Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Argument from Truth in Augustine

This is from Katherin Rogers' website. She is at the University of Delaware.

Proof from Truth: Summary
1. You know you exist.  (Si fallor, sum)
2. You know you also live and think. (To know 1 you'd have to.)
3. Your reason is superior to mere existence or existence and life.
A. It contains the other two.  (Existence is good, the more being a thing has, the more there is to it, the better it is.  Corollaries: The Great Chain of Being, The Principle of Plenitude.)
B. Reason judges other aspects of cognitive apparatus.
4. Therefore reason is the "highest" thing in our world.
5. Something would be God if it were...
A. really existent
B. not part of physical world
C. eternal and immutable
D. superior to reason
6. There is something like that, Truth i.e. Numbers and Wisdom
A. We all "see" it.
B. Clearly not part of physical world (We know it will be the case tomorrow, Idea of unity, mathematical rules that hold for infinite number system....)
C. Recognize don't change over time
D. Reason must conform to it, not vice versa.
7. And this Truth is the SOURCE of our world.
A. To exist must have form
B. Form depends on number.
C. A thing cannot form itself.

Therefore: God

Friday, April 29, 2011

Angus Menuge develops Puddleglum's argument a different way

A redated post.

In Bassham and Walls ed. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy (Open Court, 2005), Angus Menuge finds an implicit argument against materialism that is not pragmatic in nature. In "Why Eustace Almost Deserved His Name: Lewis's Critique of Modern Secularism" he writes:

The argument is left rather implicit, but Lewis is clearly attacking the intelligibility of the debunkers' claim that our ideas of "higher" things can derive from "lower" sources. How can the idea of something great derive from something lacking that greatness? Could the idea of eternity arise from the materialist's temporal world? Could the ideas of infinity and perfection derive from the finite, imperfect world of the secularist? Could the idea of a necessary being like God derive from the secularist's contingent universe? There is a good case to be made that material causes do not account for the content of those ideas. pp. 202-203.

This is reminiscent of an argument found in Descartes' Meditations.

See also this discussion.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Interview with Tim McGrew

On undesigned coincidences.

What Lewis means by "supernatural"

A redated post.

To call the act of knowing--the act, not of remembering that something was so in the past, but of 'seeing' that it must be so always and in any possible world--to call this act 'supernatural', is some violence to our ordinary linguistic usage. But of course we do not mean by this that it is spooky, or sensational, or even (in any religious sense) 'spiritual'. We mean only that it 'won't fit in'; that such an act, to be what it claims to be--and if it is not, all our thinking is discredited--cannot be merely the exhibition at a particular place and time of that total, and largely mindless, system of events called 'Nature'. It must break sufficiently free from that universal chain in order to be determined by what it knows.

From Miracles, Chapter 3.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hylemorphic Dualism

An essay by David Oderberg.

Universalism amongst the early church fathers

If this is correct, universalism was, if anything, more prevalent than the doctrine of everlasting torment in the Patristic era.

Tom Talbott on the Outsider Test for Faith

Thomas Talbott has written a detailed critique of the Outsider Test for faith. I've been long convinced that the discussion of the OTF needs to move out of the blogosphere and into the realm of peer-reviewed journals. If Tom can be prevailed upon to submit this paper to such a journal, hopefully this can begin. It is the first essay on his list of "other writings."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Would Lewis have supported ID?

Michael Peterson argues that he would not.

No Argument for God

Tom Gilson reviews a book by a Christian youth pastor proudly proclaiming that there is no argument for God. Don't tell Loftus this book is out there.

Obama and the Democrats: Too Far to the Right?

While right-wingers think of Obama as a Leftist, Taner Edis of the Secular Outpost think he, and the Democrats, are way too far right.

Sometimes, you can't please anybody.

C. S.Lewis on the AFR and the Scientific Juggernaut

The link is to an article by Jim Slagle in Quodlibeta. 

The picture so often painted of Christians huddling together on an ever narrower strip of beach while the incoming tide of "Science" mounts higher and higher corresponds to nothing in my own experience. That grand myth which I asked you to admire a few minutes ago is not for me a hostile novelty breaking in on my traditional beliefs. On the contrary, that cosmology is what I started from. Deepening distrust and final abandonment of it long preceded my conversion to Christianity. Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it; it is the one we touched on a fortnight ago. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory -- in other words, unless Reason is an absolute -- all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Arizona Birth Certificate Bill is Not about Obama

From a news report. 
On Thursday night Arizona’s birther bill passed through the House with a handy 40-16 margin. It was the final hurdle for the bill, which will require any presidential or vice presidential candidate to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship before they can be put on the state ballot.
Among the acceptable documents are a “long-form birth certificate,” an early baptismal or circumcision certificate, hospital birth record, early census record or a postpartum hospital record given to the mother, Politico reported.

