Papers on contemporary psycho-physical dualism by a distinguished international group of philosophers and scientists



Psycho-Physical Dualism Today: An Interdisciplinary Approach


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Alessandro Antonietti, Professor of General Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

Antonella Corradini, Professor of the Philosophy of Social Sciences, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

E. Jonathan Lowe, Professor of Philosophy, University of Durham, UK



Until very recently, mind–body dualism has been regarded with deep suspicion, by both philosophers and scientists. This has been due, amongst other things, to the widespread, if largely unspoken, identification of dualism in general with Cartesian dualism in particular. This traditional version of dualism has long prompted numerous criticisms from philosophers and has been almost universally rejected as untenable in most scientific circles. However, in the last few years new attention has begun to be paid to the dualistic point of view, not least as a result of increasing discontent with the dominance of reductionism in contemporary scientific and philosophical thought. Most importantly, awareness has grown that dualism does not need to coincide with its Cartesian variety: other forms of dualism are philosophically defensible which do not share the conceptual difficulties encountered by Descartes’s version of it and are better able to cope with the sorts of objections commonly raised by scientists. Today, interest in dualism more broadly construed is growing fast, because it appears that, suitably formulated, it constitutes not only an intuitively plausible philosophical point of view but also an approach to the human mind that is based on scientifically acceptable assumptions. The aim of this book is to provide philosophers, scientists, their students, and the wider public with an up-to-date overview of current developments in dualist conceptions of the mind in contemporary philosophy and science.



The book is divided into two main parts. The chapters in the first part look at how dualism is currently regarded in a number of different scientific fields of inquiry. These essays investigate whether a dualistic perspective can fruitfully be applied in tackling scientific problems in physics, the neurosciences, and psychology. The chapters in the second part of the book address distinctively philosophical issues. Each of these essays defends a specific form of dualism, assessing its merits in comparison with other positions in the philosophy of mind that are currently fashionable. The book contains altogether ten chapters, including the editors’ Introduction. Its estimated length is in the region of 220 printed pages.


Intended readership

This volume will be of interest to professional academics and researchers working in various disciplines, ranging from philosophy and theology to the natural and the human sciences. It will also be extremely useful to students taking suitably related courses in several of these areas. It is essentially addressed to any educated reader who has an interest in exploring questions concerning the human mind both from the perspective of modern science and from that of philosophy.



Distinctive features of the volume

This book is clearly distinguished from others in its field by the fact that its contributors do not limit themselves to reconstructing the history of dualism or to discussing competing points of view concerning the nature of the human mind in contemporary science and philosophy. Rather, they propose and defend their own versions of dualism in a dialectical confrontation with other positions in the philosophy of mind and in science, both reductionist and non-reductionist.



The Contributors


Alessandro Antonietti is full Professor of Psychology and Head of the Department of Psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy. He has published many books and numerous articles in scientific journals, and has carried out experimental studies concerning creativity, problem-solving, mental imagery, and analogy. He is also interested in the applications of cognitive theory in inquiries into thought processes, school instruction, and multimedia, in addition to issues concerning the foundations of experimental psychology and the mind–body problem.


Friedrich Beck teaches at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany (Institut für Kernphysik). He has defended an interactionistic version of mind–body dualism, developing an original theory on this subject in collaboration with Nobel prize-winner Professor John C. Eccles. As well as his many contributions in the field of physics, he has published a number of papers on the mind–body problem in prestigious international journals.


Antonella Corradini is Professor of the Philosophy of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy. Her research interests include the epistemology of psychology, the philosophy of mind and action, the philosophy of biology and the social sciences, and the foundations of ethics. Among other things, she is co-editor with Sergio Galvan and E. J. Lowe of Analytic Philosophy without Naturalism (London, 2006).


E. Jonathan Lowe is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Durham, UK, specializing in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind and action, philosophical logic, and early modern philosophy. Amongst other things, he is the author of Subjects of Experience (Cambridge, 1996), The Possibility of Metaphysics: Substance, Identity, and Time (Oxford, 1998), and The Four-Category Ontology: A Metaphysical Foundation for Natural Science (Oxford, 2006). He is currently working on a book on the philosophy of action, Personal Agency, for Oxford University Press.


Uwe Meixner currently teaches at the University of the Saarland, Germany. His research interests are in metaphysics, logic, and the philosophy of mind. He has published many articles and books, amongst them Axiomatic Formal Ontology (Dordrecht, 1997) and The Two Sides of Being (Paderborn, 2004).


David S. Oderberg is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, UK, and has written widely on metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and ethics. His books include The Metaphysics of Identity over Time (London, 1993), Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach (London, 1999), and Moral Theory: A Non-Consequentialist Approach (London, 2000). Amongst other things, he is the editor of The Old-New Logic: Essays on the Philosophy of Fred Sommers (Cambridge, MA, 2005).


Ian Thompson is Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, UK, researching in nuclear reaction theory, few-body dynamics and the foundations of physics. He also has research interests in metaphysics, including mind–body dualism. He is currently writing a book entitled Nuclear Reactions for Astrophysics for Cambridge University Press. From August, 2006, he will be Theoretical Nuclear Physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Physics and Advanced Technologies Directorate, California, USA.


Franz von Kutschera is Professor Emeritus at the University of Regensburg, Germany. His main research interests are in the philosophy of mind and ethics. Amongst other things, he is author of Jenseits des Materialismus (Beyond Materialism) (Paderborn, 2003).


Henry M. Wellman is Research Professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development and Professor of Psychology at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan, USA. Much of his current research addresses the developing understanding of persons in terms of their inner psychological states and processes. His research focuses on this topic from infancy to adulthood, on growing up in this and other cultures, as well as on impaired children that seem to fail to develop a normal understanding of people’s mental lives. He has published several books, including The Child’s Theory of Mind (Cambridge, MA, 1992), as well as numerous papers in outstanding scientific journals.


Psycho-Physical Dualism Today: An Interdisciplinary Approach



Table of Contents




Alessandro Antonietti,  Antonella Corradini, and E. Jonathan Lowe



Part I: Psycho-Physical Dualism: Scientific Approaches


Developing Dualism: From Intuitive Distinctions to Transcendental Illusions
Henry Wellman, University of Michigan

Carl Johnson, University of Pittsburgh

A New Concept of Mind–Brain Dualism from Modern Physics

Friedrich Beck, Technische Universität Darmstadt


Discrete Degrees Within and Between Nature and Mind

Ian Thompson, University of Surrey


Must Psychologists be Dualists?

Alessandro Antonietti, Catholic University of Milan



Part II: Psycho-Physical Dualism: Philosophical Perspectives


Mutual Dependencies of the Mental and the Physical

Franz von Kutschera, University of Regensburg


Inevitable Dualism, or: The Reductio of Reductive and Non-Reductive Materialism

Uwe Meixner, University of the Saarland


A Defence of Non-Cartesian Substance Dualism

E. Jonathan Lowe, University of Durham


Dualism and Emergence

Antonella Corradini, Catholic University of Milan


Abstraction, Immateriality, and the Human Mind

David S. Oderberg, University of Reading