[hist-analytic] Supervenience and Neutral Monism

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Oct 11 10:23:43 EDT 2011

In a message dated 10/11/2011 10:15:23 A.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, 
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
I have been thinking about  something no body appears to have been thinking 
about so far: supervenience in a  neutral monist ontology. If anyone knows 
of anything on this, please let me know  (on or off list). If no one has 
discussed this, I will. I have some thoughts  here related to "cross 
classification." (kim in Mind in a Physical World, MIT,  1998, p.68-69  

--- I was recently led to this link which may be of interest. Below.

----*I'm NOT claiming this below is the latest thing on things, but it _is_ 
 recent, and as such often linked.

id=SREP-631-20111003_ (http://www.nature.c
Joshua T. Vogelstein,R. Jacob Vogelstein & Carey E. Priebe  write:

"Questions and assumptions about mind-brain supervenience go back at least  
as far as Plato's dialogues circa 400 BCE1. While there are many different  
notions of supervenience, we find Davidson's canonical description 
particularly  illustrative2:
[mind-brain] supervenience might be taken to mean that there cannot be two  
events alike in all physical respects but differing in some mental respect, 
or  that an object cannot alter in some mental respect without altering in 
some  physical respect.
Colloquially, supervenience means “there cannot be a mind-difference  
without a physical-difference.” This philosophical conjecture has potentially  
widespread implications. For example, neural network theory and artificial  
intelligence often implicitly assume a local version mind-brain 
supervenience3,  4. Cognitive neuroscience similarly seems to operate under such 
assumptions5.  Philosophers continue to debate and refine notions of supervenience6. 
Yet, to  date, relatively scant attention has been paid to what might be 
empirically  learned about supervenience.
In this work we attempt to bridge the gap between philosophical conjecture  
and empirical investigations by casting supervenience in a probabilistic  
framework amenable to hypothesis testing. We then use the probabilistic 
theory  of pattern recognition to determine the limits of what one can and cannot 
learn  about supervenience through data analysis. The implications of this 
work are  varied. It provides a probabilistic framework for converting 
philosophical  conjectures into statistical hypotheses that are amenable to 
experimental  investigation, which allows the philosopher to gain empirical 
support for her  rational arguments. This leads to the construction of the first 
explicit proof  (to our knowledge) of a universally consistent classifier on 
graphs, and the  first demonstration of the tractability of answering 
supervenience questions.  Supervenience therefore seems to perhaps be a useful 
but under-utilized concept  for neuroscientific investigations. This work 
should provide further motivation  for cross-disciplinary efforts across three 
fields—philosophy, statistics, and  neuroscience—with shared goals but 
mostly disjoint jargon and methods of  analysis."

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