Reading Questions: Armstrong


Read all of pp. 80-87.

1. What tension between dualism and the way we ordinarily use language did P. F. Strawson emphasize in his book Individuals? What underlying point does Armstrong draw from this? (80)

2. What could dualists postulate to get around this problem? If a dualist does not postulate this, what is left? (80-81)

3. Why does Armstrong disagree with Descartes over whether, according to Dualism, the relationship between mind and body is closer or more distant than the relationship between a pilot and a vessel? (81)

4. Why does Armstrong not think that dualists can appeal to sense perceptions or bodily sensations in explaining the relationship between mind and body? (81)

5. According to Armstrong, what makes physical objects numerically different? Why can't this same criterion be used for spiritual objects? (81-82)

6. Why does Armstrong reject answers to this problem that have to do with resemblance, past history and connection to different bodies? What did St. Thomas Aquinas say in response to a related problem? How does Armstrong react? (82)

7. What solution is still left to the dualist? Why does Armstrong not think that this solution is ruled out a priori? However, why is he skeptical about the possible reasons lying behind this solution? (83)

8. How does Armstrong initially suggest the dualist might conceive of the emergence of mind? Why does he think science makes this implausible? (83-84)

9. What assumption might be made to get around this problem? How does Armstrong react? (84)

10. What additional difficulty related to the emergence of mind arises? Why does Armstrong not think that this question is frivolous? (84)

11. What two conditions must be true if the interactionist account of the mind-body causal relationship is right? What does this mean about how the brain must work? What problems does Armstrong claim that physiologists have found with this? (85)

12. Descartes believed that the pineal gland was the place where the brain affected and was affected by the mind. According to Armstrong, is it likely that a place like this exists? (85)

13. How does parallelism differ from interactionism? (86)

14. Why does Armstrong think that parallelism conflicts with ordinary experience? (86-87)

15. What criteria does Armstrong suggest would be required for a perfectly satisfactory theory of mind? (87) Armstrong is a materialist. This selection is taken from his book, A Materialist Theory of the Mind. Do you think a materialist theory could possibly satisfy all these requirements? (Think especially about the first one.) If so, how? If not, why not?


Return to course homepage