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Mind and Formal Structures: On the Kripke-Ross Argument Against Naturalizing Formal Understanding

The philosophy of mind can be described as a conjunction of three problems: 1) the problem of qualia (our conscious, phenomenal, qualitative feel and experience of the world), 2) the problem of intentionality (the aboutness of certain mental states) and 3) the problem of thought (concepts, judgments, abstraction, logical reasoning, etc.). Traditional arguments against naturalism have for the most part focused on 1) and 2), although primarily on 1). Some philosophers have even swept 3) under the rugof the "easy problem" of consciousness, a problem in principle amenableto a functionalist, physicalist account. This last claim has not gone unchallenged and there is reason to believe that it is 3) which makes anyform of naturalism in principle impossible. indeed, there's an old way of arguing against naturalism, based on the Aristotelian tradition, thatdoes not appeal to qualia, subjectivity or intentionality but rather tothe intellectual activities of human beings. The relatively recent revival and contemporary refashioning of this "older way" can be called the neo-Aristotelian case against naturalism. Amongst the several arguments proposed against naturalism, there are particularly two stemming from the neo-Aristotelian camp - one proposed by the late James Ross (2008) andthe other by David Oderberg (2007) - which if succesful refute absolutely any kind of naturalist explanation of human thought (and a fortiori of the intentionality of thoughts). The present dissertation looks to investigate, elucidate and defend these arguments to show why the naturalization of thought is impossible.
Date:30 Sep 2013  →  29 Sep 2017
Project type:PhD project