Aranyosi, I (2011). A new argument for mind-brain identity. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 62(3), 489-517, doi:10.1093/bjps/axr001
Abstract:
In this article, I undertake the tasks: (i) of reconsidering Feigl's notion of a ‘nomological dangler' in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality; and (ii) of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, the only probabilistically coherent candidates being 'anomic danglers' (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers' (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental-physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favor of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject.
Citing Place (1956) in context (citations start with an asterisk *):
* The mind-brain identity thesis starts its career - setting aside temporally prior and argumentatively and conceptually frugal assertions in that direction by various philosophers and scientists- in the second half of 1950s, with the work of Ullin Place (1956), Herbert Feigl (1958), and Jack Smart (1959).
Section 1: The notion of a nomological dangler
* Feigl's main objective is to defend the coherence and plausibility of the mind-brain empirical identification thesis, put forward earlier by U.T. Place. Fn 1: As David Armstrong notes (personal communication) 'it was Place who started it all, but unfortunately he published his idea in the wrong place.' The identity thesis then starts its real career with J.J.C. Smart's article, published in 1959, and culminates with Armstrong's (1968) and David Lewis's (1966, 1970, 1972) functionalist, semantics-based arguments for it.
Section 6: Conclusion
* We started out with the early mind-brain identity thesis, and after a detour through the dialectic that followed as regards the mind-body problem, we reached the same conclusion that Feigl, Smart, and Place argued for, but in a more roundabout way, taking into account the strongest arguments for naturalistic dualism.