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REQUIRED READING

You are required to read the following pages of the text book and the definitions and examples given on my assigned webpages. The "Helpful Questions" are here to help you understand the reading.and to anticipate the points I will be discussing in class. If you can master this material without following the reading questions, then you don't have to bother with them. However, the additional text I give on these pages is required because at least some of the points it covers will be on the tests.

Alternative or Supplemental Reading

If you've lost your textbook, or you would like a bit more help with these ideas, you can read Mind Essay instead of or as well as the regular reading. You should read this study guide whatever else you do. If you stick with the regular texbook reading, please make absolutely sure you work though the following study guide as well.

Remember, you will be tested on the reading before the next lecture. Be ready to answer questions about these issues.

Read pages 129-133 (in the 6th edition), or pages 129-133 in 5th Edition, or pages 132-136 in 4th Edition, or pages 131-135 in 3rd Edition

Notes:
A mental term is a word like "thought," "wish," "desire," "impulse," "idea" and so on.
A mental event (or a mental entity) is a thing like a thought, a wish, a desire, an impulse, an idea and so on.
A real entity is, well, a real thing, whatever "real" means.

Sense and Reference
Consider the terms "Ali G," "Borat Sagdiyev" and "Sacha Baron Cohen." Given that Borat and Ali G are both fictional characters created and played by Sacha Baron Cohen, we need a way of describing how the meanings of these terms are related to each other. Clearly, the following two sentences are quite false.
1. Ali G appears in the movie "Borat."
2. "Ali G Indahouse" is a movie about Sacha Baron Cohen.
While the following sentences seem to be true.
3. Ali G is Sacha Baron Cohen.
4. Borat is Sacha Baron Cohen.
But this last sentence is clearly false!
5. Ali G is Borat.
A fellow called Gottlob Frege made sense of this by distinguishing between the "sense" and "reference" of a term. The sense of "Ali G" is the fictional character of an uneducated white poser who apes the manners of ghetto blacks and conducts appallingly uninformed interviews, while the reference of "Ali G" is Sacha Baron Cohen because Cohen is the living, physical person who plays Ali G.

So, the sense of a term is the constellation of ideas that come to mind for the people who know the term, while the reference of a term is the real-world object (which may or may not actually exist) that is thought to be responsible for those ideas.

To relate this question to the present reading, the sense of the term "the morning star" is a bright light in the sky seen only in the morning, while the reference of that term is a ball of rock swinging though space around the sun that reflects sunlight to make that little bright light. Similarly, the sense of the term "the evening star" is a bright light in the sky seen only in the evening, but it's reference is that exact same ball of rock we think is swinging around the sun. So "the morning star" and "the evening star" have the same reference but they don't have the same sense.

So the sentence "the morning star is the evening star" is true when we're talking about reference, but false when we're talking about sense.

It's important to keep these ideas firmly in mind as you do this reading, because a great deal of what is said in that reading is wrong. It's your job to figure out what's wrong and what's right, and these distinctions will help you do that.

Reading Questions (Start at the words "The Mind-Brain Identity Theory.")
Does mind-brain identity theory deny the existence of mental events?
Does mind-brain identity theory claim that mental terminology is really a reference to ways of doing things?
What does mind-brain identity theory say exactly?
Does mind-brain identity theory deny that mental states exist?
Does mind-brain identity theory deny that mental states are exprienced as private?
Does mind-brain identity theory say that mental states just refer to ways of doing things?
Does mind-brain identity theory deny that mental states exist?
What is "mind-brain identity theory?"
In what year did Smart write the quoted material?
Why does J. J. C. Smart think that sensations are not left outside the physical picture?
Is Smart's thesis about language or about reality?
What exactly is Smart's thesis?
Does Smart claim that his thesis can be proven to be true?

Thinky Questions (The reading doesn't answer these questions.)
Does Palmer give any reason to think that Smart's theory cannot be proven?
Did Palmer give any of Smart's "various reasons" for thinking sensations are not left outside the physical picture?
Do we have any credible reasons for thinking there's anything other than mass-energy in the universe?
(If you think we do, you should be able to explain what those reasons are.)
Do we have any credible reasons for thinking that any non-material things could interact in any way with material things?
(If you think we do, you should be able to explain what those reasons are, and how they solve the Cartesian Contradiction.)
In the fifty years since Smart wrote the quoted material, has anyone produced any evidence of any kind of mental event that provably cannot be explained by some kind of physical process?

