Mechanisms everywhere

At the beginning of September, we had another (already 6th) Kazimierz Naturalism Workshop in Kazimierz Dolny, and yesterday I just got back from GAP7 and a after-GAP7 workshop on reductionism, explanation and metaphors
in philosophy of mind. Though contrary to your expectations, Carl
Craver wasn’t talking about mechanisms in Kazimierz but on moral
psychology, many speakers really used the new mechanism framework.
Somehow connected to this is the fact that more and more philosophers
are skeptical about intrinsic properties without causal powers: while
it was immensely popular to talk on qualia as intrinsic properties, and
then wonder why they seem to be epiphenomenal (which, on most
definitions of ‘intrinsic’, was simply related to their intrinsicness).
This showed both in Kazimierz and in Bremen: Tim Crane was vindicating
our everyday talk of persons as having causal powers, Tadek Ciecierski
and Michael Esfeld were showing that the notion of intrinsic property
is not ontologically innocent, to say the least (Esfeld went as far as
to defend a revised version of type-identity theory), Markus Eronen was
showing, among other things, that Woodward’s interventionist causation is hardly compatible
with what Jaegwon Kim claims about mental causation… The framework of
mechanisms was used directly by Andreas Bartels in Bremen and by a
several speakers in Kazimierz. We also had some interesting discussions
around the notion of realization with Tom Polger in Kazimierz and
Robert Van Gulick in Bremen, and many doubts regarding
multiple realizability – David Papineau was showing that higher-level
laws in special sciences are not just disorderly connections as
suggested by Fodor’s picture but related to the functional design of the properties (again, this is quite in accord with the mechanistic thinking). I think that
traditional discussions on reduction and emergence – and we had Alvaro
Moreno talking on emergence, at least implicitly, in Kazimierz – take a
new twist within the mechanistic framework.

In Kazimierz, we had also a very interesting debate on how
formal and mathematical philosophy of mind should be with Ricardo Sanz,
who was quite radical on the subject, and that is somehow related to
the point made by Raphael van Riel in Bremen who claimed that you can
recognize a lower-lever description by its higher ‘resolution’ and
higher level of detail. Though I doubt that this difference between
levels could be used to warrant asymmetry of reduction relation (I
think that Stephan Hartmann was right to point out that the key is
higher informativeness rather than levels per se), higher-level sciences are usually paying less attention to quantitative properties…

One Comment

  1. Reduction of higher levels of functional structure (Sanders a.o., 1975) is not the same as their reducibility. I believe we construct them in emerging recollection (triggered by the environment of which our senses are a part), possibly each moment anew, or keep them unchanged as long as we can because they are confirmed, as intuitions, by reality. Basically, the long and the short term therefore operate identically, by having our intuitions confirmed or denied, with cultural/social context only demanding or allowing less strict independence of these confirmations (levels of nepotism and cronyism). Learning from intervention by reality thus makes us realize or know what we sense instead of intuiting or sense what we know.

Comments are closed.