Token Identity theory true

Token Identity theory true

1. Are the thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions, realizations, and sensations you have every day physical events and processes going on in your central nervous system (i.e., is the Token Identity theory true) or are they events and processes going on in your non-physical mind or soul (i.e., is some version of dualism true)? Or is there some alternative that is more reasonable? If you have an opinion on this matter, then present and defend it in detail. If you think the token identity theory is false, then make sure you respond to the “Volcano God” argument. In general, remember to respond to reasonable criticisms of your view. If you have no settled view on this issue, then do the following. First give one or two good reasons for Token Identity theory (these can be good reasons against dualism); then give one or two good reasons for dualism (these can be good reasons against Token Identity theory). Then state and defend your opinion regarding those two to four arguments. Don’t address the afterimage or green patch /filtered glasses arguments; those are addressed in essay topic (3). Read: Graham, Churchland, Hospers.

2. Evaluate the Fine-Tuning Design Argument in detail. Pay strict attention to the argument as it was presented on the handout and discussed in class. So your task is to evaluate each premise carefully, explaining what it means, telling us whether you think it’s true, and then defending each of those judgments. Read: Hospers, Howell/Alter, and the relevant bit of chapter 4 of my book on suffering.

Some hints:

The main point of the DA is to show that something designed some portions of the universe, or at least its laws. It is easy to object that it doesn’t show that that designer is good, omnipotent, morally good, etc. But so what? Focus on the question of whether the DA shows the existence of any designer at all, and ignore the obvious fact that nothing in the argument suggests that there is just one designer, or a good designer, or a designer worthy of worship. Omit those objections, as they aren’t central.

Don’t mix up the traditional DA and the fine-tuning argument. The latter is intended to be an improvement of the former, a superior argument for God’s existence. The former has to deal with the evolution objection; the latter doesn’t because it’s consistent with evolution. The former looks at the apparently purposeful order in nature; the latter looks at the apparent purposeful order in the laws of nature, not nature itself. These are very different arguments. The fine-tuning argument is the worthwhile DA; spend your time on it.
3. Suppose you look at a bright light bulb that shaped like a cow, close your eyes, and then see an afterimage. First it’s orange, then it’s red, then it’s pink, then it’s violet, and then it fades away. And it was roughly cow-shaped the whole time. But if someone looked in your brain or eye, they wouldn’t find any physical thing that went from orange to red to pink to violet and that was cow-shaped. Thus, your afterimage isn’t physical; token identity theory is false. Or so the argument goes.

Does the afterimage exist? If so, is it physical? What color is it really? What shape is it really? There are three positions to take on the status of the afterimage:

a. The afterimage doesn’t exist. But this view is problematic because….
b. The afterimage exists but isn’t physical. But this view is problematic because….
c. The afterimage exists and is physical. But this view is problematic because….

In your essay, first fill in the dots for each of (a)-(c) so as to make them true sentences. Do this thoroughly. Then present and defend your opinion on which of (a)-(c) is correct (so you’ll be claiming that even though the view is a bit problematic (for the reasons you gave), the problems with it are not insurmountable and the view is actually true). Read: Graham, Churchland, Hospers.

Thus, there are five things you must do in this essay:

1. Explain why ‘The afterimage doesn’t exist’ is problematic.
2. Explain why ‘The afterimage exists and is physical’ is problematic.
3. Explain why ‘The afterimage exists and isn’t physical’ is problematic.
4. Tell us what your opinion is regarding which of those three views has the best chance at being true. For instance, if you think ‘The afterimage exists and is physical’ is true, then you’ll be claiming that although the argument in (2) against ‘The afterimage exists and is physical’ is plausible, it’s really wrong.
5. Defend that opinion of yours.
4. Write an essay critically evaluating exactly one of the PHOG Approach and the Skeptical Approach to the Problem of Gratuitous Suffering. This involves three things: describing the approach, articulating your theses about it, and defending those theses. If you are defending one of those approaches, then defend it against the criticisms levelled against it in my book. Study my book, as well as reading the relevant part of the Hospers and Howell/Alter materials.

Some hints:

One of the main things to keep in mind here is that there are lots of excellent and interesting things to say about the general subject captured by ‘Why does God allow there to be suffering?’ that have no relevance to your essay. You’re not addressing that question, as interesting as it is. You’re addressing a much more limited though closely related question. The essay’s focus is strictly apparently gratuitous suffering.

Suppose you want to defend the Skeptical Approach. Then your essay outline is as follows:

a. Here’s what the Skeptical Approach is: …
b. Here’s what I think about it: it is a rational and informative response to the POGS (Problem of Gratuitous Suffering).
c. Here is why I think it’s true: …
d. Here is how someone might criticize the approach: …. (Here you articulate some of the objections from the book.)
e. Here is why I think those objections don’t work: …

You do something very similar if you want to argue against the approach (or want to treat the PHOG Approach).

Don’t make the POGS weak. “If there is a God, there should be no suffering.” No, that forms no part of the argument. The advocate of the POGS is perfectly willing to say that even if God exists, created the universe, is wholly good, all powerful, and all knowing, there will still be oodles of suffering. We grant that there have to be lots of rainy days in order for there to be sunny ones. All she’s saying is this: if God exists then there won’t be any gratuitous suffering.

Don’t bother describing how lots of evil things lead to outweighing good things. We already know that fact and we’ve moved on to address a different issue entirely. The advocate of the argument is also well aware that lots of suffering builds character, brings us to spirituality, goodness, etc. Pointing out, in your essays, that lots of suffering leads to lots of good things is irrelevant. You need to focus on the hard part of this topic: bad things that apparently don’t make anyone stronger, don’t bring awareness of goodness or God to anyone, etc.

Some of you who are theists may want to spent a lot of time expressing your view that there’s just got to be a reason for all this suffering. Okay, that means you’re rejecting the Gratuitous Premise. But now the reader wants to know why she should believe you. If you have no reasons, then why are you so convinced that there are no gratuitous sufferings? Are you merely hoping that there aren’t any? Or do you actually have some decent reason for your view? If it’s the latter, then WRITE IT DOWN and then evaluate it from the perspective of an impartial judge.

Keep in mind that there are several ways to endorse the PHOG approach, and they are utterly different from one another. You can’t write a decent essay on the PHOG approach unless you indicate which way you’re focusing on. These were described in the PHOG chapter.

The most important thing you can do in writing this essay: choose one of the two approaches and see how it fares against the objections levelled against it in the book. That’s why I wrote the book for this class.

Finally, don’t focus exclusively on human suffering, or even adult human suffering. Most suffering is experienced by non-human animals. And throughout history most suffering experienced by humans is the result of natural disasters (including disease). Further, most human (and animal) suffering occurred at the end of life, so there was no time for improvement or any other good consequence (unless you think there is an afterlife for humans and animals). So the whole idea that suffering is fine because it leads one to become stronger or better applies to only a very small portion of suffering. If you’re going to deal with the POGS, you need to focus on the bulk of suffering, not some tiny portion of it.



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