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Cartesian Dualism Vs Logical Behaviorism Essay

1775 words - 7 pages

Are minds physical things, or are they nonmaterial? If your beliefs and desires are caused by physical events outside of yourself, how can it be true that you act the way you do of your own free will? Are people genuinely moved by the welfare of others, or is all behavior, in reality, selfish? (Sober 203). These are questions relevant to philosophy of the mind and discussed through a variety of arguments. Two of the most important arguments with this discussion are Cartesian dualism and logical behaviorism, both of which argue the philosophy of the mind in two completely different ways. Robert Lane, a professor at the University of West Georgia, define the two as follows: Cartesian dualism is the theory that the mind and body are two totally different things, capable of existing separately, and logical behaviorism is the theory that our talk about beliefs, desires, and pains is not talk about ghostly or physical inner episodes, but instead about actual and potential patterns of behavior. Understanding of the two arguments is essential to interpret the decision making process; although dualism and behaviorism are prominent arguments for the philosophy of the mind, both have their strengths and weaknesses.
René Descartes was the 17th century, French philosopher responsible for many well-known philosophical arguments, such as Cartesian dualism. Briefly discussed previously, according to dualism, brains and the bodies are physical things; the mind, which is a nonphysical object, is distinct from both the brain and from all other body parts (Sober 204). Sober makes a point to note Descartes never denied that there are causal interactions between mental and physical aspects (such as medication healing ailments), and this recognition did not lead him to abandon dualism (204). Descartes utilizes Leibniz’s Law in the argument for dualism which is “If A has a certain property and B does not have this property then A is not the same thing as B” (James). Leibniz’s Law supports dualism through three main arguments: the Indubitable Existence Argument, the Extension Argument, and the Divisibility Argument. Lane summarizes the three arguments as follows:
Indubitable Existence
1) A person’s mind has the property of indubitable existence
2) A person’s body (including the brain) does not.
3) If a has some property and blacks that property, then a and b are not the same thing.

4) Thus, a person’s mind and body are not the same thing.

Extension
1) My mind lacks the property of extension.
2) My body, including my brain, has the property of extension.
3) If a has some property and blacks that property, then a and b are not the same thing.
4) Thus, my mind is not the same things as my body.

Divisibility
1) My mind is not divisible.
2) My body (including my brain) is divisible.
3) If a has some property and blacks that property, then a and b are not the same thing.
4) Thus, my mind is not the same thing as my body.

Within all three arguments to support...

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