Date of Award

8-2001

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Dr. David Newman

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy McGrew

Third Advisor

Dr. Quentin Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

Over the past few decades functionalism has become the received view among philosophers of mind. Until the rise of eliminitivism and advances in neurophysiology, there have been relatively few individuals who have risen to challenge this popular position. Functionalism appeals to many because its proponents are seen as being favorably disposed to regard the cognitive sciences as a legitimate field of scientific inquiry and by regard the mental realm as being inherently irreducible to the physical realm.

Jaegwon Kim has long been one of the few willing to challenge such implicitly anti-reductive approaches. In his latest work, Kim develops a new means of undermining the claims of non-reductive physicalism-i.e., reductive functionalism. He then concludes that the received view actually entails the reduction of the mental to the physical.

This thesis explores Kim's claims regarding the nature of the supervenience relationship, reduction, causation, explanation, and the causal relevancy of the mental. After detailed consideration of Kim's theory, several objections are leveled in an attempt to weaken the conclusions which must inevitably follow from his approach. Consequently, the need to deny the reality of mental domain and to accept the demise of psychology as a genuine scientific discipline has been staved off.

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