“This bill is not about Obama. It’s not about that,” Arizona Rep. Carl Seel insisted to CNN. “It’s about future elections and maintaining the integrity of the Constitution.”

Yeah, right. If you'll buy that, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona. Anyway, Gov. Brewer had the good sense to veto it. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parsons on Mental Causation

The Secular Outpost: The Problem with Metaphysical Naturalism (According to Victor Reppert)

First, I do share Parsons' concern about getting definitions right. When I deal with a naturalistic view, I offer an account of what that is supposed to have in it, which includes the mechanistic character of the base level, the causal closure of the base level, and the superveniece of everything else on the base level. By mechanism I mean that we are excluding from that base level four properties: intentionality, purpose, first-person subjectivity, and normativity. Now someone might come along and say that they have a view that doesn't fit these characteristics but is still naturalistic in some sense, in which case we'd have to look at their theory to see in what sense they're calling it naturalistic and whether I think a version of the AFR can be advanced against it. Here, I am going to assume that Parsons agrees with this account, and move forward. 

Looking at this post, it seems to me that there are a couple of issues that we have to be careful about conflating. One of them is the claim that some version of nonreductive materialism can meet the argument from reason. In the combox, you get some discussion of that, and some responses to some exchanges with Clayton Littlejohn. However, the impression that I have had in discussion with Clayton is that he believes that mental events qua mental events do cause other mental states and physical states. Troubles with mental causation have been the focus of some of Jaegwon Kim's criticisms of nonreductive materialism, in particular the nonreductivism of Donald Davidson. Kim writes:

Davidson's anomalous monism fails to do full justice to psychophysical causation in which the mental qua mental has any real causal role to play. Consider Davidson's account: whether or not a given event has a mental description (optional reading: whether or not it has a mental characteristic) seems entirely irrelevant to what causal relations it enters into. Its causal powers are wholly determined by the physical description or characteristic that holds for it; for it is under its physical description that it may be subsumed under a causal law.

Jaegwon Kim, "Epiphenomenal and Supervenient Causation" ch. 6 of Supervenience and Mind, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 106.

Now, of course, there can be a debate as to whether a case cam be made for mental causation in a non-reductive materialist framework. I think it can't. It's not that I don't think higher-level properties can be causally relevant. They can be if the are configurational combinations of physical states. If a bowling ball knocks all the pins down, this is perfectly possible even though basic physics makes no reference to bowling balls and pins. However, I take it if you add up the physical states and know what words mean, you can't avoid the conclusion that the bowling ball knocked down the pins. What I don't see is how you can add up non-normative states and get normative states, how you can add up non-intentional states and get intentional states, how you can add up non-first-person states and get first-person states, or how you can add up non-purposive states and get purposive states.

Science always prefers the most tractable accounts it can get. Scientists are happy when they can analyze the movement of a bullet through space, and determine what kind of impact it would have to make given the speed at which it was traveling. But there is another type of explanation that we might be interested in with respect to the bullet. It was fired by someone who had some intention with respect to what he wanted the bullet to do. Perhaps, he fired the bullet to kill his mother-in-law, whom he believes to be the worst person he knows. That is an agent-explanation, and as such is less tractable to science than a ballistic explanation. However, it isn't a total mystery; we can understand the person's motivations, and perhaps not find the action totally unexpected. After all, we are talking about the motivations of a fellow human. Now, as action might be the action of a superior being of some kind, and there it is even less tractable. Still, I would not want to call it a pseudo-explanation, because we can have some understanding of a superior mind, even the mind of God.

But it is a natural impulse in science to want to analyze the world in as tractable terms as possible, and hence we can understand why materialism is appealing from the point of view of science. However, at the same time, science described the activity of scientists in mentalistic terms. Scientists gather evidence, they form hypotheses, they perform logical and mathematical inferences, etc. It would indeed undermine the scientific enterprise if these mentalistic explanations of the behavior of scientists were simply untrue. Few people would be materialists if it weren't appealing from a scientific standpoint, but if mentalistic explanations are all false, then there are no scientists, and therefore no science. So, some kind of explanatory compatibility thesis must be defended by materialists. Scientists are, in the last analysis physical beings whose actions can be fully explained at the physical level as part of a closed mechanistic system, and their rationality, such as it is, must be some supervening property that emerges through evolution in a materialist world.

