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Sunday, October 08, 2023


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Thanks for the good review of Moreland’s book. Here are a couple of points I recall appreciating when I read the book years ago. I just turned to the relevant pages to confirm my memory:

First, in Chapter 2, Moreland evaluates alternatives to the AC. In particular, he notes that Searle’s biological naturalism, which challenges premise (5)*, “misconstrues the problem” of consciousness and thus “fails to address the real issue.” (p. 36)** Regarding McGinn’s mysterianism or “agnostic naturalism,” it “does not solve the problem of consciousness" but merely relocates it. (p. 38) And panpsychism, Moreland suspects, is merely a label and not an explanation of how and why the mental coheres with the physical. (pp. 39-40) He closes Chapter 2 by noting that if the denial of consciousness is the price to pay for being a naturalist, then the price is too high. (p. 40)

Second, in Chapter 3, Moreland notes that libertarianism is the common-sense, intuitive view of human free will. As Moreland puts it, “unless one has an ideological axe to grind, one will be a libertarian.” (p. 41) If one's naturalism or determinism requires one to adopt an alternative view of free will, one will continue to live as a libertarian when one is not "reminding oneself of one's ideological commitments. (p. 41)

*(5): The explanation is not a natural scientific one.

**Searle argues that consciousness is an emergent biological process like digestion. For Searle, apparently, digestion is to digestive system as consciousness is to brain.

Thanks for your comments, Elliot.

Let me make just one comment about Searle. He is a brilliant critic of other people's theories. But when it comes time to present his own theory he gives one as bad as the theories he criticizes. Maybe worse.

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