Originally posted by sonship
No, the notion of supervenience just concerns what I outlined in the opening post: there cannot be a difference with respect to the supervening properties (the A-properties in the language of the OP) without a difference with respect to the subvening properties (B-properties). You seem intent on reading extraneous stuff into the notion.
M ...[text shortened]... rest in physicalism, supervenience, evolution and the emergence of moral properties from matter.
I am interested in physicalism and supervening as it is theorized in the emergence of non-material Mind from the matter of an evolving central nervous system and brain in man….
….My interest is the origin of an immaterial self or what some call Soul emerged from the evolutionary progress of the nervous system and brain. For what it is worth THAT is the area in this large field into which I went to research some.
So your interest, then, is in how a thesis like supervenience physicalism factors in "an immaterial self or what some call Soul emerged from the evolutionary progress of the nervous system and brain".
Again, such a project is probably underdescribed until we can clarify what is meant by “an (emergent) immaterial self or what some call Soul”. What sort of dualism does this imply in terms of the ontological commitments involved? For simplicity, we could outline three levels of dualism, roughly in order of increasing ontological baggage: predicate dualism, property dualism, substance (Cartesian) dualism.
First, predicate dualism. I have already tried to outline this somewhat. This holds that there are two disparate kinds of predicates required; that in order to fully describe our world, it is necessary to employ both psychological and physical predicates and that the two are mutually irreducible. This does not implicate extra ontological baggage, but rather some extra linguistic baggage. It says that a language of purely physical terms is not sufficient to fully analyze the features of the world; but it does not imply that there are features of the world that are something ontologically over and above the physical. This sort of dualism is compatible with supervenience physicalism.
Next, property dualism. This holds there are two disparate kinds of properties that feature in the world. This is consistent with the "emergent" phenomena that you have mentioned, which would hold that fundamentally physical property arrangements give rise to new properties that are irreducible with respect to the former. Taken at face value, this has ontological baggage. It's not merely saying that we need more than a language of physical terms to fully describe the world; rather, it implies that an ontology of the purely physical and its properties is not sufficient to constitute the world. If the purely physical is not sufficient to constitute the world, then there's probably no reason to think a minimally physical duplicate of our world would duplicate all the respects of our world (even if it duplicates all the physical respects). So, I would say property dualism generally should not be viewed as compatible with supervenience physicalism.
Lastly, Cartesian dualism. Properties are possessed by objects, and objects in turn are composed of substance. A property dualist may hold that there are two disparate kinds of properties but that they are possessed by objects of only one substance. But another may find it inadequate to say, for example, that the self is a physical thing possessing irreducible mentalistic properties (or some such). So, one can also adopt dualism with respect to substance as well and say that the self is composed of an irreducible, immaterial substance. Clearly, this adds even more ontological baggage. And, clearly, it is not compatible with supervenience physicalism.
So, I am not sure what the "immaterial self" you speak of would commit us to. My guess is it is either property dualism or full-blown Cartesian dualism. Your previous wording with respect to the Moreland quotes makes it sound like you think the self is an immaterial thing to which mentalistic properties get added or substracted. And that sounds to me like Cartesian dualism. At any rate, whether your view of "immaterial self" is committed to property dualism or substance dualism, I would say neither in general is going to be compatible with supervenience physicalism.
So, if you are trying to understand how such a thing as the "immaterial self" fits in with the thesis of supervenience physicalism, I would say that it generally doesn't. Supervenience physicalism allows differing views on what features would constitute the self, but it delimits them to features that supervene on the physical. Of course, in the lack of further independent considerations, this is no strike against supervenience physicalism. After all, your conception of the "immaterial self or what some call Soul" could be pure fantasy.
Am I to understand that under this varied array of aspects to "Supernience Physicalism" there is a notion that puts for the following ?
Moral properties supervene necessarily on certain physical states.
For example - a peculiar non-physical property of moral goodness supervenes on a human female's nursing her infant. Yes ?
For example - a curiously strange non-physical property of moral badness supervenes man's borrowing without returning, a laptop from his office of employment.
Supervenience physicalism does not have anything meaningful to say regarding whether or not moral properties exist (let alone that such properties would be "peculiar" or "curiously strange" ). Rather, supposing that such properties exist, the truth of supervenience physicalism would imply that such properties supervene on the physical.
Could there conceivably be a large list of all the physical properties of any given situation which determine any supervening moral properties riding upon those physical states ?
Could a catalog be conceived of the mapping of physical states to each corresponding supervening moral property emerged from them ?
If this is not conceptual in theory, what is the explanation for why moral properties supervene on certain physical states ? What makes their associated principles true ones ?
If moral properties exist and supervene on the physical, then yes it follows there would be some true principles that basically connect or bridge the physical and the moral. For this, it is perfectly reasonable for you to ask what would make these principles true. This would get into discussion of the nature of such principles and whether they are contingent or necessary; general or particularist; direct or indirect; analytic or synthetic; etc, etc; and, additionally, what would justify them. The worst that could happen for the proponent of this view, would be that in pursuit of such answers he or she would bottom out into some set of fundamental principles for which no more explanation could be given. So, the worst that could happen is for the proponent to have to admit that some set of physical-moral bridging principles are brutely
Now, perhaps you think you are on some better footing in your theological views. If so, you are mistaken. On your view, moral properties tie into God-reflective properties. This is also a relation of supervenience, is it not? After all, on your view, is it not true that no two things (persons, actions, institutions, whatever else unto which you would predicate moral properties) can differ in their moral properties without differing in their God-reflective properties? Regardless, this much would be clear: your view also stands in need of some basic principles to bridge that which is God-reflective to that which is moral. And it would also be perfectly reasonable to ask what exactly makes those
principles true. Please go ahead and try this exercise in skepticism. You will see that at the end of the day, your view is also left with some brute principles, best case. There is a clear dialectic symmetry in this respect between, say, the supervenience physicalist moralist and yourself. Whatever questions you want to raise in pressure against the former could be leveled back against you with the same force.
This, to me, seems to be a general problem with theistic “answers” to these sorts of questions. They end up no more explanatorily potent than non-theistic views (not that “God must have done it” or “God explains it” offers any non-ersatz explanatory power in the first place), and at the same time they are decidedly less parsimonious, requiring that we take on some nebulous extra-physical ontology. The worst we can say about the physicalist moralist is that he or she will have to accept some brute principles. But we can say worse about your own view: you will have to accept some brute principles, and they are handcuffed to some additional dubious metaphysical baggage.
[bunch of questions]....
If you want to address my concern you could speak to this "strong psychological connectedness" . What is connecting between the succession of mental states supervening on changing brain states ?
[followed by more questions]....
I still do not really understand your concern. Looking at what you have said, it seems like your concern is that supervenience physicalism does not allow for your conception of the self (where your conception, if I had to guess, implicates some form of Cartesian dualism). If that is your concern, then I agree: supervenience physicalism does not allow for that. But that's no concern to me, since I do not share in your conception of the self. Is this the alleged "weakness" of supervenience physicalism to which you initially alluded? If it turns out that your view (or some Moreland-ian view) of the self is fantasy, then it is no weakness of supervenience physicalism that it disallows such a view.
Please use some declarative sentences to outline the alleged weakness of supervenience physicalism. If there is some critical explanatory component of the self or personal identity that supervenience physicalism disallows, then please state what it is.