Parsons' strategy for establishing explanatory compatibility is essentially the same as the one Elizabeth Anscombe, (not a naturalist herself, but surely the most famous critic of C. S. Lewis's AFR). The mentalistic explanations we need in order for science to be science are compatible with materialism because those explanations aren't causal explanations, while those offered by physics are causal explanations.

Now Parsons, like Anscombe, points out that there are compatible explanations. Of course there are. For example, if we ask why the soda-can is sitting on the bookshelf, I might say "Because I put it there yesterday, since I am planning on recycling it," or "because it has a cylindrical shape, and is sitting on its base." But there are, certainly, incompatible explanations. Otherwise, there would be no hope that scientific explanations could ever supplant religious explanations.

Parsons tries to establish the explanatory compatibility as follows, using as an example Sam's acceptance of Krugman's arguments that the Ryan budget is a recipe for disaster. 

When we say that Sam was convinced by Krugman’s arguments it seems to me perverse to attribute some very (I think in-principally) mysterious kind of causal power to the sense or propositional content of Krugman’s arguments. Attributing causal powers to Fregean Sinn (meaning), if this is what Victor wants to assert, just seems to me a straightforward category mistake. It is like saying that the set of all integers broke the deadlock between NFL players and owners. No, to say that Sam was convinced by Krugman’s arguments means that Sam considered Krugman’s claims, examined the supporting reasons, weighed them in the light of prior knowledge and norms of good reasoning, and judged that these were persuasive. However, considering Krugman’s claims, examining the supporting arguments, evaluating them, and judging them to be persuasive are things that Sam does with his brain, and happenings in Sam’s brain, being physical events, can cause things. 

Well, if Sam's considering and accepting Krugman's arguments is a brain process, it looks like we are going to end up attributing properties to Sam's brain that are going to violate the causal closure of the physical. If Sam finds Krugman's arguments persuasive, one of the things he has to be persuaded by is the logical connection between the Krugman's premises and his conclusions. To be aware of something is to be causally influenced by it. So, yes, my awareness of a stop sign causes me to stop, not the stop sign itself. If I don't see the sign, I'll barrel right through. But, the stop sign has to cause my awareness of the stop sign. And if the physical is causally closed, then everything that I am aware of has to be also physical, and by physical I take it we mean that it has a particular location in space and time. A logical relationship has no particular location in space and time, and so if I am aware of a logical relationship, and that logical relationship affects my brain, then the causal closure of the physical has been violated, because something that has no particular location in space and time is bringing it about that I think certain things.

If I am aware that the cat is on the mat, then there is a causal connection between the cat and my brain, which occurs within space and time. If I am aware of the fact that, if a=b, and b=c and a=c, then in order for this awareness to be fitted within the framework of a causally closed physical order, that truth has to have a particular location in space and time. But it has not particular location in space and time, so, if the physical is closed, I can't be aware of it.

Explanations have ontological commitments. If I explain the existence of presents under the Christmas tree by saying that Santa put them there, then I commit myself to the existence of Santa. If I say I believe something because I perceive a logical relationship, that means that there are logical relationships. But where is this logical relationship for me to be aware of?

I don't see that you really resolve the problem naturalism has with rational inference by denying the causal character of these explanations.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gilbert Meilaender reviews Nagel's The Last Word

A redated post.

I believe that Thomas Nagel's The Last Word is really a defense of the Argument from Reason that stops short of offering theism as the conclusion. Nevertheless it does attack naturalism as we know it. The is Lewis scholar Meilaender's review of Nagel's book.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From a Faith and Philosophy review of Soul, Body, and Survival: Essays on the Metaphysics of Human Persons ed. Kevin Corcoran

