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18612Re: [ai-philosophy] Davidson on Supervenience

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  • Eray Ozkural
    Dec 17, 2013
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      This sounds about right to me.

      The strong form of anomalous monism you mention sounds pretty much like token physicalism which Davidson accepts, but the anomalous law condition is completely unreasonable and wildly contradicts with token physicalism.

      This is of course denied by Davidson devotees with seemingly clever crackers.

      That is why I suggest simply using the strongest form of physicalism possible. Which does follow from token physicalism, but most philosophers are not thorough enough to set the connections like you did.


      On Sat, Aug 24, 2013 at 8:58 PM, walto <calhorn@...> wrote:
      Rereading his papers on this stuff recently, it strikes me that D's notion of supervenience is actually too strong to make sense for anomalous monism.  He has it as (something like) (1) A's supervene on B's only if Nec., when there are two exactly similar (with respect to B's) events then the two events will also be exactly similar with respect to A's; and (2) Nec., if there is a change in some event's A's, there is a change in that event's B's.

      I think (ii) is both plausible with respect to mental and physical properties and consistent with AM.  But (i) strikes me as implausible without the nomological connections or strict causal laws that AM denies.  Here's why:

      When are two events exactly similar?  Intuitively, Event A is exactly similar to event B iff (i) every thing that is a constituent of event A is exactly similar to event B at the onset of the events said to be exactly similar; (ii) what happens to each of the things in event A is exactly similar to (just) what happens to the each of the corresponding things in event B; and all the things in event A are exactly similar to all the corresponding things in event B at the conclusion of the events.

      But if we consider events that include mental properties, it is highly counterintuitive that two events (whether both in the actual world, or in two possible worlds) would have not only the same physical properties, but also the same mental properties at the onset of any event, unless there were some reason for (i.e., strict causal connection explaining this match-up.  That is, why on earth would, e.g. two people have exactly the same mental properties going in, simply because their physical properties matched, unless there were a necessary connection between the two types?  AM denies such a connection, and thus, IMO, cannot plausibly endorse (i).

      It is important to note, however, that version (2) of weak supervenience does not require this implausibility, and, thus, is weaker still.  Davidson, however, incorrectly treats them as equivalent (as, I believe, do a number of other writers on this subject).

      The moral is that AM requires a very weak version of supervenience to be plausible, weaker than the double-pronged version above that is utilized by Davidson.

      [Comments are welcome]



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      Eray Ozkural, PhD. Computer Scientist
      Founder, Gok Us Sibernetik Ar&Ge Ltd.
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