Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 16, No 2 (2020)

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Mentality and Object: Computational and Cognitive Diachronic Emergence

Ekin Erkan


Espousing non-reductive physicalism, how do we pick out the specific relevant physical notion(s) from physical facts, specifically in relation to phenomenal experience? Beginning with a historical review of Gilbert Ryle's behaviorism and moving through Hilary Putnam's machine-state functionalism and Wilfrid Sellars' inferential framework, up to more contemporaneous computationalist- and cognitivist-functionalism (Gualtiero Piccinini), we survey accounts of mentality that countenance the emergence of mental states vide input- and output-scheme. Ultimately arriving at the conclusion that functionalism cannot account for problems such as no-cognition reports, we see any robust defense of physicalism must appeal to other principles. Thus we move on to the question of emergence, not as it pertains to the hard(er) problem, but to the matter of conceptual externalization of mental properties from physical properties. Accordingly, we navigate Karen Bennett's compatibilist solution to the exclusion argument against mental causation for the non-reductive physicalist position, according to which the physical effects of mental cases are not overdetermined, demonstrating that this backfires by offering a path for the mind-body interactionist Dualist to claim causal closure by appealing to this same schema. We conclude with a series of conceptual musings regarding rationality which take into account our challenges and findings, querying about whether phenomenal consciousness is a fundamentally private, or socially configured, notion.


Full Text: PDF