Jaegwon Kim’s essay “Lonely Souls: Causality and Substance Dualism” comes from a philosopher who operates out of the physicalist tradition. Unlike some in that tradition, however, he has been very serious about pressing difficulties for otherwise popular forms of physicalism in the area of mental causation. In this paper he presents some problems for dualism in the area of mental causation. He reconsiders the familiar objection to Descartes’ dualism that dualism is untenable because we cannot see how something nonphysical can interact with something physical. As Kim points out, this is often presented with no or almost no supporting argumentation. However, Kim does supply some argumentation to put some meat on the bones of the familiar objection, by generating what he calls the pairing problem.
Kim maintains that a spatial framework is necessary for the existence of a causal relationship amongst objects. If two rifles are fired and two people are killed, what criteria would lead us to correctly pair the causes and effects? The answer, says Kim, is the spatial relationships between deadly bullets and the victims. Kim also points out that lack of a spatial relation between a suspect and the victim is often sufficient to ground an alibi in a murder case. But since souls are not spatial, spatial pairing relationships between souls and matter cannot exist. Kim considers the possibility that souls have spatial locations, but he finds some difficulties with that idea as well, but he thinks this is problematic as well. We need to locate souls at a particular point in space, and claims that it would beg the question to locate the souls in the brain. Second, he argues that to locate souls in space would require that not more than one soul could occupy a location in space, that is, something like the impenetrability of matter would have to obtain. But he asks, if this is so, “why aren’t such souls just material objects, albeit of a very special, and strange kind?” And he thinks the soul found in a geometrical point could not have a structure capable of accounting for the rich mental life that humans have. Finally, he is suspicious of any solutions to the problem dictated by “dualist commitments.” He says “We shouldn’t do philosophy by first deciding what conclusions we want to prove, and then posit convenient entities and premises to get us where we want to go.”
First of all, it needs to be made clear just what it is for something to be a material thing. The book makes it evident that the concept of “materiality” and “matter” need to be made clearer than they are. This is especially imperative for Christians who want to go as far as possible in accommodating their faith to “materialism.” Orthodox materialism is a corollary of philosophical naturalism, and is typically committed to at least this: that the physical order is causally closed, and that whatever other states exist supervene on the physical; that is, there cannot be a difference without a physical difference. But what is more, physicalism is committed to the idea that the physical order is mechanistic, that is, purposive explanations cannot be basic-level explanations at the physical level. If the material is defined in this way, then it seems to me that something could have a spatial location, and it could also possess impenetrability, and still not be material in the orthodox sense. It could still be the case that the mental is sui generis and fundamental, and one of Foster’s dualist theses would still be true.

What does PETA think of Michael Vick

What do you think they'd think?

Is there a Republican War on Science?

I'm not a Republican, but can they be accused of being anti-science? This article, referencing David Klinghoffer, suggests otherwise.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Plantinga on Dennett

This is an entertaining read.

Dennett's rejoinder to the argument is that possibly, "there has been an evolution of worlds (in the sense of whole universes) and the world we find ourselves in is simply one among countless others that have existed throughout all eternity." And given infinitely many universes, Dennett thinks, all the possible distributions of values over the cosmological constants would have been tried out; [ 7 ] as it happens, we find ourselves in one of those universes where the constants are such as to allow for the development of intelligent life (where else?). 
Well, perhaps all this is logically possible (and then again perhaps not). As a response to a probabilistic argument, however, it's pretty anemic. How would this kind of reply play in Tombstone, or Dodge City? "Waal, shore, Tex, I know it's a leetle mite suspicious that every time I deal I git four aces and a wild card, but have you considered the following? Possibly there is an infinite succession of universes, so that for any possible distribution of possible poker hands, there is a universe in which that possibility is realized; we just happen to find ourselves in one where someone like me always deals himself only aces and wild cards without ever cheating. So put up that shootin' arn and set down 'n shet yore yap, ya dumb galoot." Dennett's reply shows at most ('at most', because that story about infinitely many universes is doubtfully coherent) what was never in question: that the premises of this argument from apparent design do not entail its conclusion. But of course that was conceded from the beginning: it is presented as a probabilistic argument, not one that is deductive valid. Furthermore, since an argument can be good even if it is not deductively valid, you can't refute it just by pointing out that it isn't deductively valid. You might as well reject the argument for evolution by pointing out that the evidence for evolution doesn't entail that it ever took place, but only makes that fact likely. You might as well reject the evidence for the earth's being round by pointing out that there are possible worlds in which we have all the evidence we do have for the earth's being round, but in fact the earth is flat. Whatever the worth of this argument from design, Dennett really fails to address it.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Aquinas's Critique of the Argument from the Actual Infinite

This post, from Siris, argues that St. Thomas Aquinas provided the basis for rejecting versions of the Kalam Cosmological Argument that appeal to an actual infinite, beating Wes Morriston to the punch by eight and a half centuries.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Modern Healing Miracles

This is a discussion of a doctor's investigation into modern healing miracles. This was a well-known and popular book from the 1970s.