More Reading Questions (The reading contains answers to these questions.)
Smart thinks that future discovery that mental states are brain states will be like some other discoveries, what other discoveries is he thinking of?
Does Smart think that "lightning" means the same thing as "electrical discharge?"
Does Smart think that "water" means the same thing as "H2O?"
Does Smart think that "morning star" means the same thing as "evening star?"
Would Smart's theory be proved by looking at words?
Would Smart's theory be proved by looking at facts?
Is Smart's theory a linguistic theory?
Is Smart's theory a scientific theory?

Thinky Questions (The reading doesn't answer these questions.)
In your own words, describe lightning in a way that would allow another person to recognize lightning when they see it.
Describe "electricity" without naming any electrical phenomena. This means that you have to explain what electricity is without saying anything about things like lightning, light bulbs, static electricicity, sparks, shocks or St. Elmo's fire.
Does anyone ever see an electron, all on its own?

How did science prove that lightning is electrical discharge?
Is there anything about lightning that can't be explained as electricity?
Is there any reason to think there's anything non-material about lighnting?

Describe the morning star. Your description should include all relevant facts. It should especially include everything that makes the meaning of the term "morning star" different from the meaning of the term "evening star."
Describe the evening star. Your description should include all relevant facts. It should especially include everything that makes the meaning of the term "evening star" different from the meaning of the term "morning star."
How did science prove that the morning star is the evening star?
Can this proof be done without also assuming the existence of a big ball of rock flying through space around the sun?
To put this question another way, can you explain the idea that the morning star is also the evening star without mentioning the idea of a rocky planet, without mentioning the idea of planets orbiting a sun, and without the idea of such planets reflecting sunlight?
When someone says "the morning star is the evening star," what exactly do they mean by that statement?
When someone says "the morning star is the evening star," do they mean that these two objects have exactly the same definition?
When someone says "the morning star is the evening star," do they mean that anything that can be said about the morning star (like "it only appears in the mornings") can also be said of the evening star?
In your opinion, after thinking about it for a bit, is it really precisely accurate to say that the morning star is the evening star?
Based on your own thinking, what is the best way to describe the relationship between morning star, evening star, and planet Venus?

How did science prove that water is H2O?
Is there anything about water that can't be explained as H2O?
Is there any reason to think there's anything non-material about water?
Describe water without reference to hydrogen and oxygen. (This should be pretty easy.)
Describe H2O without mentioning water. (Does it come in atoms or in molecules? What elements are involved? How many of each element are linked together?)
Was it impossible to describe water and H2O seperately from each other?
If you were describing water to someone who lived before any one had any ideas about hydrogen and oxygen, would you have to introduce those ideas to convey to him what you meant by the word "water?"

More Reading Questions (The reading contains answers to these questions.)
What question did the three objecting philosophers ask about the identity theory?
What is meant by the term "strict identity?"
In your own words, explain the reasons Palmer gives for thinking that a strict identity exists between the morning star and the evening star.

Thinky Questions (The reading doesn't answer these questions.)
Imagine that, one clear evening, you are outside looking at the sky with a friend. Now imagine that your friend points at one bright point of light in the sky and says, "Hey look. That big sphere of rock is following a curved path around the sun and, right now, I can see that it's exactly 107,476,259 kilometres from the sun, so that means it's the morning star!"
Would you see that it's a big rocky sphere?
Would you see that it's following a curved path around the sun?
Would you see that it's exactly 107,476,259 kilometres from the sun?
Given that it's early evening, would you agree that you're looking at the morning star?
Is it really true that everything we experience of the morning star is also experienced of the evening star?
Is it really true that everything we can say about the morning star can also be said about the evening star?
How does planet Venus fit into our experiences of the morning star and of the evening star?

Imagine that you're holding a glass of clear liquid, and your friend says, "hey, look at all those hydrogen atoms joined in pairs and, wow, each pair of hydrogen atoms is joined to a single oxygen atom" If you looked very, very, very, very closely, would you be able to see all these different atoms and their arrangement into tetrahedral molecules?
Which of the following statements is true?
1. We know that water is H2O because everything we can say about water can also be said about H2O, and vice versa.
2. We know that water is H2O because the idea that water is H2O is the only reasonable explanation for the physical properties we observe in water.

