[hist-analytic] Supervenience and Neutral Monism

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Oct 11 12:20:51 EDT 2011



Despite the "arithmetic" this is pretty routine stuff and nothing is mentioned of neutral monism. That's my twist. As for the introduction of probability, I call it routine because, IF I understand the thrust of it's philosophical point we are merely using probabilities as expressive causation. There are other approaches, such as counterfactuals and counterfactuals with probabilities, but there are no real fundamental insights specific to the mind body problem in my opinion.  Now I might be wrong. It takes a few hours to go through the "bells and whistles" of the mathematics involved here, but I think it is a bit excessive given what i think are weak conclusions. 


I'm not commenting here on anything YOU have said, rather just registering a first reaction, but it does seem to be merely a "cut and paste" operation on supervience using technical stuff that carries relatively little philosophical content. I'll keep open minded on this; maybe there is more, but I don't see much in the way of innovation. 

My main concern is this: I find no conclusions stated of philosophical interest; nor do I see anything pertinent to neutral monism EXCEPT this: probabilities may be the best approach to causation in relation to "substantial" causation in a neutral monist ontology. 



----- Original Message -----

From: Jlsperanza at aol.com 
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk 
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 9:23:43 AM 
Subject: Re: Supervenience and Neutral Monism 

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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