Groothuis on Multiverses and Intelligent Design

Why is the multiverse theory science, and ID not science? Can we appeal to the unobserved and unobservable, so long as it's not personal? Can one, with a straight face, reject theism because of Ockham's razor, and then believe in the multiverse?

Calvindude's argument that logic proves the existence of God

Monday, April 04, 2011

C. S. Lewis's Classic Reply to the Wish Fulfillment argument

A redated post. 

This is from Lewis's essay "On Obstinacy of Belief," to which I have linked. This is Lewis's classic response to the argument from wish fulfillment. It isn't a matter of riding Lewis's coattails here, it is simply pointing out that if you want to use a wish fulfillment argument against Christianity, this is the response you've got to answer. If you want to defend the argument from design, you've got to answer Hume. If you want to defend the evidentialist objection, you've got to answer Plantinga. If you want to defend psychological egoism, you've got to answer Butler. If you want to defend the wish fulfillment argument, you've got to answer Lewis.

Lewis's claim is that wish fulfillment arguments can be made on all sides, so they are pretty much useless to any side in particular.

There are of course people in our own day to whom the whole situation seems altered by the doctrine of the concealed wish. They will admit that men, otherwise apparently rational, have been deceived by the arguments for religion. But they will say that they have been deceived first by their own desires and produced the arguments afterwards as a rationalization: that these arguments have never been intrinsically even plausible, but have seemed so because they were secretly weighted by our wishes.

Now I do not doubt that this sort of thing happens in thinking about religion as in thinking about other things; but as a general explanation of religious assent it seems to me quite useless. On that issue our wishes may favour either side or both. The assumption that every man would be pleased, and nothing but pleased, if only he could conclude that Christianity is true, appears to me to be simply preposterous.

If Freud is right about the Oedipus complex, the universal pressure of the wish that God should not exist must be enormous, and atheism must be an admirable gratification to one of our strongest suppressed impulses. This argument, in fact, could be used on the theistic side. But I have no intention of so using it. It will not really help either party. It is fatally ambivalent. Men wish on both sides: and again, there is fear-fulfilment as well as wish-fulfilment, and hypochondriac temperaments will always tend to think true what they most wish to be false.

Thus instead of the one predicament on which our opponents sometimes concentrate there are in fact four. A man may be a Christian because he wants Christianity to be true. He may be an atheist because he wants atheism to be true. He may be an atheist be-cause he wants Christianity to be true. He may be a Christian because he Wants atheism to be true. Surely these possibilities cancel one another out? They may be of some use in analysing a particular instance of belief or disbelief, where we know the case history, but as a general explanation of either they will not help us. I do not think they overthrow the view that there is evidence both for and against the Christian propositions which fully rational minds, working honestly, can assess differently.

Burgess-Jackson on explaining religion away

For every scurrilous explanation of theistic belief, there is a scurrilous explanation of atheistic belief. If theism is suspect because of its origins, then atheism is suspect because of its origins. Why don't we cease playing this stupid explanatory game and get on with the real game, which involves justifying one's beliefs?

HT: Steve Hays

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Lydia McGrew on the Naturalistic induction

Lydia formulates the "naturalistic induction" as follows. 

Most problems which were unexplained by science in purely naturalistic terms have now been explained by science in purely naturalistic terms. So, by direct induction, any alleged evidence against naturalism has a scientific explanation in purely naturalistic terms.

Science has made and continues to make such great progress throughout history, gradually whittling away at the set of things that were previously not scientifically understood, that whatever it is that you are presently bringing forth as evidence against naturalism, I am sure that science will eventually get to that in time and explain it, as well, as entirely the product of natural causes.

 And then she argues that this induction is not going to work. And this refers to the Balfour quote she references.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

What did you say, Newt?

"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."-Newt Gingrich

HT: Taner Edis.

David Bentley Hart reviews Dennett's "Breaking the Spell"

Friday, April 01, 2011

Some exchange with Keith Parsons

KP: Honestly, I do not know what to make of your suggestion that souls and gods might turn out to be natural entities. “Natural” and “supernatural” are flexible terms, but I fear that if we stretch language that far it will break. Are you suggesting that gods and souls might turn out to be constituted of energy or matter and are thus denizens of the space/time universe and, ipso facto, subject to the laws of nature? I earnestly desire not to make a straw man of you (or Lewis for that matter), so I just have to say that I do not follow you here.

