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Physicalism and Emergence

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Abstract:

Physicalist theories of mind are usually taken to imply causal closure in the physical domain, which implies that physical events are wholly determined by the physical principles governing the context in which they exist. This leads inevitably to some form of reductionism or epiphenomenalism when applied to the neurophysical correlates of conscious experience. If intentionality, characterized in terms of an operative consciousness, is to have any purchase on physical reality then its action must have distinctive and objective structural features that are inconsistent with causal closure yet compatible with a non-trivial broadening of the concept of physical principle. The paper seeks to present such characteristics. Further, denial that conscious intentionality is ontologically fundamental is argued to be inconsistent with a basic assumption concerning the nature of scientific theory itself, the so-called scientific paradigm. In general, progress in these problems has suffered from an inadequate formulation of the concept of emergence which we attempt to rectify, defining a form of it appropriate to individual intentional acts. The structural features that must attend any manifestation of genuine mental causation can be characterized in terms of the time-coordinated excitations of diverse sites in the brain which resemble an extended time-reversal phenomenology. The argument will be exemplified by appeal to speech generation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: john@blodwell.co.uk

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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