Based on your understanding of science, do we have to prove that the morning star and the evening star already have all the same spatio-temporal features before we can prove that they're both experiences of planet Venus?
Would we believe that the morning star and the evening star have all the same spatio-temporal features if we had not already accepted the theory that they're both experiences of planet Venus?

More Reading Questions (The reading contains answers to these questions.)
What question does Palmer ask after saying "What about thoughts and brain events?"
What's the "rub?"
Shaffer makes a particular claim in the quotation given by the "open head" cartoon. Figure out what that claim is exactly and write it out in your own words.
(Please note that this cannot be accomplished merely by exchanging words for other words.)
Is Shaffer arguing that the mind-brain identity theory is wrong?
What precisely does Shaffer claim about the mind-brain identity theory?
What kinds of things can you say about the physical properties of neurons?
What kinds of questions does Shaffer think we can't ask about realizing you left your lunch at home?
Per Shaffer, what if there are things that make sense about brain states but not about mental states?
What is Shaffer's rule for deciding when something can be something else?
What is Shaffer's rule for deciding when something is not something else?

Thinky Questions
If it turned out that you realizing you forgot your lunch was accomplished in your brain by your my C-fibers, section M12-0332, firing at intensity, would we really need to say "my C-fibers, section M12-0332, just fired at intensity" instead of "I forgot my lunch." Couldn't we just say "I just realized I forgot my lunch" and leave the rest to the neurologists?

What I think Shaffer is saying
Here's what I think is going on with Shaffer. I don't think he's saying it's absurd to say that a brain event is located somewhere in your body.
I think he's saying something like the following:
1. Mental events are different things than brain events. (Having the thought "mmm, chocolate" is different from having a bunch of nerve fibers fire in a particular pattern.)
2. Mental events like thoughts don't have spatial properties. (When you think "mmm, chocolate" you don't see it as a thought with a particular shape, or in a particular place.)
3. The phrase "mental events are brain events" must imply that mental events have absolutely all the properties of brain events, including shape and location.

What I want to do now is to first, get you to build up Shaffer's idea in your own mind, and then second, get you to knock down Shaffer's idea in your own mind.

First Dialog (Building up Shaffer.)
Shafferoid: "Suppose you have the thought 'Shaffer sounds like Laffer'."
Youngish: "Okay, I just thought 'Shaffer sounds like Laffer'."
Shafferoid: "Now, how big did you experience that thought to be? What shape was it?"
Youngish: "Well, I suppose it must fit inside my brain, and . . "
Shafferoid: "No, no, no! I wasn't asking about the brain event that happened at the same time. I was asking about how big the thought was to you.
Youngish: "Don't be silly, thoughts don't have size or shape to the people who think them."
Shafferoid: "But brain events do have both size and shape, right?"
Youngish: "Yes."
Shafferoid: "And something that has size and shape cannot be the same thing as something that doesn't have size and shape."
Youngish: "Well . . . ."
Shafferoid: "So it's absurd to say that mental events are brain events."

So now, it looks like Shaffer has proved that Mind-Brain Identity Theory is absurd, or not true, or something.

But, if he's proven that then he's proven a lot of other stuff too . . .

Second Dialog (Knocking Down Shaffer.)
Youngish: "Hey, look at the morning star up there!"
Shafferoid: "That's silly, it's evening now."
Youngish: "So the morning star doesn't appear in the evening?"
Shafferoid: "No, of course not!"
Youngish: "And do you see a lot of rocks up there?"
Shafferoid: "No, but we know Planet Venus is made of rock . . "
Youngish: "But does your present experience of the evening star involve seeing rocks?"
Shafferoid: "No."
Youngish: "And does your present experience of the evening star involve seeing it in the morning?"
Shafferoid: "No."
Youngish: "So can something that only appears in the morning be the same thing as something that only appears in the evening?"
Shafferoid: "No."
Youngish: "And can something that's made of rock be the same thing as something that involves no rock whatsoever?"
Shafferoid: "Oh, shut up!"