VR: Mostly, here I am trying to get clear on exactly what you are taking the constraints of naturalism to be. I \use a working definition of what a naturalistic world-view is supposed to contain, and my argument against naturalism is an argument against that. But then I am told that I am really attacking a straw man, that my argument works against materialism but not against naturalism, or that it works against reductive materialism but not non-reductive materialism, etc. If we say what is natural has to be constituted of energy or matter, or if you say that what is natural has to be a denizen of the space-time universe, in other words, it must have a particular location in space and time, and it must be subject to laws of nature, well, we have a start. I suppose that makes God non-natural, since God is not supposedly located in a particular place. But with the soul, it's a little tricky, since I don't see why a soul should have to lack a particular location in space.

KP: As for whether we ultimately explain in “mentalistic” terms or not, it is not at all clear to me that we have an either/or here. If mental happenings are fully realized by physical happenings, i.e., if we think, feel, imagine, desire, etc. with our brains (as I think we do), then we have a choice, depending on our interests at the time, of how we explain those mental happenings. I can say “I concluded that the defendant was indeed guilty on the basis of the cumulative evidence against him, his clear motive, and the shakiness of his alibi” when I am discussing things in a legal or philosophical context. If I am doing neuroscience I could talk about the causal relations between evolving brain states, in particular those states that realize my reasoning about the defendant’s guilt. Why should one type of explanation preclude or take precedence over the other? Isn’t all explanation wholly context-dependent? 

VR: The problem has to do with how what our concept of the physical is. It seems to me that a physical explanation, if we are sticking with standard definitions and are not expanding the notion of the physical to include things it doesn't traditionally include, our concept of what it is for something to be a physical explanation, at least at the base level of analysis, is for it to lack four "mentalistic" characteristics. First, the explanation at the base level cannot include an purpose. Second it cannot include any intentionality. What a physical state is about cannot enter into the base-level explanation. Third, it cannot include any reference to normativity. No piece of matter, in the last analysis, goes where it goes because it ought to go there. Fourth, a naturalistic explanation of a material state cannot contain any reference to a first-person perspective. I take it the idea that naturalists typically have is that the laws the govern matter don't change because the matter is realizing a mental operation. And, according to the standard understanding of naturalism, the base level is causally closed. This doesn't mean that it's deterministic, it means that nothing outside the physical system can affect where a particular atom goes, whether it's an atom in a rock or an atom in a brain. If there is quantum-level indeterminism, it's brute chance and nothing more. Quantum mechanics doesn't provide a door for non-physical causes to enter. There are some pretty strict limits on what kinds of explanations can be offered at the base level, if we are going to be good naturalists. If you want to loosen the definition of the physical, be my guest, but then I'm going to have to ask what the parameters are, and what is being excluded. Otherwise, how can we exclude what use to be called souls, or what used to be called gods? I mean we can even call God the theon, to make His name a more scientific sound.

KP: Finally, might not the behaviorists or the eliminative materialists turn out to have been the consistent naturalists? No. Consciousness is as much a natural phenomenon as a hurricane. Like a hurricane, consciousness is complexly realized and difficult to model, but there is no reason whatsoever to see it as not amenable to human understanding or as inexplicable in physical terms. Behaviorism and eliminativism were, as Bertrand Russell said about positivism, ideas so bizarrely stupid that only a very educated person could ever have been made to believe them. They are monuments to the astonishing capacity of highly intelligent and educated ideologues to ignore the elephant in the room.  

Yes, but you have to realize that these were attempts to be consistently naturalistic. When you introduce consciousness, you introduce all four of the types of explanations which I had excluded. By using brain-talk, naturalists often mask the fact that they are in fact using personalistic explanations to describe what the brain is doing. In which case I reply  "Interesting fellow, Mr. Brain. Remarkable what he can do."

In the case of hurricanes, it seems to me that if you add up all the physicalistic in formation about where the water molecules are and what you are doing, it closes the question as to whether there is a hurricane. In the case of mental states, it seems to me that if you add up all the nonmental states, you don't get determinate mental states. The physical underdetermines the mental. There is a conceptual barrier similar to the kind of barrier that is said to exist between an ought and an is. Given the fact we define the physical in terms of a lack of the mental, you can't go from the physical to the mental and get a definite conclusion as to what mental state is present. You can't siphon off the mental to the realm of the mental, because that's precisely what we are trying to explain.