Analyzing Armstrong’s “The Nature of Mind”
In David M. Armstrong’s “The Nature of Mind”, Armstrong praises the field of science and seeks to put the concept of mind into terms that agree with science’s definition of minds. His interest is in the physico-chemical, materialist view of man. Armstrong considers science to be the authority over other disciplines because of its reliability and result in consensus over disputed questions.
Armstrong’s main argument is as follows:
P1: Mental states are the inner causes of behavior
P2: The inner causes of behavior are brain states
C: Mental states are brain states.
This argument, in the transitivity of conditionals form, is valid. In order to defend the soundness of it, Armstrong breaks his essay into three main parts: arguing for P1, arguing for P2, and replying to a posed objection.
Armstrong’s P2 is based off of scientific belief:
p1: It is rational to believe what scientists agree upon
p2: Scientists agree that the inner causes of behavior are brain states (the working of the brain is purely electrochemical) C: It is rational to believe that inner causes of behavior are equal to brain states
Armstrong claims that P1: Mental states are the inner causes of behavior, is a conceptual truth while Cartesian dualists would label it as trivial and empirical. P1 is supported by Armstrong’s discussion of behaviorism. The crude version of behaviorism said that “the mind is not an inner arena, it is an outward act”. This was challenged by the notion of stoics and people who are do not always express their mental processes. It was then refined by introducing “dispositions to behave”. Glass is fragile and “fragility” is a dispositional concept. Behaviorists say that fragility is not describing some inner state or condition of the glass, but instead what would happen if it were dropped. Armstrong says that fragility is an inner state; it is the qualities of the glass that makes it break. Fragility is a causal inner...
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