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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Uwe Meixner

Uwe Meixner is a philosopher of logic with theological interests who makes the case for a dualistic conception of mental causation. He interprets indeterministic events as opening a door to nonphysical causation by denying causal closure, the idea that everything in the world is determined by physical causes:
what about the nonphysical causation of physical events without equivalent physical causation, say, without any accompanying physical causation at all? Would not the occurrence of nonphysical causation of physical events without accompanying physical causation get into conflict with physics? It would not, not even under the metaphysical supposition that the physical world is a closed system: because an instance of nonphysical causation of a physical event without accompanying physical causation would leave the sum total of energy and momentum unchanged. It would merely involve a redistribution of energy and momentum. Redistributions of energy and momentum are, of course, happening constantly, and normally, it seems, one need not invoke nonphysical causation for having them come about. But, as most modern physicists hold, at least some of these redistributions are not determined by the energy/momentum distributions of the past.3 If this is true, then the physical past leaves a lacuna of determination that need not be left entirely to chance, but that can be, at least partly, filled by additional determination coming purely from a nonphysical source. In an indeterministic physical world, there is room for the nonphysical — specifically, the nonphysical mental — causation of physical events without accompanying physical causation.
Meixner's arguments are consistent with an immaterial source of downward causal control by the mental, such as that proposed in our model of information as an emergent dualistic substance.

Meixner says that what he calls "Purely nonphysical"

mental causation of the physical would originate in the mental subject, in the nonphysical individual, wholly present at each moment of its existence, which is the centre of consciousness: in the nonphysical substantial self. Since purely nonphysical mental causation of the physical presupposes physical indeterminism and originates in a substantial nonphysical mental agent, I will also call this kind of causation free nonphysical agency.

Meixner sees the external physical world as a source of macroscopic indetermination:

The difficult question is how the nonphysical mental subject manages to do all this. If there is an answer, it must be provided by the brain.
Meixner's clear thinking about a non-material mind as involving both indeterminism and the adequate determinism to make choices that can have causal consequences can get obscured by jargon like DOMINDAR
I maintain that the brain is, among other things, (1) an instrument for the detection of macroscopic indetermination in the environment of the organism (which environment includes, as its limit, the organism itself) and (2) an instrument for restricting the detected macroscopic indetermination to the advantage of the organism. In short, I maintain that the brain is a DOMINDAR:
Detector Of Macroscopic INDetermination, And Restrictor.
This is a bold assertion because it has not seemed to most philosophically tuned people that there is enough macroscopic indetermination in the physical world to be detected or restricted by anything. This, I believe, is a false impression.
Meixner argues that not only microscopic (subatomic) indetermination is present in the body (brain), but also macroscopic indetermination. This is the idea of amplification of uncertainty.
From the indetermination the brain notices, it selects the indetermination worth reporting according to relevancy (for the survival, or at least the wellbeing, of the organism) and restrictability (since the biological point of detecting and reporting indetermination is to subsequently restrict that indetermination advantageously)...

Finally, the indetermination selected by the brain as worth reporting is classified according to relative importance, so that the self, in consciousness, is ultimately presented with a relatively clear spectrum of weighted alternatives open to it. Then the decision what to do is up to the self.

Meixner's thinking seems consistent with two-stage models of free will, which generate alternative possibilities for action, which are then left to the agent (the self) to deliberate, evaluate, and select from.

Meixner sees a connection with the indeterministic element that must be a part of biological evolution.

