A defence of speculative metaphysics Peter Ells [email protected] Metaphysics defined Philosophical enquiry that goes beyond the particular sciences and asks very general questions about the nature of reality and the ultimate conceptual categories in terms of which we are to understand it John Cottingham Speculative metaphysics is an attempt to provide a
comprehensive system or model for understanding the cosmos both in its particulars and its entirety (Peter Strawson calls this revisionary metaphysics) Metaphysics criticised [Any book on metaphysics should be] committed to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Philosophy, as a genuine branch of knowledge, must be distinguished from metaphysics. ... The majority of the great philosophers of the past were not essentially metaphysicians. A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic
Example1: Berkeleys idealism Example1: Berkeleys idealism Berkeleys attack on matter Berkeleys attack on matter Berkeleys attack on matter ... all the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, in a word all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any substance without a mind ... Example 2: Physicalism Theses:
Everything that exists in nature is dependent upon the physical domain In any part of the world, the physical facts determine all the facts Different branches of knowledge are organised hierarchically with physics at the foundation Causal closure: every physical event has a physical cause (Loose prcis of Jeffrey Poland,1994)
Physicalism Physicalism Physicalism Physicalism Problems of physicalism 1. The mind body-problem How could the spatio-temporal behaviour of systems of matter (regardless of their complexity) necessitate the existence of / give rise to / be identical to ?
Problems of physicalism 1. The mind body-problem How could the spatio-temporal behaviour of systems of matter (regardless of their complexity) necessitate the existence of / give rise to / be identical to ? Problems of physicalism 2. What do we mean by the term physical in the theses of physicalism? Hempels Dilemma: If we mean present day physics, then physicalism is trivially false;
If we mean a (perhaps vastly different) future, completed physics then physicalism is hopelessly vague. Problems of physicalism 3. Updating Berkeleys attack on matter Berkeley rejected abstract ideas, but if we accept mathematical abstractions, then an argument similar to his still goes through: How does differ from ? Physicalists have not explained what it means for an unobserved world to be instantiated. This lack is fatal to physicalism because now: Any proof that mind necessarily arises from Can be translated into a proof that mind must arise from
!? Comparing metaphysical systems 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) Scope The range and variety of facts explained by the system Not denying basic data
Time does not exist. Plausibility From within the system itself, considered in its entirety The minimum number of brute facts or miracles needed Engagement with and consistency with current science Lack of promissory notes Science, in the far future, and using far different methods, will solve this problem eventually. Elegance and simplicity Clarity versus fudge Berkeleys idealism 1) Scope 2) Not denying basic data 3) Plausibility within the system 4) Minimal brute facts or
miracles 5) Engagement with and consistency with science 6) Lack of promissory notes
7) Elegance and simplicity 8) Clarity versus fudge Every fact about the universe is a direct act of Gods will. Whatever the facts of science turn out to be, Berkeley simply asserts God does it that way. But this fits ill with fact of biological evolution. Physicalist qualia realism 1) Scope 2) Not denying basic data
Within the system, the very existence of mind and of mental causation seem highly implausible Emergence of qualia as a miraculous brute fact, owing to some complex law of (say) biology Explanatory gap 3) Plausibility within the system 4) Minimal brute facts or miracles
5) Engagement with and consistency with science 6) Lack of promissory notes Science, in the far future, and using far different methods, will solve this problem eventually. 7) Elegance and simplicity
If anything, physicalism is too simple 8) Clarity versus fudge Lack of clarity about what it is to be physical E.g. Hempels dilemma Physicalism at least attempts to do this Physicalist qualia non-realism 1) Scope ? 2) Not denying basic data
3) Plausibility within the system 4) Minimal brute facts or miracles 5) Engagement with and consistency with science
6) Lack of promissory notes 7) Elegance and simplicity But qualia non-realism is far too simple How does such a universe differ from a mathematical abstraction?
8) Clarity versus fudge Denies the reality of experiential qualities such as and pain The idea that all experiences are somehow illusory is incoherent: for what is an illusion if not an experience? Physicalism at least attempts to do this Comparison Berkeley Physicalism With qualia Physicalism
No qualia 1) Scope ? 2) Not denying basic data
6) Lack of promissory notes 7) Elegance and simplicity
8) Clarity versus fudge 6 4 4 3) Plausibility within the system
4) Minimal brute facts or miracles 5) Engagement with and consistency with science CRUDE SCORE Conclusions & opinions It is all but inevitable that each human being will possess a metaphysical system and will act on it If we fail to research metaphysical systems then we are liable to assume a poor one implicitly, and be reluctant to give it up
Physicalism, for example, is fatally flawed We have excellent criteria for making reasoned judgements between such systems, even though they are not empirical Many novel and under-explored metaphysical systems await our investigation some may prove to be superior Thank you [email protected]
Fundamentalism. A . militant piety in every major religious tradition. Term . derived from U.S.A. where religious conservatives . were outraged . by challenges to Bible. Called . for a return to the fundamentals of the . faith
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