[hist-analytic] Privacy and Anomalous Monism

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Wed Sep 21 17:08:08 EDT 2011

Rather than let the list die, I'm gonna post a few things from my notebook. These are things I am not firm on; just things in the notebook. Here's something relating Davidoson, Kim and Schlick. 

Davidson was getting at when he proposed in his frequently cited paper "Mental Event" (Davidson [1980]) that there are no strict laws connecting mental and physical events. The state of affairs where mental events are not rejected but where the correlations do not exist would be precisely one where it is possible that "mental properties were arbitrarily redistributed over events of this world, of even if mentality were removed…" (Kim [1998] p. 34) One is reminded here of Wittgentstein’s discussion of the "beetle" in the box: "…the box might even be empty…" (Wittgenstein [1953] 293) Thus, the private language issue and supervenience become linked, even though the two are seldom if ever discussed at once. We add this speculative proposal: If there were laws connecting the mental and the physical, then freedom would be at risk. Mental causation would be an illusion; but if there are no laws connecting the mental and the physical then, as Schlick suggests, we would have no way of directing our actions with the expectation of affecting the world according to our intentions. If the privacy goes even deeper, as Wittgenstein suggests we would be unable to even think of action, ours or anyone else’s behavior qua action. If we are unable to describe our actions volition is as blind as an unconceptualized Kantian intuition. Taking a Davidsonian line we eliminate the private language problem by denying the mental, whence his monism, but the basis of this maneuver has its historical roots in the private language problem. 

If all languages are public, as Wittgenstein argues, then the language of physics does not own an advantage as an intersubjective language. (cf. Schlick [1935] p. 399) Is it by accident or design that the physical language is not only the language in which all facts can be expressed but is, also, the language the only intersubjective language? Or if this is not the case, why not? Whereas for Schlick (and Carnap) the intersubjectivity of the language of physics was empirical, for Wittgenstein the intersubjectivity of any language was necessary. (ibid) 

Temperature may be a micro-based property, but what about velocity? Or acceleration? 

Regards Steve Bayne 
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