Theories of Mind (Part 8): Final Assessment

This post marks the eighth and final installment in my series on four prominent theories concerning the nature of the mind. Note, of course, that I will be covering the nature of the mind in even greater depth in future posts on this blog. This series, however, has finally come to an end. In this final post, then, I will give a final assessment of plausibility of the four theories. For requisite context, it would be best to check out Parts 123, and 4, and 5, and 6, and 7. Let’s get into it!

  1. Final Assessment of Plausibility

In this section, I provide a final assessment on the most and least plausible theories on offer.

6.1 Most Plausible

In my estimation, the most plausible of the four theories considered above is Descartes’ dualism. Although all of Descartes’ arguments are subject to insuperable objections, nevertheless we arrived at the following five conclusions:

(1) Descartes’ argument from divisibility points to a forceful difficulty for materialist accounts of the mind, namely the unified, integrated nature of qualitative experience;

(2) The most forceful criticism of Descartes’ account, the interaction problem, is likely not as mysterious as detractors take it to be;

(3) The other three accounts suffer from many difficulties;

(4) Rasmussen’s counting argument lends some support to dualist conceptions of the mind; and

(5) Arguably, neuroscience reinforces the hard problem of consciousness for materialist conceptions of the mind.

Because of these five reasons, I conclude that Descartes’ dualism is the most plausible of the four theories.

Importantly, this is not to say that Cartesian Dualism is the most plausible theory on the nature of the mind. There are a whole host of other accounts on offer: dual aspect theory, neutral monism, property dualism, non-reductive physicalism, functionalism, panpsychism, cosmopsychism, hylomorphic dualism, epiphenomenalism, and so on. We will return to these in blog posts at some point in the future (but not in this series).

Image result for substance dualism meme

6.2 Least Plausible

The least plausible of the four theories is undoubtedly Ryle’s logical behaviorism. It seems obviously false, and this is systematized in my Moorean Shift argument. Moreover, it is afflicted by multiple circularity problems and cannot account for the existence of intentionality. Therefore, Ryle’s theory is the least plausible.


These are the references from the whole series.

  1. Descartes, Rene. Meditation II.
  2. Feser, Edward. Philosophy of Mind. Bolinda Beginner’s Guide. Oxford.
  3. Feser, Edward. Philosophy of Mind. Bolinda Beginner’s Guide. Oxford.
  4. Paul, L.A. and N. Hall. Causation: A User’s Guide. Oxford University Press. 2013.
  5. Rasmussen, Joshua. “Building Thoughts from Dust: a Cantorian Puzzle.” Synthese.
  6. Feser, Edward. Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science. Editiones Scholasticae. p. 443.

Author: Joe


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