Publication details

Does Mind Reading Refute Dualism?



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Last year, researchers from The University of Toronto Scarborough published interesting results in an article called “The Neural Dynamics of Facial Identity Processing: Insights from EEG-Based Pattern Analysis and Image Reconstruction”. They managed to reconstruct the faces their participants were thinking of using EEG brain scanning. In popular magazines, it was usually described as “mind reading”. The results can be interpreted in a way that threatens dualism. If we can read mind content out of brain activity, it seems we have localized mind within the brain. I argue that the results cannot be labeled as mind reading or used as an argument against dualism. I will demonstrate why this is so by trying to attack one of Swinburne’s arguments for dualism using those results. First, I will enhance his argument to be capable of being taken into consideration as an argument for pure substance dualism. Then, I will show what the core of this argument towards which its critique should be aimed is. Finally, I will show that arguments based on these new technological possibilities fail to refute the argument. I argue that these so-called mind reading experiments only prove some kind of deep relationship between mind and brain. Using them as an argument against dualism would require the rejection of interactionism. This however I see as a kind of petito percipii. They do not read mind contents from the brain but only their correlates in the brain. At a general level, my aim is to describe what such experiment needs to accomplish to be considered a real threat for dualism.
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