1. T. Huxley, On the hypothesis that animals are automata. In: Collected Essays, London 1987, pp. 1893-94.
2. M. Tooley, Causation: A Realist Approach, Oxford 1987
3. G. H. Rosenberg, Consciousness and causation: Clues toward a double-aspect theory, Ms Indiana Universwity, 1996.
4. B. Russell, The Analysis of Matter, London 1927

Cha I
D. Chalmers
The Conscious Mind Oxford New York 1996

Cha II
D. Chalmers
Constructing the World Oxford 2014

Self Rosenberg Upton I 114
Self/Method/Rosenberg/Upton: Arguably one of the most important studies of the development of sense of self was carried out by Rosenberg (1979)(1). He conducted open-ended interviews with individual children to find out about their self-perceptions. He interviewed a sample of 8—18 year olds about various aspects of their sense of self.
Upton I 115
1. find a way of sorting the children’s replies into meaningful categories 2. search for patterns in the kinds of replies that were given by particular age groups.
Categories:
A. Physical:
- objective facts — e.g. ‘1 am eight years old’; overt achievements — e.g. ‘I can swim 25 metres’;
-manifested preferences — e.g. ‘I like milk’;
- possessions — e.g. ‘I’ve got a blue bike’;
- physical attributes — e.g. ‘I’ve got brown hair and blue eyes’;
- membership categories — e.g. ‘I am a girl’.
B. Character:
- qualities of character — e.g. ‘I am a brave person and I think that I am honest;
- emotional characteristics — e.g. ‘I am generally happy and cheerful’;
- emotional control— e.g. I don’t get into fights’, I lose my temper easily’.
C. Relationships:
- interpersonal traits — e.g. i am friendly and sociable’, i am shy and retiring’;
- relationship to others — e.g. ‘I am well liked by other children’, 4Other people find me difficult to get on with’.
D. Inner: Inner: descriptions of self that refer to an individual’s more private inner world of emotions, attitudes, wishes, beliefs and secrets, such as self-knowledge.
Results: Rosenberg (1979)(1) found that the majority of the descriptions given by younger children were about physical activity and physical characteristics. The older children were more likely to use character traits to define the self. Rosenberg also found increasing reference to relationships.
Upton I 116
The oldest children (those aged around 18 years of age) made far more use of inner qualities, knowledge of which was only available to the individual. These descriptions were concerned with their emotions, attitudes, motivations, wishes and secrets. Rosenberg also found that older children are much more likely to refer to self-control when describing themselves, for example ‘I don’t show my feelings’. >Self-description, >Self-knowledge, >Self-awareness.
Upton I 117
VsRosenberg/Problems/Upton: 1) This was a cross-sectional study, so while differences may well have been observed in terms of the self-descriptions given by children at different ages, it is difficult to be absolutely certain that these differences reflect developmental change — only a longitudinal study could really confirm this interpretation.
2) Even if these changing descriptions do reflect a developmental change, how can we be sure that the developmental change is actually about understanding of self?


1. Rosenberg, M (1979) Conceiving the Self. New York: Basic Books.


Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011
Self-Description Developmental Psychology Upton I 114
Self-Description/Developmental psychology/Upton: lt has been suggested that sense of self follows a set developmental sequence in which younger children define themselves in terms of concrete characteristics, while adolescents increasingly come to define themselves in terms of more abstract inner or psychological characteristics. This idea is based primarily on research that has shown that children’s self-descriptions change with age from observable and physical descriptions such as ‘I am tall’ to more psychological traits such as ‘I am friendly’ as, for example, in the classic study carried out by Rosenberg (1979)(1). It has been suggested that this developmental trend reflects children’s growing ability to distinguish themselves psychologically from others as they get older (Bannister and Agnew, 1977(2); Leavitt and Hall, 2004(3)). >Self/Rosenberg.
Upton I 117
Problems/VsRosenberg: 1.[Rosenberg’s study] was a cross-sectional study, so while differences may well have been observed in terms of the self-descriptions given by children at different ages, it is difficult to be absolutely certain that these differences reflect developmental change - only a longitudinal study could really confirm this interpretation. 2. Even if these changing descriptions do reflect a developmental change, how can we be sure that the developmental change is actually about understanding of self? Self-descriptions necessarily rely on linguistic ability — perhaps the developmental change that is reflected is in terms of increasing sophistication in language ability. It is quite possible that verbal language skills limited the younger children’s ability to communicate their knowledge of self.
>Self-knowledge, >Self-consciousness, >Language acquisition, >Language development, >Stages of development.

1. Rosenberg, M (1979) Conceiving the Self. New York: Basic Books.
2. Bannister. D and Agnew, 1(1977) The child’s construing of self, in Cole, JK (ed.) Nebraska
Symposium on Motivation 1976. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska.
3. Leavitt, LA and Hall, D (2004 Social and Moral Development: Emerging evidence on the toddler years. Princeton, NJ: Johnson and Johnson Pediatric Institute.


Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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