Identity Theories of Mind

  • Created by: A. Person
  • Created on: 16-08-14 12:16

Identity Theories of Mind

Type Identity Theory

  • Physicalism claims that everything that exits is dependent on something physical to exist. 'The Mind' is not a separate substance, a 'thing' – it is more accurate to talk of mental properties, mental events, mental states and processes. We can, then, say that properties (etc.) are possessed not by a mind, but by a person or brain, which are physical objects. While they agree on this, physicalists don't agree over whether mental properties are types of property that are entirely distinct from physical properties.

  • A swan is a bard and white – but what makes it a bird (a biological property) and what makes it white (a colour property) are different properties, though both are physical. Are mental properties a kind of physical property?Can we analyse, for example, thinking a thought in terms of neurophysiological properties?

  • The view that we can is called 'type identity theory'. It claims that mental properties are physcial properties – for example, thinking a thought it exactly the same thing as certain neurons firing. They may not seem the same, but that's because we have different ways of knowing about these properties: experience and neuroscience. Many things turn out not to be as they seem – eg. The masked man!

  • Type Identity Theory is a form of 'reduction'. An 'ontological reduction' involves the claim that the things in one domain (eg. Mental things) are identical with some of the things in another domain. e.g things that appear non-physical are physical; mental properties are a subset of physical properties – so we have reduced mental properties to physical ones.

  • Type Identity Theory was developed in the 60s, as neuroscience gained pace. The evidence is that mental events


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