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Why the Evolutionary Argument is not Really an Evolutionary Argument After All

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The evolutionary argument is one of the most well-known empirical arguments against epiphenomenalism. In its most persuasive form, it aims to show that because of evolutionary considerations, the smooth correlations between painful qualia and noxious stimuli would be highly unexpected if epiphenomenalism were true, but just what we would expect if an alternative mind--body theory were. Thus, the presence of these correlations is strong evidence against epiphenomenalism. After formulating a canonical version of the argument, I demonstrate that the evolutionary evidence adduced as part of it is superfluous, and could easily be jettisoned without damaging whatever force the argument has. I then proceed to show an even stronger result -- that the evolutionary evidence is actually nothing more than a distraction from the elements of the argument that actually give it its dialectical strength.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Saint Joseph's University, 5600 City Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19131 USA, Email: Jcorabi@sju.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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