Problem 2

What is philosophy supposed to do? In the mind body problem, for example, what is the final result if philosophy accomplishes it’s goal?

Shoemaker approaches philosophy of mind in a logical mode. He presents the problems that physical realization has brought on itself and resolves them. He works this out by his account of properties and their realization. Physical realization presents logical problems in causation, his accounts overcomes those problems. Some would claim that Shoemaker has not explained anything by taking this approach to philosophy, that he doesn’t do what philosophy is supposed to. I’m not convinced.

Philosophy can do no explanatory work. The only work is does is descriptive. If philosophy is to explain the mind body problem, then it will always be bankrupt. Shoemaker doesn’t tell us what properties are, but he gives us an account of them that works. He also doesn’t tell us exactly how mental causation works, but gives us an account that overcomes the problems it presents. If there’s something more to be explained, I’m not sure what that could be.

A response might be this: sure, this account may work, but how does the physical realize a mental property? Explain this to me! Shoemaker doesn’t need to do this in order to do philosophy. I’m tempted to think that any explanatory mode of doing metaphysics is bankrupt. Philosophy will not give us an explanation of the world, it can only describe it.

~ by Barky on October 4, 2011.

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