So here's a question for you. Do any of the following identities meet Shaffer's standard of strict identity?
1. Lightning is electrical discharge.
2. Water is H2O.
3. The morning star is the evening star.

The Correlation Objection

This objection is described in the last paragraph of the present reading. This paragraph starts with the words "Another argument arises against the identity theory that is easier to understand and evaluate."

The objection hinges on two very specific concepts. The first is the concept of having an appropriate standard of scientific proof. The second is the concept of falsifiability. They're both complicated issues, but I there's a couple of points I can make here that might be useful lately.

Standard of Proof: It is a scientific fact that running an electric current through a wire will create a magnetic field around the wire. Now, the way we know this is because people ran currents through wires and, every time they did so, they detected a magnetic field around the wire. This is called a "correlation." This correlation is the only reason we have for thinking that an electric current produces a magnetic field. In this case our standard of proof is "if X is so well correlated with Y that doing X always makes Y, and not doing X always results in Y not happening, then X causes Y." This scientic fact, just like thousands of other scientific facts, was proved by nothing more than a correlation.

Falsifiability: Many philosphers of science think that a theory cannot be scientific if there are no conceivable circumstances that would prove it false if they happened to occur. The theory that an electric current causes a magnetic field is falsifiable because if it turned out that one day, someone ran a current through a wire and a magnetic field did not occur. That, if it ever happened, would prove the theory false. However, the theory that magnetic fields are made by invisible, undetectible magnobees that make magentic fields by using a special magno-buzz is unfalsifiable because, being undetectable, there's no way to tell if these magnobees exist or not. Similarly, the idea that mind is made by some undetectible, immaterial force is unfalsifiable because there's no way to tell whether any immaterial thing exists or not, and thus no way to tell whether that immaterial thing is even remotely correlated with mental events.

Reading Questions
Does this criticism intend to prove the identity theory to be nonsense?
What does it intend to prove about the identity theory?
What exactly is this brain scanner supposed to be able to accomplish?
What does Palmer say would be proved if mental states were shown to be perfectly correlated with brain states?
What wouldn't be proved?
What could we not prove, even with the most, advanced technological equipment?
Even if the theory were true, what would still be wrong with it?
What does it mean to say that a theory can't be "falsified?"
Why does Palmer think that the identity theory can't be falsified?

Thinky Questions
Has there ever been a scientific theory that was proved by anything other than correlation?
If we demanded more than absolute correllation, would we taking it as proved that an electric current causes a magnetic field?
Is there any reason why we should use a different standard of proof for different kinds of scientific claims?
Is it really true that a perfect correlation would not be enough to prove MBIT true?

If someone on a brain-scanner had a thought that was provably not matched by a brain event, would that prove the Mind-Brain Identity Theory false?
What if it provably happened a lot, with a lot of different thoughts, so there were tons of thoughts that were absolutely not accompanied by brain events, would that prove the MBIT false?
Is it really true that no evidence could possibly exist that would tend to establish the truth or falsity of MBIT?

Potential questions for Quiz
1. Do "the morning star" and "the evening star" have the same sense?
2. Do "the morning star" and "the evening star" have the same reference?
3. Does MBIT say that mind is brain in the same sense that "six" is "half a dozen?"
4. Does MBIT say that mind is brain in the same sense that "Mars" is "the red planet?"
5. Does MBIT say that mind is brain in the same sense that "Borat" is "Sacha Baron Cohen?"
6. Does MBIT say that mind is brain in the same sense that "Borat" is "Ali G?"
7. Describe the evidence for the MBIT?
8. Is there any evidence for any competing theory?
9. Is it logically possible for a non material theory to explain mind?
10. What is "mind-brain identity theory?"
11. What is Jerome Shaffer's objection to mind-brain identity theory?
12. Does Shaffer define identity as two things having the same sense?
13. Does Shaffer define identity merely as two things having the same reference?
14. How does Shaffer define identity exactly?
15. Does Shaffer's definition of identity apply to the morning star and the evening star?
16. Does Shaffer's definition of identity apply to the morning star and planet Venus?
17. Does Shaffer's definition of identity apply to lightning and electrical discharge?
18. Does Shaffer's definition of identity apply to water and H2O?
19. Does it have to make perfect sense to say that "the H2O molecule feels wet" and that "we feel covalent bonds in water" in order for it to make sense to say that "water is H2O?"
20. What is the correlation objection to MBIT?
21. Does MBIT depend only on a correlation between mind and brain events?
22. What other fact crucially supports MBIT?
23. Is the support for MBIT different from the support for other accepted scientific theories?
24. Does the Correlation Objection really prove that MBIT is different from other scientific theories?
25. What does it mean to say that a theory is unfalsifiable?
26. Is it really true that there's no conceivable evidence that could support MBIT?
27. Is it really true that there's no conceivable evidence that could prove MBIT false?
28. Is it really true that MBIT is not falsifiable?