If determinism ruled in the physical macro-world, then there would be nothing in that world that needed controlling, and hence nothing would need to be monitored or governed by any organ. For under determinism, everything happens automatically, with absolute precision and with inexorable necessity. Thus, unless there is indetermination of considerable extent in the physical macro-world, the emergence of brains is absolutely pointless from the evolutionary point of view. blockquote>
Since everything is pointless in a deterministic world with only one possible future, Meixner adds what he calls a "reactor" that provides multiple alternative possibilities:
Under macroscopic physical determinism, the structural complexity of every apparatus, natural or artificial, is pointless that makes in advance provision for realizing at a time t one or another of several incompatible alternatives regarding the physical macro-world. where each of these alternatives is possible at time t. Why provide for the realization of one or another among several such alternatives — even if only in such a manner that the realization merely amounts to a law-determined reaction to a given physical condition, as in a multi-possibility reactor — if, under macroscopic physical determinism, it is true of only one thing at any moment in time that it can happen in the physical macro-world (namely, the one that does in fact happen)? When evolution ran a course that led, let’s suppose, merely by (microscopic) accidental mutation and subsequent natural selection to the development of macroscopic devices that are geared for implementing choices (made — by the devices themselves or by something else — between at least two incompatible alternatives that are each possible at the time in question), had evolution then forgotten that macroscopic physical determinism is true? Was it ignoring it?
Meixner, whose two-stage model of free will was inspired by Daniel Dennett, reacts to Dennett's suggestion that the random alternatives might have been generated by a deterministic pseudo-random generator.

Why would nature have evolved a computer simulated randomness, when irreducible indeterminism already exists, Meixner asks:

I am of course not saying that the development of the above mentioned devices for implementing choices is logically incompatible with macroscopic physical determinism; for this determinism could, in principle, be of such a kind that the emergence of, say, multi-possibility reactors was itself determined. This would be an absurd — that is, an unnecessarily expensive — course for nature to take, and therefore a rather unlikely course (even for a complete mechanist regarding nature it remains true that nature normally follows the course which is themost economical), but it is not a logically impossible one. Therefore, in asserting that if determinism ruled in the physical macro-world brains would never have developed, I am relying on an implicit inference to the best explanation...

I prefer to regard the impressive emergence of brains in the course of evolution as an indication of the great extent to which the terrestrial physical macro-world is undetermined (prior to additional determination). Given this massive macro-indetermination, the unpredictability with which brains are confronted in their monitoring and governing activity must indeed more often than not betoken indetermination.

Two Models of Action-Determination: Chance-Generator and Decision-Maker [perhaps Two-stage Models?]

Once it is accepted that the brain is often right in translating unpredictability as indetermination, and as indetermination about which something can be done (via the brain), the question arises in what manner it is determined what will be done; that is, the question arises in what manner it is determined how the detected indetermination will be restricted. There are two salient models for this. The first model — where the brain is a DOMINDAR in its own right — can do without consciousness; it simply consists in this: the brain contains a physical chance generator (that is, a generator of genuine physical chance events: physical events without sufficient cause), and determining which alternative to realize fromthe several realizable alternatives the brain has detected is left to cerebral gambling (and subsequent mechanical cerebral processes), for which procedure consciousness is not essential.

The second model — where the brain is a DOMINDAR instrumentally for something else — cannot do without consciousness; for, according to it, consciousness is precisely the nonphysical medium in which the several realizable alternatives the brain has detected are presented by the brain to the nonphysical self (under normal conditions, quite faithfully), who then, in the light of consciousness, makes an at least rudimentarily rational decision regarding which alternative to realize. This decision may, but need not necessarily, be preceded by deliberation, and under normal conditions it is quite faithfully put into effect by the brain. It far too often turns out to be the correct decision for it to be with any likelihood the result of a mere chance process. The instigation by the self of the brain to go into action in a certain manner is indeed an occurrence of nonphysical causation of the physical without accompanying physical causation. But this occurrence of nonphysical causation of the physical cannot interfere with physical causation and the laws of physics, because it is purely and simply the beginning of the realization of one among several physical possibilities — involving brain, rest of the body, and outer environment—that the laws of physics, the entire physical past and therefore the sum total of physical causation could not by themselves exclude from happening.

The Two Sides of Being
During his 2001/2002 academic year spent at Notre Dame (where one "can use the word 'soul' ... and they don't snicker"), Meixner began work on his monumental defense of dualism The Two Sides of Being: A Reassessment of Psycho-Physical Dualism. Physicalism is the modern term for materialism, he says, and he surveys the materialist philosophers who attack "dualist" concepts like mind, self, soul, spirit, consciousness, experience, as so many "illusions."

His chief targets are Daniel Dennett, John Searle, David Chalmers (though Searle and Chalmers oppose Dennett), the Churchlands, Colin McGinn, Richard Swinburne, and Derek Parfit.

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