Can Substance Dualism Be Defended

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  • Topic: Philosophy of mind, Consciousness, Mind
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Can Substance Dualism Be Defended?

Substance dualism is a never ending argument in the Philosophy world as it’s been going on for decades. It is the view that the universe contains two important types of entity which is mental and material. The structure of this paper is that four main argument leads to one conclusion. Firstly, I’ll argue about Descartes’s ‘separability argument’ which stands as the definition of Substance Dualism. Secondly, I’ll argue that mental and physical have different and perhaps irreconcilable properties. An argument is not complete without a counter argument which in this case the “pairing” problem that exists in Descartes theory is highlighted and where is the interaction of material and immaterial takes place in our body is argued. Finally, the reply for the counter argument comes in a form of defense and positive argument in favors substance dualism and the weakness with the objection.

In Descartes Sixth Meditation, Descartes argues the fact that something is clearly possible to separate from something else, they can definitely exist individually (Walker, 1870). In simple term, something that exists individual is a distinctive entity. Therefore, as the mind and the body can be clearly conceived apart from one another, the mind and the body are indeed distinct from each other. That’s not the only argument in The Sixth Meditation. The conclusion of Descartes’s argument is that the mind is really distinct from the body, and can exist without it. Mind and body are undeniably a substance as mind is really distinct from body. As an example, if A and B are numerically distinct substances, definitely they can exist without each other. Since this possibility of separate existence, it is both a consequence and a sign of real distinction. Therefore, not only that mind and body are numerically distinct, but that they are numerically distinct substances. Besides that, the fact that A and B are clearly and distinctly conceive one thing apart from another, both A and B must be understood as complete, and it must be possible to understand each one without the other (Hartfield, 2002). The problem of interactions between mind and body has many philosophers to reject substance dualism as a justifiable theory of mind but it is seldom listed as explicit and laborious argument. Kim (2005) concerned to make sense of individual causal relationships in situations where parallel sequences occur. To take an example: two bows and arrows, A and B, are dispatched at the same time, resulting in the death of two people at once, Obama and Clinton. What proves that firing of arrow A kills Obama and the firing of arrow B kills Clinton, and not the other way around? Kim (2005) stated one of the possible way of handling the situation is looking for ‘pairing relation’, R that holds between A’s firing and Obama’s death and between B’s firing and Clinton’s death, but not between A’s firing and Clinton’s death or B’s firing and Clinton’s death. What are the pairing relations in this case? Kim says they are spatial relations: distance, orientation, and so forth. Kim uses this account of causation and pairing against soul (mind) to body interaction as follows. Take two souls, Z and Y, and a material substance, X. In case Z and Y at the same time, T, perform a mental action. Assume Z’s mental action brings about a change in X at T, while Y’s does not. The first question that rises, what relation, R, will work for as the link or pairing of Z’s mental action with the change brought about in X that does not hold between Y and X? Second question is what causal chain will serve in tracing Z to X? This relation or chain cannot be something spatial. So what is it? Kim claims he doesn’t have a clue. In simple words, Kim’s criticism was if it is possible for souls to interact causally with material substances, then there must be spatial causal chains or spatial pairing relations between souls and material substances. It is not possible...
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