Psychoneural Identity Theory

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The psychoneural identity theory, or identity physicalism, holds that mental states can be identified with physical processes in the brain (Kim 97). While this theory makes sense in terms of its simplicity and logic, it does not explain why our mental states can be traced back to physical processes. We can make a list of these psychoneural correlates, but this does not contribute to our understanding of why these correlations hold, or why they even exist (Kim 303). Physicalists have taken an approach that concedes conceptual differences between the mental and physical but denies that these differences imply ontological differences. This approach is called the “phenomenal concept strategy” (Kim 117). David Chalmers, a professor of philosophy…show more content…
Some philosophers hold that there is an explanatory gap, but believe that it stems from the way we think about consciousness. This is when phenomenal concept strategy comes in. People who support this strategy argue that our concepts of conscious states, also known as phenomenal concepts, have a certain special nature. They believe that given this special nature, we will find an explanatory gap between physical process (conceived under physical concepts) and consciousness (conceived under phenomenal concepts); simultaneously, they argue that our possession of these concepts can be explained in physical terms…show more content…
They hold that phenomenal concepts are distinct from any physical or functional concepts but they believe that phenomenal properties are identical to certain physical or functional properties (Chalmers). This conceptual dualism gives rise to the explanatory gap, while the ontological monism evades an ontological gap. However, many analogies that have reconciled the epistemic gap with ontological monism have been widely disputed, which suggests that the standard way of reconciling conceptual dualism with ontological monism may not apply to the dualistic nature between the physical and the phenomenal. If standard principles applied here, then the conceptual dualism should yield an ontological dualism (Chalmers). Because the phenomenal concept strategy no longer holds true in this situation, we have two options. The first is to accept ontological dualism, meaning we would have to think there are distinct properties for physical and phenomenal concepts. This epistemic gap leads to an ontological gap, which is difficult to accept. Our second option is to hold out hope that the scientific approach will one day be able to explain consciousness in neural terms (Kim

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