How To Make Up Quizzes
If for some reason, (illness, family emergency, conflicting academic obligation, sudden discovery that you have superpowers coupled with the need to save the Earth from a hurtling asteroid that only you can deflect), you miss one of my delightful quizzes, you can make up the lost points by writing up a clear, precise, and deeply insightful answer to one of the potential exam questions and turning the results in as "make-up quiz." Illustrations are not absolutely necessary, but would add a nice touch.

Potential Exam Questions

All answers must be in your own words. Your answers should be clear and include all relevant details. You are expected to explain your answers fully, with whatever definitions, background, analysis, arguments and examples are necessary to make your answers clear and complete. Go as deeply into the topic as you can. Give the argument(s) supporting the relevant doctrine(s). If a doctrine has been criticized, explain the criticism. If the criticism fails, explain why it fails. Add any comments you think fit. A perfect answer will include all relevant facts, assumptions and arguments, and will clearly explain how those facts, assumptions and arguments are related to each other. Every important term will be clearly defined, and examples will be used to clarify all important distinctions. You can make your answer better than perfect by including other good stuff, such as your own insightful comments and reasonable critcisms of your professor's arguments. An imperfect answer that includes other good stuff can get as much credit as a perfect answer that doesn't.

1. Fully explain mind-brain identity theory and the arguments for mind-brain identity theory. This question will require you to explain exactly what MBIT says and doesn't say. You should explain exactly what kind of "identity" is presumed by the theory and discuss the rules by which science establishes identities of that kind. You should also discuss both the evidence for MBIT and the reasons why any alternative theories are ruled out. Questions to think about are: What kind of identity is involved in this theory? What is the basic argument for this theory? How much evidence is there for this theory? Is there any evidence for any competing theory? Are there any competing theories that don't founder on the rock of the Cartesian Contradiction? Are there any reasonable or falsifiable competing theories at all?

2. Explain and discuss Jerome Shaffer's objection to mind-brain identity theory. Explain the basic claims of MBIT and describe Shaffer's objection in detail. Explain how Shaffer defines “identity” and how he uses this definition to object to MBIT. What exactly does Shaffer say and how does he argue for his claims? Evaluate Shaffer’s reasoning and explain what your instructor thinks is wrong with this reaoning. You can use any combination of  the sense/reference distinction, the experience/explanation (observation/theory) distinction, the different senses of identity or the morning/evening star example to explain how Young thinks Shaffer fails to make a credible objection to MBIT. Make any other comments about Young's or Shaffer's reasoning that you think fit.

3. Explain and discuss the "correlation" objection to mind-brain identity theory in the context of a correct understanding of the relationship between correlation and identity. Explain the basic claims of MBIT and describe the correlation objection in detail. You should discuss the way correlation can be used to prove things in science and the various circumstances under which correlation doesn't prove things. Finally, you should explain in detail why the correlation objection fails to refute MBIT. Make any other comments that you think fit.

4 . Explain and discuss the "falsifiability" objection to mind-brain identity theory in the context of a correct understanding of the "falsifiability" requirement for scientific theories. Explain the basic claims of MBIT and describe the concept of falsifiability in detail. You should discuss the difference between falsifiable and unfalsifiable theories, and why this difference is important in science. Finally, you should explain in detail why the objection based on falsifiability fails to refute MBIT. Make any other comments that you think fit.

Any exam answer can be enhanced by addition of any comments that occur to you, especially comments that point out possible logical problems with the material and ideas I have presented. The more you think about a topic, the more likely you are to come up with something that can earn you a little more credit for your answer. I never deduct points, so it can't hurt to add your own thoughts.

Copyright 2013 by Martin C. Young

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