[hist-analytic] Supervenience, Multiple Domains, Physics

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Mar 29 16:43:53 EDT 2011

Apologies for my apparent inactivity. In fact, I have been busy and, hopefully, productively so. 

In considering the difference between conscious intention and intention, which is at the base of Mele's criticism of conclusions from Libet's data, I became concerned with the fact that consciousness, as such, is more akin to qualia than action. Moreover, qualia (I include pain, paradigmatically), are often the prime objects in the treatment of mind-body issues, particularly with respect to supervenience arguments. I've rejected the primacy of both qualia and bodily sensations as paradigms of the mental because they don't entail persons. Since on the view I take persons are essential to conscious intentions I began to distance myself from the usual supervenience issues and no longer regard them with the respect I once accorded them. This led to a careful examination of supervenience in relation to larger issues of "reduction." 

What especially concerned me was the treatment in Kim of "Supervenience in Multiple Domains" (Supervenience and Mind, Cambridge 1993). In discussing covariance, at one point, Kim draws from an example from Lombard (very good philosopher!) from physics, which I think is actuated by a common problem of "related rates" in elementary differential calculus. I preferred another case where the variance was not covariance, as this asymmetry afforded me a better test case for supervenient causation. As I pursued this, it occurred to me that there are examples from classical physics that might serve as the basis for challenging supervenience both on the matter of multiple domains and its use of variables in the case of strong supervenience (weak supervenience plus the modal "moment"). The case I'm using, and still thinking about, is the relation of the gravitational force of one particle (remember I'm restricting myself to classical mechanics, here) to the gravitational forces of interactive particles in the finite domain it inhabits, it being a "test particle" in the usual sense. There is a subtext here that I think is quite interesting. My results ramify throughout Kim's reply to Ned Block's "drainage" argument, by the way. 

The "subtext" relates to Kant's analogies, in particular the relation of Kant's single space model to Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason. If I am right, all supervenience theory results from what might be called (loosely) a parameterization of the principle of sufficient reason. This is all fresh in my mind, but half baked. More later. 


STeve Bayne 
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