Friday, January 17, 2014

Review of Naturalism: a Critical Analysis edited by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland (Part 4)

This is part 4 in my series of essays on Naturalism: A Critical Analysis, edited by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland.

Chapter 6: Naturalism and the Mind
by Charles Taliaferro

Charles Taliaferro is tasked with stirring up trouble for naturalism with respect to mental states and events.  Insofar as one takes the existence of first-person mental states as evidence for an immaterial spirit or soul, naturalism is threatened because it depends on the rejection of all things "supernatural."  Surely, such entities as immaterial spirits or souls tread uncomfortably close to the supernatural; so, if Taliaferro's project is successful, it presents yet another deadly attack on the naturalist's stronghold.

For those familiar with the history of the philosophy of mind, Taliaferro's essay will not add anything terribly new to the field; however, in a book poking as many holes in naturalism as possible, the argument from the mind has an important place.  Taliaferro does a fine job summarizing the various naturalist strategies for avoiding the threats associated with "substantiating" the mind (i.e. awarding the mind the status of a "substance"--something that exists independently of the physical).  Taliaferro basically outlines three broad naturalist strategies for dealing with the mental, offers objections to each of them, then proposes that the mental fits much better within a theistic framework than within a naturalist framework.  I will discuss the three naturalist strategies and Talifierro's responses to them.